If all you know of the Judge Dredd character is from some late-night cable airing of a particularly awful Sylvester Stallone flick of the mid-1990s, acquaint yourself correctly with The Best of 2000 AD: Hundreds of Classic Strips From the Galaxy's Greatest Comic.
This heavy hardcover contains nearly 400 pages' worth of comics culled from issues of 2000 AD, a weekly magazine that's been a staple of British sci-fi for more than 30 years. Each story numbers but a few pages, with many tending to be pieces of longer-running arcs that fail to play out in full here. Getting the entire thing is not the point; this collection's intention is to give new readers a taste of what the rag has to offer, and it certainly tastes different than what Americans are used to.
From the aforementioned authority figure Judge Dredd, to bounty hunter Strontium Dog and military madman Rogue Trooper, each series bursts with in-your-face action in over-the-top situations. Slaying aliens and tripping time, they indulge in excess with imagination and irreverence. Futuristic sports teams and brief, Twilight Zone-ish tales also pepper the pages. The narratives may not be incredibly lucid, but the art is fun enough to compensate for any storytelling deficiencies.
Some big names in comics have come through the 2000 AD offices over the decades, including Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Neil Gaiman, Kevin O'Neill, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Brian Bolland and Garth Ennis. You'll find evidence of their big breaks here. —Rod Lott