Preview: ‘Sleeze N Ryder’ – The Latest 2000 AD Digital Brings Back Ennis & Percival’s Idiots Abroad…

by Richard Bruton

The latest in the line of 2000 AD digital collections brings back a long-forgotten bit of stupid from Garth Ennis and Nick PercivalSleeze ‘N’ Ryder:

Meet Sleeze, the mustachioed, flower-power jacketed one, and Ryder, the cool one, shades welded to his head.

They’ve got a plan. Get on their bikes and head off to do a little easy riding into the Cursed Earth. Yep, it’s a plan. But it’s not necessarily a good plan.

Two thousand kays of hell, they said, Muties, acid rain, rad storms, bandits, dinosaurs… that didn’t sound like hell to us. That sounded like a party.

Within a couple of hours and a couple hundred kays, they’re in deep trouble with the most incompetent Mutie gang you can imagine – Jit Kikker an’ da Inbred Kidz (no, it’s not subtle, had you not worked that one out yet?)

And then there’s an old pre-Justice Department defence system where the robo-guardians of Project Doom just happen to be a robo-eagle, glorious symbol of America, and a robo-salmon… for no reason other than Ennis gets to do gags with useless robo-salmon. They’ve put the brains of three of the finest Presidents in American history (Nixon, Reagan, JFK) into robo-bodies and they’re planning on firing a deadly barrage of missiles onto the new Mega-Cities.

And who’s going to stop them? Well, this pair…

Okay then, let’s say what we’re all thinking – yes, this is very much the product of its time. The ’90s were not exactly what you’d describe as the golden age for 2000 AD. And yes, this is every bit the mix of Easy Rider, Mad Max, Judge Dredd you’re expecting it to be, packed with over-the-top ultraviolence and Ennis going for the laughs. Hell, there’s even a dash of Freak Brothers free-wheeling going on in here.

And oh yes, this is far, far, far from what you imagine these days when you think of Nick Percival’s artwork. The free-flowing art, the vivid colours, the thick line, the rawness of it all is about as far from the man who’s consistently given us the shivers with all that beautiful grotesquery on display in his Dark Judges artwork for the past few years.

It’s deliberately goofy, it’s trying to be as gross as possible, and there’s a definitely feel of both writer and artist overreaching just a touch. Ennis just doesn’t quite seem to have the comedy timing nailed yet, with too many of the gross-out gags falling a little flat. And Percival’s art sometimes veers from raw into huh, as the readability of the image fails.

But… even with the failings, it’s still got something fun about it. Okay, maybe not as out there and weird fun as the likes of John Smith and Paul Peart‘s excellent Slaughterbowl from last year, another 90s forgotten work, but there’s still plenty to enjoy here, warts, vomit, blood, and all.

Sleeze ‘N’ Ryder – written by Garth Ennis, art by Nick Percival, letters by Mary Green.

Published by 2000 AD in digital-only on 5th January – available from the 2000 AD web shop.

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