Saturday, 28 September 2013

Review - Agents of SHIELD: 1x01 - "Pilot"

Agents of SHIELD
Episode 1x01 - "Pilot"


Synopsis

After the events of The Avengers, the world is in an unsteady place, faced with the prospect that they are not alone in the universe with threats they cannot begin to imagine. Agent Phil Coulson, presumed dead, has resurfaced to form a small team of SHIELD agents, tasked with handling the smaller cases that the Avengers cannot. One such threat is that of Michael Peterson, a super-powered single father who has fallen on bad times, consumed by an energy that he struggles to contain, which may threaten the safety of those around him. Coulson's newly formed team must locate and subdue this threat, whilst dealing with the mysterious Rising Tide techno-hacker group.

Review

So, here it is, the first live-action Marvel TV series (well, if you ignore the 1970's Hulk and Spider-Man shows) and it is set firmly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the outset with references to the Battle of New York and Agent Coulson, himself. While his reappearance was largely explained as a way for Nick Fury to unite the bickering Avengers together, the brief conversation between Maria Hill and the SHIELD doctor, suggests a more deeper conspiracy at work.

Coulson's team were surprisingly glossed over in this pilot episode with the main focus on civilian Skye and the hero-of-the-week, Michael Peterson (The Hooded Hero). I imagine upcoming episodes will likely focus on the different members of the team and we'll see more mystery and back-story on them, but from the glimpses we got in this episode, they seem to be an interesting bunch, with Agents Ward and May appearing to have their own mysteries hinted at.

The characters seem to be well-cast, with Clark Gregg bringing the same charm to the role of Phil Coulson that he had in his numerous appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Cobie Smulders, as Agent Hill, is something of a oddity, only appearing briefly in The Avengers, and not really having a defined personality. While she only appears in this pilot as a Nick Fury-proxy and a further link to the movies, there is the possibility that once How I Met Your Mother ends, she may join full-time, whereupon her character can be built up more. I also liked Brett Dalton, as Agent Ward, with his prickly attitude, as well as the bickering banter between Agents Fitz and Simmons, resulting in them being referred to as "Fitzsimmons" for shorthand.

There were some really fun scenes, such as Agent Ward's stylish solo mission to retrieve a "package" from France, as well as Agent Coulson shooting him with a truth serum to gain Skye's trust, resulting in him telling her about his grandma! The action sequences with Michael Peterson were pretty good, although I am hoping for more dynamic looking super-powered threats (or "Gifteds" as the show refers to them) with more varied powers.

Unsurprisingly, there were many of the Joss Whedon traits that made his earlier TV shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, so successful, such as a strong female character (Melinda May) and the old "bait-and-switch" tactic, when Coulson and his team find Skye immediately, as she is the midst of a voice-over stating how SHIELD will not be able to. It was reminiscent of the sequence from the Buffy episode, "A New Man", when after watching Giles leave his hide-out, Ethan Rayne steps out of the shadows to deliver a villainous monologue, only to be overheard by Giles outside and caught immediately.

While I have seen stronger pilots, such as LOST and Breaking Bad, this episode did a good job at introducing the team, although I imagine future episodes will flesh them out a lot more than this one did. One other area that needs work is including more captivating mysteries, beyond that of Agent Coulson's reappearance. And while I understand the limitations of the TV show format prevents appearances of Iron Man, Hulk, etc, I was a little disappointed that there wasn't a cameo, or at least a larger mention of Nick Fury, but  I suppose there's always time for that later!

Score - 8.5 out of 10


Easter Eggs/References
  • Michael Peterson has been injected with an unstable blend of Erskine's Super-Soldier formula (Captain America), Gamma Radiation (The Incredible Hulk) and Extremis (Iron Man 3)
  • The "package" that Agent Ward recovers from Paris is a Chitauri Neural Link (The Avengers)
  • "With Great Power comes...a ton of weird crap you are not ready to deal with" (a mangled version of Spider-Man's motto)
  • "So, are you excited to be coming on our Journey into Mystery?" (This was the comic that introduced Thor)

Mysteries
  • What really happened to Coulson during his "death"?
  • What injury occurred to Agent May to stop her from going into the field? Whatever it is, doesn't seemed to have slowed her down much, suggesting a more psychological trauma took place.
  • What in Agent Ward's family history explains why he isn't a "people person"?
  • Skye mentions to Michael that she's "disappeared" someone before, implying herself. So, just who is Skye really, and why would she need to hide?
  • What was on the SIM card that Skye discreetly took from her van before Michael kidnapped her?
  • Who is the organisation behind the Centipede experiments? Hydra, perhaps?

Next Episode - "0-8-4"

Coulson and his team of SHIELD agents travel to Peru to investigate an object of unknown origin, codenamed 0-8-4, but when he runs into Commandant Camilla Reyes, more than just sparks fly at 30,000 feet. 

Interview - David Baillie [Writer / 2000AD]


David Baillie is a freelance writer and artist, who has contributed work to 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine, such as the twist in the tale Future Shocks, and most recently the three-part series, The Ghostship Mathematica. As 2000AD offers one of the few open-submissions programs with its Future Shocks stories, so I was keen to interview David and find out about his experiences.


PCB Blog: Hi David – Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for my Blog – I am aware that you have a varied career as both a writer and an artist, but for this interview, I would like to concentrate on your work for 2000AD, particularly your Future Shocks. As an aspiring writer myself, I am very keen to hear about your experiences submitting work through the 2000AD Submissions system and the various processes involved.

1) So, let’s start from the beginning, what drew you into comics? Were there any series/books that appealed to you in your childhood?

David: I reckon I have quite a common growing-up-in-the-eighties life story. My first comics were Marvel UK reprints bought at the local newsagents for about 10p, I remember reading Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's first issues of X-Men chopped up into weekly instalments when I was five. They were mostly black and white, with occasional pink or green thrown in. Then I collected the Spider-Man weekly for a few years (which was about 98% US reprint) and then the Transformers comic (all hail Simon Furman), and then, finally, the one I never gave up on: 2000AD.



2) 2000AD is a fantastic place to get stories published and due to its anthology nature, there is a lot of scope for new writers to submit short stories with a twist at the end, known as Future Shocks, to the editor. What led you to submitting your first Future Shock, 'The Lie' to the magazine? And what exactly was the process and time-scale between writing, submitting and getting published?

David: Well I'd submitted a good few Future Shocks before that. It took a long time for Tharg to respond to them, which is the case pretty much anywhere that accepts unsolicited materials, and it was always a polite "No thanks." At the time I was writing, drawing and self-publishing my own comics and then selling them at markets and comic-cons and I always sent a copy of my latest stuff to 2000AD.

Matt Badham was writing a really interesting monthly column for the Megazine about UK small press comics, and when he quit that he handed in a list of people he thought might make good replacements. My name was on the list and I suppose Matt Smith recognised it and I got the gig. I wrote that column for about a year and then afterwards I started to pitch stuff a bit more regularly. I think having a working relationship with the comic probably helped - I wasn't yet another new name in the slush pile.


I had the idea for 'The Lie' maybe a year before I wrote it, but at the time I was reading one of Mike Carey's (brilliant) Felix Castor novels which had a similar father/daughter relationship, so I dropped the idea. I mentioned this to him in the pub and he told me to stop being an idiot and write the story. The first version was a bit more action-packed and revolved around a terrible secret that was never revealed. Tharg didn't like that, so I rewrote it with more exposition and less ambiguity.


According to my files first draft to acceptance was nine days, but like I said I probably started writing that one about a year before I pitched it.




3) How exactly do you approach the task of writing a Future Shock – do you tend to decide upon the twist and work backwards, or create a scenario and eventually place a twist on the ending, or does it all come together fairly organically?

David: I like to mix up my process. As soon as it feels like I have a routine way of doing something it starts to feel like a job and, being work-shy, that's no good. I've started with a twist and worked backwards on a couple of stories. I've also started with a premise and then played with it until I have a twist that works. 

Tharg asked me for three Future Shocks in one go at one point last year and I didn't have anything ready to go, so I opened one of my ideas notebooks at a random page. There were some titles there with little or no premise attached, so I just took them and started to mess about, drawing mind maps and conjuring up images that might be interesting. 


Once I took a typo I'd made in an email - 'downloan' instead of 'download' - which tickled me, and turned that into a Future Shock. The whole story seemed to be suggested by that one portmanteau




4) Do you ever feel that some of your Future Shocks are restricted to the shorter format, and could potentially spin out into a longer story? For example, in ‘The Lie’, you show a glimpse at a world where Christianity (or Xtian) runs a totalitarian regime, with the more technological outside world – due to the fact that you are writing towards a twist, there isn't enough time to explore this concept in more detail – do you ever consider dropping a Future Shock and expanding it into a pitch for a longer series?

David: I've had a chance at writing longer stories recently, so I feel like I have an outlet for both kinds of idea. I still really enjoy writing the four page stories - sometimes it feels like I'm practising a lost art! It's also great knowing that I only have one chance to explore a new world so I have to give it everything I've got. When a 2000AD-suitable idea pops into my head now I usually have a sense of whether I'll pitch it as a one-off or something longer.



5) Do you have any tips for writing Future Shocks? Are there any challenges or pitfalls that you found yourself falling into? One of the things I tend to struggle with is the pacing of the story and not wanting to tip my hand with the twist until the final few panels, normally resulting in a burst of exposition at the end.

David: Someone (I can't remember who, sorry!) said that a good way of writing Future Shocks is to put your twist on the first page - so it becomes the kicking-off point for the story, and then you need to work in some other narrative surprise for the climax. I think that's quite good advice.

I'd also avoid having characters conducting long conversations - you have approximately 20 panels to tell your story in and, comics being a visual medium, you don't want to spend too many of them on head-shots or panels which are overwhelmed by dialogue.

I know what you mean about the danger of ending with an exposition explosion. That usually means that some of that explanation needs to be hidden earlier in the story I think. Sometimes you just have to take the chance that the reader will guess your twist - as harrowing a proposition as that is! If anyone is going to guess a Future Shock twist it's going to be a 2000AD reader - they've read hundreds of them! (Although I have to say that Tharg always pushes for unpredictable twists!)



6) You recently completed your first multi-part story for 2000AD called ‘The Ghostship Mathematica’ which was very well received by critics and the online community, including myself. Did you find any major differences between writing a short one-off Future Shock and spreading it across three parts? Do you prefer either format?

David: I was so happy with how The Ghostship Mathematica went down with the readers. I even got fan-mail and calls from one of those American publishers - although Inaki Miranda and Eva de la Cruz deserve the lion's share of the credit for making it look so great.

I loved writing the cliffhangers at the end of each episode. I remember being a teenager, reading 2000AD and wondering how the writers came up with them - and as soon as I needed to do it myself, it felt really natural. (Which is perhaps a reflection on how good an apprenticeship writing Future Shocks is.)

It was also great to be able to spend nearly four times as long in a world than I usually get with a 2000AD story (15 pages instead of 4!). It meant I could play with some storytelling techniques that only come into play with multiple episode stories, like callbacks between episodes or revisiting scenes and characters that we'd only briefly met before.



7) Do you feel that there are any influences on your writing, or particular ideas you like to visit? I find that I'm drawn to the concept of time travel myself.

David: I love time travel stories but, for some reason, they take me forever to write! (So much so that I reckon it would be quicker for me to actually invent a time machine.) I have one in the drawer here that I've worked on and shelved three or four times. The giant ant time travel Future Shock I wrote last year took three or four attempts to get right too.

There are some themes that I keep coming back to - but I try to keep an eye on it. I really don't want to become repetitive. I'm fascinated by the idea of artificial life, robots, AI - and I'd have those things in everything I ever wrote if I was allowed. I'm drawn to stories of revolution and the righting of social injustices - but V For Vendetta tackled those issues so well you have to be careful to make sure you're not just rewriting those ideas.

I think it was Alan Moore, in a 'How To Write Comics' article from the 80's, who said that as soon as you become aware of your own ticks and obsessions you have to ditch them and find something else. (I'm paraphrasing, but I think it's good advice!)



8) Do you have any plans to write more Tharg's 3rillers, or even longer stories? And on that line of questioning, do you have any future projects coming up that you would like to tease?

David: I'm working on another Tharg's 3riller right now - my definitive take on revolution and the righting of social injustices! There are a few ideas that I really wanted to use at some point - some of them based on true stories and things I've seen myself, and I've thrown them all in here. Tharg green-lit it last week and I've been working really hard on the scripts, trying to make sure that it's absolutely as good as I can make it.

I've also been commissioned to write something longer, but in prose, but I'm afraid I just checked and I'm not allowed to talk about it yet. (It's not 2000AD or Rebellion related.) Those two projects are keeping me busy at the moment, but as soon as they're over I really want to try my hand at a longer 2000AD or Megazine series. I have a notebook full of ideas so it's just a matter of finding the one I'm most passionate about at the time.



9) Are there any established characters that you will love to write for?

David: Dredd!

