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2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 2020 Celebrates 20 Years Of The Rebellion Era [REVIEW]

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2000 AD has been making game-changing science fiction comics since 1977. While the legendary anthology has been handled by a few different publishers in that time, video game company Rebellion took the reigns in July 2000 and has gone from strength-to-strength ever since. Over the two decades since Rebellion has taken 2000 AD to new heights by discovering new talent, giving us exciting new series, and making old-favourites feel fresh.

This year’s Sci-Fi Special is retrospective that celebrates twenty years of the Rebellion era. It comes with nine stories in total, that are a mixture of classic reprints and brand-new ones looking back at much-loved characters and tales.

Read on to find out more about this 100-page special’s contents and why it is a great taster for those new to 2000 AD.

Judge Dredd: The Immigrant art by Jake Lynch and Jim Boswell.
Judge Dredd: The Immigrant art by Jake Lynch and Jim Boswell.

Judge Dredd: The Immigrant

Written by Al Ewing. Art by Jake Lynch. Colours by Jim Boswell. Letters by Annie Parkhouse.

Al Ewing is one of the biggest names to be discovered in the Rebellion Era. While people might know him for his work at Marvel, he first made his name in the pages of 2000 AD. He returns with a new Judge Dredd story which also stars Zombo, a fan favourite character. Ewing uses the story to satirise conservative anti-immigration arguments, while having some silly fun along the way.

Jake Lynch leans into this silliness by making making every character except Dredd as expressive as possible. This is most evident when Zombo’s facial expressions and body language are juxtaposed against Dredd’s stone face.

Terror Tales: Scene of the Crime

Written by Al Ewing. Art by Dom Reardon. Letters by Tom Frame.

Keeping on the theme of Al Ewing, this special follows up the previous story with a reprint of his published story from Prog 1296 (19 June 2002). It focuses on hard-boiled detectives trying to solve a murder/suicide case that appears to be occult. The only clue they have is a mysterious question mark symbol.

It’s a gritty tale, which accentuated by Dom Reardon’s high-contrast black and white art. The abundance of black makes for an eerie atmosphere, especially when coupled by the moody narration.

Kingdom: Shako's Kingdom art by Richard Elson.
Kingdom: Shako’s Kingdom art by Richard Elson.

Kingdom: Shako’s Kingdom

Written by Dan Abnett. Art by Richard Elson. Letters by Simon Bowland.

What happens when two apex predators meet? That’s what this Kingdom flashback story explores when it crosses over with late 70’s oddity Shako. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know anything about either strip as this story is written in a way that doesn’t rely on prior tales.

2000 AD stories are traditionally 5-10 pages long. As a result, the stories you read use the page far more economically than their American counterparts. Shako’s Kingdom bucks the trend by using splash pages and spacious panels. That’s not a bad thing as Elison’s gorgeous art has plenty of room to breathe, while also allowing the story to go at the frenetic pace it needs to excite readers.

Sinister Dexter: Bullet Time art by Andy Clarke and Chris Blythe.
Sinister Dexter: Bullet Time art by Andy Clarke and Chris Blythe.

Sinister Dexter: Bullet Time

Written by Dan Abnett. Art by Andy Clarke. Colours by Chris Blythe. Letters by Ellie De Ville.

Reprinted from 2000 AD Prog 2001 (13 December 2000), Bullet Time is a gunfight in five pages. While that might not sound like much on paper, it’s how it’s presented that makes this a modern classic.

The narration counts and chronicles each bullet that’s fired. We find out details of their origin and where they ended up. All the while, the scene is chaotic with flying glass, destruction of property, and gun blasts. It’s a lot of fun in a short burst.

Storm Warning: Black Storm art by Clint Langley.
Storm Warning: Black Storm art by Clint Langley.

Storm Warning: Black Storm

Written by John Reppion. Art by Clint Langley. Letters by Jim Campbell.

