Long before Alan Moore became Superstar Alan Moore, he was a humble writer creating anthology stories for the legendary British magazine 2000 AD. Finally pretty much all of Moore's writing for the 2000 AD anthology have been collected. And even though this is clearly not Moore at his absolute, heart-stopping, brilliant best, this book is still a wonderful collection of stories that any comics fan — Moore fan or not — should enjoy.
The beauty of a collection like this is that all the stories are very short — ranging from two to six pages — and therefore if you get annoyed or tired of one of the four dozen or so stories that are included in this book, you can quickly move on to the next.
A few of these stories really anticipate Moore's future work. "Ring Road", illustrated by Jesus Redondo, has the poetic and moving feel of some of Moore's best '80s work. This little five-pager, which is about aging, the journey through life and the dislocation that some of us feel from life, is surprisingly moving.
"Chronocops" is a cute little five-pager that takes some traditional comic and sci-fi tropes — time travel, cross dimensions, a cop who talks like Joe Friday from Dragnet — and somehow manages to make an interesting and pretty profound story out of its clichés. In other words, it manages to channel a whole lot of what makes Alan Moore a very special creator. Oh, and to make things even cooler, the story is illustrated by Moore's great collaborator Dave Gibbons.
Other stories are just plain odd, which makes them extra fun. "Sunburn" imagines s holiday camp on cool spots on the Sun. On the Sun you can visit a "Pallor Parlor," where you can have your skin go pale, and an "ocean" where surfers scream "Magma up!"
"Mister, Can You Use a Squonge" is a pretty traditional alien invasion story that achieves a high level of strangeness with its idea of alien jellyfishes that take over peoples' brains. The twist ending is wack, but the story is wacky.
"The Last Rumble of the Platinum Horde" is a fun little yarn about a group of conquerors that live only to fight and defeat others. They're shocked to realize that the only group they can't escape is… themselves.
Then there's a cute story in which Einstein and a large group of soldiers from different era of the past are kidnapped by aliens, but genius Einstein triggers a revolution. It's illustrated by the great John Higgins, who delivers stories with a classic British attention to detail.
And there are a few stories that are just rocks among the hidden gems of gold in this book. "Grawks Bearing Gifts" is just a stupid little satire of tacky tourists. "They Sweep the Spaceways" imagines "space janitors" clearing the spaceways of planets in the way. The story is much more annoying than clever. And "An American Werewolf in Space" has one of the lamest twist endings I've ever read in comics.
My favorite parts of this book were the adventures of "the man with the double decker brain", Abelard Snazz. As his intro story refers to him, "Abelard Snazz- mutant supermind! Abelard Snazz, President of Think, Inc. Abelard Snazz, the idea man! He's a genius!
But as is true of almost all main characters in these kinds of twist-in-the-tail storylines, Abelard is too damn smart for his own good. He creates catastrophe after catastrophe, and a lot of the fun of stories like these is watching Abelard inevitably create the destruction that he continually tries to avoid. They're wonderfully clever and tremendously entertaining.
Overall this isn't the most exciting or brilliant work that Alan Moore ever created, but it is a whole lot of fun. Moore wasn't Superstar Alan Moore at this point in his career, but he did create some really entertaining stories that are totally worth checking out.
Jason Sacks has been obsessed with comics for longer than he'd like to remember. He considers himself a student of comics history and loves delving into obscure corners of this crazy artform. Jason has been writing for this site for about seven years and has also been published in a number of fan publications, including the late, lamented Amazing Heroes and The Flash Companion. He lives in north Seattle with his wife and three kids.