I actually wrote him for the first time in a short story for the Megazine last month - and it was great to finally get to play with all the Mega City one toys. I wrote a Tales from the Black Museum a couple of years ago, which was set in Mega City One - but I didn't dip my toe very deep in the water. Although I did have a battalion of Judges show up in the climax, I suppose.

I'd love to write Johnny Alpha or the ABC Warriors, but of course that's never going to happen. Or Robo Hunter, even!

As I said my first comics were Marvel and I do have a lot of affection for those characters. I don't know who or what I'd want to write for them though. I have a lot of love for Vertigo too, after many teenage years overdosing on the work of ex-2000AD creators like Morrison, Milligan and Smith. You never know...



10) Are there any comics you are reading at the moment? Anything out there you'd like to recommend?

David: The Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross is fabulous. If anyone hasn't read that they absolutely need to. (Also check out Suicide Risk while you're in the Carey section of your local comics emporium!). Jason Aaron's Thor is really fun. Valiant's reboot of Bloodshot has been exhilarating. I read the first trade of the Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye last week and really enjoyed it. Ed Piskor's Wizzywig was a thrilling ride through 80's hacking.

There are loads more but those are the ones that come to mind right now - I heartily recommend all of them!


Excellent Stuff. I look forward to reading your upcoming Tharg's 3riller and any more Future Shocks of yours that pop up in the Prog. Thanks for your time, David!


David is available via Twitter and his blog, DavidBaillie.net, which features examples of his artwork and his scripts, and is a really good resource for artists and writers. Hopefully, we will get to speak to David again when his new projects are out.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

2000AD Prog 1851

Prog 1851 Cover by Patrick Goddard & Gary Caldwell

Being unfamiliar with Aquila, I'm not sure what the veiled figure in the background represents and why she has been included, but I do like the way that the lead character is striding towards the reader, almost ready to leave the page. By focusing on the Roman aspect of the strip, I think it really demonstrates to new readers just how versatile this anthology can be!


JUDGE DREDD - NEW TRICKS (Part 2)
Script - Michael Carroll
Art - Paul Davidson
Colours / Letters - Chris Blythe / Annie Parkhouse

Although Dredd remains doubtful about Judge Kilgore’s claims that the Goblin King exists, once her psych-evaluation checks out, he leads the trio of Judges into the Undercity to investigate her story, soon discovering the Troggies are using abandoned Justice Dept. vehicles.

I’m really enjoying this story and the distinct personalities between Judges Joyce, Pax and Kilgore, as they contrast against Dredd. While Pax mentions that she suspects Joyce won’t pass his retraining, I do wonder if this is a red herring, and despite her narration, it will be her who fails her training, possibly fostering resentment towards Mega City One?


I liked the sequence in the 24-hour cafĂ©, particularly the panel showcasing Dredd observing Pax and Joyce defending themselves against the threat. As before, the artwork by Paul Davidson is really good, especially the location change from Mega City One to the Undercity, as well as the continued use of empty spaces to highlight Pax’s narration.



DAMNATION STATION - THE TITANIC SAILS AT DAWN (Part 2)
Script - Al Ewing
Art - Mark Harrison
Letters - Simon Bowland

The mystery surrounding Joe Nowhere develops when he is confronted by a former colleague, Walter, who feels compelled to kill Joe (if such a thing is possible) in order to prevent the Hosts from discovering what he is. However, Joe's insistence that he means no harm and wants to help the humans against the Host and the larger enemy behind this all fails, forcing him to regretfully kill the old man. Meanwhile, Brett Grayle, is supplied some of the memory drug, RX-909, by a mysterious benefactor.



I really liked this glimpse into Joe Nowhere's background and the hint of a larger conspiracy at work, although I was surprised to see Walter dispatched so soon. Mark Harrison's artwork continues to impress and I'm looking forward to seeing how he approaches the more alien worlds once the action returns to the skies once the new Earth Stations are built.



FLESH - BADLANDERS (Part 2)
Script - Pat Mills
Art - James McKay
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

After spending time with Vegas Carver, we now join Boots McGurk and his team of dinosaur farmers as they deal with the everyday problems that come with herding dinosaurs, such as, exploding Alamosaurs due to a build up of stomach gases! I'm not sure of the impact of the revelation that Claw Carver is alive, despite being lost in time at the conclusion of the original Flesh series in 1977, also it appears Earl Reagan (also from the original) is back. I am surprised that this is a sequel to the classic strip since it would have been ripe for a reboot, like Savage.



BRASS SUN - THE DIAMOND AGE (Part 2)
Script - Ian Edginton
Art - INJ Culbard
Letters - Ellie de Ville

After a double-length introduction last Prog, the action really kicks in, with the invading robots attacking the city, forcing Wren and Septimus to head back to the palace to retrieve her grandfather's journal, whilst Ramkin discovers out just how expendable he is, when his ladyship sends one of her scythe-robots after him.



I'm really enjoying this strip and the world that has been created by Ian Edginton and INJ Culbard. While I was surprised by the level of gore displayed during the robot's attack, the whole story still feels very Studio Ghibli-esque for me, and I love the Steampunk atmosphere both artist and writer have created between them! I can't wait to see this collected as a graphic novel, I think it could be very popular amongst the Steampunk sub-culture and non-2000AD readers. It's a testament to the fantastic storytelling that despite coming into the series late and not knowing the history of the story, I'm already keening awaiting the next episode to find out what happens to the characters!



AQUILA - WHERE ALL ROADS LEAD (Part 1)
Script - Gordon Rennie
Art - Patrick Goddard
Colours / Letters - Gary Caldwell / Ellie de Ville

Drawn instinctively to Rome, Aquila, finds a familiar face in Felix Fortunato, a soldier cursed to be Aquila's slave by Boudicca. Whilst the two reunite, it appears they have garnered unwanted attention from the Praetorians. Meanwhile, Nero performs a mystical ritual to see visions, involving sniffing someone's dying breath, and witnesses his executioner, Aquila, now back in Rome, suggesting an inevitable confrontation between the two.

I quite like this strip, even if it appears to be a fairly straight-laced Roman epic without any science fiction twist, although it does mention curses and there's some magical mumbo-jumbo in the final sequence, so I imagine there is a slight mystical element to this. I like the artwork by Patrick Goddard and the setting of Ancient Rome, so I'd imagine this should be a fun series to watch continue.



OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

In conclusion, this felt like a stronger Prog than last week, now that the majority of the introduction episodes are out of the way and the stories are able to develop. Interestingly, the teaser in this week's Input Centre for the upcoming 'Judge Dredd: Dark Justice' reuniting John Wagner, Greg Staples and the Dark Judges has now changed its date to 2014, suggesting it has been postponed, although hopefully it will show up in December's Prog 2014?


