The Life and Death of Johnny Alpha: Dogs of War
Writer: John Wagner
Artist: Carlos Ezquerra
Cover: Mark Harrison
The Life and Death of Johnny Alpha: Mutant Spring (2000AD Progs 1813 -1821)
The Life and Death of Johnny Alpha: Dogs of War (2000AD Progs 1862 -1870)
Strontium Dog was created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, the co-creators of Judge Dredd. The iconic character, Johhny Alpha, was introduced in issue one of Starlord (1978) and transitioned over to 2000AD when the comics merged in Prog 86 (1978) after Starlord’s 22 issue run.
Here they continue the story of Johnny Alpha’s return from the grave. The actual return of Johnny Alpha was handled in a previous book, entitled Strontium Dog: The Life and Death of Johnny Alpha. This story follows on from that book.
‘Comic Death’ is a term you may or may not have heard before. It refers to the often short lived demise (pardon the pun) of many in comics. Superman, Jason Todd (the second Robin), Professor X (more than once) and many more have died only to be returned to life. It is very common in Marvel and DC but uncommon in 2000AD. However Strontium Dog is an example of how it can happen also in the British anthology.
Johnny Alpha died in a separate dimension and his body was returned to his own dimension and hidden. When returned to life he was different, he was carryibng a passenger, another life entity. You will see the resolution of that aspect of the story in the preview pages below.
In a ghetto for Mutants Johnny reveals that the free food provided by Sir Pelham Grenville (incidentally the first names of P G Wodehouse) was in fact laced with chemical agents that were sterilising them. Bringing this to light Johnny proceeds to draw allies to him while the Norms rally together and it seems a final showdown between the splintered Human Race is on the cards.
This story is part of a retcon which ignores some of the stories published after Johnny’s death starring a variety of characters, entitled Strontium Dogs. Again retcons are rare in 2000AD and some readers wwere upset that this has occured, I think the majority however probably accept the return of this character.
There are many supporting characters from past stories that return in this bopok, such as Kid Knee. The characterisation of most characters is exactly as it has previously been, returning Middenface McNulty to a more serious character, he had been used increasingly for comedic relief, for which granted he is ideal. John Wagner certainly knows his creations.
Similarly Carlos Ezquerra delivers art that any fan of Strontium Dog would recognise, the broken nose of Johnny Alpha is instantly recognisable after all. There is nothing I can fault with Carlos, I love his art.