2000 AD's Diceman
Issues 1-5: 1986
2000AD's Diceman ran bi-monthly for five issues during 1986, tying in thematically with Slaine's Tomb of Terror foray into comic-based choose-your-own-adventure (which had started in late '85).
The mid-80s were the heyday of choose-your-own-adventure game books, with The Warlock of Firetop Mountain having really kicked things off in 1982. Whilst the Fighting Fantasy series was probably the most well known, there were also great serial publications such as Lone Wolf (starting in '84), Way of the Tiger ('85) and Falcon (also '85), where you could maintain your character from book to book.
Whilst the US Choose Your Own Adventure series (which were really the first to market) focussed strictly on the narrative, the UK books mixed in elements of RPG play, so had you roll up statistics, take part in combat and collect items for later use. This interactivity was present both in Tomb of Terror and in all of the stories in Diceman. Due to the format, comics don't cover as much ground as prose, so whilst a standard Fighting Fantasy book had four hundred nodes to make up the adventure, a comic (especially an anthology) has fewer.
I can't think of any other choose-your-own-adventure comics (especially at the time) so this was bleeding edge cool, although there's a sense of waste if an artist's beautiful panel is never seen because it's a rarely used path of an adventure. At any rate, it didn't catch on and the next time it showed up in the comic was in a very tongue-in-cheek capacity in 2012's seasonal prog (in Judge Dredd: Choose Your Own Xmas).
You are Judge Dredd in House of Death
With a full combat system, this has you (as Dredd) investigate a haunted house that's been taken over by death cultists. They've built a dimension generator with which to summon ... well, the clue is in the title.
You are Nemesis the Warlock in The Torture Tube
You're piloting the Blitzspear through the travel tubes of Termight in a race against time to save Purity Brown from a gory end at the claws of a gloating Torquemada. The dynamic of keeping track of your speed as the core game mechanic is quite unique.
You are Slaine in...
[Published (effectively) between Tomb of Terror and the Spoils of Annwn, this foreshadows the switch from Slaine battling the Cythrons to Slaine teaming up with Danu the earth goddess and becoming more of a leader.]
...Cauldron of Blood
Quite a D&D style adventure in which Slaine (class: Barbarian) & Ukko (class: Rogue) enter the Tower of Glass to recover the Cauldron of Blood - a Celtic artefact that plays a key part in later sagas.
A dungeon crawl featuring orcs, dragons, slough lords and even invincible rent-a-baddy Elfric. Turns out Ukko is an absentee father with at least ten children, and hasn't been paying maintenance.
...the Ring of Danu
This may be the first time that we were introduced to the idea of Danu as the triple goddess, appearing as aspects of spring (a sexy but untrustworthy lover), summer (a muscle-bound, man-hating warrior) and winter (a cackling old crone). Slaine must pass certain tests in order to be deemed worthy of later becoming a High King. Getting in his way again: it's rent-a-baddy Elfric.
You are The A.B.C. Warrior vs. Volgo the Ultimate Death Machine
The A.B.C. Warrior you are is Hammerstein, except in a gentle retcon you can fly! Technically, this marries a speed system and a combat system, and is a single battle against an enormous mech.
You are the Diceman in...
[The title character of the comic shows up first in issue #2: Rick Fortune is a paranormal private eye in the mould of classic hard-boiled noir characters such as Mike Hammer, Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe (but not Dick Spanner). You are in possession of the Dice of Destiny, which you roll at the beginning of the adventure to see which magic power you will have available to you.]
...In The Bronx, No-One Can Hear You Scream
This uses the mothman as an adversary, and has Rick trying to save Joyous Gard (a noir damsel) from a forced (and demonic) marriage.
Rick Fortune now dresses like James Bond but the plot is borrowing heavily from Raiders of the Lost Ark, as Nazi satanists are up to no good with an artefact called Wotan's Spear. Joyous Gard (aka Killjoy) also turns up again to help out.
Rick's down on his luck in this one and the noir gets turned up to eleven: the police are hunting him, he's only got thirty bucks (which is part of the game mechanic) and it seems like he's losing control of Astragal, his pet demon.
Lady Die is in custody, awaiting trial, and you're tasked with protecting the witnesses - who seem to be getting killed off by mysterious forces with alarming regularity.
You are Rogue Trooper in...
[While the Rogue in the prog has been to Horst and returned to find aliens trying to mess up a Nort-Souther peace treaty, these tales seem to be set some time pre-Horst, with Rogue working for Milli-Com.]
G.I.'s Larson and Rose have gone ... rogue! And had a child, Zorn, who looks about ten. Anyway, they've been living peacefully in seclusion on a war-torn Nu Earth (as you do), but Rogue's been sent in to rescue them from a Nort Snatch Squad. Cue a rumble in the jungle as demented alien wildlife proves as deadly a threat as armed assailants.
You are sent to track down the rogue General Hayg aboard a space hulk. Larson, Rose & Zorn once again serve as victims in need of rescue.
You are Torquemada, Grand Master of Termight, trapped in The Garden of Alien Delights
Nemesis has captured Torquemada and punishes him by challenging him to escape his Garden of Alien Delights, which is a nightmare landscape inspired by the art of Heironymous Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights". The art throughout the Diceman comics is incredibly high quality but this beautiful homage by Bryan Talbot stands out as something particularly special.
You are Ronald Reagan in Twilight's Last Gleaming
Probably somewhat inspired by depictions of then US President Ronald Reagan in Spitting Image, this has you attempt to avoid a nuclear apocalypse in order to continue your presidency. Cartoon-like on the one hand, but terribly dark on the other, this attracts attention as something quite unique in a comic experience (coming as it does several years before Crisis). At one point, whatever options you choose, the result is "misery and death for ordinary Nicaraguans" due to your involvement in the Iran-contra affair.
|Issue 02 by Glenn Fabry||Issue 03 by Glenn Fabry||Issue 05 by Hunt Emerson|