The 2000AD USA Preview: Progs 2071 To 2074 Arriving In May

by Richard Bruton

Over here in Great Britain, we have the wonderful experience of being able to get 2000AD every single week. But it comes to my attention that over there, in the good old US of A, you’re not quite so lucky. Turns out that every month, you get the chance to buy 2000AD in a monthly pack.

It’s not ideal, for sure. But I’m here to convince you every month that you should shell out the bucks for Britain’s best monthly comic. Welcome to the 2000AD preview.

This month, you get to experience the delights of 2000AD issues 2071 to 2074. And oh boy, you’ve picked a killer month to get into the world of 2000AD. Except you haven’t.

See, every so often, 2000AD will reboot itself, and have a “jumping on Prog“, with all new strips. The latest jumping on Prog was 2000AD Prog 2073, right in the middle of this pack. But hey, it’s still a good time to get onboard.

First of all, let’s talk covers. Four beauties for sure. But the greenish Judge Anderson cover to Prog 2074 is important. Firstly, it’s a stunning cover by Emily Zeinner. But, more importantly for 2000AD, it’s just the second cover by a woman in 2000AD’s history (the first was Angie Kincaid back in 1983). It’s a shocking admission perhaps, but it’s also something 2000AD are very actively doing things to change. There’s the all-female Sci-Fi Special coming this summer for a start. More on that nearer publication.

Now, looking into the issues for this month… we’re going to give you an idea of what delights await you, show you some preview artwork, and generally convince you that it’s about time that you took a chance on 2000AD.

Let’s kick things off with Judge Dredd

Judge Dredd: Live Evil – Ian Edginton and Dave Taylor. (Progs 2071, 2072)

Ok, here’s where we hit the first snag. Because coming in on Prog 2071 means that you’re coming in halfway through a really great Dredd tale. Seriously, really great.

You’re halfway through a great storyline, featuring Exorcist Judge Lamia, a fascinating creation of Edginton and Taylor. Lamia died, and was resurrected, in a four-parter in the past. Now Edginton and Taylor return to the striking Exorcist Judge Lamia.

Here we see Judge Dredd come to her again, forcing her back into action, heartless bastard that he is. One of the conditions of her resurrection is that she’s now a Soul Herder, despite her not knowing what the hell that is. Seeing her deal with the dead courtesy of Taylor’s beautiful, rounded, Euro styling makes this a great Dredd tale.

(Judge Dredd: Live Evil by Ian Edginton and Dave Taylor, from Prog 2071)

Judge Dredd: Fit For Purpose – Rob Williams and Chris Weston (Progs 2073 and 2074)

Oh my, you’ve sure picked a great time to get into Dredd. The Judge Lamia issues were fabulous, standalone tales. But Williams and Weston’s two-issues give you a look into where the world of Dredd might be going.

In the world of Dredd, you have the run of the mill street Judges, you have the specialists, such as Lamia, Exorcist Judge, and Anderson, Psi Judge. And then you have the SJS. The Special Judicial Squad are Mega-City One’s internal affairs department. And they scare people. They scare Judges.

One of their number was SJS Gerhart. Initially, he was there to take Dredd down, but over various storylines, most recently Rob Williams and Henry Flint’s excellent Titan story, he not only became an ally of Dredd, but became a trusted colleague.

And this doesn’t sit well with SJS. It particularly doesn’t sit well with SJS Judge Pin. Oh, she’s a nasty piece of work. A tiny psychopath, the classic of power twisting a weak mind, the love of being a Judge who judges the Judges is right there to see. And she wants Judge Gerhart gone.

There’s a magnificent moment here in 2073 when Dredd squares up to Pin, and the difference in the two is perfectly captured by Weston.

Dredd doesn’t like, or trust SJS, but the brilliance here in Williams and Westons’ Dredd is what it’s setting up. SJS Judge Pin is looking beyond taking down Gerhart, beyond Dredd. She might even have eyes on the crown.

Dredd has a sense of things going wrong. And Rob Williams sets it all up beautifully for future tales. It’s not the last we’ll see of either Gerhart or SJS Pin. That’s for sure.

(Judge Dredd: Fit For Purpose by Rob Williams and Chris Weston – From Prog 2073)

Okay then, that’s Dredd done with, and two fine tales you get for sure. But as for the rest of the contents of Progs 2071-2074, there’s so much to enjoy.

