Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Best of Tharg's Future Shocks

Speaking of Tharg's Future Shocks, in a nice bit of timing, we hit their return in this reread [over at my Thrillpowered Thursday blog -- grant] just as I finished Rebellion's new collection of several dozen classic ones. The title stretches the truth ever so slightly: rather than somebody's subjective take on the actual best one-offs from the comic, excepting the ones by Alan Moore which have already been compiled, this is a collection of episodes from four of 2000 AD's best-known writers. So it contains a pile of John Smith Shocks, a majority of Peter Milligan episodes, all but one of Grant Morrison's offerings ("Candy and the Catchman" is omitted), and everything that Neil Gaiman ever wrote for the comic.

Certainly the resulting book is uneven and choppy, but there are some real gems to be found in its pages. Grant Morrison's early attempts at channelling Alan Moore are pretty revealing, and not just from an archaeological standpoint. "The Shop That Sold Everything" is really funny, even if the end isn't so much a twist as it is an inevitability. I've also always enjoyed John Smith's "A Change of Scenery," which was the first appearance of some of his Indigo Prime characters, among many other strips in this book.

Seeing characters like Indigo Prime and Ulysses Sweet here actually makes me think that the book's only real flaw is that it didn't collect the five or six one-off adventures of Joe Black by Kelvin Gosnell from the early eighties. That's just quibbling, of course, those are outside the perview of the book, but one of the many things that did make 2000 AD interesting in the early 80s was the existence of characters who only showed up in one-offs or very short series. Dr. Dibworthy and Abelard Snazz were compiled in the big Moore book from a couple of years ago, and it's a real shame Tharg doesn't have any characters like that today.

(Excerpted from Thrillpowered Thursday, Feb. 19 2009.)

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