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.
INFO: 2000AD SCI-FI SPECIAL 2015 / WRITER: VARIOUS / ARTIST: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: REBELLION / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW