Anthologies are a mystery to me. I suppose that they have their place, short snippits of multiple different stories. Readers can follow several new tales from beginning to end, and they can introduce the un-initiated to a new established superhero or league. For example in this issue of 2000 AD, it was my first time reading the Judge Dredd character. However, since I was plopped into the middle of a small part of what I suppose is a much larger story, I found it difficult to enjoy, which was the case with…well…every story within this particular issue. However, seeing as my choice was between reading something sexually explicit and difficult to read without having first read the first issues in the series, and this issue of 2000 AD, I felt I could review the latter more fairly somehow. Maybe because while confusing, there were things I liked about it. Or at least, wanted to like.
The first story in the anthology is of Judge Dredd escorting an alien crocodile thing to sign a peace treaty, however, the alien crocodile thing is actually a decoy of another alien crocodile thing and stuff goes wrong and bleh. As I said in the above paragraph, anthologies aren’t really my thing, and to some extent, I found all the stories boring in one way or another because I wasn’t attached to the characters. So I feel that honestly, I can really only review the art and the writing. In the Judge-Dredd story, the art is not what I’ve been lead to believe from what little I’ve heard of the series. It’s bold-lined and very cartoony. I’m not sure if this is because the Judge Dredd art style is normally cartoony, or if this wasn’t taken quite as seriously as I thought JD was. Although while cartoony in a way, that makes it difficult to take anything within the story seriously, it’s not bad, possibly just out-of-place for this particular story. As for the writing, I can’t say it’s well written, but it’s certainly not bad. It’s just plain, utilitarian. It gets the job done but it’s not going to win any prizes soon, and really, that’s nothing to be scoffed at. Getting the job done in writing is half the battle.
The next story consists of a group of people named “The Order” all grouping up together with various kinds of weaponry and some kind of intricate plan in order to take out a monstrous “Wyrm” (that is, a gigantic worm with a cylindrical mouth covered in teeth), from the bottom of London before it can do any harm. The art is done in gorgeous water-colour and ink style drawings, and looks kind of like a weathered version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Alan Moore, 1999). The writing is original and entertaining to read, even though I didn’t know what was going on I did enjoy watching the characters converse with each other.
The next story, The ABC Warriors, sports a dark, black-and-white art style which is difficult to read and distinguish at times, however, most of the comic is quite distinctive and clear in its art and is wonderfully drawn. The writing is once again original, and though I haven’t been able to follow the story up until reading this anthology, I did have a genuinely emotional moment when a robot was enduring shock-torture. If a story can make someone emotional without knowing characters and their backgrounds, then that story’s writer is doing something right.
Kingdom: Beasts of Eden features a simple art style that is a joy to read and look at, however the writing feels basic, and I felt like I could sum-up the characters in the short time it took me to read this anthology-length snippit. However, it did make me want to go back and read the story before what I read to give me the chance to be proven wrong.
The final story Strontium Dog isn’t pretty to look at, or read. Consisting of a lot of characters and what appears to be a convoluted plot, I found it difficult to get into. The other stories in the anthology piqued my interest a little, but Strontium Dog just failed to, and I found the art style very unattractive.
While my review is largely ignorant of any content of much worth to the overarching stories of the comics 2000 AD presents, I have to commend the collection of artists and writers on this particular project. I might not have been able to appreciate the stories, but the art and writing style is largely done well, with little to complain about. 3.5/5 stars.
STORY BY Rob Williams, Kek-W, John Wagner,
COVER BY Jon Davis-Hunt