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1851 will be available in stores on Wednesday 25th September - Digital copies of this Prog will be available on the same day through the 2000AD app, which can be downloaded onto iOS devices from here.

Keep checking back each week for more reviews and features about 2000AD, the Galaxy's Greatest Comic! Remember to leave your comments below, or contact me on Twitter or through my Facebook page!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

2000AD Prog 1850

Prog 1850 Cover by Ben Oliver

This week's Prog has something of a medley cover by Ben Oliver, featuring Judge Dredd, dinosaurs from Flesh, as well as some spaceships representing Damnation Station. It's certainly effective at demonstrating that this is a 'jumping on' point by focusing on the variety of stories and directly referencing the comic itself within the cover. However, it does feel a little jumbled at the front with the mug of tea and the perp getting shot in the head blocking the view of the comic-within-the-comic. 


JUDGE DREDD - NEW TRICKS (Part 1)
Script - Michael Carroll
Art - Paul Davidson
Colours / Letters - Chris Blythe / Annie Parkhouse

Michael Carroll's latest story picks up with the character of Judge Caterina Pax, whom he introduced in the three part story, 'Cypher', which started in Prog 1824. Pax, a Sov-Judge defector, is undergoing retraining as part of the process for her to become a fully fledged Mega City One Judge - along with her is Judge Joyce, from Murphyville. However, their retraining is interrupted when former Judge Kilgore returns from her exile in the Undercity with news of The Goblin King.
Dredd is a hit with all the Judge's mothers!

I'm really enjoying this side-plot that Carroll has been developing alongside John Wagner's storylines, working well within the post-Chaos Bug Mega City One status-quo and concentrating on some of the finer details after such a cataclysmic event. I'm looking forward to reading more about Judge's Pax and Joyce, who are interesting supporting characters considering their different Judicial backgrounds, in comparison to Dredd himself. I'm not sure if Joyce or Kilgore are plot threads from earlier stories, but they are introduced and described in such a fashion to be new-reader friendly, yet would reward long-term readers who enjoy seeing the pay-off to earlier stories.


I really liked Paul Davidson's artwork and the choice to dedicate whole panel spaces to Pax's narration, giving it a different look and feel to other Dredd stories, and emphasising the personal feel to her diary entries. Davidson's style feels reminiscent of PJ Holden's work and it really suits Dredd well.



DAMNATION STATION - THE TITANIC SAILS AT DAWN (Part 1)
Script - Al Ewing
Art - Mark Harrison
Letters - Simon Bowland

After the aftermath of the last series of Damnation Station, Earth Station One was destroyed by alien invaders, leaving fourteen survivors out of the three-hundred staff aboard. Brett Gayle, Tura and Joe Nowhere are the only three who survived their unit, each of them traumatised by their memories of the incident as Earth prepares to launch five new bigger and better Earth to retaliate against the alien threat.

This initial chapter relies heavily on recapping the events of the last series, via a commentary by news reporters. While this does get new (or lapsed) readers up to speed, it isn't the most dynamic way of recapping past events, however it does set up the story and background. I was vaguely aware of the series in its last appearance (in 2010) but I'm not that familiar with all the characters, but each one is briefly touched upon and given some plot moments, such as Joe Nowhere's mysterious secret.

Mark Harrison's art is really great here, managing to capture his trademark neon-esque computer imagery with clear-cut figures and panels. One of my complaints about his past artwork for strips like Durham Red is how dark and murky it could seem, but this is clear and easy to follow, blending the visual spectacle of his typical style with the clarity it sometimes lacked. The last series was split into smaller story-arcs, with different artists working on individual stories - it will be interesting to see if they do the same approach this time around as it gives the series a more episodic feel, like a season of American television. 



FLESH - BADLANDERS (Part 1)
Script - Pat Mills
Art - James McKay
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

I recently re-read the original Flesh series (Progs 1 - 19) and while this is a sequel to the recent revival of the series, it feels easier to understand having had some previous experience with the story, although I should hunt down the preceding story arc, 'Texas' which introduces Vegas Carver, daughter of the original series' Claw Carver. Vegas and her group of half-human reptoids are attempting to run Trans Time out of the prehistoric era and put an end to the companies ruthless farming of dinosaur meat. By killing the circus attraction Trunko, it appears that Carver and her anarchists are going to gatecrash one of Trans Time's secret meetings, possibly using the deadly dinosaur, Gorehead, as a deadly surprise.

James McKay's detailed artwork really suits the black and white style, and I love his interpretation of the dinosaurs and the Lara Croft-esque look he has given Vegas Carver. His jagged and rough lines definitely help convey the feral nature of prehistoric Earth and the dinosaur threats that face the time travellers.



BRASS SUN - THE DIAMOND AGE (Part 1)
Script - Ian Edginton
Art - INJ Culbard
Letters - Ellie de Ville

I was surprised to find out that this was the second series of Brass Sun, given how much of a presence the strip seems to have. I really love the steampunk elements of the story, and the atmosphere created by Ian Edginton and artist, INJ Culbard. It feels tonally similar to Edginton's other work, such as Stickleback, and reminds me in places of a Studio Ghibli film, with its young protagonists and the complex antagonists.
The Robot sentries look reminiscent of those
 from Laputa: Castle in the Sky

INJ Culbard's artwork really suits the world described by Ian Edginton's words and the colours used gives it a distinct look to other stories in the Prog, further bringing forth comparisons to animated styles. I really look forward to seeing how this storyline develops, and checking out the back issues to find out what has occurred before.



OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

Compared to the last jumping-on Prog (Prog 1824) this one felt a bit more impenetrable for new and lapsed readers to get into, with each strip requiring some prior knowledge to enjoy them. Unlike Prog 1824, there were no totally new strips, or new-reader friendly series' such as the Tharg's 3rillers, which would have helped put new readers on a level playing field with existing ones. Next week, Aquila joins the line-up.


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1850 will be available in stores on Wednesday 18th September - Digital copies of this Prog will be available on the same day through the 2000AD app, which can be downloaded onto iOS devices from here.

Keep checking back each week for more reviews and features about 2000AD, the Galaxy's Greatest Comic! Remember to leave your comments below, or contact me on Twitter or through my Facebook page!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Interview - Rob Williams [Writer / Ordinary]


I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview Rob Williams, writer of Ordinary, a creator-owned story which is currently running in Judge Dredd Megazine. Rob has also written numerous series for 2000AD, most notably, Low Life and The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael. I managed to speak to him regarding his move into creator-owned stories, as well as his thoughts on the superhero genre, which Ordinary takes a lot of its inspiration from.


