The Return Of ‘Harlem Heroes’ In ‘2000 AD Regened’… (Ask Your Grandma!)

by Richard Bruton

The third volume of 2000 AD Regened comes out on 15 March, with all the usual all-ages action from 2000 AD. But there’s also something completely new, a brand-new Harlem Heroes by Ramzee and Korinna Mei Veropoulou.

Don’t you just love the little ‘Ask Your Grandma’ caption?

Harlem Heroes is one of those way back in the day 2000 AD classics – debuting in 2000 AD Prog 1 and running through the first 27 Progs. Created by Pat Mills, Tom Tully, Carlos Trigo, and Dave Gibbons, with art latterly provided by Massimo Belardinelli for the last couple of Progs before the strip became Inferno, Harlem Heroes was trail-blazing and mould-breaking, with the concept of an all-black team playing the brutal 21st Century sport Aeroball as forward-thinking as 2000 AD itself.

But now, the strip returns in spectacular fashion with a couple of exciting new creators, Ramzee (who’s work you’ll have seen in Tammy & Jinty and should have seen in his own comics – all of them damn good) and Korinna Mei Veropoulou (creator of The Adventures Of Croblin).

And it’s a classic idea that works every bit as well now as it did back then – not a surprise really as the origins of 2000 AD of course came out of making different comics for kids – something that’s changed over the years, sure, but the early days were all about creating revolutionary works for kids wanting something more cutting-edge and risky.

Classic Harlem Heroes action from the dark ages of early 2000 AD

But instead of focusing on the Harlem Heroes team of old, this new Harlem Heroes focuses on Justice Academy drop-out, Gem Giant, who spent a damn sight more time dreaming of a life in Aeroball than they did concentrating on the MC-1 Judge exams.

Straight from the off, this one just bursts from the page, Ramzee cleverly updating it for the now but keeping the links to the original through Gem, the great-grandchild of that original Harlem Heroes team captain, John ‘Giant’ Clay. And Veropoulou’s art is bright, vivid, colourful, and absolutely full of action.

After establishing Gem crashing out of the Justice Department, it’s a quick move to Gem playing in the Mayhem League, a far cry from the elite levels of the Ultra League, with a brand-new Harlem Heroes, picked off the streets, a ragtag group who take the league by storm. And it’s all been put together and bankrolled by Ulysses Cord with his plan to shake things up in the world of Aeroball…

And it just fair motors along, it might only be six pages long but it’s a perfect reinvention of a classic strip, paying homage to what came before but then taking it in its own direction, different, inventive, and a whole lot of fun.

Ramzee’s writing is super-tight and perfectly pitched, giving us the whole back-story and setting things up for the future (and I damn well hope there will be a future for this new Harlem Heroes) and, of course, making sure there’s plenty of exciting Aeroball action going off as well.

And as for Korinna Mei Veropoulou’s artwork, it’s dazzling, wonderfully lively, absolutely nothing like what’s gone before and no doubt will be slagged off by all those who regularly slag off Reneged material – not realising of course that isn’t their 2000 AD, they don’t get to gatekeep the content, they have what they think is ‘their’ 2000 AD and that’s in the past. Anyway, enough on that, just look at the artwork and how fresh and good it is – I would love to see more of Veropoulou in not just Regened but the Prog itself.

You can find this brand-new, action-packed, and all exciting Harlem Heroes in 2000 AD Regened Volume 3, which comes out on 15th March.



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