This week, 2000AD celebrated its 40th anniversary, and also released the 40th Anniversary Special issue of the anthology magazine. In many ways, the special is just very quintessentially 2000AD. It’s like they condensed down the core qualities of the publication into this issue. It isn’t stuffed with bells and whistles–it’s a series of stories well told reminding us what the magazine is about. That’s a classy move for a number of reasons, and it makes for a satisfying and celebratory reading experience.
[Covers by Carlos Ezquerra and David Aja]
Contents of the 40th Anniversary Special include: Judge Dredd: “Blood”, Zombo: “Z.O.M.B.O”, Ro-Busters: “Seeing Red”, Durham Red: “The Judas Strain”, Slaine: “Red Branch”, Nikolai Dante: “Devil May Care”. But a list like this doesn’t really do the issue justice since shorter elements are also included, often by separate creative teams. The stories included in this issue have their own heft, but there’s also a lighter sense of a mosaic at work here, hinting that it’s a tribute issue without that becoming the prevailing tone.
Writers in this issue include Al Ewing, John Wagner, Pat Mills, Robbie Morrison, Dale Halvorsen, and Lauren Beukes. Artists featured are Carl Critchlow, Carlos Ezquerra, Clint Langley, Henry Flint, Simon Davis, and Simon Fraser.
It’s a joy to see the varied art styles that contribute to my impression of 2000AD, an anthology that has always embraced a degree of difference in creative vision and the tools that can be used to tell a story in comics. It’s a reminder of the varied tones and elements of story, too, that have always been part of the magazine, as Slaine gets especially visceral and we see the bright, upbeat, and full-on attitude of the return of Nikolai Dante.
In all, this is really not the issue to miss. If you’ve been patchily keeping up with 2000AD, earmark this issue as a “must”. If you have read in the past but haven’t in a while, this is where you’ll remember why you think it’s great. If you’ve never read 2000AD, this is a very good sampler of what the magazine is about. All three are solid reasons to pick up the 2000AD 40th Anniversary Special, so there’s no excuse not to, really. You can find it here digitally, and in print in shops in the UK already.
This special issue is certainly a rewarding way to join the party already underway for this 40th anniversary year of the magazine. 2000AD also promise that this publication is only part of their celebration, and that festivities will be continuing throughout the year with “special events and signings”.