This year’s slate of 2000 AD and Treasury of British Comics Specials might not be as ambitious as that of 2020, with just three specials for 2021 compared to the ten published in 2020, but in these pandemic days that’s still something to be applauded – and the three specials for 2021 all look like they’re going to be very special specials indeed…
Of the three specials for 2021, the first is no surprise, with the summer months seeing the annual 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special, although this year it’s a little different, with a set of all Dredd-world stories, all connected to the same overarching narrative and plotted by writers Mike Carroll and Maura McHugh.
The 48-page 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special will be published on 7th July 2021.
The other two specials come from the Treasury of British Comics, first with the return of Black Beth by Alec Worley and DaNi, then with the all-ages fun-filled fear of Monster Fun Halloween Spooktacular.
As we say, it’s a smaller list than 2020, where Rebellion, 2000 AD and the Treasury published ten of their intended twelve titles through the year. It’s absolutely no surprise that 2021 features a pared-down selection as we’re going to continue seeing Covid-related lockdowns and restrictions through the UK and beyond that will obviously affect the availability of any publications published through 2021.
Hopefully, with the rollout of the vaccine (and in the UK, we should all be incredibly thankful that the vaccine rollout is in the hands of the NHS), we’ll see things returning to normal through the year – which will mean that 2022 should see a return to something akin to normal in the world of publishing as well.
Now… what will you find inside the specials…
We saw Black Beth by Alec Worley and DaNi in 2020’s Misty & Scream Special (previewed here at Comicon) but this year the sword-swinging warrior-woman gets her own 48-page special, Black Beth and the Devils of Al-Kadesh, published on 23rd June.
In the 2021 Special, Black Beth and her blind aide Quido have travelled to the wicked city of Shadrivar, in search of the evil witch Anis-Amuun, thought long dead. Charged by the mage Estevan to find the witch, Beth sets off on a sea-spanning quest which pits Beth’s curved blade against all manner of mystical creatures…and possibly Anis-Amuun herself!
Black Beth’s history is a typically fascinating and roundabout one, first developed back in the early 70s for a different Scream comic from IPC, before finally appearing in the 1988 Scream! Holiday Special. The original writer’s identity is sadly lost to us, but the artist was the great Spanish comic artist Blas Gallego.
Alec Worley talked of the history of the character in this interview at the 2000 AD site…
‘Black Beth’s actually an old strip, albeit an obscure one… She first appeared in the 1988 Scream! Holiday Special! Oddly for a Scream! strip, Black Beth wasn’t horror, more a sword opera with occult overtones. She’s this self-made knight on a quest to punish evildoers with the aid of her blind hunchback sidekick Quido. Think The Punisher meets Red Sonja meets MacBeth!’
The final Special for 2021 will be a comedic collection of Halloween horrors as the Treasury brings back Monster Fun for the Monster Fun Halloween Spooktacular, another 48-page special, published on 22 September.
Monster Fun was a mainstay of the 70s and the Treasury brings the title back, full of all-ages spooky fun with everyone’s favourite monsters… including Frankie Stein, Kid Kong, Draculass, Teddy Scare, and Hire A Horror. Some of these older strips have already featured in the 2019 and 2020 Cor!! Buster Specials, but it’s great to see these ghoulishly great characters getting their very own Halloween special, with a crop of creeped-out creators including Tom Paterson, Chris Garbutt, Matt Baxter, Juni Ba and Lew Stringer!
Oh, and to make things even better – there’s also a brand-new Leopard of Lime Street adventure that sees Selbridge’s premier superhero face off against a fantastic new foe!
Lew Stringer, artist on Wiz War, had this to say over on his blog about the new strip…
‘If you’re unfamiliar with Wiz War, the original series began in Pow! in 1968 and then moved over to Smash! when the two comics merged later that year. It’s the story of two feuding sorcerers, Wizard Prang and Demon Druid, and was originally drawn by Mike Brown (inking Leo Baxerndale’s pencils on some episodes I suspect).
Writer Kek-W, best known for his work on 2000AD, and I pitched the idea for the Wiz War revival to editor Keith Richardson last year, hoping it might be in the new Smash! Special. However, as the new Smash! contained solely fantasy heroes it wouldn’t really be a good fit. I’m pleased that it’ll be in Monster Fun though. A much more suitable home.’