One Mad Dog


[Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 01] – (John Wagner, Pat Mills, Brian Bolland, Ian Gibson, Mike McMahon, Gerry Finley-Day, Peter Harris, Kevin Gosnell, Malcolm Shaw,Massimo Belardinelli, Ron Turner, Joe Collins)

Even if people have never heard of the top UK Sci-Fi comic 2000AD they have most likely heard of Judge Dredd. No doubt this is as a result of the rather poor Stallone movie rather than the excellent comic books.  For those who have not heard of Judge Dredd, he is a lawmaker of the future fighting crime and dealing justice on his trusty lawmaker.  His adventures are set in 2099AD in a very hostile version of the earths future.

Volume 1 collects all the Judge Dredd appearances in 2000AD from prog 2 all the way through to Prog 60 including :

  • “Judge Whitey”  written by Peter Harris with art by Mike McMahon (Prog #2)
  • “The New You”  written by Kelvin Gosnell with art by Mike McMahon (Prog #3)
  • “The Brotherhood of Darkness”  written by Malcolm Shaw with art by Mike McMahon (Prog #4)
  • “Krong” written by Malcolm Shaw with art by Carlos Ezquerra (prog #5)
  • “Frankenstein II”  written by Malcolm Shaw with art by Mike McMahon (Prog #6)
  • “The Statue of Judgement”  written by Malcolm Shaw with art by Mike McMahon (Prog #7)
  • “Antique Car Heist”  written by Charles Herring with art by Massimo Belardinelli (Prog#8)
  • “Robots” written by John Wagner with art by Ron Turner (Prog#9)
  • “Robot Wars” written by John Wagner with art by Carlos Ezquerra (Prog #10), Ron Turner (Progs #11, 13 & 16), Mike McMahon (Prog#12 & 15) and Ian Gibson (Progs#14 &17)
  • “Brainblooms”  written by John Wagner with art by Mike McMahon (Prog#18)
  • “Mugger’s Moon” written by Gerry Finley-Day with art by John Cooper (Prog#19)
  • “The Comic Pusher” written by John Wagner with art by Mike McMahon (Prog#20)
  • “The Solar Sniper” written by Gerry Finley-Day with art by Ron Turner (Prog#21)
  • “Mr Buzzz” written by John Wagner with art by Ian Gibson (Prog#22)
  • “Smoker’s Crime” written by Gerry Finley-Day with art by Mike McMahon (Prog #23)
  • “The Wreath Murders” written by Malcolm Shaw with art by Mike McMahon (Prog#24)
  • “You Bet Your Life” written by John Wagner with art by Ian Gibson (Prog#25)
  • “Dream Palace” written by John Wagner with art by Mike McMahon (Prog#26)
  • “The Academy of Law”  written by John Wagner with art by Ian Gibson (Prog#27) and Mike McMahon (Prog#28)
  • “The Neon Knights” written by Pat Mills with art by Ian Gibson (prog#29)
  • “The Return of Rico” written by Pat Mills with art by with art by Mike McMahon (Prog#30)
  • “Devil’s Island”  written by Gerry Finley-Day with art by Ian Gibson (prog#31)
  • “Komputel” written by Robert Flynn with art by Mike McMahon (Prog #32)
  • “Walter’s Secret Job” written by John Wagner with art by Ian Gibson (Prog#33)
  • “Mutie the Pig” written by John Wagner with art by Mike McMahon (Prog#34) and Ian Gibson (Prog#35)
  • “The Troggies” written by John Wagner with art by Mike McMahon (Prog#37) and Ian Gibson (Prog#36)
  • “Billy Jones” written by John Wagner with art by Ian Gibson (Prog#38)
  • “The Ape Gang” written by John Wagner with art by Mike McMahon (Prog#39)
  • “The Mega-City 5000” written by John Wagner with art by Bill Ward (Prog#40) and Brian Bolland (Prog#41)
  • “Luna 1” written by John Wagner with art by Ian Gibson (Prog#42)
  • “Showdown on Luna 1” written by John Wagner with art by Mike McMahon (Prog#43)
  • “Red Christmas” written by John Wagner with art by Mike McMahon (Prog#44)
  • “22nd Century Futzie” written by John Wagner with art by Ian Gibson (Prog#45)
  • “Meet Mr Moonie” written by John Wagner with art by Ian Gibson (Prog#46)
  • “Land Race” written by John Wagner with art by Brian Bolland (Prog #47)
  • “The Oxygen Desert”  written by John Wagner with art by Ian Gibson (Progs#48 & 49)
  • “The First Luna Olympics” written by John Wagner with art by Brian Bolland. (Prog#50)
  • “Luna 1 War” written by John Wagner with art by Brian Bolland (Prog#51)
  • “The Face-Change Crimes” written by John Wagner with art by Brian Bolland. (Prog#52)
  • “The Killer Car” written by John Wagner with art by Ian Gibson (Progs #53-56)
  • “The Oxygen Board” written by John Wagner with art by Brian Bolland (Prog#57)
  • “Full Earth Crimes” written by John Wagner with art by ???? (Prog#58)
  • “Return to Mega-City”  written by John Wagner with art by Mike McMahon (Prog #59)
  • “Firebug”  written by John Wagner with art by Mike McMahon (Prog #60

Bonus Stuff:

  • “The First Dredd” written by Pat Mills and John Wagner with art by Carlos Ezquerra.
  • “Walter the Wobot : Tap Dancer” written by Joe Collins with art by Ian Gibson (Prog#50)
  • “Walter the Wobot : Shoot Pool!”  written by Joe Collins with art by Ian Gibson (Prog#51)
  • “Walter the Wobot : Walter’s Brother” written by Joe Collins with art by Brian Bolland (Progs#52 – 56)
  • “Walter the Wobot : Radio Walter”  written by Joe Collins with art by Brian Bolland (Prog#57) written by Joe Collins with art by Brian Bolland (Progs#58)

Judge Dredd Case Files Volume 1 is mainly made up with one shot issues about Dredd fighting crime and upholding the law. Looking at the list above it can be seen that pretty much every issue of 2000AD  changed the writer or artist (or both) between consecutive issues which sounds like a recipe for disaster.  Reading a collection with such a diverse collection of writers and artists  is usually a bit of an unsatisfying experience as a trade lends itself much better to longer story arcs. That isn’t the case with this book and I ended up really enjoying the overall experience.  Although most of the stories are one shots there are still some developing themes that run through the books such as Dredd’s robo servant Walter, the odd criminal, Mega City 1 and Luna 1. The artists and writers obviously did their research before they contributed.

Its hard for me to single out particular stories that I enjoyed but the longer arc about a robot revolution (Robot Wars)  stood out. Even though it a pretty common story premise across the different characters in 2000AD/Starlord it was good to see Dredd’s character flesh out a little over a multi-part story. This story also introduced his somewhat annoying sidekick Walter the service droid who got his own strip eventually (see bonus material).

The “Case Files Volume 1 ”  is drawn by a bewildering array of artists including some of the cream of 2000AD.  Although Dredd does look different between consecutive issues I think the old 2000AD editorial team did a great job of keeping the feel the same. The artwork is generally from black and white originals although it does appear that some of the scans have been made from color sources. The reprint quality is pretty good and it captures the original feel of the comics well. It is hard for me to choose a favorite Dredd artist from this collection but the good news is that there are no standout bad interpretations. My least favorite Dredd is Mike McMahon’s interpretation where Dredd has a Mick Jagger lips.

The US edition is printed on a coarser paper stock than the UK  collections I have but it has a nice weight and suits the content perfectly.   The bonus material is also a nice touch even if you are not a huge fan of Walter.[ISBN-13: 978-1906735876]. 8/10

Advertisements


[Strontium Dog:Search/Destroy Agency Files: Volume 1 ] – (John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, Brendan McCarthy, Ian Gibson, Alan Grant, Keith Page)
December 2, 2010, 8:13 am
Filed under: 2000AD, 9 stars, Alan Grant, Brendon McCarthy, Carlos Ezquerra, Ian Gibson, John Wagner

Strontium Dog is a comic book series created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra for the British Sci-Fi comic Starlord back in the late 1970’s. It features the stories of “Johnny Alpha” with his friend “Wulf Sternhammer” and his alien medic “The Gronk” . Strontium Dog is set in a post apocalyptic future where the mutating effects of the radioactive isotope Strontium 90 has caused portions of the population to mutate. The mutated people are treat badly by the normal population and are forced into ghettos where the only job they have open to them is that of Bounty Hunter.  Johnny alpha is one of the best of these bounty hunters (Strontium Dogs) and he uses his mutated eyes, that now emit piercing Alpha rays, to see through solid objects and into mens minds.

