Writer: John Wagner, Alan Moore, Dan Abnett, Gordon Rennie, Henry Flint
Artist: Colin MacNeil, Simon Colby, Ian Gibson, I.N.J. Culbard, Henry Flint
Publisher: Rebellion Publishing
The number one question that get asked when folks find out you’re a 2000 AD reader is where they can start reading. And with over 40 years of publishing some of the greatest sci-fi, horror, comedy, and fantasy comic strips ever to grace the spinner-racks of a comic shop, it really can be tricky to know where to start in the vast collection of Rebellion’s material. Lucky for new readers and those already preaching the Thrill-Power gospel alike, Rebellion has graced us with the perfect-bound anthology series Best of 2000 AD; which is, essentially, the créme de la créme of pre-released 2000 AD material.
With Best of 2000 AD #1 making it’s market debut in April, it seemed only appropriate to beg and plead my greedy little anglophile heart out to get an advanced copy to shout about to the masses, and I’m entirely glad that I did. First impressions are important, and Rebellion seemed to make that a priority when designing this series that would be reaching a more American audience. The book-bound style collection fits neatly over 100 pages with a superb cover from The Wicked + The Divine’s Jamie McKelvie and design by HoX-PoX famed Tom Muller, making it a perfect addition to fit neatly among traditional graphic novel collections on the typical comics bookshelf lined with DC, Image, or Marvel.
And sure, looking nice on a bookshelf is an important choice if you’re really into the aesthetics side of collecting comics; but it doesn’t mean much unless the stories and pictures inside of it can knock your socks off, too.
Fortunately, despite the face readers may initially make at the idea of an anthology collecting nothing but old stories without any new stories included, the curation of this debut anthology proves just how timeless 2000 AD’s stories really are. And I’ll be honest — it doesn’t hurt that the curation of stories include some of the best that Rebellion has to offer with stories from writers such as Alan Moore, John Wagner, Dan Abnett, Gordon Rennie; and art from Ian Gibson, Colin MacNeil, Simon Colby, and I.N.J. Culbard.
The pull for most readers will surely be the complete Judge Dredd story, Terror, that heads up the collection. An ideal jumping on point for readers trying to get acquainted with the Law Man himself, Terror paints an all-encompassing picture of the violence, authoritarianism, heart, and vengeance of the Dredd-verse by pitting Judge Dredd against a pro-democracy terrorist. Not only does the story have some genuinely heart-wrenching moments; it also gives a clear view of how original co-creator Wagner writes Dredd — hyper-violent, heavy with tongue-in-cheek political commentary, and entirely absurd. And though the story was published 16 years ago, the message behind it comes through as true as ever through Wagner’s famously quick pacing and MacNeil’s superb artwork.
The second strip in the lineup is the first portion of Jaegir, which is Rennie’s brutal 2014 tale from other side of the front lines of futuristic war featured in Rogue Trooper. Exploring more of the Nort side of the conflict, readers are introduced to Kapitan-Inspector Atalia Jaegir, whose job is the hunt down Nort war criminals. And trust me…there’s plenty. Like any war comic from 2000 AD Jaegir is not afraid to be as edgy and grim as humanly possible; which seems only appropriate when dealing with a fascist-ruled society that’s crumbling because of genetic warfare. By no means subtle or for the faint of heart, Jaegir, does a magnificent job pulling double duty by pulling new readers into a more recent, horrific war story while setting up anticipation to go back and read Rogue Trooper to see the other side of the fight. And speaking of fights, I was thrilled to see Alan Moore and Ian Gibson’s The Ballad of Halo Jones bought into the collection as the third story! Though the strip was originally published in black and white (as most 2000 AD strip were), the first part of Halo Jones included in this collection are the colored version of the pages. Purists may shake their heads and shake their fists, but it’s undeniable that the colors from Barbara Nosenzo are exceptional and add to experiencing Halo Jones for the first time rather than detract from it.
Last full strip to make the cut for Best of 2000 AD #1 is part one of Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard’s sci-fi thriller Brink, which follows Habitat Security Division investigator Bridget Curtis, who is tasked with (habitat) security in a future where humans now overcrowd “habitats” floating through space. Anyone who is familiar with Abnett from his work with DC and Marvel will find a completely new side to the writer with this story as it reads much less Rocket Racoon, and much more Blade Runner meets True Detective, and is coupled perfectly with Culbard’s clean line-work and muted day-glo coloring. With Brink still running in the current 2000 AD issues, this first glimpse is the perfect taste of what to expect going forward, and is a intro that is guaranteed to have you wanting more.
Rounding out the issue is a one-page strip from Judge Dredd and Zombo artist Henry Flint that wraps the first collection in the most traditionally British-comics way possible: with a little bit of humor that showcases just how important a touch of comedy is to the 2000 AD reputation.
- As a whole, Best of 2000 AD #1 is a masterclass in pulling in new readers — not with variant covers, all-new characters, multi-verses, or gimmicks — but with a careful and thoughtful appreciation for the core stories that made the comic strips great in the first place. With almost half a century of material to play with, curation of these stories had to have been no easy task, but have ultimately come together to form the ideal starting point for American readers just finding the Thrill-Power offered by the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic while giving a grateful head nod to those who have been reading for years.
For those ready to dive into their 2000 AD reading experience, Best of 2000 AD #1 will be available on April 29th, 2020 through 2000 AD’s web store and all good comics retailers.