The Weekly 2000AD: Prog 2100 – The Return Of Big Dredd Tales In The Small House

by Richard Bruton

That’s George Perez, wonderful old George Perez absolutely nailing it for this special Prog 2100. Inside, it’s the start of a whole Prog full of new tales – Judge Dredd, Brink, Skip Tracer, Fiends of the Eastern Front, and Kingdom, plus one-off specials for Judge Anderson and Sinister Dexter. It’s all a bit good.

UK and digital readers can pick up Prog 2100 on 26th September. North American readers will be able to pick it up as part of the 2000AD monthly pack, bundling four Progs together and available sometime in the next couple of months, but please, do yourself a favour, ask for it at your local comic shop.

JUDGE DREDD: THE SMALL HOUSE – PART 1 – Rob Williams, Henry Flint, colors Chris Blythe, letters Annie Parkhouse.

Dredd and a small team of colleagues, under deep cover, and working without any oversight, have been tracking covert operatives through MC-1 and beyond. And behind it all… Judge Smiley.

You remember Judge Smiley? From Trifecta? The mysterious Judge tasked many years ago to work to prevent corruption in MC-1 and the Justice Department. He trusts Dredd. Dredd doesn’t exactly trust him. But sometimes, even Dredd understands that things need doing for the greater good… welcome to The Small House.

As Rob Williams says…

“There is a very big moment in Dredd’s world coming. We’re dealing with it here.”

Incredibly exciting to see The Small House finally here, to see Rob Williams and Henry Flint deliver something that just has that feel of huge, seriously huge, Dredd tale, the likes of which tends to leave things altered in the world of MC-1.

Welcome to The Small House, with Dirty Frank deep in Sino-Cit, working with Dredd and his little secret team, all to do with the Enceladus energy that came back with ex-Wally Squad Judge Aimee Nixon from the Titan/Enceladus adventure. There are stealth units operating outside official Justice Department purview. Changing political directions across the world, including inside MC-1. And Dredd… well, Dredd’s not exactly doing this on the books.

BRINK – HIGH SOCIETY – PART 1 – Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, letters Simon Bowland.

Bridgit Kurtis was a simple investigator with the Habitat Security Division, tasked with keeping the peace on the various deep space Habitats, holding the remainder of the human race. But, now she’s in deep to a conspiracy of some kind, with connections up high, links to sect crimes, and now she’s undercover on Yuliya Hab, and in deep.

Brink is one of those series that some long-term 2000AD fans don’t like. They don’t like the slow pace, they don’t like the talking heads, they don’t like the complexity, they certainly don’t like Ian Culbard’s artwork. But, then again, they also don’t like much of anything different from 2000AD before, well, 2000AD, probably earlier.

The great thing about 2000AD is that it has space for strips such as Brink, the strips that make you think, that take the time to build, that don’t give you everything on a plate. Personally, I love Brink, love it in so many ways. It’s big, it’s clever, it’s deliciously slow to build but then explodes into life. And Culbard’s art is simply sublime, beautiful whether it’s the extensive talking heads and slow burn dialogue-heavy scenes or the exquisitely choreographed action.

SKIP TRACER: LEGION – PART 1 – James Peaty, Colin MacNeil, colors Dylan Teague, letters Ellie De Ville.

Nathan Blake lives on the Cube, a catch-all city of sorts for the undesirables and criminals. Former soldier turned bounty hunter, tracker, people finder, skip tracer.

If Brink is new 2000AD, Skip Tracer is one series that harks back to classic 2000AD, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. The first series, recently finished, was a cracking, self-contained intro to the character, well-written, beautifully drawn by Paul Marshall. Here, in series two, we’re hopefully getting more of the same, albeit with the gorgeous art of Colin MacNeil. And with this first episode, we’re definitely off to a good start, a bit of pre-credits style action and then straight into the meat of the thing, as Nathan Blake’s old military service, and a face from the past, catches up to him.

ANDERSON, PSI-DIVISION: DEATH’S DARK ANGELS – Alan Grant, Jake Lynch, letters Simon Bowland.

Two brilliant little Anderson tales in a month. The first over in The Meg issue 400, the second one here. She’s It’s a doozy of an Anderson, as you tend to expect with Alan Grant at the helm. But the great thing about this one has to be Jake Lynch’s artwork, black and white suits him really well, and there’s an abstraction to his art that’s reminiscent of Mike McMahon, always a damn good thing.

SINISTER DEXTER: TIGHT GROUPING – Dan Abnett, Steve Yeowell, colors John Charles, letters Ellie De Ville.

Gun-sharks Finnigan Sinister and Ramone Dexter, the best guns you can hire. Except no-one knows who they are anymore after the continuum got reset once they’d offed an alt-dimensional ganglord. Except for Billi Octavo, hacker, friend. Oh, and for some reason, Ramone is seeing his own thoughts, in honest to god thought bubbles.

Thing is, you don’t really need to know any of that. All you need to really know is the gun-sharks bit. And that Sinister Dexter is a damn good fun bit of a strip, one that’s grown on me over the last few years, and gone from utter hmmm to enjoying it a huge amount.

This one-off is a taster for the coming series in Prog 2109, and, as such, it’s not the best intro to the series. But, trust me, if you’re anything like me, you’ll grow to like the damn thing anyway.

FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT: 1812 – PART 1 – Ian Edginton, Dave Taylor, letters Annie Parkhouse.

Oh, this is a wonderful return for a classic bit of very early 2000AD brilliance. The Fiends of the Eastern Front were, originally, a cadre of Romanian Vampires, led by Hauptmann Constanta, who feasted on the blood of their Russian enemies when fighting on the side of the Germans on the Eastern Front in 1941.

But, these are long-living fiends, and the First World War wasn’t the first time they found a battlefield full of blood and death to feast upon. Which is where Edginton and Taylor’s tale begins, in 1812, famous for a couple of things… the overture, and Napoleon’s Eastern Front. Guess which one we’re here for?

For those of you already familiar with Dave Taylor’s artwork, perhaps from excellent recent Dredd’s, also with Edginton, you’re in for a treat, albeit a very different one here. Gone is the stylised, dark, euro-look, and instead, we’re treated to a beautiful white palette and more minimalist shapes. You can still see Moebius and other influences through it, but it’s more Blueberry than anything else. Simply beautiful.

KINGDOM: ALPHA AND OMEGA – PART 1 – Dan Abnett, Richard Elson, colors Abigail Bulmer, letters Ellie De Ville.

Gene-engineered dog-soldiers are all that protect humanity from the insectile creatures, Them, that have control of a wasteland Earth. Gene the Hackman is one of the dog-soldiers, one of the best. And now, he’s back on Earth in this new tale.

It’s a little like that other Abnett strip in this Prog, Sinister Dexter, as Kingdom is also one that took a fair bit of warming up to on my part. It’s also similar to Skip Tracer, in that it’s very much an old-school thing, again, no problem with that, and Kingdom does its thing that it does real well.

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