2000 AD in Stages

Stage 27 - Summer Offensive

Progs 842-849: 1993

The prog was given over to the younger writers for an 8-prog sequence of brand new stories (and Dredd). This attempt to shake things up was a brave experiment, but none of the new stories have resulted in long-term hits (which maybe tells you something). It did succeed at being offensive (for some), so, on some level, job done.

When the creators were interviewed about all of this in Thrill-Power Overload (Bishop 2007) years later they were all like (paraphrasing) "The haters be hating, man: they so square!"

Meanwhile, in Megazine-land, Anderson's adventures on Mars reach a thrilling, bittersweet climax in Childhood's End.

Judge Dredd: Inferno
The Harlem Heroes return as (no, wait) A sequel to the risible Purgatory (Millar), where Grice took over the penal colony on Titan through the sheer power of RAGE and burning his own hand-off. For some reason, every single Judge who's been sent to Titan is a sadistic, piratical, murderous hillbilly. None of them are remorseful or see a chance to redeem themselves. Nope: just gurning pirates.

Anyhoo - Grice loads them all up on several spaceships, along with a magic plague, and they crash into Mega-City One, which Grant Morrison seems to think is about the size of Glasgow. Grice stands on top of the West Wall shouting and throwing amazingly resilient Chief Judges off of it until Dredd magically pops out of a hatch and punches him! But then Grice punches Dredd! But then Walter throws grenades! Wait - wtf?

You can't even have this conversation without pointing out that Ezquerra's art is stupendous throughout.

IndigoPrime says:

Subversion can be a good thing. Morrison has since shown he can work wonders with other characters, and do new and interesting things with them. With Dredd, he forgot about the interesting bit. Dredd became one dimensional. Grice was also one dimensional. There was no depth to the story, but also as a basic action thriller it’s incoherent. From Hollywood, this as a film wouldn’t be critically acclaimed — it’d just be dismissed as violent noise. (Notably, it also upends Grice, transforming him from a sneaky little shit into a punchy macho angry bloke. There was an interesting story to be told about Grice’s revenge. This wasn’t it.)

Still have four episodes left to go...it can't get worse, can it?

Summary: Manchester's hardest man (Big Dave, natch) is a violent, homophobic, drunken yob with two homicidal dogs. The creators called it satire, so who are we to argue? Thing is: at some point it just becomes a horrible man shouting "poof" a lot. Is that satire? Or is it just an excuse to be offensive? See also: Ricky Gervais (and note that this proved as divisive as he often does).

When someone wrote into the prog (849) to complain, Tharg-of-yore said "[It] isn't satire. It's a warning!". I'm not sure what satirical point (or warning) is being given when Big Dave is drowning Postman Pat in his toilet while his cat gets eaten by Dave's dogs. Is it that post shouldn't be delivered to the working class? The weird thing is that, ultimately, it's too mean-spirited for Viz (which means that Viz is subtler than I thought).

The most controversial new strip survives for a time, with a further two mini-series and a Yearbook special...

Slaughter Bowl *NEW THRILL*
Death Race 2000 meets Jurassic Park meets Silence of the Lambs as a deranged lunatic with multiple personality disorder gets imprisoned as a serial killer but chooses Option B: riding a heavily-armed dinosaur in a race to the death! This sounds great, but in execution doesn't quite land. The protagonist is not someone we can sympathize with: couple that with, frankly, not enough racey-dino action, leaves this a struggle to wade through.
Tis one and done.

Really & Truly *NEW THRILL*
This one's Marmite. It's like if you got trapped in Austin Powers' dreams. If you can go forty pages of Rian Hughes art with some thinly-characterized mannequins roaming around a sixtie's disco version of Downlode then you might just love this. In context, this is certainly the least controversial thing in the Offensive experiment.
Tis one and done.

sheridan says:

Seem to remember Really and Truly was the best of a bad bunch. Was that the one where they dropped words of Nadsat in every now and then?

Greg M. says:

I'd call it the worst of a bad bunch - at best, a throwaway nothing of a story, at worst, a tossed-off-in-a-night insult to the readership, bundled with Morrison's trademark helping of 'Look, look, drugs! Recreational drugs in 2000AD! Snort! Sniff! Toke! Comics have grown up! We're all cool now! 'Cos of drugs!'

Maniac 5
Actually first seen in the 1993 Sci-Fi Special, this tells the story of cybernetically controlled war robots (numbered 1 through 6, and each with a speciality) fighting off an alien invasion of sewer lizards. Its a bit like Thunderbirds meets the Fantastic Four. The interesting concept doesn't quite land, with odd cyber-organic robot designs from Yeowell, and moustache-twirling villainy from the generals.
Survives to spawn a second series after a couple of stepping stones through Winter Specials...