Volume 1 Collects: (Stories by John Wagner and art by Carlos Ezquerra unless otherwise stated)

  • “Max Quirxx” (Starlord #1-2, 1978)
  • “Papa Por-ka” (Starlord #3-5, 1978)
  • “No Cure For Kansyr” (Starlord #6-7, 1978)
  • “Planet Of The Dead” (Starlord #8-10, 1978)
  • “Two-Faced Terror!” (Starlord #12-15, 1978)
  • “Demon Maker” #17-19 (with art by Brendan McCarthy (17) and Ian Gibson (18-19), Starlord #17-19, 1978)
  • “The Ultimate Weapon” (in Starlord #21-22, 1978)
  • “The Galaxy Killers” (2000 AD #86-94, 1978)
  • “Journey Into Hell” (2000 AD #104-118, 1979)
  • “Death’s Head” (with co-author Alan Grant, 2000 AD #178-181, 1980)
  • “The Schiklegruber Grab” (with co-author Alan Grant, 2000 AD #182-188, 1980)
  • “Mutie’s Luck” (with co-author Alan Grant, 2000 AD #189, 1980)
  • “The Doc Quince Case” (with co-author Alan Grant, 2000 AD #190-193, 1980–1981)
  • “The Bad Boys Bust” (with co-author Alan Grant, 2000 AD #194-197, 1981)

Bonus Stories:

  • “Strontium Dog : Funfair of Fear” (writer unknown with art by Brendan McCarthy, Starlord Annual 1980)
  • “Strontium Dog” (writer unknown with art by Keith Page, Starlord Annual 1981)
  • “Strontium Dog” (writer unknown with art by Carlos Ezquerra, Starlord Annual 1982)
  • “Strontium Dog” (writer Bill henry with art by Brendan McCarthy,  Starlord Summer special 1978)

I think that Strontium Dog really started to find its feet when it moved to 2000AD where it was allowed to run longer story arcs. My Favorite story in the book is “The Galaxy Killers” and this is a classic example of  John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra hitting top form. Stories such as “Journey into hell” and “The Schiklegruber Grab” are also really good arcs.

The four bonus stories are a bit of a mixed bag and hammer home to me that Strontium Dog really needs a decent length story arc to truly shine. The art is great but looks like it might have originally been in color and it is a shame it is only B/W in this collection.

For me there is only one artist for Strontium Dog and that is Carlos Ezquerra. When anyone else tries to draw it I think that it  just doesn’t look right.  Brendan McCarthy actually does a really good job of illustrating strontium dog and his very detailed artwork is a real pleasure to look at but his Johnny Alpha still looks a bit wrong.  The other two artists in this collection are Ian Gibson who does a respectable job and Keith Page whose art I really didn’t like at all. This book suffers from my constant complaint about all these  “Rebellion” collected editions in that it has poor Quality reproductions in places, especially from the early Starlord stuff which may well have been in color. Slightly fuzzy reproductions aside I think Carlos Ezquerra’s art throughout this book is first rate.

I really enjoyed this book and could recommended it to any 2000AD fan wishing to delve back to earlier stuff. It should also appeal to fans of Star Wars stuff like Bobba Fet. Strontium Dog remains as one of my favorite comic book characters of all time.  ISBN-13: 978-1905437153. 9/10



[The Complete Ballad of Halo Jones] – (Alan Moore, Ian Gibson)
November 18, 2010, 7:42 am
Filed under: 2000AD, 8 Stars, Alan Moore, Ian Gibson

This TPB collects the three books of the 1984-1986 “2000AD” story line “Halo Jones”  in the original black and white comic format.

In Book One, the readers are introduced to Halo Jones, who lives in a futuristic ring-shaped ghetto called “The Hoop”. The hoop is a huge floating structure that is moored off the East coast of America. The story gives a background to the insane and violent culture and introduces many key characters to the plot.  When Halo discovers a good friend has become part of a cult know as the “Different Drummers” and her best friend Brinna has been murdered she decides to leave Earth for go0d.

Book Two depicts Halo’s life as a stewardess and Dolphin liason  on the ship “Clara Pandy” and her year-long space voyage into the cosmos. Halo discovers who murdered her friend Brinna and is forced to take drastic action. It is also revealed that Halo eventually becomes legendary which is a story that is continued in the third book.

In Book Three, Halo reaches rock bottom and is forced to sign up for the military to make a living.  She ends up fighting in the same interstellar war which ran as a back-story in the previous two books.  The war is gruesome Guerrilla style conflict in totally bizarre planetary conditions. This book ties up lots of loose ends and gives a satisfying conclusion to the series.

I must have read Halo Jones when it was originally published as I used to read 2000AD back then but I dont remember a single thing about it.  I have to be honest that I found the story and art in the first chapter of book one to be a little confusing and I was beginning to wonder what all the hype was about.  I have started reading this book two times in the past and each time abandoned it around chapter 3.  This time I persevered and I am glad I did. On the third attempt at reading things finally clicked into place and it turned out to be a great and enjoyable story.  I think the slang used in the book takes a  little getting used to and once you are comfortable with it the story just takes off. This saga is typical of both Alan Moore and 2000AD in that it mixes humor with social and political comment and some hard hitting drama.

