Zarjaz is…. well, not quite Zarjaz, but pretty damn good.
Zarjaz Issue 12 – The 2000AD Fanzine
Edited by Dave Evans and Richmond Clements
I’d been aware of Zarjaz, as Joe had featured it on the FPI blog a fair few times. But in all honesty I wasn’t that much of a 2000AD fan in my youth, I picked it up occasionally, and read some of the collections when I thought they looked interesting, but was never a regular reader – so the thought of a 2000AD fanzine – hmmm, maybe not.
The thing is, looking back, I actually read more, and know more 2000AD than I realised. Morrison and Yeowell’s Zenith, Mills and Bisley on Slaine, Nemesis, ABC Warriors, Alan Moore’s Future Shocks, Halo Jones, Skizz, I even dipped in and out of Dredd – so I’ve read quite a bit of the canon to be honest, just never really thought of myself as a fan of the comic.
The trigger came with the recent announcement of issue 12, and specifically the new Zenith meets Invasion series (covered here on the FPI Blog). I was intrigued enough to get in touch and ask them if they fancied sending a copy along.
(Zenith – Invasion, written by Chris Denton, art by David Frankum, featuring characters created by Morrison, Yeowell, Mills and is most definitely © Rebellion.)
Let’s start off with the strip that encouraged me to seek this out: Zenith – Invasion, written by Chris Denton (of Massacre For Boys) with art by David Frankum. I loved Morrison and Yeowell’s superhero popstar Zenith but Invasion I know nothing of, bar what I’ve just read online (Wikipedia – marvellous thing). But Zenith-Invasion is a really nicely put together mashup of the two titles, although it’s not really Zenith, more the second world war Allied hero Maximan who represents the Zenith part, with Zenith reported as missing earlier in the year.
It’s now 1999, and the Volgon republic controls all of continental Europe and are mounting an invasion fleet to take over a Britain – that’s the Invasion part – which featured an East End truck driver Bill Savage leading a resistance movement against the invading Volgans, a man you see tucking into breakfast in the page above.
In Zenith – Invasion, the worlds of Zenith and Invasion come together pretty seamlessly, with neat little touches all the way through – very nicely done. Just 6 pages long, just as you’d expect from a 2000AD strip, quick, tightly plotted, with really nice looking artwork from Frankum. I want to read more of this one. (But sadly, I wont be able to – according to this Chris Denton post, Zarjaz has a policy of no continuing stories – shame)
The only other none Dredd strip in Zarjaz is the Liam Sharp written Slaine 2 page text story. Slaine; Tattered Wings is a nice enough short story, with Slaine coming face to face with a potential enemy, a tale of the Morrigan and of lost loves. It has an interesting feel of an ancient folk tale, which is what I imagine Sharp was after.
(Constable Dredd by McAuliffe and Chilcott, featuring Judge Dredd, created by Mills, Wagner and Ezquerra – again, absolutely © Rebellion.)
The rest of the strips in Zarjaz are Judge Dredd strips – four in total, and I’ll start with the best of them – Constable Dredd – The Cursed Beat. It takes a completely new look at Dredd, speculating rather well what it may have been like if Dredd walked the streets of Whitechapel circa 1888 (and can you guess who’s playing Jack The Ripper?). Lovely concept, really nice twist, playful, fun, and Chilcott’s art is very polished and easy on the eye.
The Judge Fish strip rather relies on a knowledge of Dredd a little too much, as far as I recall Judge Fish was one of insane Chief Judge Cal’s appointments (Wikipedia to the rescue – yes, spot on – like I said, I obviously read more 2000AD than I remember). In this strip we get to hear events from the point of view of Judge Fish – silly certainly, but very neatly done, a two page distraction but an enjoyable one.
Fat Chancers by Alexi Conman and Luis Chicon is two pages of distraction again, but far too run of the mill to be anything but filler – especially when compared to the rest of the strips here.
(Judge Dredd – Moon In The Undercity, by Glasswell and Thomson. Judge Dredd created by Mills, Wagner and Ezquerra – and did we mention before about the whole thing, all the characters being © Rebellion? We did, good. Glad that’s sorted)
The longest strip is Judge Dredd – Moon In The Undercity. A complete story presented in 3 parts through Zarjaz 12, 25 pages in total. It started off so very strongly, evoking everything cool and fun about Dredd as he finds himself venturing into the Undercity to find the werewolf Judge Prager and control the werewolves in the Undercity. Glasswell’s obviously having a blast throwing a load of references in, even managing to get in the Matchbox adventure 2000 toys I remember having as a boy – although I had no idea until now they were actually included in Dredd’s Cursed Earth adventure until now.
Like I say, it starts so well, quick, snappy, sharp plot, good, delicate line work on the art, but it somewhat loses it’s way towards the end, the idea rather getting away from the skill of the execution. Nevertheless, still a rather nice read.
I have no idea how Zarjaz squares this with Rebellion, since for all intents and purposes this is an issue of 2000AD, using all the familiar names and faces, just not necessarily paying much attention to established 2000AD continuity. But on the basis of this issue, I’m glad Rebellion are okay with Zarjaz, since it’s a really entertaining comic – very professionally done, great printing, and, as I’ve hopefully conveyed, there’s at least a couple of strips that would actually feel right in the pages of 2000AD itself.
Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give Zarjaz is that, after finishing this issue, not only do I fancy reading some more, I’m rather tempted to start picking up 2000AD weekly.
You can buy Zarjaz 12 at the FutureQuake Shop.