So, it’s the end of the 2000AD year, and this is the double sized finale. Inside, complete Christmassy tales with Durham Red and Judge Dredd…where the lawman of the future decides he’s going to play Santa down the local Mega-Mall, complete with Chief Judge Hershey as elf #1. Nah, only joking. Other done in one tales feature the return of Slaine (now he’d make a fine Santa), and the very antithesis of the festive season with The Fall Of Deadworld. And there’s a very special finale for Caballistics, Inc. One we’ve only been waiting for for the last 11 years! In terms of new strips beginning here that usher in 2019, there’s the return of the Blade Runner-ish Skip Tracer and, in a change of direction for the strip, it’s the return of the vamp in Fiends Of The Western Front. And last, but oh so definitely not least, the continuing adventures of Hab Sec Operative Bridge in the incredible Brink.
Now, if that doesn’t qualify as a special Christmas present, I’m not sure what does anymore! And all under a suitably seasonal cover from John Higgins:
JUDGE DREDD: JINGLE ALL THE WAY – TC Eglington, Boo Cook, letters Annie Parkhouse.
Ho Ho Ho, it’s Christmas, Mega-City One style, where Mr Jingles wants you to enjoy the festive season. All. Year. Long.
Yes, my idea of hell as well. Basically, this is the MC-1 festive tale, with the old Dickensian social twist, a good turn gone bad, with Dredd coming in to bring his own version of Christmas cheer and a new, unexpected holiday to one particular block in MC-1. Eglington and Cook are currently giving us the intriguing Blunt II over in the Megazine, but it’s particularly pleasing to see Cook’s art on Dredd, a very different, but very good looking thing, all organic shapes and a damn good chin on old Joseph.
CABALLISTICS, INC: VISITING HOUR – Gordon Rennie, Dom Reardon, letters Simon Bowland.
This is the final Caballistics, Inc. story. The epilogue to something previously finished some 11 years back. And as such, it”s a problematic thing, especially for anyone who’s not up to speed with the whole thing! However, even if you haven’t a clue what’s going on here, it’s a gorgeous piece just for the sheer minimalism of Dom Reardon’s art, all simple, scratchy lines, perfect minimal stuff. If you did read the original, then this is a satisfying little endpiece.
The good news, of course, is that the entire saga, this finale included, will finally find its way into collection in 2019. The story of the WWII anti-occult department of the British Army that turn into a paranormal investigation company, thanks to the intervention of a millionaire rock star is well worth seeking out!
THE FALL OF DEADWORLD: RUNNING SCARED – Kek-W, Dave Kendall, letters Ellie De Ville.
It wasn’t always called Deadworld, you know. Once upon a time, it was a nice place. Then came the Dark Judges, and Death, Fire, Fear and Mortis did that thing they do so well. This is the tale of how all that happened, before they ended up royally pissing off Dredd and MC-1. It’s, obviously, not going to end well, but that’s just not the point to The Fall Of Deadworld… this one’s all about the journey.
A band of resistance fighters are attacking Sector House 13. Two of them are isolated and Spike and Patti are about to say hi to Judge Fear. A wonderfully doom-laden yet surprisingly uplifting thing, strangely gentle for a quick short about the worst place in the world.
SKIP TRACER: LOUDER THAN BOMBS – PART 1 – James Peaty, Paul Marshall, colors Dylan Teague, letters Ellie De Ville.
This is the third outing for Nathan Blake, former soldier turned bounty hunter on the Cube, a huge floating city of the 27th Century designed by the Consociation to solve the housing problem. Instead, it’s turned into the home for every undesirable in the system. Although, at the opening of Louder Than Bombs, the undesirables aren’t the usual criminal elements but those hideous hipster types. Still, for a skip tracer, new folks just means different recreational substance, same old dealers. It’s all strictly small-time stuff, but that suits Blake, since he’s just not that into things since the troubles with Legion and his brother.
