01/09/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: 2000AD/Rebellion. 192 page graphic novel. Price: £13.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-906735-03-6.
check out website: www.2000adonline.com
Of all the '2000 A.D.' characters, I've always had a soft spot for 'Strontium Dog' Johnny Alpha. He's a mutant bounty hunter, often killing when he has no other choice but he does have a heart, unlike a certain Mega City judge.
His main asset is the ability to see through anything near by combined with the fact that he's pretty durable and a good shot with his gun. The mutants themselves are the result of strontium fall-out after the last nuclear war. Being mostly deformed, the better-abled are employed as bounty hunters. Johnny Alpha could pass for normal human if he hides his eyes.
The tales in this graphic novel span reprints from '2000 A.D.' from 2000-2008, the years not the issue numbers, and you got a lot of stories for your bucks here. The principle story focuses around Johnny Alpha and his time-displaced Viking colleague, Wulf Sternhammer, returning to Earth to rescue King Clarkie, kidnapped by some Welsh mutants.
Things are complicated by Johnny's own brother and the police who are determined to set up a coup to blame the King's death on mutantkind which would enable them to kill the latter. It's explained a lot more graphically (sic) in the story.
Now Johnny has always endeavoured to do the best for his own kind but the end result makes him a renegade to his people and he and Wulf, after rescuing rebel leader Billy Glum from execution, definitely has to flee the Earth or be arrested for the breakout. They then spend time at the Club Paladiso where bounty hunting is illegal, not to mention using mutant abilities to gamble. The twists in getting around this are delightful and you definitely don't know who you can trust.
Mixed into all this are other adventures on other worlds which if you aren't familiar with the characters will make you more than familiar. Just don't go to Halycon if you want to keep your hair in disguise. Having both Johnny and Wulf bald for a story is quite daring considering how much keeping to standard costumes is the norm in comicbook stories. Then again, Johnny has been known to shed his costume for other attire from time to time as well.
'Strontium Dog' adheres to a lot of SF tropes and its writer/creator John Wagner, together with its long-term artist Carlos Ezquerra has brought some great feeling here. With this, the seventh volume, you can easily step into these tales from this point.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA