The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #21955: Welcoming Back The Wood God

by Richard Bruton

The Weekly 2000 AD… Week in and week out, giving you the preview of the new 2000 AD Prog. The UK’s best sci-fi weekly since 1977. Four decades and still going strong.

Cover by David Hitchcock

Prog 2195 is out in the UK on 19 August on digital and from newsagents and comic shops. Hopefully, where you are is getting a lil’ safer right now, but don’t stop being safe, be nice, wear the damn mask.

Oh, while we’re talking masks and comics… there’s been a thing over here in the UK now that masks to go into shops has become mandatory where the usual suspects decide they can’t be bothered, that they’re above all that etc etc. No, I’m not talking about the VERY few genuine exceptions to wearing masks, I’m talking the knobs. Well, as you can see in this wonderful Tweet, Stephen L. Holland of one of the best comic shops in the world, Page 45, has the answer to those who decide masks are not for them.

Yep, wear your masks folks. It’s the law. But more than that, it’s sensible, it’s community-spirited, it’s the right thing to do.

Anyway, back to what we were talking about – 2000 AD Prog 2195. It’s the one before the Regened all-ages Prog next week. So, more Judge Dredd in “End of Days”, more of quite magnificent The Out – both of which return in the Prog after Regened. It’s the finale of The Order, the temporary pause on the Bulletopia saga in Sinister Dexter, and the return of the evil Quilli in a one-off “Terror Tale”.

JUDGE DREDD: END OF DAYS – PART 12 – Rob Williams, Henry Flint, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Time for a little interlude at the top of this one – Ichabod gets a visitor sometime in the past telling of a task she has for him – the self-same task he’s on right now. But just what is that second task she has for him once this one ends? Hmmm, that makes it even more likely that the end of End of Days is either; A) going to do the same as “Block Wars” running straight into “Apocalypse War”, a Dredd epic running right into an even bigger epic. Or B) Williams et. al. are going to end “End of Days” with so many plotlines dangling to be picked up in a few weeks/months.

Anyway, after that little Ichabod interlude, Ichabod and Dredd, along with the remnants of his little gang (Giant’s okay, Anderson’s in a coma) are here with the Sovs – and it turns out the Sovs have bested war. So, that means Dredd has been almost completely ineffectual again – three of the four Horsemen down, none by his hand. But he still has the chance to get Dredd-shouty in the Sov’s faces…

Oh yes, you do love that Henry Dredd, don’t you?

So, all we have left now is Death. And here we find out just where it is.

Cue Williams bringing in something else from his Dreddworld writing past and Ichabod’s second mission seeming to begin.

THE OUT – PART 9 – Dan Abnett, Mark Harrison, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Okay, so it’s a long, long time since Cyd first met the Tankinar. 47 years in fact. And she’s coming to terms with the fact that she’s a long way and a long time from home. Oh, and the fact that she died, got a new body, and made the mistake of seeing just what happened to the last one.

So, just like we would, she’s having a bit of downtime. With alcohol. Lots of it.

And then there’s a moment, a couple of pages where she just comes down. And in the middle of it, three panels where she reflects on the new body, imperfections all gone, and what that actually means to her. It’s not explained, Abnett doesn’t mention it, just leaves it to Harrison to show us. And it’s perfect.

Which is pretty much how I’d describe The Out. Best thing in 2000 AD right now, best thing for years, a classic in the making.

In two weeks time – therapy. Frankly, at this stage, if we now get weeks of Cyd on a couch just working it through – I’m going to be fine with that. I’m that confident that Abnett and Harrison would make the talking heads therapy session as incredible as the first part of the series has been.

SINISTER DEXTER – BULLETOPIA CHAPTER 2 – STAY BRAVE PART 2 – Dan Abnett and Steve Yeowell, colours by John Charles, letters by Jim Campbell

2-parts done and taking a break until Prog 2198, so it looks like the “Bulletopia” storyline is going to be one of those that drops a few episodes every so often and then comes back a few Progs later, slowly building things up into a satisfying whole.

This is a little interlude, all seemingly just to set up the idea of Downlode being taken over by the AI in some full-on deep state kind of way. But also to put Finn and his ex-wife, Carrie, in a room together with him telling her all the things she’s forgotten, including him, their marriage, the whole works. Yeah, difficult conversation indeed.

And you know what I said about being happy if Abnett and Harrison did weeks of talking heads in The Out? Well, it happened here across a few pages of Sinister Dexter and it’s bloody great. I was never a huge fan early on with Sinister Dexter, but Abnett’s stuck with them and so I have I, and what do you know, they’ve worked their way into me, meaning I damn well enjoy them a hell of a lot now. Granted, much of the plaudits go to Steve Yeowell as well, making talking heads work is no mean feat for an artist, but dammit, he pulls it off so well.

TERROR TALES: QUILLIVISION – Laura Bailey, David Hitchcock, letters by Simon Bowland

Third outing for the bizarre and frightening world of Quilli here. If you remember, it all started off with a ventriloquist channelling an ancient god through his puppet. But the cult of Quilli has grown and grown since then – as you can see from the first page and that mention of the Quilli Shelter Children’s Refuge.

For a “Terror Tale”, you have to admit Bailey and Hitchcock throw in one of the most ridiculous sights in many a strip with Amanda Alsatian. But then they go dark straight after and from then we go right into nightmares – cults, mass-suicides, hallucinations, and Quilli… always Quilli.

Yes, a very satisfying thing, one that’s going to continue and build – and Bailey and Hitchcock are certainly delivering.

THE ORDER – LAND OF THE FREE – PART 12 – Kek-W, John Burns, letters by Simon Bowland

Okay, remember what I said about not enjoying Sinister Dexter at first and it’s slowly worked its way into me and become one I really do enjoy now. Well, I’m sorry but I can’t see The Order ever managing that.

So it’s the final episode, extended here to 7 pages, and again I start thinking I’ll be skimming it again, nothing here grabbing me apart from Burns’ every wonderful artwork.

Except this time, because most of the episode finally narrows things down to a simple goodbye between Anna and Daniel, it’s actually showing that there is a hope that the Order could have been, perhaps could be in the future, a series to read and enjoy.

That 4-page sequence is just a wonderful, sentimental, triumphant little sequence, all the more powerful for me as it’s come from such an unexpected place.

Next week…

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