I think Ian Gibson’s art in the first book is a little sparse as if it were rushed but he regains his usual form from book two onwards. It is not as good as his work on Robohunter or Star Wars but still a great example of the genre. All three books collected in this edition are good but I think the final one really hits home the hardest. “The Complete Ballad of halo Jones” is a satisfying and rewarding read that draws you in as the story progresses. [ISBN-13: 978-1905437184]. 8/10



[Star Wars Omnibus : Boba Fett] – (John Wagner, Ian Gibson, John Nadeau, Cam Kennedy, Carlos Meglia, Ron Marz, Adrriano Melo, Thomas Andrews, Francisco Ruiz Velasco, Carlos Ezquerra, Andy mangels, John Ostrander)
September 23, 2010, 7:57 pm
Filed under: 7 stars, Cam Kennedy, Carlos Ezquerra, Ian Gibson, John Nadeau, John Wagner, Star Wars

This Omnibus collects the following:

  • “Boba Fett : Enemy of the Empire” with story by John Wagner and art by Ian Gibson and John Nadeau.  The artwork and writing in this story is excellent especially if you are a fan of 200oAD.  Some people may find Gibsons art to be a bit cartoonish but I really like it. 
  • “Underworld: The Yavin Vassilika” with story by Mike Kennedy and art by Carlos Meglia. A pretty good story with a whole host of familiar Star Wars  characters and nicely colored cartoony art.
  • “Empire #7:  Sacrifice”  with story by John Wagner and art by Cam Kennedy. A good short  story with good artwork too.
  • “Empire #28: Wreckage” with story by Ron Marz and art by Adriano Melo. A not bad  short story with pretty good artwork. Most of the story is very light on dialogue but the ending is well written.
  • “Boba Fett :  Overkill” with story by Thomas Andrews.  This is a well written and enjoyable story. The artwork is good but quite simplistic with almost Anime cartoon styled characters and backdrops.  This does tend to detract from the story a bit.
  • ” Boba Fett : Salvage” with story by John Wagner and art by Carlos Ezquerra. A good single shot story with excellent art by Carlos Ezquerra and great coloring by Cary Porter.
  • “Boba Fett : Twin Engines of Destruction” with story by Andy Mangels and art by John Nadeau. A pretty good story about a Bobba Fett Impersonator with average artwork that didnt really capture me.  
  • “Boba Fett : Death, Lies and Tradedgy” with story by John Wagner and art by Cam Kennedy. Another good Hutt based story but with horrible looking art. The art itself isnt that bad but the coloring is really nasty. It looks like a photocopy of a cheap newspaper strip. Definitely looks out of place in this book.
  • “Boba Fett : Agent of Doom” with story by John Ostrander and art by Kam Kennedy.  A good short story about Boba Fett trying to regain some respect with good artwork.

Although I am not a huge Star Wars fan I am a big fan of John Wagners writing and Ian Gibson’s and Carlos Ezquerra’s art work so I purchased this omnibus for their work. I wasnt dissapointed by any of their contributions and the rest of the book was good too. This Omnibus has a wide variety of artistic and writing styles but works well as a whole and it is a light and fun read. The only fly in the ointment for me was the presentation of “Death, Lies and Tradgedy” which really didnt match the quality of the rest of the book. [ISBN-13: 978-1595824189 ] 7/10



[Robo-Hunter – The Droid Files Vol.2] – (John Wagner, Alan Grant, Ian Gibson, Peter Hogan, Rian Hughes, John Smith, Chris Weston, Simon Jacob)

The first collected edition of Robo-Hunter included some of my favorite comic strips of all time. The ones included in this second volume were all new to me and seem to be a bit of a mixed bag. This book contains 6 arcs most of them written by Alan Grant and John Wagner. The stuff that wasn’t written and illustrated by them is not up to the same standard as book 1.

“Football Crazy” first appeared in 2000 AD progs 283 to 288. Not a great story this one unless you are a mad football fan.  I found the whole thing to be a bit predictable and pointless. Great artwork by Ian Gibson though.

“Play It Again Sam” first appeared in 2000 AD progs 292 to 307. The story is actually pretty good and Ian Gibson’s artwork is first rate but I found it incredibly annoying to read. It is set up like a rock opera where the dialogue is all sung. I am sure this is a pretty novel concept but it really didn’t work for me.