Pop Culture Bandit: Hi Rob, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for my Blog. I read through the first episode of Ordinary in this month's Megazine and I really enjoyed it. In fact, I've been looking forward to it ever since I saw the teaser image a few months back in 2000AD of a bear holding a plunger. Not quite sure why that struck such a chord with me? I'm a big fan of superhero stories and I found this to be a neat twist on the genre, with our hero being the only one who is actually 'ordinary' in a world of 'extra-ordinary' people.


1) As a writer, do you feel a difference when working on your creator-owned work?

Rob: I do, for whatever reason. Partly ownership, of course, but with Ordinary it's a connection with the characters, the theme, the fact that there's an awful lot of quite personal stuff in there, behind the jokes and the spectacle and the action sequences. I think a lot more of yourself ends up on the page with creator-owned work than with work-for-hire. You involve yourself with all your work, of course, but with creator-owned it's more undiluted.


2) What was your inspiration for Ordinary?

Rob: I think it was a rational jump from watching the Spider-Man movie, where they set Peter Parker up as this ordinary guy, then he becomes extraordinary. And then you realise that that's the set up for every superhero origin. In an ordinary world, one person becomes extraordinary. I thought it'd be fun idea, and such a simple idea, to twist that. In an extraordinary world, one person becomes ordinary.


3) Is there the potential for more stories from the Ordinary universe, after this one?

Rob: There is. But there's no immediate plans for a sequel. Ordinary is Michael Fisher's story, and it's kind of self-enclosed. It's Michael's journey rather than trying to set up a world for more stories. Mind you, that happens as a result. So we could do more. We'll have to see how it goes down first.


4) You've written both Superhero comics for Marvel and Science Fiction for 2000AD - do you have a preference to genre? Are there any special techniques you have for writing for either one?

Rob: I really don't. It's all about trying to stay fresh and that benefits the work, I think. I wrote an awful lot of the major superhero icons for Marvel over a two year span and then was writing The Grievous Journey Of Ichabod Azrael and Low Life for 2000AD at the same time - very different types of stories - and it was really refreshing to be handling a western and Dirty Frank's craziness and pathos. But, on the other hand, if you don't write superheroes for a while... I wrote a Superman recently for DC and it was a real thrill to write because I'd not written that character and his backing cast before. And I knew Chris Weston was drawing it.

I think, as I get older, it's more about the artist, actually. Give me an artist I'll enjoy working with and I'm more than happy to write in any genre, any kind of story. It's a visual medium, first and foremost.

As for special techniques. No, the same tenets of good writing are true whatever the genre.


5) As I mentioned before, you've written for Marvel Comics for iconic characters such as Wolverine, Ghost Rider and Punisher - Are there any other superhero characters (Marvel or DC) that you would love to write for?

Rob: I've been lucky enough to have written a lot of my childhood favourites in my career. For Marvel, I'd like to take a swing at Daredevil and the Silver Surfer, I think. I've not done a huge amount of work for DC. Adam Strange is a character I have a soft spot for. I think he was in the first comic I ever had. That would be fun.


6) Can you tease any other projects you have lined up?

Rob: There's a couple of things coming I can't talk about at the moment. I see Tharg announced in this week's 2000AD that Henry Flint and I are working together again on a Dredd. I'm enjoying writing that at the moment. It's the first time Henry and I have worked together since Low Life, and this is a bit of long Dredd. Longer than any Dredd stories I've written before. I won't say too much but it's the type of Dredd story that I would've got very excited by when I was a teenager first reading 2000AD.


7) What has been your strangest comic-con experience?

Rob: At San Diego one year I bumped into Michael Chiklis from The Shield and told him I loved the show. He heard my accent and started doing this strange Dick Van Dyke cockney in reply. "awwright mate, awwwright." I said "you're not going to get many British parts with that accent" and he replied "fuck you." So that could've gone better.

The strangest thing that's ever happened to me in comics, probably, was receiving an email from a German TV company asking me to fly to Berlin, they'd put me up in a top hotel there, and to go on their live TV show and attempt to break my own world record for trying to make sandwiches with my feet.

It turns out the guy who owns that world record is one Rob Williams. They googled the name, found my website and contacted me through it. I presume they didn't read anything on my website.

I didn't go. I sometimes think I should have.


8) Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to break into writing comics?

Learn craft and structure before you go any further. I kind of learnt as I went and, I think, made my mistakes publicly and via some bad pitches to editors when I really didn't know what I was doing. There are a lot of good books about learning structure for your writing. Robert McKee's 'Story' being one. Scott McCloud's 'Understanding Comics', Blake Snyder's 'Save The Cat' is about writing screenplays and can lead to formula, if you're not careful, but there's a lot of very good advice in there too. Writing doesn't just happen like magic. You can learn how to do it and to get better at it.


Thanks for your time, Rob. As I said before, I'm really enjoying Ordinary and I strongly urge anyone who is a fan of the superhero genre to check it out in this month's Judge Dredd Megazine #340, available on 18th September, both in stores or on the 2000AD iOs app. Not only does it boast a very unique take on the superhero genre, but it has some fantastic artwork by D'Israeli. Rob also has a blog which he frequently updates with news and information on his work. Just don't visit it expecting to find out about the other Rob Williams who makes sandwiches with his feet...he can be found here!!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

2000AD Prog 1849


This week's cover choice surprised me on two counts - not only do we have another Slaine cover so soon after the last one, but it's also the second variant cover in as many months. As a digital reader, I'm not as affected by the multiple covers as both are included in my file, but for the completists who collect the print versions, it means double the expenditure and the hunt for both versions. That aside, these are two brilliant images by Clint Langley and I love the symmetry between them, but if I had to pick one, it would have to be Slaine over Moloch. He is the lead character, after all!


JUDGE DREDD - BENDER (Part 5)
Script - John Wagner
Art - Ben Willsher
Colours / Letters - Chris Blythe / Annie Parkhouse

Bender and Lock work together as they make their way through the mutie block under attack by Norm Front activists, having a surprisingly civil conversation about Bender's misdeeds, as the two argue their sides. It is only once they reach the school gym that things become less clear-cut and a smoke-filled gunfight ensues with Lock getting shot in the chest, dying in Bender's arms. Dredd commends Bender on his work, to which he suggests working alone for a stretch.


Whether intentional or not, the sequence where Lock gets shot in the chest is quite ambiguous as it's not clear whether Bender shot him, or whether the shooter did. It certainly seems very fortunate for Judge Bender that his partner was killed before he could report him to the SJS, leading me to think that either Bender was the one who delivered the killing shot, or he was aware of the self-aimer and used the smoke to lure Lock into a false sense of security. Regardless of whether Bender engineered events to cause Lock's death, he is certainly an interesting character with a grey set of morals, who I hope we'll be seeing more from in the future!



