The Best of 2000AD is a difficult title to live up to. With over 30 years of strips to choose from any editor approaching a book with that title would is on a hiding to nothing as the paper has now gone through generations of fans, all of whom will have favourites from the particular period they were reading 2000AD. Get ready for plenty of reviews featuring the sentence beginning "How could they not have included..."
This is more a taster volume than a serious attempt to gather the best strips from the Galaxy's favourite comic. Rebellion, current owners of 2000AD and publishers of their own wide-ranging series of collections mining the paper, must be rubbing their hands with glee. A nearly 400-page hardcover catalogue advertising their books would have cost them a fortune... here they get one for free and someone has paid for the privilege.
I'm approaching the book from the direction of someone who has a pretty substantial collection of 2000AD anyway, so I'm not the true market. As with other Prion books (many of which I've been involved with), the book is aimed at the so-called 'nostalgia market'—in this case the forty-year-old with a marriage and a mortgage under his belt who is looking back longingly at simpler times. If you picked up 2000AD when it first came out and just want a taste of that excitement you felt, this is the book for you.
The spread of strips actually encompasses a fair few years, but most of the contents are from early issues. You can re-read the first Dredd tale and the complete 'Call-Me-Kenneth' series; there are the opening episodes of 'Invasion', and 'Harlem Heroes', plus 'M.A.C.H.1' and Flesh, although represented by the opening episodes of 'Flesh Book 2'.
"Opening episodes" is going to be a frustrating experience for some. You can read five episodes of 'The Ballad of Halo Jones', four episodes of 'Robo-Hunter', three episodes of 'Strontium Dog', three episodes of 'Rogue Trooper', two of 'Shako', five of 'The Mean Arena' and six of 'The Mean Team'. Not all of them end with any sort of conclusion. There are a few yarns that are complete in one or maybe two episodes, including 'D.R. & Quinch', 'Tharg's Future Shocks' and 'Tharg's Time Twisters' (mostly from the pen of Alan Moore), but if you need an answer to the question "Could Hammerstein be the leader I'm looking for?" you'll not find it here as there's only a single episode of 'A.B.C. Warriors'.
But if you just want to dip into the origins of, say, Nemesis or Slaine or Bad Company or Judge Death, you'll at least find out how they got started. And if you want more of the same, at least you can turn to the Rebellion reprints (they're all listed over to the right in the Comics Bibliography column).
The Best of 2000AD. Prion ISBN 978-1853756689, 1 September 2008.