WHAT IS IT?
The first of a six-volume graphic novel series, Best of 2000 AD, Volume 1 contains an anthology of seminal stories from the British sci-fi comic series.
This collection draws to mind the comedic space hijinks of Guardians of the Galaxy mixed with the bold drama from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
During an alternate future, we follow a series of dystopian heroes through their various exploits. In the opening story, law enforcement officer Judge Dredd faces off against a group of anarchists on a mutant compound. Late 21st-century investigator Bridget Kurtis finds herself ensnared in a strange cult case in Brink. Other no-nonsense female protagonists include ordinary woman living in the housing projects Halo Jones and psychic officer of the PSI division Judge Cassandra Anderson. These two embark on journeys of self-discovery amidst obstacles and heartbreaking deaths in their respective comic titles.
Portals to other dimensions open, our heroes traverse the boundless reaches of space, and mystery imbues the pages of this beginner's volume to the expansive world of 2000 AD comics.
This first volume is a strong entry point and works as a perfect introduction to 2000 AD. It promotes some of the best the publisher has to offer, such as classic comics from John Wagner, Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, Alan Moore, Ian Gibson, Carlose Ezquerra, Steve Potter, Alan Davis, and more, while covering a wide array of ideas in the sci-fi realm.
The anthology successfully reaches a wide demographic in its 192-page collection of diverse tales. Although not all readers will connect with every story or character, they will undoubtedly want to familiarize themselves further with one or several comics included.
The order of stories comprising a dense anthology creates a nearly imperceptible impact on the reading experience -- until a tonal shift feels seismic. Luckily, the arrangement of comics in this Best of collection flows nearly flawlessly.
Breaking up the wacky Strontium Dog entry with a lovely critical essay by Adam Karenina Sherif pre-empting and giving insight into the Anderson, PSI Division comic allows for a steady transition between the tonally dissonant tales. Sherif's essay stuns with a mastery of prosaic language and insight. It almost makes you crave an equally well-written essay preceding every comic in the anthology!
A couple Judge Dredd stories appear, but 2000 AD launches readers back in time with the vintage Judge Dredd: Mutie Block by John Wagner, Kev Walker, Chris Blythe, and Annie Parkhouse on page one. It's a strong start, letting new readers dip their toes into learning about the famous character and his world -- frighteningly -- mirroring our own.
With a philosophical script by Alan Grant, art and layouts leaving you astounded by Arthur Ranson, and explosive lettering from Steve Potter, Anderson, PSI Division: Shamballad elevates the sci-fi genre on all fronts. The comic appears at the anthology midpoint, following Sherif's essay and showcasing the rich depths of what 2000 AD has to offer.
Part One of the first Brink book rounds out the female-led comic selections here and has only one issue: The stakes ramp up immensely and leaves readers with a cliffhanger on one of the best visual panels in the anthology!
One cohesive piece uniting the anthology -- aside from the genre and fabulous artistry -- is its penchant for cinematic SFX. In each comic, action, explosions, and noises reverberate, seeming to shake the panels, due to the lettering's parameters allowing bold SFX placement and design.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: The 2000 AD entries presented here are not visually graphic, but people do get shot, killed, and attacked throughout. Where a content caution might be necessary stems from the mature thematic material, often centered around politics, moral dilemmas, and self-actualization younger readers may not understand.
Anyone who's ever heard of 2000 AD knows their comic genre settles in the sci-fi realm. These are heavy sci-fi comics, plunging readers headfirst into futuristic worlds operating with advanced technology and unusual linguistics. Readers can be overwhelmed initially, trying to pick up the confusing terminology quickly -- especially in The Impossible Ballad of Halo Jones or possibly Brink.
I personally connected the least with the longest story in the anthology, The Impossible Ballad of Halo Jones, until the later Progs because the shopping plot was uninteresting and the terminology was difficult to follow.
D.R. & Quinch's Agony Page was quite hilarious, but it felt like an odd one-pager to end the anthology on, particularly after the captivating events in Anderson, PSI Division: Shamballad a few pages prior. It does act as comic relief.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Before reading this anthology, my only knowledge of 2000 AD comics came from covering Full Tilt Boogie and reading a few essays from comic critics about Judge Dredd. I can now say with full conviction the Best of 2000 AD Volume One has transformed me into an instant fan of the publisher. You will require more of the stories and characters you first meet here the moment their short comic ends in the anthology.
The entries starring Judge Dredd instantly draw in new readers with a defined character grappling with loyalty, morality, and self-preservation. Female protagonists dominate a good portion of the anthology, written with nuance and embracing independence. If it wasn't clear after this review, I think Anderson, PSI Division: Shamballad is a shining star in both visuals and storytelling in the entire breadth of the comic medium.
A quintessential entry point for new readers and an exemplary re-discovery for fans of the classics, Best of 2000 AD will ignite a dialogue and remind readers why comics are utterly fun to read.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Full Tilt Boogie by Alex de Campi & Eduardo Ocaña
Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
Captain Ginger by Stuart Moore & June Brigman
If you like the art:
Outcasts by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Cam Kennedy & Steve Montano
Doom Patrol by Grant Morrison & Various Artists
The Apocalypse War by Carlos Ezquerra, John Wagner & Alan Grant
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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