Blog Archives

Great British Comic-Book Characters: Zenith

Zenith banner

Borag Thungg fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo and welcome back to another instalment of ‘Great British Comic-Book Characters’ our occasional series that aims to acquaint you with some of the classic characters that originate from the UK.

As we have highlighted in previous entries from this series, comics take on a very diverse approach in Britain in comparison to their American counterparts, the anthology style is (and forever has been) ubiquitous in its form over here in blighty. Whereas most comic-books in the USA usually centre themselves on a single character or story arc, British comics have almost always delivered a compendium of characters and stories in each issue, with easily the most popular and groundbreaking of these weekly digests being the phenomenal 2000AD.

z1-edited

We have posted in length about the other crazy characters that form the UK’s favourite comic anthology, but where they mostly differ from their American brethren is with their distinct lack of capes, cowls and secret identities. Brit comic persona are invariably made up of quirky non-conformist types or hard nosed, fascistic authoritarian figures with 2000AD’s leading export Judge Dredd being the ultimate example of the latter. Today’s guest star though belongs to the former camp and is somewhat closer to the American ideal of a comic-book stalwart, yet still retains the atypical Brit eccentricity and anti-establishmentarianism that pervades a majority of fictional British work.

Zenith was created by the great Grant Morrison and sensational Steve Yeowell in 1987, its debut appearance was in #535 of 2000AD, yet the story’s titular star didn’t actually appear until the second episode with the first instalment reserved for setting the scene for his introduction into this alternate fictional version of the UK.

zenith1-edited

Robert McDowell is the civilian name of the ’80s Pop star/Superhero Zenith, the son of two former members of the famed team of 1960’s British Superheroes known as Cloud 9, a group of super-humans initially formed by the military, who ultimately rebelled against authority becoming bohemian psychedelic fashion icons and rights activists. Zenith is possessed of bio-rythmic abilities that grant him the powers of flight, super strength, pyrokinesis and high physical durability. Yet rather than use these uncanny gifts to fight intolerance and crime he utilises them to further his music career. Zenith himself is a superficial, glib and self centred personality, overtly spoilt and extremely reluctant to be brought into any of the ongoing conflict that involves going up against the pernicious and malevolent antagonists – The Lloigor.

Reluctantly he is dragged into action by surviving members of Cloud 9 to help fight The Many Angled One (aka The Lloigor, beings from another dimension closely resembling Cthulhu mythos) Lok Sotot. It was during this violent encounter, after the unfortunate death of Welsh Superhero, Red Dragon, that Zenith began to realise the full extent of his incredible powers, and his ability to utilise them for the benefit of others rather than his own selfish needs.

zen2-edited

Grant Morrison initially created Zenith as a “reaction against tormented Superheroes” you see, the 1980s was the decade for the anti-heroes’ ascendance, Batman became darker and grimmer than previous iterations and Watchmen (by fellow Brit creator Alan Moore) took the  political dissonance and violent repercussions of masked vigilantism to a whole other stratospheric level. Zenith was Morrison’s way of railing against this methodology (that said, Morrison himself has gone on to become one of the most celebrated and longest running writers of Batman tales, with an extremely dark take on the character that is in stark contrast to Zenith’s raison-d’etre)

Zenith is a satirical and sardonic look at 1980’s British culture and politics (a favoured scenario for many Brit comic creators) Morrison described his creation as – “a dumb, sexy and disposable pop icon, Alan Moore by way of Stock, Aitken and Waterman”

z-edited

Up until a few years ago Zenith was out of print due to ownership disputes between creators and publishers, causing previously released collected volumes to skyrocket in price, selling for up to an unbelievable ten times their original cover value! 2000AD owners Rebellion  released a new set of collected editions late in 2014 that managed to sell out on pre-order in just 48 hours, cementing the fact that the UK’s love for the glibly shallow Superhero was (and still is) second to none.

zenith rating

A Guide To Speaking 2000AD…

Seminal British anthology series 2000AD not only brought fantastic characters and thrill-power to the universal masses but also introduced us to it’s iconic alien editor – Tharg the Mighty! Tharg has presided as its fictional Quaxxann leader since the first issue debuted in 1977, and alongside presenting stellar stories, he also brought his very own dialect, which most die hard 2000AD fans use on an almost daily basis (yup, guilty as charged!) So to those Terrans whom have never delved into Quaxxiann we proffer a list of his most popular catchphrases and their Terran translations…

tharg

Borag Thungg Earthlet – Greetings Human.

Zarjaz – Excellent

Krill Tro Thargo – Honoured By Tharg

Florix Grabundae – Many Thanks

Nonscrot – Someone Who Doesn’t Read 2000AD

Scrotnig – Exciting Or Amazing

Squaxx Dek Thargo – Friend Of Tharg

Splundig Vur Thrigg – Goodbye

And so, Florix Grabundae my fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo for visiting the Precinct and indulging in our Scrotnig post. Splundig Vur Thrigg!

