Synopsis: THE SEARCH/DESTROY AGENT JOHNNY ALPHA IS STILL ALIVE. Having wreaked vengeance against the humans that plotted the ‘final solution’ to mutant-kind, he is released from prison for one last job in deep space that only a Strontium Dog can do. And with the freedom of his friends on the line, he has no choice but to accept…
Now that their careers as bounty hunters are off the cards, his mutant friends have a new job proposition. They are hired to repossess ‘The Rock’ – an asteroid space-station owned by a galactic crime lord – and to succeed they must pull off a heist of galactic proportions!
Review: This trade collects three adventures of Johnny Alpha, which originally appeared in the pages of 2000 AD. It also represents my introduction to the characters and the Strontium Dog universe and it is fair to say that I’m intrigued enough to want to check out some of the earlier adventures.
Originally set in a future post-apocalyptic version of England. Strontium Dog has been a mainstay of 2000 AD since the comics early years. The premise is relatively simple. Johnny Alpha is a mutant who has a unique skill set but is still looked down upon by other humans because of his difference. So to make ends meet Johnny Alpha and some of his mutant friends become Strontium Dog’s, which are essentially bounty hunters who can track a person down irrespective of how hard they may try to hide. This set of stories sees Alpha and his friends having to redefine themselves somewhat given that their careers as bounty hunters are essentially over.
As someone coming into this new. I have to confess that I felt a little lost as to who was who and what was what, but found that the writing and characterizations were so good that you soon find yourself lost in the world and going along with the story anyhow. If anything. This book makes me want to check out the earlier adventures of Johnny Alpha and learn a bit more about the character’s origins.
The dialogue between the various characters is well thought out in as much as they talk how we’d talk. None of it seems forced. I like how the writers had the none English characters speaking with an accent.
The first story is pretty much a straight reintroduction of Johny Alpha, but this version of the character does not seem to care whether or not he lives or dies. But once on the job, that attitude is put on the back burner. Of course, the various bits of bureaucratic BS get in the way of Alpha who feels to me like a British version of Dirty Harry or even Snake Plissken, but he comes over as much more trouble than either of those characters.
The opening story The Stitz Fix sees Johnny Alpha blackmailed into despotic NKD leader. The NKD is pretty much a not so subtle future version of North Korea. Repo Men sees Johnny reintroduced to some of his old friends for a Heist mission and rounding out the stories is Judas Strain, which sees Johnny work alongside an old rival and love interest.
The ensemble group of characters in these three stories are a joy to read. All have their own unique voices and are larger than life to a point where they literally do come off the pages.
Carlos Ezquerra provides art throughout the book and brings his A-game when it comes to gritty panels and chunky characters. Many of Ezquerra’s panels look to be inspired by classic westerns and very much have that feel to them. And given that Johnny Alpha’s travels expand to other planets. We get to see plenty of alien races as well as planetary landscapes and cityscapes.
With stories from John Wagner; Lauren Beukes and Dale Halvorsen. This is likely worth picking up for long-term fans of the character, but also potentially a pretty good jumping on point for newbies like me.