But, as you might expect, low-key aint going to stay low-key for good. Cue final page escalation of things leading into the next big case. Again, not completely convinced with this one, it’s been good just not great so far. Good to see Marshall back on art though, vastly underrated artist.
SLAINE: THE BOGATYR – Pat Mills, Chris Weston, letters Ellie De Ville.
Slaine The Warrior, Slaine The King, now we have Slaine the Wanderer, guided by the Goddess. He recently battled the Drune Lords of Monadh and now he’s off to New Troy, “with the intention of taking the fight for Albion’s freedom to the tyrannical Emperor Brutus.
This one-off is a pretty standard Slaine versus some big nasty bastard, a warped god warrior like Slaine, with a desire to kill Ukko (yes, Ukko’s back). Couple of nice moments, but it’s so damn good to see Weston here again.
BRINK: HIGH SOCIETY – PART 12 – Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, letters Simon Bowland.
Bridget Kurtis was undercover on the Yuliya Habitat, as Hab Sec Division investigated suspected sect crime involvement on this most prestigious of habitats. Was being the operative word. Now her cover’s blown. And she’s in the shit. Deep.
Yet, Abnett and Culbard still haven’t increased the pace of Brink one bit. It’s still gloriously slow, a tension that’s breathless, the threat building such that you read with a tightness in your chest. Now that’s stunning writing, complete with Culbard’s beautiful artwork and colors. Just look at those two pages below if you need proof. The control in Culbard’s artwork is just incredible, the expressions perfection, his perspective, the virtual camera work, if you will, just amazing. Brink is, truly, a perfect thing.
FIENDS OF THE WESTERN FRONT – PART ONE – Ian Edginton, Tiernen Trevallion, letters Annie Parkhouse.
First it was the Eastern Front of WWII, then he returned to terrorise in 1812, and now, with writer Ian Edginton returning, the vampire Constanta ventures West. It’s 1916, and France is going to get bloodier.
The original Fiends, from writer Gerry Finley-Day and the much missed Carlos Ezquerra on art, was perfect weird 2000AD stuff from 1980. Just 10 episodes long, but ever so good. David Bishop and Colin MacNeil revisited the strip in 2006’s Stalingrad, but the real return came this year, when Edginton, with artist Dave Taylor, went back in time to the doomed Napoleanic push east. That was everything the original had been, different yet keeping the essence of it all. And it seems Constanta has worked his way under Edginton’s writing skin, which, based on this first episode relocated to the western front of WWI, is a very good thing for us readers.
Artistically, with Tiernen Trevallion’s grey toned art, you couldn’t get further, really, from Dave Taylor’s euro stylised color work, but it still works so very well. The grey seems to capture the misery of the front much as Taylor’s colors captured the snows of 1812 Russia.
As for the actual story, well, there’s a couple of big ass bats involved, taking down British biplanes. But the bats aren’t from Constanta, they’re from someone else… can you take a wild guess who? Fun stuff indeed.
DURHAM RED: THREE GIFTS – Alec Worley, Ben Willsher, letters Annie Parkhouse.
After their triumphant revamp earlier this year, it’s good to see Worley and Willsher return to the bloodiest of all the Strontium Dogs, the wonderful Durham Red with a seasonal thing. A strange seasonal thing, that to be honest, I read tired the first time and it rather drifted over me. But, rereading it for this, it got to me, the structure is neatly done, the sentiment perhaps over-syruped, but hey, it’s Christmas. And Willsher’s are, oh it’s very, very good.
So, that was 2000AD for 2018. It was bloody good. Seriously, bloody good.
Next year. Well, I’d imagine things keep on keeping on. I’m looking forward to more Rob Williams on Dredd, this time with Chris Weston (which presumably means the return of Judge Pin). And I am so looking forward to the ending of this magnificent series of Brink by Abnett and Culbard. But, I’d imagine there will be an awful lot of damn fine work to come.
Anyway, in this Christmas Prog, we did get these teasers for a couple of things coming in 2019…
And the first 2000AD of 2019 looks something like this…