ZANCUDOCreators: Simon Spurrier & Cam Kennedy
3 episodes: 2005
This is a very unusual Dreddworld miniseries about a pair of Ciudad Baranquilla judges whose transport goes down in the jungle, giving the criminal they were transporting a chance to escape. While tracking him down, they find that the native wildlife has been enslaving the humans who live outside the mega-cities...
Giving too much about Zancudo away would be criminal. Suffice it to say there's a twist in this story to absolutely thrill old-school 2000 AD fans, and that Cam Kennedy's artwork is just too good for words!
Reprinted? This series has not been reprinted. You'll need the original Megs.
Zancudo, 3 episodes, Judge Dredd Megazine 231-233 (5/05 to 6/05). Story by Simon Spurrier, art by Cam Kennedy.
ZENITHCreators: Grant Morrison & Steve Yeowell
81 episodes: 1987-90, 1992, 2000
Another candidate for a "best" list, Zenith is an outstanding superhero serial wrapped in a pop music mentality. It was Grant Morrison's first major series, and it got him in DC's door with a two-year run on Animal Man, the first of many critical and commercial hits for American publishers.
Zenith's backstory begins in World War Two, where British scientists have created a superhuman called Maximan to combat the Nazi menace and their evil creation, Masterman. The two are killed when the US drops an A-bomb on Berlin (sparking a hilarious letter from a po-faced reader correcting Tharg on his facts about which cities actually got flattened by atomic bombs), but the British government continues its research into eugenics, and seven babies are born after the war who grow up to become the supergroup Cloud Nine.
Zenith is the son of two of the superhumans, born in the late sixties and raised in Europe after Cloud Nine's members either vanish or lose their powers, prompting a worldwide ban on eugenics experiments. But Zenith has no time for history or politics; as Earth's only superhuman, he uses his super strength and flight to promote his way into the world of pop music. The papers call him "Superbrat," and with good reason. He's a self-obsessed, egotistical bully without much of a sense of decency.
Phase One of Zenith was heavily promoted by 2000 AD for some weeks prior to its debut, surprising an audience cautious about trying a "superhero" strip. Morrison, effectively, starts the story with all of its rich backstory and curious structure behind it. Zenith is already one album into a hit career. His parents, Dr. Beat and White Heat, died in what was thought to be an accident. Two other superhumans, Lux and Spook, are long vanished, and the remaining three are living as civilians, telling nobody that they actually never lost their powers.
The story opens with a German secret society awakening a new Masterman clone. But while the British heroes were born of the science of eugenics, Masterman is born of ancient rituals and magic. Phase One sees Zenith reluctantly allied with his parents' old comrades to stop Masterman from destroying London, and it's here that we see one of 2000 AD's greatest partnerships form. Except when it suits him, Zenith doesn't have much use for Peter St. John, who, as Mandala was Cloud Nine's hippie member and who is now a Conservative MP, but the brilliant way they work together, and the way Zenith disrespects every single member of the cast to their face except St. John, who gets it behind his back, speaks volumes about just what a brat Zenith is.
In Phase Two, Zenith meets the aging Dr. Robert Peyne, who had spearheaded the eugenics program and was ostracized by the world community in the wake of the superhuman-testing ban, but he also learns the true fate of his parents and meets two more superhumans, created by Peyne with the financing of a demented millionaire, and the eighth of Peyne's postwar babies - a changeling called Chimera.
Zenith came to a natural conclusion after its fourth series, which had been delayed while Morrison was working for DC Comics. He has periodically made references to enjoying the characters enough to occasionally look in on them, but Zenith has only appeared once since St. John's government was re-elected in 1992. The frankly bizarre "zzzzenith.com," which saw Zenith mistakenly accused of assaulting Britney Spears, appeared in December 2000.
Grant Morrison and Rebellion have sadly been at legal loggerheads for several years about ownership of the character, preventing Morrison from writing new episodes and preventing anybody from reprinting the existing ones. As is often the case in situations like this, the real losers are the readers, because a shelf full of Zenith books and a new story each year would be the greatest thing possible.
Trivia: The originally-announced name for Phase IV was "Jerusalem."
Reprinted? Yes. Titan issued Phases 1-3 and the first two Interlude stories in a five-volume series which is long out of print and, due to Zenith's unfortunate place in legal limbo, is highly sought after on the secondary market. These stories also appeared in some issues of The Best of 2000 AD and some of the episodes made it into Quality Comics' poorly colored, US-sized reprints.
