Preview: ‘2000 AD Sci-Fi Special’ Offers Up Six Strips And One Thrill-Powered Story

by Richard Bruton

In a world where the last year has been crazy, it’s always good to have something to rely on… and you can rely on the 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special to deliver the summertime thrills. But, be warned, the following previews could be considered to contain spoilers.

Cover by Neil Roberts

It’s one of only a handful of Specials this year, well down on the huge numbers in 2020, but hey, things happened. You might remember the whole pandemic thing? Yep, exactly.

Anyway, this year, we get another themed 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special, set entirely in the world of Judge Dredd, with one overarching tale. It follows the linking theme seen in 2019’s Carlos Ezquerra tribute and 2020’s celebration of 20 years of Rebellion.

This year, we’re treated to a globe-spanning storyline taking in Mega-City One, Brit Cit, Hondo City, Oz, and the Cursed Earth, with linked tales featuring Judge Dredd, Judge Anderson, Chopper, Cursed Earth Koburn, Armitage, Devlin Waugh, and Judge Inaba.

It’s one that builds through each individual strip, where you not only get a self-contained tale but something that feeds into the over-arching storyline. It’s all overseen by Michael Carroll and Maura McHugh, plotting out the overall arc and co-writing the final chapter.

And it’s rather damn good; it would definitely appear that things are going to get hot this summer in Dreddworld…

The 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special is out on 7th July from 2000 AD & Rebellion:

 

JUDGE DREDD – BIOHAZARD – Mike Carroll and Ben Willsher, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Cursed Earth Koburn’s in trouble (nothing new there) in the area of a Rook & Knight Enterprises toxic materials processing station out in the northern wastes. Dredd’s just seven minutes away and bringing the cavalry.

But Mallory Rook of Rook & Knight Enterprises is closer, and it’s her company that caused the mess that kicks things off in this Special Dreddworld spanning adventure.

We really don’t get enough Koburn, do we? Or Ben Willsher art for that matter. But between Koburn and Dredd, there’s plenty of great lines, a fair bit of action, and thanks to Willsher there’s plenty of pretty stuff to be looking at (including Willsher’s continued obsession with a good splash of orange).

CHOPPER – DREAMGAZER – David Baillie and Tom Foster, colours by John Charles, letters by Jim Campbell

MC-1’s greatest Skysurfer escaped to Oz many years ago, to live a (mostly) trouble-free life, including getting to explore the Dreamtime in ‘Wandering Sou’l by Baillie and Brenden McCarthy (Judge Dredd Megazine #395-399).

Well, it’s a return to Chopper, a return for David Baillie, but a completely different look to Chopper this time, as Tom Foster’s polished lines take on the character. There’s an obvious love of the character in Foster’s art, with it never showing more than one particularly beautiful panel…

Oh yes, classic Chopper pose.

As for what’s going on, it’s all a jump from the Dredd opener, with the aging Chopper wanted for the murder of the crew of the Proko Koala, just one of the ships dumping all sorts of toxic crap in the Radback… all tied into Fortress, part of a multinational Corporation.

There’s a little bit of Dreamtime weirdness thrown in, a possession, a warning… but this one’s all about Bailie putting in the threads of the overarching plot into place around some rather attractive Chopper visuals.

ARMITAGE – NATURAL FERN KILLER – Liam Johnson and Robin Smith, colours by Matt Soffe, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Here’s one to make a lot of people very happy – the first art in 2000 AD for a long time from the legend that is Robin Smith.

Smith’s paired with the relative newcomer Liam Johnson, winner of the 2019 Thought Bubble/2000 AD writing contest, to give us Detective-Judge Armitage meeting up with the gorgeous Devlin Waugh in Brit-Cit, as we go further into the conspiracy that’s been building, with Armitage looking for what might be a serial killer targeting corporate heads and shareholders… or might be something more.

HONDO CITY JUSTICE – DAUGHTERS OF URANIUM – by Karl Stock and Neil Googe, colours by Dylan Teague, letters by Simon Bowland

A welcome return, in our little trip around the world here in the Summer Special, to Hondo City and Judge Inspector Aiko Inaba dealing with a new terrorist threat, or so she thinks.

Of course, by this time, we’re all waiting to see how it all ties into the bigger threat being developed, expecting the mental takeover, looking for the corporate connection – although that doesn’t spoil the enjoyment of Stock’s story and Googe’s wonderful artwork, a less lightweight style to that we’re used to in Survival Geeks.

ANDERSON, PSI – ALL WILL BE JUDGED – Maura McHugh and Anna Morozova, colours by Pippa Bowland, letters by Jim Campbell

Finally, everything rolls back round to MC-1, with McHugh returning to Anderson, along with some quite wonderfully striking artwork from Morozova, one of the newer artists who’s been doing very nice work of late, with this being very possibly her best yet.

There’s a litheness and natural flow to Anderson here, almost a touch of that sinuous line from old from the Spanish artists who used to fill the pages of the Brit ‘Girls’ comics.

Seriously… look at these couple of panels. The way Morozova flows from the Lawmaster to Anderson’s hair, the way Anderson’s hair acts as its own panel border. That’s a gorgeous touch.

Anyway, we’re back in MC-1, with a possession in the rich bit of the city where the elite live; a place “so exclusive even the Meg’s street-stink doesn’t loiter,” according to a great line from Anderson/McHugh.

Anderson partners up with fellow Psis Shakta and Corann Ryan, with the ghost of Ryan’s twin sister Lesley along for good measure, bringing back the characters from McHugh’s recent Anderson tales.

Again, a story that’s playing into the whole more than it is doing its own thing, but that’s okay with something like this, all of it leading to the apotheosis of the story…

APOTHEOSIS – by Mike Carroll & Maura McHugh, art by James Newell, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland

And speaking of the apotheosis of the story… here it is. Now, is it apotheosis meaning culmination or climax of something or is it apotheosis meaning the elevation of someone to divine status… or perhaps both?

Back in the Cursed Earth with Dredd, where Ms Rook gets word of the global attacks, citizens around the world possessed. Which means it’s rather bad news…

Luckily, there’s enough non-spoilery stuff at the beginning of this final chapter that I can give you a full preview without spoiling the fun, because I’m certainly not going to give the game away at the end.

Let’s just say that it’s suitably grand in scale… might even prove to be something that Carroll & McHugh, Dredd & Anderson could be coming back to at some point as well.

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