PrintE-mail Written by Alister Davison

For British comic readers in the 1980s, no summer was complete without the 2000AD Sci-Fi Special. A collection of one-off stories featuring the most popular characters of the time, it went hand in hand with ice cream, sunny days and disappointment at Wimbledon. Publishers Rebellion revived the format last year, using it to showcase new talent as well as create a fresh wave of nostalgia. It worked very well, on both counts. This year's offering doesn't so much highlight the up and coming writers and artists, rather it shows what 2000AD has to offer in both creativity and attitude, all packaged within a beautiful cover by Greg Staples.

The Sci-Fi Special opens with a Judge Dredd story that has a sting in the tale and art that, while with a style of its own, is reminiscent of times gone by. Witty dialogue and slogans in the background are sure to raise a smile, with Dredd himself delivering a perfect punchline. The Robo Hunter story that follows is in the same vein; playful and packed with puns, it keeps that satirical edge that made Sam Slade’s return last year such a breath of fresh air.

A Future Shock comes next, a three-page tale with an ending that doesn't come as much of a surprise. This sort of thing feels like it's been done many times before, yet it’ll make the reader go back to the beginning to search for clues; looking at artwork by John Higgins is never a chore, but a second reading will also show the intelligence of the writing, something that may be missed on a first pass.

Next up, the return of Ace Trucking Co. Love them or loathe them, Ace Garp and his crew are an inescapable part of the comic's past; both writer and artist do well here, providing something that has a visible charm and a sly wit. Much the same can be said of Survival Geeks, another story that isn't to everyone's taste, despite the crisp and refreshing artwork. It's a single episode that unashamedly sets up the next story arc, yet stands alone nicely; it wears its heart on its sleeve, with even the characters themselves acknowledging the inspirations behind the story. In Rogue Trooper, 2000AD have saved the best for last. Magnificent artwork and a clever, poignant script combine to create something that is truly special. Like the Future Shock, its use of colour brings the story to vivid life; Nu Earth really does look like a chemical wasteland, one certainly not worth fighting over.

Overall, the Sci-fi Special is a resounding success, a collection of stories that are all of a high standard, hopefully cementing the potential for similar releases every year. While it may not be the ideal introduction for new readers, it's a magazine that will leave 2000AD fans satisfied, yet hungry for more.


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