Tharg the Mighty and Zenith are copyright: 2000AD and Rebellion.

World’s Finest: An Exclusive Interview With Judge Death

death2

Welcome fellow Agents of Precinct1313 to another exhilarating episode of “World’s Finest” a series of exclusive interviews that aim to introduce you to some of our very favourite convocation of comic-book characters of… all… time!

Each episode we cordially invite one of our most treasured – Superheroes, SuperVillains, Costumed Crimefighters, Dimension Dwelling Demons and, of course, Super-Pets, to answer a quotient of quintessentially quirky questions about life, the universe and cake (’cause everyone loves cake!)

And so, let us welcome to Precinct1313’s stately sanguine sofa of shockingly satirical secrets – the Emperor of Expiration, the Duke of Demise, the decidedly discorporeal, and defiantly deceased – Judge Death!

death1.jpg

Precinct1313: W… w… welcome, uh, J… Judge Death, to this week’s World’s Finest…

Judge Death: Hsssssssssssss…

Precinct1313: It’s, erm, lovely to have you join us this evening?

Judge Death: You! you have the foul ssssstench of the Living!

Precinct1313: I, uh, am what you might currently call alive, yes.

Judge Death: Life isssssss crime, the sssssssentence is…

Precinct1313: …Death! yes, yes I know, I’ve been a big fan of yours since you first fought your nemesis, Judge Dredd way back in issue #149 of 2000AD…

Judge Death: You would do well to not interrupt me again, you missssserable mortal malignancy!

Precinct1313: I, uh, i..it won’t happen again, Mr Death, uh, sir…

Judge Death: Your feeble attempt at appeasement meansssss nothing foul fleshling, life isssss an aberration and I am itssssss cure

death3.jpg

Precinct1313: Erm, if you don’t mind me interjecting for just a second, but if my history is correct haven’t you already “cured” your own dimension of it’s populace?

Judge Death: Yessssss, Deadworld now livessss up to itssssss appurtenant moniker.

Precinct1313: Of course, your personal reasoning for the slaughter of billions of lives was that because all crime is committed by the living, that life itself must be a crime?

Judge Death: Yessssss, with the help of the witch sisterssssss, Phobia and Nausea, and my fellow Dark Judgesssss I was able to finally bring those tortured and corrupt living soulsssss into the cold embrace of expiration…

Precinct1313: Ah yes, your infamous entourage of euthanasia, the other Dark Judges Fear, Fire and Mortis! together you make a most formidable and fatal foursome, I mean few have stood a chance against your potency for perishing.

Judge Death: Your alliteration is nonsenssssse and childisssh, and you will cease and desist immediately… or you will literally cease to exisssssst!

Precinct1313: Ceased… forthwith!

Judge Death: Good, my brethren Judges are almossssst here, and your wit and badinage will not be welcomed by them, in the ssssslightest!

death4.jpg

Precinct1313: I’m sorry, did you just say that the other Dark Judges are, um, on their way here… right now!?

Judge Death: Yesssssssss, they want to meet you!

Precinct1313: They, uh, do? for like, my autograph, or something… right? 

Judge Death: No, to judge you, though I fear I already know the outcome…

Precinct1313: Fear? oh no, come on…

Judge Fear: GAZE INTO THE FACE OF FEAR!!

fear1.jpg

Precinct1313: Eeeeep!

death 5.jpg

Precinct1313: Oh thank grudd… Dredd! you saved me from a fate worse than… oh hang on, from actual death…

Judge Dredd: I wouldn’t rejoice just yet citizen, you are charged with conspiring with the Dark Judges, how do you plead?

Precinct1313: Conspiring, erm, all I did was invite Judge Death over for an interview, it’s sort of what I do…

Judge Dredd: And unleashed him upon your dimension, where now millions of lives will expire, you are found guilty of collusion, the sentence is death!

Precinct1313: Ah, dammit!

dredd-00.gif

GUILTY!

 

 

Judge Death, Fire, Mortis, Fear and Dredd are Copyright: 2000AD and Rebellion.

Great British Comic Book Characters Presents: 2000AD Prog #2000

2000

Borag Thungg fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo, and welcome back to another instalment of ‘Great British Comic Book Characters’  Precinct1313’s episodic delve into the UK’s biggest selling and highly influential weekly anthology comic: 2000AD. And today’s episode marks a massive milestone for the ‘Galaxy’s Greatest Comic’ with the release of it’s 2000th issue!

