2000 AD: Villains Takeover – Rob Williams, Simon Bowland, Henrick Sahlstrom, Karl Stock, Kael Ngu, Barbara Nosenzo, Oz Osborne, Pat Mills, Kyle Hotz, Ellie De Ville, Matt Smith, Chris Weston and Henry Flint (2000 AD / Rebellion)

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There are many things that the Galaxy’s greatest comic does better than anyone else, and one of those is easily it’s peerless Rogue’s gallery. Venomous villains and malevolent miscreants from the far reaches of time and space. Up for offer here for a mere 99p is a sampling of these fine creations for your delectation and detestation. And if that’s not a word, it is now.

I salute Rob Williams for remaining loyal to 2000 AD despite his career  going from strength to strength in the USA, his predecessors have abandoned the comic that established them in favour of the mighty dollar, so it is heartening to see a highly talented creator staying grounded and still producing great work for 2000 AD despite international success, and the special opens up with a thrill packed tale from him entitled  The Judge Who Laughs  – an obvious piss-take of the highly popular but frankly shite “Batman Who Laughs” from DC who let’s be generous and say was a homage to Judge Death himself, the star of this ghoulish tale

Stronty Dog stalwart Stix is back- one of them anyway. There’s a high casualty rate of these fellas, but seemingly and endless supply of them. I had been wondering who could possibly replace the legendary Carlos Ezquerra as the artist on Strontium Dog, and Chris Weston answers that question elegantly. I’d say effortlessly, but clearly there is a lot of love, craft and passion put into this strip. King Carlos is a hard act to follow, but if Johny Alpha’s adventures are to continue- Chris is the man without doubt. I once disagreed with the esteemed Rob Williams about the Weston droid being the modern equivalent of Brian Bolland, and I stand humbled and corrected. Unlike many great artists he actually gets better with age; clearly he is not trying to make the most money out of each page in the least time possible. He obviously cares about his craft and wants to turn in the best work he can. His final page tribute to Carlos Ezquerra alone is worth the cover price and his art on this strip is priceless. Hell, I only wish I was being paid enough for this to afford a page of this work.

Noticeable by his absence is Torquemada- surely the prog’s most delightfully despicable and unapologetically evil miscreants. I was looking forward to seeing him in this, but sadly this time round he is absent. I hope to see him in the next all-star villain extravaganza, as this one was a barrel of fun to test even the most upgraded thrill circuits. Instead from the fevered mind of arch-deviant  Pat Mills we have a tale of the Lord Weird slough Feg- Slaine’s first antagonist from the early eighties who is still delightfully odious and odorous in this morbidly fun little story.

An obscure blast from the past comes in the form of The Professionals starring Brass and Bland- two war looters from early Rogue trooper stories. To my mind, it’s  the weakest tale here- perhaps because the characters themselves are not particularly malevolent, especially in comparison to the others in these pages, but this is more than made up for with the rich art of Keal Ngu- I’ve not heard of him before but he’s most certainly on my radar now .Wrapping up this fantasmagoria of fun we have Tharg’s terror  tale The Last of the Hellphibians by the ridiculously talented and quintessential 2000 AD art droid Henry Flint and enigmatic newcomer THE FEEK. This is tons of fun from the very first page “TONIGHT THE HELLPHIBIANS ARE DETERMINED TO BREED” and brings the special to a thrill packed finish.

Once again, a bold new venture from the house of Tharg; Bold and new being another of the things it does best. On sale May the 1st, we have here a comic of absolute quality for the startlingly low price of 99p, if you don’t like it, then I’ll give you your money back. But you will. It’s fucking great. What you got to lose? Richard Torres

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