Best of 2000 ADBest of 2000 AD Vol. 2

Writers: Al Ewing, Dan Abnett, Pat Mills, Alan Moore, Alan Grant, Jamie Delano, and Alan Davis with an essay by Tom Shapira
Artists: Colin Wilson, INJ Culbard, Kevin O’Neill, Steve Dillon & John Higgins, Mick McMahon, and Alan Davis & Mark Farmer
Colourists: Chris Blythe and Mark Farmer
Letterers: Annie Parkhouse, Simon Bowland, Steve Potter, Tony Jacob, Tom Frame, and Jack Potter
Publisher: Rebellion
Release Date: January 31 2023

“Best of” appellations can be tricky.

You never know which criteria are used to pick the best. Are they sales metrics? Critical acclaim? That they’re written by Alan Moore, Pat Mills, or Alan Grant? Especially when you’ve got a catalogue as rich and deep as several decades of 2000 AD. You could easily fill years’ worth of volumes on a handful of serials alone and not even touch a Judge Dredd story, which probably makes the selection process staggering.

Like the first volume, Best of 2000 AD – Volume 2, edited by Owen Johnson, features a selection of solid picks ranging from modern hits to seminal classics from a bevy of comics luminaries. It serves as a great introduction for new readers, a welcome home to lapsed readers, and an easily accessible collection for current readers wanting to expand into the back catalogue, giving a sampling of thrills in a handy place.

Best of 2000 AD

“Be pure! Be vigilant! Behave!”

The lion’s share of this volume goes to Nemesis the Warlock from Pat Mills, Kevin O’Neill, Steve Potter, and Tony Jacob. I think it’s important that these collections include some of the pillars that formed the backbone of the anthology over the years and that’s nicely done here with a presentation of what I believe is the collected Book One of Nemesis the Warlock in its entirety. Propelled by the extremes of the art of Kevin O’Neill—who left us late last year, making the inclusion early on in these volumes quite nice—this series exemplifies the somewhat chaotic nature of a serialized anthology, with chapters shifting presentation and story, while telling a rather interesting tale of humanity’s attempt to destroy the deviant, purge the unclean, kill the alien, essentially turning themselves into monsters in the process. It’s introduced with an historical essay from Tom Shapira that gives a good insight into the property.

There are a pair of Judge Dredd stories here, one from 2009 that I believe was uncollected before and a rarity from the 1982 annual. The first is “Magic Bullets” from Al Ewing, Colin Wilson, Chris Blythe, and Annie Parkhouse. It’s a solid story in its own right and, even if it is from more than a decade ago now, I feel gives a very good representation of the sensibilities of modern Dredd tales. There’s a bit of an impossible crime, over-the-top violence, offbeat humour, and a bit of social commentary. I’m a huge fan of Wilson’s art, who to me captures the essence of legends like Carlos Ezquerra, Dave Gibbons, and Walt Simonson, and then gives it a gritty spin. Beautiful stuff. The second is The Vampire Effect from Alan Grant, Mick McMahon, and Tom Frame. Grant also sadly passed away last year, so it’s nice to see more inclusion of this pillar of 2000 AD‘s work presented here. Any excuse to read more McMahon stories is a good excuse and this one delivers a satisfying space monster tale.

Two more gems from the vault are included in this volume. The ABC Warriors story from Alan Moore, Steve Dillon, John Higgins, and Steve Potter, Red Planet Blues, is a stunningly beautiful tale of desolation and emptiness. The artwork from Dillon and Higgins is simply gorgeous. And another DR & Quinch one-pager from Jamie Delano, Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, and Steve & Jack Potter that delivers some of 2000 AD‘s trademark ultra-violent, offbeat humour.

Finally, this volume also reminds us that ultimately 2000 AD is an anthology that features serials, continuing Brink from the first Best of… volume, giving us the concluding chapters to Book One of that series. Brought to us by Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, and Simon Bowland, Brink is one of the more recent hits from the series, delving into a post-Earth society that seems to be tearing itself apart from within as it goes mad from being confined within its new habitats. And that there might be more going on than meets the eye. It’s a sci-fi epic, told through the lens of a jaded law enforcement officer, that just recently concluded its Book Five and it’s good to see it here for people to get in on the relative ground floor.

I think it’s a daunting task to put together a cross-section of the best from a book with such a rich history, and so far the Best of 2000 AD continues to deliver. This is a wonderful treat for newcomers to dive into to get a taste of the anthology and a reminder of highlights to those of us who have been reading for some time. One of my personal favourites, Ian Edginton and D’Israeli’s Leviathan, is promised for the next volume and I’m excited to see more people experience that cosmic horror classic.

Verdict: Buy

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