Back to the mid-’80s here, with the latest of 2000 AD‘s Digital Editions, the bleak sci-fi of Bad City Blue…
The city was dying. It was dying hard, and dying ugly. The rot had set in a long time ago. And bit by bit, zone by zone, it’d spread like some obscene disease.
That’s how Bad City Blue begins, together with the establishing shot of the city built into an asteroid and floating in space, followed by a lone man on a saucer-shaped skimmer, unshaven, bandana wrapped around his head below a mopped on straggly black hair and armed to the gills. Yep, it’s setting itself up as Rambo in space…
Anyhow, the city is Bader City, ‘a crumbling, decaying ghetto controlled by armed gangs.’ And the man is Blue, ‘a trouble-shooting ‘button man’ who enforces order at the behest of the top-siders.’
Look on me as a kind of trouble shooter… Anybody starts trouble, I shoot ’em.
Yep, definitely looking like Rambo in space, eh? With a big of Escape From New York thrown in. Not too surprising, as the early years of 2000 AD were full of strips pulling from the best of the movie world.
Except it’s soon obvious that Bad City Blue’s got a lot more going for it than that.
For a start, it’s got Robin Smith’s artwork, long one of 2000 AD‘s early greats, although there were too few strips with his name on them. A real shame. Needless to say, it’s great to see his rugged, stark b&w artwork here once more.
And thanks to Alan Grant’s storyline, there’s much more to it than a simple hard-as-nails future cop taking down the bad guys, knocking out the low-level scum, assassinating the bosses. Blue thinks he’s saving the city for the ‘decent folk’, the 2% of the city living safe and pure lives up in the upper levels – but it turns out that the elite he’s so bravely, foolishly serving aren’t as pure and noble as Blue had always been taught to think. In fact… they’ve done the dirty on the scum below…
So, plenty of questions for Blue… who’s running the city? What the hell does that mean for Blue? And who is he really?
The answers to those questions come thick and fast in this 50-page romp, a simple bit of sci-fi, punchy in the way early 2000 AD always needed to be back in the early days.
Likewise, it’s also doing the thing sci-fi does best, exposing the harsh realities of the now with a futuristic twist. Here, Alan Grant’s railing against the system, this was the mid 80s after all, with all the dark days of a Thatcherite regime that led to a splintered Britain. So Bad City Blue, with its broad sci-fi strokes, is telling of the harsh reality of class warfare and the literal leaving behind of the undesirables in society.
Yes, it’s very much a product of its time, it’s fast and punchy, it’s a very simple, violent, action-adventure at times… but it’s also a great little slice of speculative fiction, that starts bleak and nasty and just gets darker and darker from then.
And just like all of these digital editions, Bad City Blue is well worth a look, it’s a great little bit of entertainment with a nasty and dark twist, thanks to great work by both Grant and Smith
Bad City Blue – Written by Alan Grant (as Craig Lipp), art by Robin Smith, letters by Steve Potter, cover by Cliff Robinson.
Originally published in 2000 AD Progs 468-477
Published as a digital edition from 2000 AD on 4th August.
Now, a little preview of the first episode found in here…