SLAINE - THE BOOK OF SCARS (Part 6)
Script - Pat Mills
Art - Clint Langley
Letters - Ellie de Ville

For this double-sized finale, Clint Langley returns to draw Slaine's re-visitation of his battle against Moloch, as well as the epilogue to the tale as he confronts the Godhead. For those heavily invested in the continuity of the story beyond the artwork and the gory action, it appears some hints were dropped by Moloch's demon about a future threat to Slaine's kingdom (unless this is a reference to another prior tale that I'm unaware of) which could pay-off in later stories, giving the whole adventure a sense of purpose that is otherwise lacking.

Crybaby Slaine - the latest action figure arriving in stores soon!

Overall, this was an interesting experiment and one that I would have been more supportive of had it featured a character whose history I was more knowledgeable of. As it is, I've managed to scrape away the basic gist of the plot from each episode, but bringing it altogether, it just feels uneven and slightly hollow. I am not going to hold this against any forthcoming Slaine adventures, however, and do welcome Simon Davis' work on the character, expected next year.



AGE OF THE WOLF III - WOLFWORLD (Part 10)
Script - Alec Worley
Art - Jon Davis-Hunt
Colours / Letters - Gary Caldwell / Annie Parkhouse

With its conclusion, Age of the Wolf neatly ties up the prophecy that begun in the initial book and brings things full circle with the eradication of the werewolves, returning the Earth back to the humans at the cost of Keira and Rowan's lives. I'm not a fan of these mystical deus-ex-machinas to resolve the story and it feels entirely too convenient that a ritual exists that can wipe out an entire species based on who it is who delivers the killing blow on the sacrifice, but as I said, there's a nice ring of symmetry about the conclusion that I think a re-read of all three books together would highlight.

As I've said before, I was really intrigued by the concept of a werewolf-ruled earth as a mirror to the Vampire and Zombie Armageddon tropes that frequent horror fiction, but it feels like so much more could have been explored in this world set-up and that it has been slightly rushed to fit it within a trilogy structure and concentrated too much on the lead character of Rowan, making the drastic world-wide changes appear too personal and focused on an individual, rather than giving us the bigger picture.



THE TEN-SECONDERS - GODSEND (Part 11)
Script - Rob Williams
Art - Edmund Bagwell
Colours / Letters - Abigail Ryder / Simon Bowland

The climatic ending to the final series of The Ten Seconders goes out with somewhat of a whimper with both Malloy and The Scientist becoming depowered by what remains of Jennifer's form, characterised by the energy she absorbed a few episodes back. As soon as he is vulnerable, Harris takes him out without hesitation, leaving just him and a dejected Malloy, who wishes himself out of existence, leaving a lone human aboard a spaceship of dead gods, wondering how to get home.



It's an unusual way to end a series, but I love it. After all the catastrophic events that have happened over this series, it was unlikely that everything was going to wrap itself up nicely, so while good has triumphed over evil, things haven't been set back to their natural places. The planet Earth still remains hovering inside the Father's ship, without its moon, in a state of chaos due to the tinkering of an inexperienced God. I do wonder whether the apocalyptic scale brought to this final series is due to the large hiatus the strip took, with Rob Williams deciding to bring it back for one final hurrah and to tie up the loose ends, rather than nurturing it as an recurring title.



OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

So, that was it - the epic conclusions to two series and I must admit they didn't quite live up to the impact I was expecting - neither of them was granted the cover space, nor the double-length ending treatment. While I hope that there is more stories from The Ten-Seconders, it is pretty sparse in terms of characters, so it's likely the swansong to that storyline. As for Age of the Wolf, perhaps it reads better as a full trilogy, but I doubt it'll go down in the records of 2000AD thrills as one of the greats. Still with both series ending for good, it clears some space for some new upcoming series to break ground and become the new recurring titles.

Next Week is the long-awaited jumping-on Prog with a fresh new line-up consisting of Dredd, Brass Sun, Flesh and Damnation Station. I have recently been reading the original series of Flesh, so I have a general idea of the plot, but Brass Sun and Damnation Station are blank slates to me, besides the fact that they are relatively new additions to the stable of thrills. I'm looking forward to experiencing a whole new selection of stories without any preconceptions of the plots and seeing whether they are new-reader friendly.


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1849 will be available in stores on Wednesday 11th September - Digital copies of this Prog will be available on the same day through the 2000AD app, which can be downloaded onto iOS devices from here.

Keep checking back each week for more reviews and features about 2000AD, the Galaxy's Greatest Comic! Remember to leave your comments below, or contact me on Twitter or through my Facebook page!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

2000AD Prog 1848

Prog 1848 Cover by Mick McMahon

I may be in the minority, but I'm not the biggest fan of Mick McMahon's art - I'm not sure why, but something about it doesn't quite grab me. I think it's more a question of personal taste rather than anything wrong with his art style, but I did find it odd that the McMahon cover is accompanying the issue with the Simon Bisley interior art, surely it would have fit better if they'd either used McMahon's artwork for the Prog containing his instalment of Slaine, or used some Bisley artwork for this cover to promote its contents. As I said, I know I'm in the minority as many of the message board members at 2000ADOnline.com seem to really appreciate the cover.


JUDGE DREDD - BENDER (Part 4)
Script - John Wagner
Art - Ben Willsher
Colours / Letters - Chris Blythe / Annie Parkhouse

I wasn't expecting Lock to become seriously disfigured as a result of the raid on the Zizz labs, but it gave Bender an excuse to exact his individual sense of justice. Last week, I commented how the Zizz cooks, reminded me of Walt and Jesse from Breaking Bad, which might have just been due to the fact I'd been watching the show a lot, but this week I am drawn to the comparisons between Bender's over-zealous judgement and that of serial-killer cop Dexter Morgan in Dexter.


I like how it's leading up to a confrontation between the two Judges as they fatefully work together on one last case. It seems like Bender will either attempt to kill Lock during the case, making it appear like an accident, or Lock will kill him in self-defence but end up framed due to his issues with post-traumatic stress. There's so many options for how this story to play out, that I'm looking forward to reading the concluding part.



SLAINE - THE BOOK OF SCARS (Part 5)
Script - Pat Mills
Art - Simon Bisley
Letters - Ellie de Ville

This storyline continues to be tough for new readers to get into and I'd imagine long-term readers would need to be fairly familiar with some of these stories to enjoy the direct references. However, taking it on its own merits, I did enjoy the painted artwork of Simon Bisley and the framing sequences with Ukko, which I assume was present in the original version of 'The Horned God'.

