Since I watched superb documentary Future Shock: The Story of 2000AD, I’ve been making an effort to finally work my way through the 2000AD and Judge Dredd comics that I’d acquired and not quite got around to reading. I’ve even managed to get through other Rebellion-published comics recently, perhaps most notably for readers of the blog – seeing as I wrote a review covering it just yesterday – was The Thirteenth Floor: Home Sweet Home.
I’ve been an on and off reader of 2000AD for most of my life, as I’ve previously mentioned. As it came out a few months before I was born, it’s always been there – and even when I’ve not been keeping up with it religously, I’ve always been aware of the general goings-on in the Galaxy’s Greatest comic. The publications I’ve more consistently purchased – seeing as they stand alone and don’t require any long term investment or tactical jumping on points to fully enjoy – are the Specials that the various publishers of 2000AD have released over the years.
One of these is the annual 2000AD Sci-Fi Special, which has a long tradition, going way back to the early days of the comic. The first issue of the Sci-Fi Special (pictured) was published in 1978 – and saw 19 issues published until the final Special in 1996 saw a hiatus that continued until 2014, when current publishers Rebellion revived the title once more.
Last year’s Sci-Fi Special was a heartfelt, wonderful tribute to the late Carlos Ezquerra, the Spanish artist who died in late 2018 – and who co-created Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog, among many other characters.
For this year’s Sci-Fi Special, the focus is on the 20th Anniversary of Rebellion’s purchase of 2000AD. The comic’s been in wonderfully safe hands in the last 20 years and has grown dramatically when other print publications are either already long lost in the mists of time or sadly on their way out. An interview with Rebellion co-founder Jason Kingsley in the 2020 Sci-Fi Special goes over how Rebellion’s purchase of the magazine and its wonderful stable of iconic characters came to pass.
There are a number of old stories reprinted here too, each of which are significant milestones for one reason or another; they are all stories that were published for the first time during Rebellion’s tenure.
Alongside these reprinted strips are new ones; the gimmick with the new strips being the pairing of characters invented pre-Rebellion with those introduced since the year 2000. So we get Dredd/Zombo in a great strip with a killer final panel and Shako/Kingdom (Shako, the’only bear on the CIA death list’, has also recently been seen in the Dreddverse) amongst other similarly odd mashups.
Being a 100 page special – with most of the pages being dedicated to the strips – it’s really good value for money. The intros to the classic reprints give some insight into their history as well as why they’ve been chosen for their significance; these details are most welcome and always of interest. I’ve always been a fan of the larger, magazine-style size of British comics and the continued high standard of the art – not to mention the high production quality in general – of Rebellion’s various 2000AD-related publications is a great justification for the increased size in comparison to the smaller American-sized comics that are now more familiar internationally.
The 2020 Sci-Fi Special isn’t one I’d necessarily recommend to new readers though; even though most of the strips stand alone, it is definitely advantageous – and far more satisfying – to have advance knowledge of the large number of characters and universes the stories cover. That said, some of the strips featured are of more obscure characters, so the chances are that even those readers not coming to 2000AD entirely fresh may be lost in a few cases.
Still, with so many stories on offer there’ll definitely be something to enjoy; the reprints of Dredd and Sinister Dexter stories, as two examples, require very little in the way of prior knowledge to be enjoyed.
No doubt I’ll be covering more 2000AD related comics over the course of the next few months; there’s some promising specials on the horizon as well as others recently released that I’ve read but have yet to cover – so if you’re interested in zarjaz comics and haven’t succumbed to thrill-sucker infestation, you’re more than welcome to join me again soon.
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