Progs 2071 and 2072 see the finales of Ian Edginton and INJ Culbard‘s epic Brass Sun, the end of Pat Mills and Clint Langley‘s ABC Warriors, Peter Milligan and Rufus Dayglo‘s Bad Company, and Pat Mills and Patrick Goddard‘s Savage.

Frankly they’re all excellent strips, and it pains me to skate over them. But the thing is, I want to talk about 2000AD going forwards, which means I’m going to have to simply tell you they’re all well worth looking at when you pick up this latest 2000AD pack, and move on.

So.. Prog 2073 and 2074 see the introduction of a completely new set of 2000AD tales. Let’s talk about them…

Jaegir: In The Realm Of Pyrrhus – by Gordon Rennie and Simon Coleby (Progs 2073 and 2074)

Do you remember Rogue Trooper? That classic 2000AD strip told of the war between the goodies, the Southers, and the baddies, the Nords. And Rogue Trooper, the last of the Genetic Infantrymen, fought on the side of the goodies.

In Jaegir, Gordon Rennie takes the view that Rogue Trooper’s black and white allegorical tale of the World Wars, with the Southers as the Allies, and the Norts as Nazi Germany, deserves a little more flesh on its bones. And that’s what makes Jaegir an absolute highlight of recent 2000AD history.

Rennie, with some truly incredible art by Simon Coleby, focuses on the “bad guys“, specifically Kapitan-Inspector Atalia Jaegir, serving in the Nordland State Security Police, her job to hunt down escaped Nort war criminals. Here in “In The Realm Of Pyrrhus“, we’re crashing down to the surface of a planet at the edge of the warzone with the Nord ship, with Coleby obviously delighting in getting to do a little Star Wars style massive space battle artwork.

And crashing down amongst the Norts? Kapitan-Inspector Atalia Jaegir. She’s back on Nu Earth, the site of the original, ongoing Nort-Souther war. Fallen from grace, her father’s name no longer protecting her, Jaegir is amongst the thick of it once more. But is her presence of Nu Earth more than it seems?

(Jaegir: In The Realm Of Pyrrhus by Gordon Rennie and Simon Coleby. (From Prog 2073)

Sinister Dexter – by Dan Abnett and Steve Yeowell. 

Next up, a little comedic relief courtesy of this pair of hitmen, Fin Sinister and Raymonde Dexter. It’s something of a Marmite strip (sorry, US reader, you might not get that one… Marmite is a British black spreadable paste, made from yeast extract. Some of us love it, some hate it.) Sinister is Finnigan Sinister. Dexter is Ramone Dexter. Together they’re gun sharks/ hitmen. Think Sam Jackson and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction set in a near future world and you’re about there.

Thing is, over the years, I went from hating Sinister Dexter to absolutely loving it. I don’t quite know when it happened, but suddenly I got the gag, got the thing Dan Abnett was trying to do; set up a classic action comedy, full of over-the-top idiots, great puns, marvellous word-play through some great dialogue.

The highlight is that first strip, in Prog 2073, Abnett and Yeowell pull together a magnificent opener with Sinister Dexter: The Salad Of Bad Cafe. Ray and Finn are sat in Munchbox, looking out for Beremy Bogus, not enjoying the cuisine…

“I don’t even know what this is.”
“What did you order?”
“What kind of name is Beremy anyhow?”
“Must be related ta whoever wrote this menu. Look, ‘Chicken Pissholoes.’
“That should be an ‘R’.”
“Chicken Arseholes?”

In five pages, every panel but the opener is from the same point of view, with Steve Yeowell really doing great things to tell things through the body language of the two gun sharks. And Abnett just goes for it, Finn and Ray just shooting the breeze, thinking about old cases, ranting about the crappy salad that nobody eats, and what it’s like to be persona non grata now. Long story, but the entire continuum has been reset, and no-one knows who Sinister Dexter are.

(Sinister Dexter: The Salad Of Bad Cafe by Dan Abnett and Steve Yeowell. You gotta love the expression in that silent panel. From Prog 2073)

And in Prog 2074, in another great single Prog strip, we get the sheer delights of Fin Sinister teaching Gun-Sharking Intermediate class? What the hell? Oh, there’s a reason for it f’sure, but before that we get Finn’s lessons in gun-sharking …make your guns look like a plastic toy, the one elephant, two elephant grenade trick, and then, best of all … the surprise attack.

