Post-atomic gold: Zilk-Dredd

April 27th, 2012




Quick look at how the trapeze strung out between these two strips is, on balance, making 2000AD the easy-best regularly published, mainstream, Anglophone, you know what I mean, don’t split hairs, comic on the racks today.

Zaucer of Zilk is like a bucket full of glitter and pixie dust flung in the face. The radical distance between its aesthetic coordinates and those of the standard fighting funnybook tips 2K into that strange occasional position where shit, it’s a comic, but I’m happy, proud to be seen with it in public. Fold it back to those pages so everyone can see you on your way back from the newsagents. Swing it around. Wow, who’s that cool guy over there, the one reading the comic?

ZoZ is only… It’s not pure love hearts. Know how sherbert lemons, to pick a comparison, you haven’t had them in ages, but if you have one you’ll quickly remember – that rush of irresistible tang, the diamond crack of glycerine unloading a dose of crazy sherbert buzz. Amazing. But then the lacerated mouth, the tiny slashing bastards, every sip of pop a pain.

The smiling swaggering Zaucerer’s problem is a grumpy old copper with a big fucking chin.

Prior to the expected pre-movie late-summer soft-reboot, Wagner and Flint – the former especially showing a confidence of control over the vast and multiplicitous scenery beyond the skill of literally any other comic scripter on the planet – are quietly (not quietly) getting on with a strip that’s staring down our our global predicament with steel enough to make the moment flinch. Dredd’s complex future society, always teetering on the edge of the precarious, is systematically pulled apart. Bugs with no cure (coming your way soon, penicillin-fans), ballistic dissidents, war-karma, brutal legacies of mistrust and abuse, horsemen rampant. HE may be resolute as ever, but there’s nothing to punch. MC1 is going down, and dragging us with it by the throat. No-one who cares about comics as a vital living mass medium or wants their art to square up to the demands of the new dark age can afford not to read Dredd right now.

Comics don’t have to be Doing Something Big. Disposable is fine. We call it recycling now: today’s throwaway is tomorrow’s permanent edifice. But if comics do Do Something Big, pluck their zeitgeist from the sky, or grapple their larger embedded social moment to the floor and daystick it to death… Well, that’s what I’m really here for. (That and the fighting.) Why shouldn’t comics try to be the world they exist in, dissect it, re-staple it together, stick it on the shelves there in reach of the toddlers, maybe change their minds forever? Wise their pissy asses up?

Because for all Zilk is doing that in its own charming way, it’s basically just a work of poptimism – a fleetingly useful and amusing cultural perspective that spurted itself out sometime in the middle of the last decade. Come on kids, sure things are bleaker than for 140 years, but there’s still natty slacks to think about, eh? Y’know, good parties? Sweets, sweetie? These things are still important, right? And OMG BTW, have you noticed how people on the internet are, like, sooo self-important and bipolar, actually?

That’s all fine in its own way, true enough of course, but really? Is that what’s playing on your mind right now?

13 Responses to “Post-atomic gold: Zilk-Dredd”

  1. bobsy Says:

    PS: someone’s cross at not getting a mention…

  2. Tam Says:

    I’m not going to stop banging on about how good Dredd currently is until the whole of the comics internet heeds my words.

    As well as being the best current fictional response I’ve seen to what’s going on in the world these days, (and in particular, I suspect, the huge problems of maintaining public order after a catastrophic event like Fukushima as well as the Arab Spring, UK riots, etc…) it’s also fantastic serial story telling.

    it’s great how the story has slowly built up, with the stakes steadily becoming stratospherically high, rewarding the patience of the weekly reader, instead of the more common practice of writing for the collection.

    The prologue alone taking nearly a year to play out to the point where I’m already waiting for next Tuesday as avidly as the most obsessive soap viewer awaiting the next episode of Eastenders… I’ve not felt that way about a story in any medium since I was a kid.

    What makes what’s coming so exciting is that you know that Wagner would kill Dredd if the story demanded it although not just for cheap effect. Which as Garth Ennis has pointed out in his lovely little essay, is why 2000 AD is so great

    PS Avengers mini review while I’m here : It’s the unofficial sequel to Team America : World Police

  3. Ales Kot Says:

    “But if comics do Do Something Big, pluck their zeitgeist from the sky, or grapple their larger embedded social moment to the floor and daystick it to death… Well, that’s what I’m really here for. (That and the fighting.)”


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  5. Zodiac Firebroom Says:

    Aye I jumped back on board for a spot of Zilk but Ol’ Stoney Face’s gonna keep me chugging on way past my stop

  6. Ken Quichey Says:

    Dredd’s just too texty.
    Fair enough story, but not good use of comics at all. Wagners gone school of Al Feldstein, with epic tenure. There’s a nasty, spiteful nu-metal font yammering on, dishing out the police-procedural plot points, occasionally assisted by some very bad SFX lettering and, oh, some drawings too, that’s nice.
    Hey, dealing with serious, worldly, topical issues though, great idea, definitely the best direction Dredd ever went in.
    Ah well, Dredd’s Dredd, he’s like pogey bait or something.

    Zilk is a nice bit of teen-exploito fairy-tale fun, and a good enough excuse for BMcC to strut his stuff. BMcC strutting his stuff for 6 pages is worth £2.35 to me, apparently.
    It’s good 2000AD, as well – nice and pacey, this week this, next week something else, crack on, get the lead out – it’s thrill-power, not a nightmare about a neverending Radio 4 afternoon play.
    It’s got nothing specifically to do with anything that’s bothering me, thus it fulfills its purpose. It goes with tea and a biscuit.
    And another biscuit.
    Alright, several biscuits.

    And Yeowell’s in it this week, isn’t he? (I’m late)
    Alan Grant and Steve Yeowell? Anyone?
    I’ve been hoping something will turn up to keep me interested when Zilk ends, and I nearly always preferred Grant to Wagner.
    Together though, they made an alloy very much more scrotnig than its bits.

    What happens, I wonder, when a judge has a really long name, do they have a really wide badge to fit it on?

  7. bobsy Says:

    Ignore Ken. He’s still really cross about Dredd and mcgruder being allowed back after taking the walk. A real stickler, he is.

  8. Ken Quichey Says:

    Yeah, ignore Ken. Yeah.
    That’s that dealt with.

    I didn’t even mention the long walk.
    You trying to get me started?
    Sure, Garth Ennis sez Wagner would kill Dredd and it would all be with the greatest of integrity…
    The real Joe Dredd’s in the Cursed Earth, Squaxx, this guy is some Judda bullshit. You mark my words.
    No way they could hold it down without the great idol of Law. But, what’s in a badge?
    More to the point, what’s in a chin?…
    Genes, that’s what.
    Mark my words, one day the truth will out… then you’ll see.
    There’s a grizzled old man out there, holed up in a shack, spitting teeth, the wasteland’s his stomping ground.
    Muties on the make, beware! He’ll paint your shanty red.

    Don’t you mock me!
    I’ll have the last laugh!

  9. Ken Quichey Says:

    Yeah, I’m a stickler…
    And so is Joe Dredd!!

  10. The Beast Must Die Says:

    Too right.


  11. Jog Says:

    Flesh remains, for me, the best strip in 2000 AD. JERICHO JAKE. VIPER.

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