The Weekly 2000AD – Prog 2115 Previewed: Return Of The Robo-Judges

by Richard Bruton

Time once more for the weekly 2000AD preview from Comicon, where we give you a little look-see at the latest slice of the greatest sci-fi comic from the UK.

This week, the return of John Wagner and Colin MacNeil to Judge Dredd in Machine Law, where the next-gen of robo-Judges hit the street. Who knows, this time it might actually work? There’s also the latest episode in the brilliance that is Brink, more Skip Tracer, the beginning of a new Tharg’s 3Riller with Keeper Of Secrets, and the final part of the vampire thrills in Fiends Of The Western Front.

All this under a spectacular looking Dredd and robo-pal cover from Cliff Robinson and Dylan Teague.

2000AD Prog 2115 is out in the UK and digitally on 23 January and out in the North Americas later in the month.

JUDGE DREDD: MACHINE LAW – PART 1 – John Wagner, Colin MacNeil, colours Chris Blythe, letters Annie Parkhouse.

It starts good from the very first couple of panels, with that thought of Dredd’s about how ultra polite and studied Hershey’s being. Both of them wary of the other down to the huge rift between them following recent events. And then there’s the bombshell, with Hershey not only talking of stepping down but already having a name to replace her. Major events, all done in just two pages, perfect Wagner writing.

And then there’s this image of Hershey, so controlled, perfection in MacNeil’s artwork…

As for the Robo-Judges, well, there have been robo-Judges on the streets of MC-1 a few times now, and it’s always ended up in a disaster, something Dredd is only too keen to point out now that the powers that be are rolling out Mark 8s. They’re specially designed to be able to empathise with the citizens, but there’s a glorious moment here where Judge Randy manages to rub Dredd up in the worst way possible…

Oh, that look, that jaw. That is simply class.

I could spend a few thousand words picking out moments from just this first episode, whether it’s those first couple of pages delivering potentially huge change so succinctly, so perfectly, so quietly written, whether it’s the brilliance of Wagner’s hilarious stand-off between the old and the new, whether it’s the genius of MacNeil’s artwork… this really is beautiful stuff from both Wagner and MacNeil.

BRINK – HIGH SOCIETY – PART 16 – Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, letters Simon Bowland.

Bridget Kurtis, investigator with Habitat Security has come onto the high society hab of Yuliya to investigate possible sect crimes. She’s ended up finding way more than she bargained for, and now, with everything moving to the endgame she, along with fellow officer Ludo Gentry, has the conspirators at gunpoint. The problem is that the ringleader, Tillerson, seems barely phased by this, having already released a chemical cocktail into the Hab air supply (beautifully and cleverly infused into the art by Culbard, merely another incredible touch in a strip full of artistic brilliance). As has become standard with Bridge’s investigations thus far, we can expect things to go very wrong any moment no…

What the XXXX is happening, indeed (another clever touch in a strip full of them, that deliberately censorous way of swearing). Next week we have the double-length finale to High Society, and it’s building up to a monumentally good climax, with both Abnett and Culbard totally at the top of their respective games here.

SKIP TRACER – LOUDER THAN BOMBS – PART 5 – James Peaty, Paul Marshal, colours Dylan Teague, letters Ellie De Ville

Working for the Consociation, Nathan Blake is hunting down the terrorist cell, along with his new small, blue, four-armed friend, Loden. But investigations really aren’t going all that well, and friends don’t tend to do all that well around Blake.

After last week’s straight out of the movies action sequence, we’re back to steady investigating, Blake building the case, the pieces falling into place.

THARG’S 3RILLERS – KEEPER OF SECRETS – PART 1 – Robert Murphy, Steven Austin, colours Pippa Mather, letters Ellie De Ville

It’s London, it’s now, and Jon Tanner is an apprentice builder at Smithfield Market who loves to unwind of a night on the dancefloors of any good club. But, a chance meeting with Jemina ends up with Jon on the wrong end of some very Ancient Roman magics. And with a finale to this first part that’s genuinely creepy, there’s a feeling this is going to be a 3Riller that chills more than thrills.

FIENDS OF THE WESTERN FRONT – PART 5 – Ian Edginton, Tiernan Trevallion, letters Annie Parkhouse

The vampire Constanta has moved from Eastern to Western Fronts in this tale of WWI vampire madness, and has discovered the secret plans of The Black Max, who wants Constanta’s blood to create the latest generation of his giant bats.

It’s bat versus bat-creatures and Black Max’s biplane in the conclusion, and with the ending, yet another long-time enemy of Constanta who’s waited many years to make his move.

It’s been good, it’s been fun, but, as I saidd previously, there was a certain horror lacking here, replaced by a desire to get Black Max involved.

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