Reviews | Written by Ed Fortune 31/12/2019

BEST OF 2000 AD #1

PUBLISHER: REBELLION | FORMAT: SINGLE ISSUE | RELEASE DATE: APRIL

2000 AD has been running for over 40 years (we know how it feels) and has accumulated some of the greatest comic strip stories of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror ever created. The weekly comic book has a huge catalogue of work and a fair few gems in its vaults, many of which are still as thrilling and beautiful as they were when they first came out.

The problem is that with such a large array of material, it’s a bit tricky getting new readers into it all. Where does one start? 2000 AD has decided to launch a new monthly collection of stories, aptly called Best of 2000 AD. Collections of old stories are nothing new of course, but the approach is.

We were lucky enough to get our hands on an early copy of Issue 1 before its release this spring, and it’s a lovely thing indeed - 100 pages of US format ‘perfect bound’ comic, which is a fancy way of saying that it feels like a proper book, and it’s the sort of size that fits neatly with Marvel and DC titles. The idea is clearly to introduce 2000 AD into the more markets, delivering the edgy British anthology into international hands. The first cover is a beautiful bit of Jamie (The Wicked + The Divine) McKelvie art, which is both striking and reserved.

Of course, a nice cover and pretty pages don’t mean anything unless the stories within are worth the time, and of course, they’ve gone all-in. Writers include John Wagner, Alan Moore, Gordon Rennie, and Dan Abnett. The art is from the likes of I. N. J. Culbard, Colin MacNeil, Simon Colby, and Ian Gibson. Or to put it another way, literally some of the best creators 2000 AD has worked with. The core attraction is a single, complete Judge Dredd story. In this first issue, we get a tale charmingly called Terror. It sees Dredd up against a pro-democracy terrorist, and it’s actually a nuanced tale of love, loss, revenge, and violence. It is as every bit as relevant today as it was when it was first written back in 2004. Moodily paced and brilliantly drawn, it’s a powerful demonstration of what the world of Dredd is about.

Next up is the first part of Jaegir story. This is a spin-off of the gritty future-war Rogue Trooper stories, but you don’t need to know that. It’s a grim-dark tale of a fascist war-machine on a world torn apart by chemical and genetic warfare. It’s not subtle, but it is thrilling. Next up are the first three chapters of Alan Moore’s classic, The Ballad of Halo Jones. It’s a classic and if you’ve not read it, you should. If you have, it’s always worth reading again. There’s just enough of it to appeal to new readers without it getting in the way of anyone’s enjoyment.

Finally, there’s Brink, a sci-fi thriller from the mind of Dan Abnett, who is the chap who put Rocket Racoon and Groot in the Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s an opening chapter, and again, there’s just enough to keep you wanting the next issue. Finally, we get a one-page short at the end, which caps things off nicely in a traditional ‘short and scary’ way, something that is still the calling card of British comics to this day.

Best of 2000 AD is a very promising new series which will hopefully unlock a unique and brilliant line of stories to a new generation. We’re looking forward to seeing this one hit the shelves soon!