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?

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