In this extra-sized issue of the sci-fi anthology book, 2000 AD, we have stories of Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Grey Area, Slaine, Indigo Prime, Sinister Dexter, and The Fall of Dead World.
The Judge Dredd story entitled 'Icon', by T.C Eglington, Colin MacNeil, and Chris Blythe, is about a plan to erect a statue to Judge Dredd in honor of the Day of Chaos from years before.
This stirs up a bit of controversy, as many feel Dredd is the reason for a lot of their problems with his especially grim and brutal approach to justice. This culminates in a riot at a bar, but all is not as it seems. Regardless, Dredd is called in.
Riots, controversial statues, and law enforcement intervention make this a rather blatantly contemporary story from Judge Dredd, and it's not a good fit for this universe.
Judge Dredd has always been a story of authoritarianism in a world of chaos and misery. You root for Dredd and his over-the-top machismo, but it's not something you want in your own world (unless you're completely freaking nuts).
As such, attempting to tell a tale of him squashing a chaos-inducing controversy constructed by a clandestine group of insurrectionists — well, I'm not sure I want to cheer on Dredd arresting protestors. Because they're kinda right.
Oh, it's okay, though, because they're backed by someone who seems to be a Trump analogue but behaves like the person Alex Jones thinks George Soros is.
It's not, though.
Anywho, the plot doesn't really work because it's trying to use contemporary politics in a world that was designed out of a Cold War-era interpretation of a dystopian super-urbanized future. So, how's the art?
It's pretty good. Dredd looks threatening and imposing. The evil Trump/Soros politician looks greasy and a bit like Principal Vagina from Rick and Morty. It brown-yellow color palette fits the depressing world of Mega City One.
Unfortunately, this doesn't help the conspiratorial plot which tries to fit a square peg into a round hole.
The episode of Rogue Trooper by James Robinson and Leonardo Manco features the crew of a roaming super-tank observing the titular Rogue Trooper barreling towards them. The commander of the tank reflects on the world, his career, and even a bit of philosophy.
It's actually a bit more interesting than you would think a promotional vignette for the re-release of a videogame would be. The tank commander seems like an interesting guy, and the grayscale artwork is pretty damn expressive and intense.
Grey Area's 'Homeland Security' arc by Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison tells the story of a number of brigades organized by Exo-Transfer Control and United Planets answering a potential threat in Kuwait.
This short tale is pretty dull and uses its entire runtime to dump exposition and military/sci-fi jargon, none of which is particularly interesting.
To its credit, you don't see many futuristic sci-fi tales that feature a world that has joined an extra-planetary government and yet still has issues between individual nations on Earth.
One of the main characters calling the alien woman "bitch" in every other line of dialogue was a bit distasteful. I don't care why he does it; it's a bit uncomfortable and doesn't make him particularly likable.
The art has a grimy charm to it that is aided by the gray-centric color choices. It's not great, but it's not bad either.
However, the overall plot was boring and unengaging.
Slaine: The Brutainia Chronicles by Pat Mills and Simon Davis features an intense tale of Slaine and Sinead battling the stone armies of the Archon Yaldaboath, as the mad god rages against humanity.
This story was pretty damn cool, and the art was incredible. The only problem was that I wanted more.
Also, Sinead's clothing doesn't really make since. She wears a belt just to cover up her nipples. I'm just saying — what would the in-universe reason be for dressing like that?
Indigo Prime: A Dying Art by John Smith and Lee Carter presents a tale in which the imagineers of Indigo Prime are going catatonic for unknown reasons.
As someone with no prior knowledge of this franchise, it was a little hard to follow. However, it was intriguing enough, and its ideas are fascinating if a bit too existential for their own good.
The art is really solid, although the faces are so realistic that they almost fall into the uncanny valley.
Sinister Dexter by Dan Abnett, Steve Yeowall, and John Charles get a story with 'Down in the Dumps', wherein the hitmen duo struggle to find a place to dispose of a body.
The characters are really charming with a lot of humor and personality, and their struggles to dispose of the corpse are entertaining as hell. The ending is especially great. The art has a stylized charm to it, and the colors are bright and contrasting.
The final tale, The Fall of Deadworld by Kek-W and Dave Kendall, is a macabre and surrealist tale of an annihilated planet in the Judge Dredd universe. Everything included is unnerving and bizarre, and I dug the hell out of it.
The art especially has this washed-out and decaying feel to it that puts you in this wrong place.
Overall, this extra-sized issue of 2000 AD is a mixed bag. Slaine, Sinister Dexter, Indigo Prime, and The Fall of Deadworld really hit the sweet spot. Rogue Trooper was pretty good. Judge Dredd was underwhelming, though, and Grey Area was near-intolerable. I can recommend it if any of those first four are really your jam. If you were interested in the rest, it's not really worth it, especially at the $5.45 price. If you like Judge Dredd, though, you'll still probably want to read Deadworld. In the end, I tentatively recommend the book.