“The Slaying of Slade” first appeared in 2000 AD progs 312 to 330.  When reading this as part of a collected edition the first thing that strikes you about this story arc is that the level of detail in Ian Gibson’s art has been toned right down. It must have been a cost cutting exercise but it is still really good. This story is classic Robo-Hunter and is right up there with the likes of “Day of The Droids” or “Verdus”.

“Sam’s Last Case”  first appeared in 2000 AD progs 331 to 334. Its a short story but a funny one,  as Hoagy and Carlos attempt to get fat old Sam to come out of retirement. As always, Great art by Ian Gibson.

“Farewell My Billions” first appeared in 2000 AD progs 435 to 443. This story is a satisfying conclusion to the Alan Grant and John Wagner written and Ian Gibson illustrated Robohunter saga.  This is a very well written story with all the classic Robo-Hunter elements. Great art by Ian Gibson.

“Winnegan’s Wake” first appeared in 2000 AD progs 852-854 although it looks like it comes from the Beano.  Horrible child like artwork, virtually illegible lettering and poor dialog.  This is a very poor story indeed and Rian Hughes artwork is definitely not to my liking. I would hate to think this was someones introduction to robohunter.

“Metrobolis” first appeared in 2000 AD progs 904-911 and features the childlike artwork of Rian Hughes. The art is better than in “Winnegan’s Wake” but it is still very sub par and still would look more at home in the Beano or Dandy. At least in this story they have a decent letterer.  Peter Hogan actually puts together an interesting story this time but the dialog and interaction between Hoagy, Carlos and Sam is not a patch on Wagner and Grant’s work.

There are also some one shot stories in the collection that are not bad. “War Of The Noses” by Peter Hogan and illustrated by Rian Hughes, “Something For the Weekend”  by John Smith and Illustrated by Chris Weston, “Slade Runner” by Peter Hogan and illustrated by Rian Hughes and “Fax and Deductions” by Peter Hogan and illustrated by Simon Jacob. Weston and Jacobs artwork take Robo-Hunter in an altogether more modern comic style and look like they were originally in full color. The black and white reproduction here doesn’t really do them justice.

Three arc’s in this book would deserve  9/10 but the overall score of this book is dragged down by the other stuff especially the strips illustrated by  Rian Huges.  [ISBN 978-1-906735-43-2]. 7/10



[Robo-Hunter: The Droid Files Vol. 1] – (John Wagner, Alan Grant, Ian Gibson, Jose Luis Ferrer)
August 5, 2010, 10:18 am
Filed under: 2000AD, 9 stars, Alan Grant, Ian Gibson, John Wagner, Jose Luis Ferrer, Robo-Hunter

Robo-Hunter is my favorite comic characters of all time. This collected edition was a real treat for me as it includes story arcs that I have never read before. The first story arc “Verdus” is fantastic and has all the great hallmarks of the series. I cant believe I have never read this . The second story is One of my all time favorites in the shape of “Day of the Droids” . The final stories are based in “Brit City” and include “The Beast of Black Heart Manor”, “The Filby Case” and “The Killing Of Kid” and they are really good. I wish they would do a deluxe version in color but even in its original black and white Ian Gibson’s artwork is a real treat.

“Verdus”  was originally published in 2000 AD progs 76 to 82 & 100 t0 112 with artwork by Ian Gibson and Jose Luis Ferrer and script by John Wagner . it seems 2000 AD were unhappy with Ferrer’s artwork and got Ian Gibson to redraw some of it and retouch other bits. There is an interesting explanation here on Gibson’s website.

“Day of the Droids” was originally published in 2000 AD progs 152 to 174 with artwork by Ian Gibson and script by John Wagner.

“The Beast of Black Heart Manor” was originally published in 2000 AD progs 259 to 265 with artwork by Ian Gibson and script by Alan Grant.

“The Filby Case” was originally published in 2000 AD progs 266 to 272 with artwork by Ian Gibson and script by Alan Grant.

“The Killing Of Kid” was originally published in 2000 AD progs 275 to 281 with artwork by Ian Gibson and script by Alan Grant.

This collected Edition is a  great example of  2000 AD at its finest.   [ISBN-13: 978-1906735210] . 9/10



[Robo-Hunter: Day of the Droids] – (John Wagner, Alan Grant, Ian Gibson)
April 21, 2010, 6:12 am
Filed under: 9 stars, Alan Grant, Ian Gibson, John Wagner, Robo-Hunter
This is my favorite comic book story of all time. The excellent writing and great artwork still feels as fresh as when I first read it back in 2000AD. A Milestone British comic. [ISBN-13: 978-1904265351]. 9/10