6 January 2011

Meltdown Man is a cracking adventure

One of my self-selected Christmas presents was the wonderful collected edition of the Meltdown Man.

For those with a weak, or absent memory, Meltdown Man was serialised weekly in 2000AD from September 1980 for a year. I loved it at the time but the memory of the story had dimmed somewhat so when I saw that it was coming out as a collected edition it was a simple decision to put it on my wish list. And Santa was kind to me.

A long train journey today elevated it from the to-be-read pile (which is ridiculously large) and I had a delightful couple of hours wallowing in it.

The story, by Alan Hebden, has some familiar themes being set in a post-apocalyptic world with human/animal hybrids. Jack Kirby's Kamandi covers similar territory as does, obviously, Planet of the Apes.

But there the similarities end.

The other stories are firmly in the science fiction genre whereas this is an adventure story that happens to be set in a sci-fi world. The main plot is the uprising of the animals against a cruel human master.

One of the things that I like most about the story is the way that the core group splits up to follow different parts of the overall plan so we get several concurrent stories and the suspense of whether they will ever meet up again to complete their joint mission.

Lord of the Rings does the same thing when the Fellowship breaks up and its a neat storytelling trick.

The large cast is assembled and managed well too. We have a goody and a baddy both of which have a large number of supporters/helpers and there is some interesting interplay between them, e.g. the cat fights with the dog all time, some of them change sides and some of them die along the way.

So not the sort of story that you might want to write a thesis on but it is clever enough to keep you fully engaged and all the parts come together to produce a cracking adventure.

And then you have Massimo Bellardinelli's sumptuous art work.

This page is fairly typical.

It shows the detailed pencil work, the strange characters, futuristics machines and dramatic panel structure.

You would want to read this story even if the narrative was weak.

The only thing that could have made this book better would have been to reuse some of the original artwork rather for the cover rather than getting Dave Gibbons (who I like) to do something in a different style.

My only concern here is that I don't think the cover sells the book very well, whereas the cover of Prog 183 (above) tells you what the comic is about and how it looks.

But the cover is the only thing that I can find the slightest fault with. I thoroughly enjoyed rereading this story and it reaffirmed my faith in the power of comics and the originality of 2000AD.

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