The Weekly 2000AD – Prog 2118 Previewed: Out Of The Grey And Into The Black With The Return Of Grey Area

by Richard Bruton

The Comicon Weekly 2000AD, our regular preview of the latest from Britain’s greatest sci-fi comic. This week, Prog 2118, packed withfive great strips, including the return of Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison to the wonderful Grey Area.

Cover this week comes from Cliff Robinson and Dylan Teague showcasing that rather nasty black ops unit from the Grey Area.

2000AD Prog 2118 is out in the UK and digitally on 13 February and out in the North Americas later in the month.

JUDGE DREDD: MACHINE LAW – PART 4 – John Wagner, Colin MacNeil, letters Annie Parkhouse.

It’s farewell to Chief Judge Hershey, stepping down to let Judge Logan take over, but there’s still time for one last patrol, with Dredd. And it’s full of something as near as you’ll find to sentimentality as they tour the city, all to a perfectly gorgeous backdrop by Colin MacNeil.

As for Logan, Dredd’s still not sure, and his championing of the Mechanismo program is only going to drive a wedge between the two of them. We just didn’t think it would be quite so soon, and in such a surprising fashion.

As before, Wagner’s tone here is just so spot on, the introversion of the thoughts of both Dredd and Logan capturing two very different men, both convinced they’re doing their best for the city, for the job. No-one writes this sort of tale like Wagner.

BRINK – HIGH SOCIETY – PART 19 – LAST PART – Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, letters Simon Bowland.

Part 19. Which means this is now the 19th time this series that I’ve told you how bloody great Brink is. Seriously great, best series in 2000AD for many, many years? Definitely up there with the best of them.

All you need to do, really, is look at these two preview pages, or those panels pulled out of the story. Those talking heads on page one are simply wonderful. The individual panels that could have been dull, boring things, have such nervous energy to them, all thanks to Culbard’s superb talent. And as for Abnett and the story, well, after the introduction of the whole ‘Weird life’ thing going on last Prog, we’re down a completely new rabbit hole for this episode and the books to come. The ideas of new, different life-forms, fundamentally so different from us that we’ve never noticed them properly, and now that people have devastated Earth, our former planet-mates are slightly pissed at our negligence.

How Abnett and Culbard deliver this, effectively through five pages of a conversation about science, the biology of life, and the possibility of something very strange happening at a base cellular level, well that is everything about the strength of Brink. Five pages of talking heads. And never a tenser page in the Prog.

That’s it for Brink Book Three. It’s been magnificent. Book four cannot come soon enough.

SKIP TRACER – LOUDER THAN BOMBS – PART 8 – James Peaty, Paul Marshal, colours Quinton Winter, letters Ellie De Ville

While Paul Marshal isn’t perhaps as immediately different as Culbard or MacNeil, those first two pages of this episode are particularly fine, especially on page two, with the controlled blackout suffered by Nolan Blake.

It’s a strip of small steps, each Prog taking the Skip Tracer further into his investigation of the Children Of The Fury and their possible terrorist actions. As I’ve said before, it’s hitting a series of standard beats, the PI procedural, and this episode is just the same. And no, I do not, in any way, mean that disparagingly, it’s a solid, step-by-step thing, the story unfolding well, told very well.

GREY AREA – WHISTLEBLOWER – PART 1 – Dan Abnett, Mark Harrison, letters Ellie De Ville

As one excellent Dan Abnett written strip finishes its run in 2000AD, another takes its place. Completely different beasts, Grey Area and Brink, but sharing the same sense of excitement, of thrills, all thanks to the way Abnett delivers great storylines, with a mastery of developing his story slowly, making you deeply involved in the strip and the characters. And, as with Culbard on Brink, Mark Harrison here on Grey Area is simply perfect for the strip.

The Grey Area is the alien holding area for an Earth horse-shy after their first contact proved disasterous and deadly. It’s always been a tense area, where the Exo-Squad, most often Captain Buillet’s squad, do their best in a very bad situation.

But, in the last series, we saw the first mention of a second layer of alien containment, together with a nasty little black ops squad, a squad two former members of Buillet’s squad have found themselves, reluctantly, seconded to. Now, they’ve got themselves in a mission to extract, render, potentially liquidate a whistleblower that has connections to Buillet.

Complex, political, tense, brilliant – Grey Area is a worthy replacement here in the Prog for Brink.

JAEGIR – BONEGRINDER – PART 2 – Gordon Rennie, Simon Coleby, colours Len O’Grady, letters Annie Parkhouse

And whilst we’re talking tense, political, brilliant things, we’re onto Jaegir. Every bit as good as Grey Area, just that little bit faster paced, and more bloody and violent.

As Jaegir tries to arrest the Bonegrinder camp’s Kommander, she finds herself in the middle of a Souther attack. Which allows us to get several things; massive amounts of beautifully paced action, Jaegir under threat, and a chance for Coleby and O’Grady to absolutely shine. Seriously stunning action artwork, the colour palette just amazing – just look at those amazing red tinged panels. Another cracking strip in a Prog rather full of them.

Leave a Reply