(Sinister Dexter: Night Class by Dan Abnett and Steve Yeowell. From Prog 2074)

Anderson, Psi Division: Undertow – Emma Beeby and David Roach (Progs 2073 and 2074)

Oh, it’s a rare treat here to see the return of David Roach to the pages of 2000AD. And in Emma Beeby, who no doubt gets utterly fed up with being known as the first female writer on Judge Dredd, we have an excellent writer recently absorbed into the 2000AD fold.

Between them, we get a classic Judge Anderson series beginning here. Psi-Judges are being hunted down and killed by some supernatural threat. And Psi-Div might be compromised, to the point where the Justice Dept is considering all Psis a threat. Which means Anderson, along with Psi Judge Flowers, needs to look beyond the Division. So we wander through the Pre-Cog unit, the bizarre Haruspicy unit (divination through entrails don’t you know!) and then to a nutty old psi Anderson knows. And between them all, they see a plan, a threat to MC-1…

(Anderson, Psi: Undertow by Emma Beeby and David Roach. From Prog 2073)

Strontium Dog: The Son – John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra (Progs 2073 and 2074)

When Johnny Alpha lost his best friend Wulf, it was a terrible blow, both to him and the readers. But Wagner’s bringing him back now, or at least something like him, in the form of his son, Kenton Stormhammer. He’s applying to be a Strontium Dog, member of the newly reformed Search & Destroy agency, galactic bounty hunters. And his first assignment, wouldn’t you know, it’s with old Johnny. Trouble is, their mission sends them to a planet of peaceful natives plagued by beligerant immigrants causing trouble.

The good news? The job’s worth 5 million galactic. The bad news? The job is to restore order… to the whole planet. Johnny might well be up to the task. But young Kenton? Not so much.

(Strontium Dog: The Son by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. From Prog 2073)

Prog 2073 sets it all up, but it’s in 2074 when we really get an idea of what’s going on. And it’s all set up with a fabulous opening scene, Johnny Alpha racked with nightmares over the loss of Wulf, his best friend, trusted right hand man. And now he’s become responsible for his son, dropped into a reall shitty situation, hoping that the son is even a fraction of the Strontium Dog the father was.

(Strontium Dog: The Son by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. From Prog 2074)

Future Shocks: Freedom Wears Two Faces – James Peaty and Dylan Teague – Prog 2073

Future Shocks, as you probably know, are four-page one-offs, a setup, quick character intro, all leading to a final twist. Within that template we’ve had some incredible short tales, and a fair few duds. This one veers hard towards the good, with Teague’s artwork, gloriously exploding into partial color on the final page, a big part of that.

The stories a simple one, as most of them have to be, but Peaty does a good job of delivering everything at speed. We’re on some shithole city of the future, where the plebs languish below, jealous of the elite above, wrapped in their “Eldorado”, a digital haven. Here, one guy down on the pleb levels gets hold of the access codes, and along with two friends, is planning on making the jump to paradise. It obviously goes wrong, and the twist is a nice one.

(Future Shocks: Freedom Wears Two Faces – James Peaty and Dylan Teague – Prog 2073)

Judge Fear: Memories Are Made Of This – Kek-W and Dan Cornwell – Prog 2073

A special one-off for the jump on extra large Prog, from two relative newcomers to 2000AD with great futures ahead of them.

The Dark Judges containment facility, and Judge Fear is still here, on Chief Judge Hershey’s explicit orders, going against the advice of Dredd, who wanted it gone to Titan.

And wouldn’t you know it, the research bods involved are already talking about weaponising it. Oh, will they never learn? Which is where Psi-Judge Soren has been roped in to investigate. It’s a bad thing to be venturing through a Dark Judge’s dreams of past lives.

Damn good strip through.

(Judge Fear: Memories Are Made Of This – Kek-W and Dan Cornwell – Prog 2073)

The 2000AD Pack containing Progs 2071-2074 should be available in the USA from May 9th. But a lot of shops don’t order it for their shelves. If you want to get hold of your copies, and you really should give it a try, get down to your local comic shop and request they order it for you.

Alternatively you can get digital copies from the 2000AD store.