In this Judge Dredd spin-off, we get a team-up between Judge Lillian Storm and Black Hawk. Langley’s digitally painted style mixes dark tones with bright neon colours that burst off the page. If you’re looking a for some supernatural with your science fiction then check this out.

Nikolai Dante: A Farewell to Arms art by Simon Fraser and Gary Caldwell.
Nikolai Dante: A Farewell to Arms art by Simon Fraser and Gary Caldwell.

Nikolai Dante: A Farewell to Arms

Written by Robbie Morrison. Art by Simon Fraser. Colours Gary Caldwell. Letters by Annie Parkhouse.

Originally in 2000 AD Prog 1685 (19 May 2010), this Nikolai Dante tale is a dream sequence that ends with an emotional gut punch. While those who are more familiar with this swashbuckling playboy will get more out of it, there is still plenty to like.

Simon Fraser gives his panel layouts dreamy qualities by making them wavy. These get even wavier as the dream sequence continues and they only become rigid again once Nikolai’s dream is abruptly disturbed the ugliness of the real world.

The Red Seas: Vs Ant Wars!

Written by Ian Edgington. Art by Steve Yeowell. Letters by Jim Campbell.

The pirates of The Red Seas strip take on giant ants. If that’s not enough to sell you on this story then you’re no fun at all.

Dreams of Deadworld: Fear art by Dave Kendall.
Dreams of Deadworld: Fear art by Dave Kendall.

Dreams of Deadworld: Fear

Written by Kek-W. Art by Dave Kendall. Letters by Ellie De Ville.

Dreams of Deadworld is another Judge Dredd spin-off, this time exploring the horrific Dark Judges characters. This reprinted story from 2000 AD Prog 1948 (22 September 2015) focuses on Judge Fear as he exterminates anyone he can find who has committed the crime of life.

Dave Kendall’s art is perfect for this series. He uses a muted colour palette of greys and browns, combined with abrasive strokes, to depicted a world that’s dirty and inhospitable. It captures the nightmarish qualities of Deadworld and will haunt your dreams.

Judge Dredd: Leaving Rowdy art by Carlos Ezquerra.
Judge Dredd: Leaving Rowdy art by Carlos Ezquerra.

Judge Dredd: Leaving Rowdy

Written by John Wagner. Art by Carlos Ezquerra. Letters by Tom Frame.

Finally, we end the special with a Judge Dredd reprint. This one comes from 2000 AD Prog 1280 (27 February 2002) and it reflects a new era for Dredd as much as it did 2000 AD. Eighteen months into the Rebellion era, 2000 AD relocated from their London offices to Oxford and in this story Dredd hands over his apartment to his clone Rico.

As Dredd finalises this handover, he becomes sentimental while going through his final possessions. This sentimentality has plenty of weight behind it thanks to the narration and the use of panels that flashback to the referenced moments. It’s a rare occasion for readers, who are treated to another side of Dredd and makes for a memorable story.

What Else Is There?

Along with the nine stories listed above, there are also extra features. This includes a chat with Jason Kingsley, co-owner of Rebellion, looking back on the last 20 years. Additionally, there’s a lengthy recommendations section that highlights some of the best series and stories from the Rebellion era. If you’re looking to dig deeper into 2000 AD then this section will point you in fantastic directions.

2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 2020 cover by Jock.
2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 2020 cover by Jock.

Verdict

Through it’s use of new and reprint material, the Sci-Fi Special 2020 does a lot to celebrate twenty fantastic years of 2000 AD’s Rebellion era. If you’re a long-term fan then there’s plenty to enjoy as reminisce on classic stories. If you’re brand-new then hopefully this points you in the direction for more science fiction thrills!

2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 2020 is available now in newsagents, the 2000 AD Webshop (print/digital), 2000 AD app, eBay, and all good comic book stores.

Have Your Say!

Which story are you excited to read? Share your thoughts in the comments below or via Facebook or Twitter.

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