Phase One: Tygers, 15 episodes plus prologue, 2000 AD progs 535-549 (Aug. to Nov. 1987). Story by Grant Morrison, art by Steve Yeowell.
Interlude 1: Whitlock, 2000 AD prog 558 (Jan. 1988). Story by Grant Morrison, art by Steve Yeowell.
Interlude 2: Peyne, 2000 AD prog 559 (Jan. 1988). Story by Grant Morrison, art by Steve Yeowell.
Phase Two: The Hollow Land, 17 episodes plus prologue, 2000 AD progs 589-606 (Aug. to Dec. 1988). Story by Grant Morrison, art by Steve Yeowell.
Interlude 3: Maximan, 2000 AD Winter Special #1 (Dec. 1988). Story by Grant Morrison, art by M. Carmona.
Phase Three: War in Heaven, 25 episodes plus prologue, 2000 AD progs 626-634, 650-662 and 667-670 (May to July 1989, Oct. 1989 to Mar. 1990). Story by Grant Morrison, art by Steve Yeowell.
Mandala: Shadows and Reflections, 1990 2000 AD Annual (Oct. 1989). Story by Grant Morrison, art by Jim McCarthy.
Phase Four: Fear of Flying, 15 episodes plus prologue, 2000 AD progs 791-806 (July to Oct. 1992). Story by Grant Morrison, art by Steve Yeowell.
zzzzenith.com, 2000 AD "Prog 2001" (Dec. 2000). Story by Grant Morrison, art by Steve Yeowell.
ZEROCreators: John Brosnan & Kev Hopgood
38 episodes: 1988-90
The first series of Zero actually isn't bad at all. Hopgood's art is extremely rough for 2000 AD, but the script has a few good twists. The central character, a cyborg cabbie named Tanner, has some cliched elements, but he has a few fun moments, like an off-camera fight with a tiger. The other two series get increasingly ridiculous and are not highly recommended. The questionable decision to run "Beyond Zero" in three small chunks over seven months made this story rather hard to read.
Zero was the only 2000 AD contribution by novelist and film critic John Brosnan, who passed away in April 2005.
Reprinted? All of the weekly episodes were reprinted in America. The first two stories were collected in a four-part miniseries called Night Zero and the final story was collected in three issues of 2000 AD Showcase.
Night Zero, 10 episodes, 2000 AD progs 607-616 (Dec. 1988 to March 1989). Story by John Brosnan, art by Kev Hopgood.
Beyond Zero, 12 episodes, 2000 AD progs 630-634, 645-649 & 665-666 (June 1989 to Feb. 1990). Story by John Brosnan, art by Kev Hopgood.
Lost in Zero, 1991 2000 AD Annual (Sep. 1990). Story by John Brosnan, art by Kev Hopgood.
Below Zero, 14 episodes plus prologue, 2000 AD progs 731-745 (May to Aug. 1991). Story by John Brosnan, art by Kev Hopgood.
ZIPPY COURIERSCreators: Hilary Robinson & Graham Higgins
13 episodes: 1989-90
Four months after Moon Runners presented an overlong, arguably sexist look at women owning their own shipping company, Hilary Robinson did the concept somewhat better in her first series, which consisted of one-shots and short serials about Shanna McCullough, the owner and sole employee of a courier company who keeps getting in over her head with obnoxious clients. In the end, Couriers isn't missed by many. While never bad or offensive, its slow pace and lack of "Future Shock" makes this a pretty forgettable strip.
Reprinted? Robinson retains the copyright on Zippy Couriers, which has never been reprinted.
Zippy Couriers, 2 episodes, 2000 AD progs 610-611 (Jan. 1989). Story by Hilary Robinson, art by Graham Higgins.
Butch, 2000 AD prog 613 (Feb. 1989). Story by Hilary Robinson, art by Graham Higgins.
Supermarket, 2000 AD prog 618 (Mar. 1989). Story by Hilary Robinson, art by Graham Higgins.
Women’s Business, 2000 AD prog 622 (Apr. 1989). Story by Hilary Robinson, art by Graham Higgins.
Gunfight at the Nilgrav Disco, 2000AD SF Special 1989 (May 1989). Story by Hilary Robinson, art by Graham Higgins.
The Searchers, 2 episodes, 2000 AD progs 641-642 (Aug. 1989). Story by Hilary Robinson, art by Graham Higgins.
Mascot, 4 episodes, 2000 AD progs 665-668 (Feb. to Mar. 1990). Story by Hilary Robinson, art by Graham Higgins.
Shelob, 2000 AD prog 669 (Mar. 1990). Story by Hilary Robinson, art by Graham Higgins.