I'm looking forward to next week's installment, which should be a return to Clint Langley's art to tie up the storyline and give it a larger sense of continuity with it's first part and make it feel more like a full story than a bunch of 'greatest hits' moments. My biggest complaint with Slaine has been its fairly dense storytelling and reliance on prior knowledge of the continuity and Celtic myth, preferring to read the more stand-alone shorter stories, so perhaps it was inevitable that I wouldn't enjoy this look down memory lane as much as some readers, but it does feel like there's been no effort to make this new-reader friendly at all, which is odd as Pat Mills' work on Defoe was really easy to join mid-way through. 



AGE OF THE WOLF III - WOLFWORLD (Part 9)
Script - Alec Worley
Art - Jon Davis-Hunt
Colours / Letters - Gary Caldwell / Annie Parkhouse

This was a dramatic step up in quality over the previous weeks as we reach the climatic battle between man and werewolf. I liked the bait and switch tactic by showing Rowan defeated so quickly after her bold challenge to the Alpha Wolf, with a later flashback showing how effortlessly she was defeated. Then there was the neat element of Rowan summoning her spear from a distance, reminiscent of Thor summoning Mjolnir in Avengers Assemble, which led to the amazingly gory death sequence of Sigrid Runecrafter. A spear in the mouth...ooh, nasty!



The twist in the tale with Rowan vowing to kill Keira herself was effective and one that I hadn't seen coming. I guess that whatever reason that the wolves wanted to kill her can also be used against them, perhaps substituting their plans for the global extinction of humans with wolves? This was definitely the strongest episode so far and gives me some hope that we'll see an interesting conclusion to the trilogy next week.



PAST IMPERFECT - ORIGINS
Script - T.C. Eglington
Art - John Charles
Letters - Ellie de Ville

This wasn't the strongest of Past Imperfect's that I've ever read, with the twist ultimately being a reference to the Rue Morgue murders in Paris, which I had to Google (I'm not the biggest horror fiction fan!) - I guess with Past Imperfect stories that there is the risk that it will be set in a historical period that you have limited knowledge of, and since it can be crucial to the plot, sometimes they will fall a little flat. 

As for the artwork by John Charles, I wasn't overly impressed with it, although checking the 2000AD Tumblr, he has posted some nice examples of his artwork for Dredd. His artwork seems a little stiff in places here and doesn't quite capture the action and movements of the crew as they fight off the were-ape. Perhaps a bit more experimentation with the panels and angles would have lend to a more visually entertaining approach.



THE TEN-SECONDERS - GODSEND (Part 10)
Script - Rob Williams
Art - Ben Willsher
Colours / Letters - Abigail Ryder / Simon Bowland

Wow - I am surprised by how bloodthirsty this strip has gotten over the last few episodes with Jennifer, Damage and Kane all dying in this week's installment. I love the whole sense that anything can and will happen, but at the same time, it feels like there is a lot banking on next week's conclusion. Personally, it feels like we're heading to a grand finale to the series, but there could be a curveball and there may be one final series to come.


Damage Control

It was really tragic how Damage met his end, with his optimistic hope that he had gained his father's love by saving him, only to be disintegrated with no thought or consideration whatsoever. He had really shined as one of the more fun characters throughout the series, so it was all the more sad to see him meet such an undignified end. As for Jennifer, although the Scientist presumes that she is dead, I wouldn't be surprised if she made a shock return at the end to punish him for his crimes.



OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

I'm looking forward to the conclusion of Dredd, Age of the Wolf and The Ten Seconders, with Slaine likely to be just as baffling as its preceding parts. It's been a pretty good line-up ever since the jumping on point of Prog 1824, so I'm approaching the upcoming restart of stories in Prog 1850 with a level of trepidation. 


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1848 will be available in stores on Wednesday 4th September - Digital copies of this Prog will be available on the same day through the 2000AD app, which can be downloaded onto iOS devices from here.

Keep checking back each week for more reviews and features about 2000AD, the Galaxy's Greatest Comic! Remember to leave your comments below, or contact me on Twitter or through my Facebook page!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Top Ten 2000AD series that should be made into Films or TV shows

With the critical acclaim lauded upon Dredd, the second attempt by 2000AD to adapt their future lawman for the big screen, and the ongoing petition by fans to produce a sequel to the movie, I thought it would be fun to see what other properties under the 2000AD banner could be adapted into a film or a TV series, building a similar stable of franchises to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and their Avengers films.


10) D.R. & Quinch

Sci-Fi Comedies are an area that 2000AD excels at and while there have been some comedies out there with a science-fiction twist (PaulThe WatchGalaxy Quest) - there are a lot less true Sci-Fi films that are laugh out funny, and Alan Moore's D.R. & Quinch could easily fill that void with its oddball humour and wacky concepts. It may be tough to get the humour to translate from panel to screen and Alan Moore might not be the most receptive writer to have his work made into a movie again, but if the writers and directors could capture that D.R. & Quinch feeling and bring it to the screen, it would definitely stand out from the current crop of comedies - however, it may also end up being as bad as Howard the Duck.



9) Rogue Trooper

The Blue Genetic Infantry-man is arguably one of the most iconic of 2000AD’s roster of characters, even more recognisable than Johnny Alpha, but in terms of story quality, he can be a bit hit and miss. The concept of an AI chip in his gun, helmet and backpack is a good one and would work well on the big screen to give Rogue someone to banter with, but it would be hard to adapt one of his stories into a movie as none of them achieve the same level of reverence as the other characters on this list. Perhaps, sticking to his initial Quartz Zone Massacre-era might be an idea and making it a straight-up revenge tale set within the final days of a future war. As for casting, Vin Diesel and a tin of Dulux paint should do the job.



8) Invasion / Savage

Pat Mills’ Invasion was one of the stories to feature in the first issue of 2000AD, telling the story of truck driver, Bill Savage, whose wife and child are killed during the Volgan's invasion of England, prompting him to respond with a double-barrelled resistance, thanks to his shotgun. The original run was reminiscent of Commando comics, featuring Savage and his Mad Dogs foiling the Volgan’s attempts to crush British spirit. It was a popular strip, but ultimately became a bit dated, which is why it was rebooted in 2005 and given a modern-twist. No longer were the stories flimsy and resolved in five pages, but the dangerous business of resistance during the Invasion had become more complicated and deadlier than ever.

Invasion, or Savage as the recent series is called, would work well as an on-going TV serial, focusing on the underground resistance against the Nazi-esque Volgans. Rather than attempting to set the action in current day, an alternate 1980s or another time period would give it more of an authentic atmosphere. Reading the original strips, there is a distinct mood akin to that of the depressing nuclear war drama, Threads. It could work well as a drama serial, much like V or Falling Skies, but without the alien aspect.



