Tuesday, March 26, 2024

What's in the box?

Nothing feeds the desperate desire to see what happens next in a comic book quite like a weekly schedule, so it's no surprise that 2000ad has had me frothing for the next prog for decades now. 

Even now, I'm still desperate to see how the latest Sinister Dexter turns out, just as much as I needed to see how Zenith was going to get out of the existentially dark hole it was digging in its final storyline, or how Day of Chaos was going to end. (Badly, for absolutely everybody, it turned out.)

And that weekly dose was never more thrill-powered than twice in one beautiful year, when I absolutely had to know what was in Kano's black box, and who was going to win Supersurf 10.

The first run of Bad Company by Milligan, Ewins and McCarthy was a blast, bringing the incredible clich├ęs of the British war comic into a literal new world, full of killer robots, pitiless alien foes and war zombies. And the mystery of what the lead character Kano was carrying around in a black box - enough to kill anybody who tried to open it - was the ultimate plot point of the series, and there was a whole goddamn week after Danny, Mac and Mad Tommy opened it before we also got to see inside.

My mate Kyle got the issue first, and brought it into school the next day, and I still remember waiting for it on the long driveway leading up to H-block. The revelation was, of course, perfect. Of course that's what was in the box.

Almost exactly a year later, and I'm bunking off school early this time, because I have to see if Chopper is going to win Supersurf.

Like all good young nerds, I didn't really are about sports, but I was deeply invested in Supersurf 10, and can also remember reading the end of the race in front of the rack at Temuka Stationery, and being absolutely floored by the result.

Chopper was the best -  the greatest wallscrawler Mega City-One had ever seen, and the protagonist in one of the first Dredd stories where the title character is objectively a dick. He had, of course, won  Supersurf 7 with one of the most amazing feats in fictional sports, going backwards against MC-1's heavy traffic, carrying his great rival who had been mortally injured. 

And when he returned, it was in the latest mega-epic, with weeks and weeks of the Oz storyline devoted to Chopper making it to Australia. Once all the foolishness with the Judda was sorted out, with the unfortunate loss of Uluru, the race was on, stretching out for long pages of high velocity action on antigravity surfboards.

And then he lost, because shit happens, and a loudmouth Aussie was proclaimed the best in the world, and it wasn't fair.

But then again, what is? This was a good time in life to learn that type of lesson.

Chopper came back for the breathtaking carnage of Supersurf 11, and is still hanging around in the skies. Even Kano and crew have been back in recent years, for more trippy military mayhem. But nothing compares to those long seven days, a lifetime ago.

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