“Insurrection III” is the third installment in writer Dan Abnett and artist Colin MacNeil’s “Judge Dredd Megazine” saga “Insurrection.” Set in the world of 2000 AD’s Judge Dredd, the story revolves around Liberty, a space colony that recently experienced a brutal war with the Zhind, an evil alien species. The inhabitants of Liberty revolt against their Mega-City One masters when the Mega-City tries to take away the basic rights of the robots and sub-species that fought alongside humans in the war.
Dan Abnett is one of the most prominent and prolific creators for both the “Judge Dredd Megazine” and its sister publication, “2000 AD.” Among Abnett’s creations for “2000 AD” are “Sinister Dexter,” “Kingdom” and “Grey Area.” Abnett is also popular in the US alongside writing partner Andy Lanning, for comics like “Nova,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Thanos Imperitive.”
Abnett spoke with Comic Book Resources about what to expect in the third installment of “Insurrection,” working with the legendary Colin MacNeil, what it’s like writing a “Judge Dredd” story without Judge Dredd and much more.
CBR News: What’s the premise for the “Insurrection” series and what can we expect to see in Part Three? Obviously, Part Two ended on a huge cliffhanger…
Dan Abnett: The premise of the series is that there are many human colony worlds out in space that are under the jurisdiction of Mega-City One and controlled by Justice Department marshals. One of them rises up against the Mega-City because of oppressive treatment. This is about rebels fighting for justice against the Justice department! The third book picks up just after the rebel forces have won a major victory — but it goes off at a slight tangent and brings a whole new storyline into things.
Is “Insurrection” planned as a trilogy? In other words, is this the end for the series?
It’s planned as a trilogy for now. We have a huge ending in mind.
Will readers finally come face-to-face with the mysterious alien Zhind this series?
It’s safe to say… yes.
Mutants, droids and uplifts have all been granted citizenship. Any other sub-species or alien species being brought into the alliance this time around?
It’s a possibility. Rights for aliens, maybe?
It started with Liberty and moved to Fraternity. What other worlds will have been freed by the time the third series starts?
There are two main new locations in Book Three and, given the names of the first two planets, we can probably guess what the third one will be called, can’t we?
At this point, is your protagonist Luther involved more to help out the underclasses or is he just trying to stick it to the Special Judicial Squad? He comes across more stubborn than heroic at times.
A bit of both perhaps. He has a principled goal which justifies him, but he is angry and has a personal agenda to back that righteous fury up.
How did you decide to do “Insurrection” in black and white?
I’m not sure originally. But I think Colin is doing a superb job with the greyscale and B&W tones. It looks awesome.
What’s it like working with legendary “Judge Dredd” artist Colin MacNeil?
Colin’s fantastic. He is a brilliant artist, one of the all-time greats (not just on “Dredd”) and has a very distinctive style too, which is fantastic. He’s also very hard working and creative, contributes loads of ideas, and is a genuine pleasure to work with and collaborate with. We have great chats on the phone, and exchange great idea e-mails. At least, that’s how it is for me. Maybe he can’t stand me… [Laughs]
What’s it like writing a series set in the extended world of “Judge Dredd?” Do you ever feel the need to run things by creator John Wagner when designing some new aspect of his universe?
That’s what Tharg is for. I think what John does is amazing, and I’d never want to conflict with his work or vision on the series. I try to be respectful to the spirit of Dredd, and I think they’d let me know if I’d done anything that needed tweaking.
Is it true that “Insurrection” is somehow related to a “Warhammer 40K” pitch you had?
Like I said, I’ve written 45 novels and many have been for Games Workshop/”Warhammer,” along with a lot of comic book work, so I am very well known in that universe. Colin has also done notable comic work for them. I think people made an assumption because it was big spaceships, big guns, big boots, big armor and big war. But it was always a Dredd-verse story.
Your “2000 AD” comics are written without your regular writing partner Andy Lanning. Are you more protective of your solo work?
Andy and I have worked together for 25 years, essentially on US superhero comics, and it’s a very fruitful partnership that benefits from our mutual love of old Marvel and DC stuff. But he is also a world-class inker, and I write on my own — along with (45 and counting) novels, “2000 AD” has always been one of my solo gigs.
Your “2000 AD” work seems to focus heavily on the theme of xenophobia. You have “Insurrection,” “Kingdom” and “Grey Area” all focusing on humans despising non-human life. Was this a conscious effort to tie them together thematically?
That’s a theme right now, I suppose, by accident. They’re also all about repression and caste systems, about slave underclasses and loyal but unappreciated heroes. It must’ve been subliminal.
When did you first get your foot in the door at “2000 AD?”
Nearly twenty years ago, writing “Dredd” first, then “Vector 13,” then “Rogue Trooper” and “Black Light” — and then “Sinister Dexter,” my first creation.
What was that first “Judge Dredd” story you wrote about?
Ow. That was a long time ago. I wrote two one-shot stories, one about stealing eyeballs from mugging victims to fool optic-scanners at ATMs (as I remember it), and another one about the Cursed Earth (as I even less distinctively remember it). I’d have to check.
Has your “2000 AD” work helped your stateside opportunities at all?
I don’t know. Unlike most British creators, I was already established in the US comics before I wrote for “2000 AD” (I went the other way around). I’d like to think that US editors are aware of “2000 AD” and look at it, because of the high quality work and the huge imagination on display there.
What else is coming up for you in “2000 AD?” I miss “Sinister Dexter” and “Kingdom!”
More of both, I hope. “Sinister Dexter” should return pretty soon.
You’ve had massive success with major publishers in the United States. Why the desire to keep such a high output at the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, a book with much less circulation?
I love “2000 AD,” and grew up reading it. It’s an honor to write for it, and “2000 AD,” in terms of tone, style, format and flavor gives me creative opportunities that can’t be found elsewhere. Creating a strip for “2000 AD” is a very different proposition to creating a strip for any other publisher. It’s very dark, very SF, very British, very offbeat, wildly imaginative, often satirical and funny…
“Insurrection III” debuts in “Judge Dredd Megazine” #334, available in the UK March 20.