PLEASE NOTE: This collection of 2000AD strips was published in 2008. For the newer 2017 collection, go to 2000AD’s Greatest: Celebrating 40 Years.
Calling any anthology of reprinted strips from a thirty-year-old weekly anthology comic like 2000AD a ‘best of’ is fraught with complication. I might like Judge Dredd, for example, while you might think that Strontium Dog, Nemesis the Warlock or Rogue Trooper knock Dredd into a cocked hat. Whichever way you look at it, compiling a set of strips and declaring them ‘best’ is bound to get people like me arguing the toss.
So let’s ignore the ‘best’ monicker for a moment and sift through the stories on offer. You won’t be surprised to see Dredd, Nemesis, Rogue and Strontium Dog in here, but you might be surprised by the choice of stories. Dredd’s first encounter with Judge Death is a deserved classic, with Brian Bolland’s greatly missed comic art bringing up the rear towards the back of the book. But the bulk of Dredd episodes in here are from The Robot Wars, published in issues 9-17, in which Dredd battles a robot uprising led by Call-Me-Kenneth. It was the first Dredd story to span more than one issue of the comic, but features Walter, Dredd’s early robot side-kick, for crying out loud. It’s may be a milestone and is certainly a trip down memory lane, but it’s no classic compared with what came later. The other big-name strips follow in the same vein – introductions to characters like Johnny Alpha, the Quartz Zone massacre flashback in Rogue Trooper and Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill’s Killer Watt, the strip that first introduced us to the concept, if not the actual character of Nemesis the Warlock.
This probably makes up about half the book. The rest is given over to lesser known stories. Chief amongst these are a handful of Alan Moore’s Future Shocks, a few episodes of Halo Jones (though not enough to make much sense of it) and a handful of D.R. and Quinch stories. More esoteric are the episodes of Mean Team, The Mean Arena, and Harlem Heroes. These sport related strips, inspired by movies like Rollerball, seem to take up a significant chunk of the book, while the proportion of 2000AD‘s history and culture that they actually consumed is far less significant.
All the strips are from the black and white days of the comic, from the launch in 1979 through to the mid ’80s. This may have been 2000AD‘s period of greatest glory, but its best stories aren’t necessarily those included here.
If you want to jog your memory about Shako or Invasion, or need a primer on those big name characters because you aren’t already familiar with them, it’s a good place to start. But you’ll find a more complete education in the strips that really made 2000AD what it was in Rebellion’s complete reprint collections.