In February 2012, for the 35th anniversary of 2000AD, I made a pledge:
“But here’s a deal for you. If you’ll do it, so will I. 2012 will be the year I read 2000AD. 2012 will be the year YOU read 2000AD.”
Oh my. This was so very good. The culmination of the Cold Deck storyline in Dredd, and drawing in the stories unfolding in The Simping Detective and Lowlife to deliver something unique.
And frankly this means that the only way I could actually have had a better year reading 2000AD regularly for the first time would have been choosing to do so a little earlier, starting when Day Of Chaos was still in its early stages and finishing right here. Because I fear there’s a good chance that I’ve reached some kind of incredible highpoint in the comic here, all thanks to the work of a group of great writers and artists.
In case you weren’t already aware, this is Trifecta, a very, very rare moment in the history of 2000AD where the entire comic is given over to just one strip. But it’s actually cleverer than that. This is one comic given over to the culmination of three separate strips, all taking place in the same world, all sharing the same over-arching storyline, featuring characters who’ve interacted to get to this point, yet strangely, don’t have any recollection of that fact.
So what we get in this issue is one tale, a bringing together of the three strips Judge Dredd, The Simping Detective, and Lowlife into one single story.
Mega-City 1 is still reeling from the devastation of the Day Of Chaos where so many died. This is a new world, and the old regime is struggling to understand the new status quo. Everything is fluid, everything is up for grabs. And Black Ops Chief Judge Bachmann has a plan, an idea to replace the cancer of MC-1 with the purity of the Godcity she’s been building up on the moon, a Godcity that’s on its way down right now.
All that seems to stand in the way of the new Godcity, the only ones to step up against Bachmann are Judges Dredd, Point, and Frank. A relic, a clown, and a madman. That’s the best MC-1 has right now. This is where everything has been building towards, where all the clues have been pointing towards. But those three have help, the mysterious tea-drinking Judge Smiley….
Yep, Judge Smiley, pulling everything together, a convenient hand in every single pie we have here, connecting Judges Dreddm Point, and Frank, even if they had no idea of the connection.
If it wasn’t so damnably enjoyable it would be a bloody awful cliché, the Deux Ex Machina masquerading as Alan Bennett playing a Mga City Judge.
But no, it merely registers as that and then moves right along. And as such, the creation of something so damnably enjoyable is such a credit to all concerned; writers Al Ewing (Dredd) Si Spurrier (The Simping Detective), Rob Williams (Lowlife) and previous story artists Henry Flint (Dredd), Simon Coleby (SD), D’Israeli (Lowlife), plus those in editorial who okayed this in the first place.
It’s so wonderfully well written as well, none of the difficulties of hearing the character’s voices here, instead everyone comes through loud and clear, all the humour, all the hope, all the cynicism, it’s all there. Dredd, Point, Frank, Hershey, Smiley, it all comes together so very well, practically seamless provided you don’t start asking too many questions of the whole thing.
This episode sees everything pulled together to one storyline, illustrated by Carl Critchlow. And he does a fine, fine job of it. Yeah, it would have been something to see the three original artists come together and do the art for the characters, whilst Critchlow does everything else, but can you imagine just how much of a logistical nightmare that would have been. Impossible to get sorted within the confines of the weekly schedule I would reckon., Oh well, one to imagine eh?
As for the actual experience of reading the damn thing… it’s almost perfect. Yes, it’s a little predictable, but hell, what did you expect, the entire series has been about dropping the clues, laying the groundwork, helping us to piece it altogether. And the thing is, for all those quibbles, I just read on, enjoyment driving the page turns each time. One brilliant definition of great, great genre fiction for me is something that presents all its faults and practically challenges you to see them or see the story, practically tells you in advance that the story will be using all the clichés you can think of, yet still expects you to let them skate by, such is your enjoyment of the tale.
There’s even the chance to lay the groundwork for future issues, Hershey looking more Chief-Judge like than ever before, already questioning Dredd’s actions in all of this, already wondering of the role Smiley will play in the future, wondering if they haven’t merely swapped one insane Judge for another.
Congratulations all, you’ve created the perfect endpoint to my 2000AD year, even if it hasn’t technically finished as yet. This is, surely the highpoint?
My 2000AD year has, as far as I’m concerned, been an absolute roaring success. Thank you all. From here to the actual end of the pledge in February, I just think I’m coasting, the point has already been proved to me, I’m staying with the comic. Thank you Tharg, you’re doing a grand job.