7) Flesh

It’s been several years since the last Jurassic Park movie, and there’s been a gap in the dinosaur movie market – a gap which Flesh could fill. Another Pat Mills classic, Flesh focused on men from the future time travelling to the prehistoric ages and effectively farming the dinosaurs into Flesh, the only meat product available in a dilapidated future. In terms of high concept, Time travelling Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs, is the probably enough to get the project green-lit before anyone even saw a script! With a larger emphasis on the inventions and scientific element, and the vicious cunning of the dinosaurs, it could be a fantastic story. Think Avatar, but with T-Rexs…and more gore than you can shake a Pterodactyl at.



6) Durham Red

Durham Red, the red-headed vampire bounty hunter, is a visually appealing character – so much so that a very similar character was created for a videogame called Bloodrayne. Unfortunately, Bloodrayne managed to beat Durham Red in the race to the big screen, but as it was an Uwe Boll movie, it’s unlikely that anyone actually saw it.

The character of Durham Red has gone through some radical changes which leaves an adaptation of her story open to two choices – one could follow her adventures as a Strontium Dog and act as a spin-off to any Strontium Dog film or TV series (more on that later) or it could distance itself from the Strontium Dog universe completely and follow the Scarlet Cantos continuity of a cryogenically-frozen Red waking up in the far-future to discover she is the figurehead behind a war. Personally, I would prefer classic Durham Red stories adapted, but the character is flexible to be interpreted as either version.



5) Future Shocks

It may sound like an odd idea, but a TV anthology show based on the ‘twist in the tale’ Future Shocks that frequently populate the comic could work really well – By using the familiar structure set up by other anthology shows like, Tales from the Crypt or Tales of the Unexpected, it could be written to include Tharg as the narrator, placing a framing sequence around each story.

Much like the print version of the Future Shocks, the plots would be self-contained to that particular story and maybe even act as a pilot for a potential series. There is the potential to adapt the existing Future Shocks, or to create original stories designed for the small screen. There could be two stories per episode, separated by an advert break, and the comic could even be featured heavily, perhaps using it as prop from where Tharg reads the story. There hasn’t been an anthology series aimed at adults for years, with the most recent examples, Are you Afraid of the Dark and Goosebumps, aimed mainly at teens, so this is an opportunity to revive an old TV show format.



4) Slaine

With medieval fantasy taking a step forward into the spotlight with hit TV shows like Game of Thrones and Vikings attracting large audiences, it seems fitting that 2000AD’s own axe wielding Barbarian, Slaine, enters the fray. By mixing traditional Celtic lore with a smattering of extreme gore, Slaine, could easily gain a share of the growing fan base for serialised fantasy on TV.

It might need to tone down some of the more confusing aspects of its continuity, in favour of some plain and simple axe work, but the show could bring a deeper mythological aspect to audiences and really take off. Maybe played as a mature version of the classic Xena and Hercules shows, Slaine could travel from village to village fighting the various threats. Imagine seeing those photo-realistic monsters by Clint Langley brought to life by the finest special effects as Slaine cleaves them in two...




3) Defoe

Zombies have always been popular in all forms of media – comics, films, videogames and recently, television, with The Walking Dead, the first attempt to serialise a zombie apocalypse. With its unique setting of London in 1666, Defoe is a fantastically fresh approach to the well-worn genre of zombie fiction – using elements of Steampunk mixed with historical events and landmarks that would give any feature production of the strip a distinct mood and make it stand out from the crowd.

The strip is relatively new in comparison to the others on the list, so there is less source material to pick through when it comes to developing the property for the big screen, but in some ways it is liberating as a stand-alone Defoe movie doesn't need to follow the same path as the strip. However some of the cinematic panels by the strip’s artist, Leigh Gallagher, practically beg for a cinematic interpretation. Imagine how awesome it would be see hordes of the undead swarming the Tower of London, defended by a handful of Reek Hunters.



2) Strontium Dog

An ongoing TV series or feature film focused on Johnny Alpha, mutant bounty hunter of the future, has the potential to rival Dredd's popularity on the big screen - as he has managed to do within the comic itself. The idea of a world where mutants work as bounty hunters and the intense human/mutant conflicts would serve an ongoing series well, or alternatively the series could focus on some of the more oddball stories for a more light-hearted approach. With lots of amazing designs for mutated supporting characters, such as Middenface McNulty, The Gronk or Feral, there is plenty of scope for storylines to stretch across numerous episodes.

I think a TV series would be a better fit for this strip as it allows the flexibility to tell multiple stories and balance both humourous one-off stories (The Headly Foot Job) alongside longer, more dramatic story arcs (The Kreeler Conspiracy) as well as including sub-plots for the side-characters, rather than focusing on Johnny all the time. As I mentioned before, the character of Durham Red could be part of this show, and perhaps spin-off into her own series, much like she did in the printed editions.



1) Nikolai Dante

To say that Nikolai Dante is one of my favourite 2000AD series would be a massive understatement – it was catching the tail end of the Russian Rogue’s first adventure that hooked me into 2000AD all those years ago and kept me coming back from the occasional hiatuses I took. Featuring a swashbuckling hero trapped between warring futuristic Russian dynasties, Nikolai Dante managed to craft a fully realised universe within such a short time, becoming a mainstay in the comic until it concluded last year.

The way Dante was written makes it perfect for the TV series treatment - planned in advance, writers could adapt the complete saga using seasons to bookend the various phases in Nikolai’s life. The first ‘season’ could consist of us getting to know the cast and the Romanov family, of which Nikolai is adopted into, as well as building the tension between the two families, Makarov and Romanov. As each season progressed we would see the gradual maturity of Dante, as evidenced in the comics where a war-weary Nikolai catches sight of a poster of his younger self. This is a character who changes and evolves and serialised TV is the best place to showcase that.

The swashbuckling adventure style would certainly be a refreshing change to the current crop of TV shows and the political machinations between the two families would make for thrilling drama as the threat of civil war looms over all. Robbie Morrison created such wonderful characters in both Dante and his half-siblings that there could be plenty of stories delving into their relationships in deeper ways than the comic could manage in six pages. The only challenge would be replicating those amazingly intricate birds-eye views of 2667AD Russia that Simon Frazer would draw.



So, what do you think? Do you disagree with my Top Ten? Do you think I missed out on a key series that is screaming to be adapted for the big or small screen? However, anyone suggesting a Big Dave series will receive a Rigellian hotshot!! Feel free to post your thoughts below, via my thread on the 2000AD Forum or on my Facebook and Twitter pages
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