I have been slowly working my way through a stack of CBR files containing scans of a comic book from my long-ago youth. The comic book is called 2000 AD, and this post delves into the treasures available within issue 102 of this publication. Issue 102 was published on the third of March 1979, which is so long ago it is hard to remember what life was like back then.

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. (LP Hartley: The Go-Between)

For example, an article in The Spectator, a news magazine that was published the same day as this comic book, talked at length about a country, now gone, called Rhodesia.

A Vickers Viscount had been shot down, attracting the attention of the British press. The article is quite progressive at first glance, as it argues for Britain to help secure the transfer of power to the black majority. The author says that the UK is not an impotent bystander and should stop pretending that it is. The reasons he is calling for action are, however, deeply rooted in the world of 1979. He worries that British inertia will lead to a build-up of communist forces in the region and increasing Soviet hegemony. In a world where Marvel’s Black Panther movie has broken box office records, the imperialist games being played in Rhodesia are a real blast from the blast. It is hard to imagine Black Panther being made back in 1979. Anyway, I’ve written enough posts about Black Panther and its Afrofuturism, so let’s get back to 2000 AD.

Let’s start, as always, with the cover. This issue has a scene from a strip I don’t like on the cover. It features the characters playing a robot version of monopoly, and the hero of the strip, Sam Slade, has been drawn so badly that he looks like an imbecile.

The first story is Judge Dredd, and we are now quite far along the arc called The Day the Law Died. This is a classic piece of storytelling, but this week’s installment is a low point. It is nice to see early art by Brian Bolland, who went on to such great things, but the story itself is filler at best. By the end of the strip, Dredd’s enemies have caught up with him, so there is the promise of more action next week.

The next strip is Robo-Hunter, which is intended to be lighthearted, or perhaps even humorous, it’s hard to tell. There is a robot character in the story called Smokin’ Joe because he has a smoke stack sticking up from the center of his head. This isn’t intended as steampunk, it is just a way to show the robot is old fashioned. It’s a stupid idea, and par for the course for this strip. The whole thing revolves around playing futuristic Monopoly with a sewer robot, so breathtaking action it certainly is not.

Next comes this ugly photograph of a guy in a boiler suit, wearing a rubber mask, and holding a rotary dial phone. One of the ongoing jokes of 2000 AD is that it has an alien editor called Tharg, and this photograph is somebody dressed up to play the part of this alien editor. I was never much into the whole Tharg, thing, and I thought pictures like this were a waste of space that could be devoted to spaceships and robots.

The next story is Dan Dare, and this one is actually good. Dan Dare is a lot of fun, with sci-fi technology that is very crisply and nicely drawn. Dan Dare is the sort of unashamed space opera I have a taste for, and it makes this slightly sub-par issue worth reading all on its own.

This week there is a battleship created by scooping out an asteroid and sprinkling huge laser cannon all over the surface. Seeing it heading for a planet is a beatuful comic-book panel and makes my nerdy, sci-fi-loving heart sing. Next week we will see if the glimmerings of memory that Dan Dare is already having come back to him will turn into him realizing he is being played for a fool, and becoming a hero again.

The next strip is a self-contained story about a terrible sci-fi writer who decides to take his own life. Aliens rescue him with a tractor beam after he hurls himself from a bridge. The writer is then tortured in a series of alien tests, but they tell him he will be released after one month. There is a twist when the writer finds out a month on their planet is ten years long. But he doesn’t lose heart, instead he tricks the aliens and electrocutes them. He then teleports back to Earth, but miscalculates the coordinates and materializes in mid air before plummeting to his death. It’s a bloodthirsty and mean-spirited story, and a waste of the talents of the mighty Carlos Ezquerra, the artist they got to illustrate it.

All in all, this was not a classic issue of 2000 AD, but even this relative dud has some early art by Brian Bolland, and a ripsnorting episode of Dan Dare to recommend it. It is very rare to find an issue of 2000 AD of this classic vintage that doesn’t have some beautiful art or a stand-out story somewhere within it to make reading worthwhile.

When I’m not reading old comic books, I write sci-fi novels.

Galaxy Dog (Dark Galaxy) Start Reading the Dark Galaxy Trilogy

The first book in the Dark Galaxy Trilogy, always the best place to start, is Galaxy Dog. It’s a little more old-school and fun than a lot of the sci-fi that is around at the moment. It has spaceships, robots, battles, and brave warriors rebelling against an evil empire. Click the book cover and go to the storefront you prefer to buy it now, or follow this link.

This is a universal book link (UBL) and you will be greeted with a page displaying all the places the book is available online. Just select the storefront you prefer and, if you want, also make this your default bookseller. From then on, every time you click a UBL you will be taken directly to the book you are interested in, on the storefront you prefer. The UBL even allows you to go to the Amazon store that matches your region.