Probably the biggest reason you would need to buying the third volume of the ‘Strontium Dog’ books is because of the massive epic storyline dealing with the life and death of Wulf Sternhammer. Hardly spoiler as these tales were originally printed in ‘2000AD’ comic back in the mid-1980s. You would have thought that this was one of the most unbreakable team-ups ever until they ran into Max Bubba and his gang for the second time and who wanted revenge. In many respects, Wulf acted as Johnny Alpha’s conscience and with his death, the latter’s anger and desire for revenge held no bounds in his chase of these felons. Writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra kept this storyline going for an extended period by showing how Alpha and Sternhammer originally met, which had never been shown before, what motivated them to stay together and then Alpha’s pursuit through mutant colonies on Dragan’s World. A real tour de force so make sure you have a good couple hours to read this in one sitting because I doubt if you will want to put this down once started.
That isn’t to say the other stories in this massive volume are second best. If anything, they are on par although there is an ever increasing parallel to westerns but when bounty hunters roamed the desert wilderness, it doesn’t matter if your lead character has penetrative eyes, it’s just beating the bad guys. On top of that, there is always the black humour that powers the characterisation.
Like a lot of ‘2000AD’ material, there were a lot of topical references to TV series given in the names of characters and so forth and ‘Strontium Dog’ was no exception to this. Whether a new generation reading this book will recognise them or treat as mysteries to explore or ask their parents is hard to say. As an older reader, it’s more like recognising things from the past and looking for further references in the story. Whichever, it doesn’t deter and adds a little extra dimension to see if you’re paying attention.
Although ‘Judge Dredd’ gets most of the press from the ‘2000AD’ line, I often wonder why ‘Strontium Dog’ has never been considered as film potential. With its multitude of bizarre looking people and mega-violence and somewhat western appeal of a bounty hunter not to mention being outcasts themselves, it would be seen as a natural choice.
In the meantime, buy these volumes and don’t appear on any wanted lists because Johnny Alpha might come calling.
(pub: 2000AD/Rebellion. 384 page black and white graphic novel softcover. Price: £13.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-905437-8-2)
check out website: www.2000adonline.com