The iconic British comic book has been administering thrill power to the masses since it was first introduced in 1977. It has been responsible for unleashing such seminal characters as Nemesis the Warlock, Zenith, Rogue Trooper, Slaine, Strontium Dog, and of course, it’s most important and popular persona, the grim lawman of the future, Judge Dredd.

dredd-edited-1The weekly anthology not only became the biggest selling British comic in the UK’s history (and still is today) but also helped thrust into the limelight some of the greatest British writers and artists in comic book lore, such luminary delights as Pat Mills, Alan Moore, Simon Bisley, Alan Grant, Brian Bolland and Grant Morrison. These outstanding talents have gone on to be responsible for some of the most legendary works in comics with titles including, Batman: The Killing Joke, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing and many, many more.

Celebrating a monumental 2000 issues, today is the most important day in British comic-book history as the illustrious issue hits the UK newsstands. Prog #2000 begins with an illustrated introduction from some of 2000AD’s most famed creators, and Quaxxan native – Tharg the Mighty, 2000AD’s alien editor, acts as our virtual tour guide across the stunning stripsAs we dive into the grandiose comic, we are delighted to see the return of some of the original Scrotnig stalwarts, especially two of Dredd’s creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra who present us with an extra special anniversary story depicting Mega City’s most feared Judge, who teams up up with renowned Strontium Dog himself Johnny Alpha.

2000-13

Other delights include, the return of Pat Mills and Kevin O’ Neill to Nemesis the Warlock, and an especially Zarjaz tale featuring PSI Judge Anderson (my personal favourite 2000AD character) brought to you by legendary scribe Alan Grant, with exceptional visuals by the extremely talented David Roach. The Prog (2000AD and British’ism for issue, fact fans) ships with three different covers, and is a complete and utter steal at a mere £3.99.

2000ad

Three Monumental Covers To Help Celebrate A Majestic Milestone

The irreverent satirical humour, anti-establishment rhetoric, and dystopian outlook are all present and correct, as they always have been since this momentous comic’s first appearance. Mixed in with stunning art and classic creators, this is a fitting tribute to one of the world’s most iconic and groundbreaking works of fiction, ‘Florix Grabundae’  to Tharg the Mighty, founder Pat Mills, and the cadre of creators that have given us, humble British comic book fans, such delightfully satirical entertainment over the years. Splundig Vur Thrigg’ fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo’

tharg

Tharg’s Catchphrase Dictionary…

Tharg the Mighty has not only brought fantastic characters and thrill-power to the comic-book masses over the years, but also his own dialect. So to induct those Terrans who have never spoken Quaxxiann, we proffer a list of his most widely utilised phrases and their Terran translations.

Borag Thungg Earthlet” – Greetings Human.

“Zarjaz” – Excellent.

“Krill Tro Thargo” – Honoured By Tharg.

“Florix Grabundae” – Many Thanks.

“Nonscrot” – Someone Who Doesn’t Read 2000AD.

“Scrotnig” – Exciting/Amazing.

“Squaxx Dek Thargo” – Friend Of Tharg.

“Splundig Vur Thrigg” – Goodbye.

 

Great British Comic Book Characters Presents: Future Shock! The Story Of 2000AD

Future_Shock__The_Story_of_2000AD

Borag Thungg fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo, and welcome back to another instalment of “Great British Comic Book Characters,” Precinct1313‘s episodic look at the UK’s biggest selling and highly influential weekly anthology comic; 2000AD.

Over the previous five instalments of this ongoing series, I have gradually introduced you to the characters and creators of the “Galaxy’s Greatest Comic,” what first motivated me to begin a series on 2000AD was initially the fact that, apart from Judge Dredd, the majority of classic characters from this mighty tome are rather unknown to the world outside of the British isles. Fantastic creations such as Nemesis the Warlock, Rogue Trooper, Zenith and Strontium Dog have rich backstories, superstar creators and close to 40 years of history, yet still remain in relative obscurity. Having grown up alongside these characters, I decided to utilise my blog to promote, as best as I could, these groundbreaking comic characters and hopefully draw more appreciation and proclivity towards characters I believe are deserving of a far larger audience than they currently receive.

2000ad

“Read more 2000AD, or it’s five years in an iso-cube, mandatory!”

Released in the UK on December 7, “Future Shock! The Story Of 2000AD” is an 106 minute documentary that charts the rise of Britain’s favourite comic-book, offering up a dynamic and comprehensive overview of the comic that includes a look at the various highs and lows of the comics history, and extensive coverage of the creative process behind the scenes of the long running megazine. Documenting how a band of Britain’s most talented and eclectic comic talent came together to create the visionary publication, and guest starring a swathe of said talent including; Neil Gaiman, Pat Mills, John Wagner, Grant Morrison and Dave Gibbons, plus recent “Dredd” actor Karl Urban is also on hand to profess his adoration for 2000AD‘s world famous grim protector of the law.

