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Saturday, 28 July 2012

Archive's Sunday Comics - FLESH

Flesh: The Dino Files
Rebellion graphic novel

When 2000AD first hit the shelves, Flesh, alongside Invasion 1999 and Dan Dare, was one of my favorite stories. It had everything - cowboys, time travel and dinosaurs. The strip was originally developed by Pat Mills for another IPC title, Action but when the title suffered from censorship the strip was held over for the soon to launch SF title, 2000AD.

Flesh initially followed a pattern set by another Mills title, Hook Jaw, about a killer shark, but Flesh was, to my mind, more successful. The premise of cowboys from the future traveling back to prehistoric times to harvest dinosaurs for their meat, was inspired. And another great idea was to have the main dinosaur, a T-Rex, mutilated by Earl Reagan. This set up some kind of relationship between the man and monster. Reagan gouged one of the T-Rex's eyes out and afterwards the creature would become known as Old One Eye. Most of the dinosaurs were depicted as dumb killing machines, but Old One Eye was given personality and also an intense hatred for the human who had gouged its eye out.

The strip initially lasted for 19 issues of the comic and the ending, the aftermath of a dinosaur war, was groundbreaking for its time. Our hero Regan found himself thrown in prison because he failed to stop the dinosaur war from escalating, and the bad guy, Claw Carver was lost in time due to a time shuttle problem. It wasn't exactly a happy ending and readers were sorry to see the strip end.

The full run of Flesh Book One is included in this graphic novel.

Flesh Book 2 came is issue 86 and continued until issue 99. Book Two also proved popular but I didn't like it as much as the first story. For one thing we never did find out what happened to Regan and instead the strip concentrated on Claw Carver, with no mention of what had happened to Regan. The entire run of this second book is also included here. And after reading it again all these years later, I found I enjoyed it a lot more but the original run is still, in my opinion, the best.

Texas, ten episodes included here, was a latter day Flesh adventure and it takes us back to the origins of the story, with cowboys and dinosaurs battling it out for dominance. I'm not so keen on these later adventures but the first two stories show what made 2000AD such a great title.

There are also a couple of bonus Flesh strips from a 2000AD annual and a Summer Special.

Well worth seeking out.

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