Friday, August 24, 2018

The Apocalypse War

2000 AD #266 (IPC; May 29, 1982; 16p)
There's not much better than reading Judge Dredd on newsprint. Before British comics like Eagle and this title moved to thinner glossy paper, this was standard comics format in England. The paper has aged pretty well, which makes for a wonderful color printing palette 36 years on. Most of the issue, though, is black and white, and in heavier-inked stories, that can get a little muddled on newsprint (especially in the Dredd installment). Regardless, the aesthetics of reading this is a grand experience.

Sam Slade: Robo Hunter—five pages, Script Robot: Alan Grant, Art Robot: Ian Gibson, Lettering Robot: Steve Potter. "The Filby Case, Part 1" After stalling his landlord behind on rent payments, Slade is accosted by three burly robots who warn him off the Filby case. Only thing is, Slade isn't working on a case involving anyone named Filby. Then two droids from Special Branch question him about the Filby case, of which he knows nothing. A mobster named East-End Ernie also threatens Slade, asking him to pass information related to the case to him and his organization. And in the fourth to the last panel, Slade meets Filby! The story is clever and quick-paced, and the end result is similar to a Boy Scout skit such as "JC Penney" or "Biker Gang." Gibson's futuristic cityscapes and robot character designs are excellent. Quote of note: "Robo Goonie! Goonie Robo! Robo Robo! Goonie Goonie!"

Rogue Trooper—four pages, Script Robot: Gerry Finley-Day, Art Robot: Colin Wilson, Lettering Robot: Bill Nuttall. "All Hell on the Dix-I Front, Part One"  Equal parts Sgt. Rock and Bloodshot, "genetic infantry man" Rogue Trooper initially distrusts the armistice, but travels to Nu Atlanta behind the southern front line. After a decontamination bath, he discovers a medic "pouring something into the filter system." Dispatching the terrorist, he suspects a shock offensive by the forces of Greater Nordland. Wilson's use of blacks and shadow in this story is awesome, with several panels exhibiting particularly impressive shading.

The Mean Arena—three pages, Script Robot: A. Ridgway, Art Robot: M. White, Lettering Robot: P. Knight. After losing to the Allerton Ants, Slater's Slayers get dressed down by their sponsor. They train with some droids, and Matt Tallon tracks down "the people who caused [his] brother's death." This isn't the most interesting story in the issue, but it reminded me of Blood Bowl, which is an OK thing to remember.

Ace Trucking Co.—five pages, Script Robot: Grant Grover, Art Robot: Belardinelli, Lettering Robot: Steve Potter. "Last Lug to Abbo Dabbo, Part 7" Alien space trucker Ace Garp has been driven insane, and encased in plasteen. Rescued by his ship Speedo Ghost, Ace is freed from his prison cube. The ship manufactures an antidote to the Heeble drug that brought on the insanity and injects it into Ace's posterior. Ace then returns to the Bloo Maru to exact his revenge on Spawny. Ace is kind of a cross between Impossible Man and Tyrone from Nexus. The second page panel featuring the Ghost ship is stellar, as is the panel featuring the now-sane Ace leaving his ship with gun and grenades. Rather silly and chaotic—the injection panel is a bit much—but fun all the same.

Judge Dredd—seven pages, Script: T.B. Grover, Art: C. Ezquerra, Lettering: Frame. "The Apocalypse War, Part 22" Two of the seven pages are in color, similar to the comic's cover, but that's it. That color, though limited, is amazing, especially with the aging of the paper and ink over the years; Ezquerra's artwork is really good. Dredd leads a squad to take over an East-Meg missile silo in order to destroy East-Meg One in order to "reverse the course of the Apocalypse War." The squad, including telepathic Anderson, reach the launch controls and "death spews from the silos."

Availability: "The Apocalypse War" storyline was collected in Judge Dredd Classics Volume 1: Apocalypse War. "All Hell on the Dix-I Front" was collected in Rogue Trooper: Tales of the Nu-Earth Vol. 1.

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