Future Shock! is directed by Paul Goodwin, who has, as previously mentioned, assembled an iconic group of talent for interviews and nostalgic musings on their past glories. Especially entertaining, as always, is the fantastic Pat Mills, who rages and rants humorously on the ups and downs of the comic’s (at times) tempestuous past, Mills alone is worth the asking price, one of the greatest talents in the UK industry, he never pulls his punches and always tells things as they are, his part in this documentary is legendary!.

Pat Mills

Pat Mills, is as awesome and entertaining as ever in this must see documentary

The documentary itself mostly consists of the aforementioned interviews alongside various illustrations, also included though are some impressive animations courtesy of Zebra Post, with the opening sequence being a particular stand-out piece. The docu mainly covers the 70’s and 80’s of 2000AD‘s long history, but does touch on the 90’s, especially on sister publication Judge Dredd: The Megazine.

At over 100 minutes long, this fantastic look at 2000AD is a must have for fans of the comic, but also offers up an intriguing study of British comics in a time when the UK was going through a considerable transition in politics, music and outlook, 2000AD embraced and used these changes to produce an intelligent and sometimes hilariously subversive comic that almost predominantly helped evolve not just the comic book scene in Britain, but ultimately the across the planet itself.

Precinct1313 Rating: Zarjaz!!

Great British Comic Book Characters: Judge Dredd The Megazine’s 25th Anniversary

The Four Dark Judges Are Here To Torture, Kill, And Wish Dredd Happy Anniversary... Before Torturing And Killing Him Of Course!

The Four Dark Judges Are Here To Torture, Kill… And Wish Dredd Happy Anniversary… Before Torturing And Killing Him Of Course!

“Oh hi there, Judge Death here, the Duke of Demise, Emperor of Expiration and all round evil fiend. Just thought I’d stop by to wish my old foe Dredd congratulations on 25 years of his solo comic, before I head out to snuff the life of billions in my eternal quest to extinguish the living from all mortal planes. Best enjoy as many comics as you can humans, for soon I shall come for your corporeal souls… you have a great day now”

Uh, thanks for that Death… Borag Thungg fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo, and welcome to an anniversary edition of “Great British Comic Book Characters”  wherein we shall be celebrating a quarter of a century of “Judge Dredd: The Megazine.”

dredd

That’s right Dredd devotees, 2000 AD‘s sister comic – The Megazine is celebrating 25 years of dispensing justice and thrill-power today. Launched way back in October 1990, Megazine collected classic Dredd stories from the past, including such greats as, “Young Death” and “America” and this awesome anniversary issue also sports a fantastic commemorative cover by Barry Kitson, who is triumphantly returning to the 2000 AD fold for the first time in 23 years!

Judge-Dredd-Megazine-365

25 fallen foes, help celebrate Dredd’s 25th solo anniversary

The special edition cover contains the twenty five most heinous of Dredd‘s rogues gallery including such sadistic evil-doers as, Judge Death, Fink Angel, Judge Fear, Mean Machine, Captain Skank, and Rico Dredd. Like its sister publication 2000 AD, Megazine (formed from the wordplay of magazine and Mega-City One, fact fans) is an anthology comic, originally containing tales set only within the Dredd universe.

As the years moved on it expanded to include other unconnected stories, interviews with artists and writers, and a monthly supplement that would focus on the work of certain celebrity 2000 AD contributors such as Simon Bisley, Alan Grant, and John Higgins, plus from issue #276 they opened up a unique creator-owned slot that featured Tank Girl and American Reaper amongst its superstar guest characters. So here’s to another 25 years in the company of the world’s toughest lawman, by Drokk!

Judge Dredd’s Catchphrase Dictionary;

In case you ever find yourself stranded in downtown Mega-City One, and don’t know your skedway from your zoomway, well worry no more because here’s a handy dandy guide to Mega-City lingo that may just save your Grud-damn life!

jdGrud: An analogy for a higher being or God.

Drokk: An expletive, profanity.

Stomm: Word for an unpleasant substance or food stuff. 

Sov: Shortened term for East Megians, Soviets.

Jay: A Judge.

Jimp: Judge impersonator.

Slab: Pedestrian walkway or pavement.

Resyk: Recycling centre, where dead bodies are processed and recycled.

Mutie: Shortened from mutant.

Sked: Term used for roads, shortened from Skedway.

Zoomway: High speed, multi-lane motorways.

Iso-Cube: Isolation cube, various stacked prison cells.

Judge Dredd: The Megazine #365 Anniversary Edition is available at your local comic-book emporium and all good newsagents right now.

Judge Dredd and Judge Dredd: The Megazine are copyright – Rebellion.