The Weekly 2000 AD Prog 2196: Ready To Get Regened Again?

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. And this week, it’s another all-ages Thrill-powered Prog where 2000 AD gets Regened!

Cover by Neil Roberts

From the start of Regened back in 2018’s FCBD Prog, it’s grown and grown and now Tharg’s lil’ nephew, Jojo-Jargo, brings younger readers this all-ages Prog four times a year. The latest, Prog 2196, hits the shelves and digital on 26th August.

Inside, there’s more Cadet Dredd, more Finder & Keeper, another all-ages Future Shock, and two really wonderfully silly and funny series; Department K and Pandora Perfect. Five all-ages strips that just sit perfectly in 2000 AD, capturing the essence of everything that 2000 AD was when it started with a very now twist.

CADET DREDD – BAD SEEDS – Mike Carroll, Luke Horsman, colours by Matt Soffe, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Back to the early days of Dredd where he and brother Rico wore the white Cadet helmets. This time, we’re looking in on a slightly older Cadet Dredd and Cadet Rico, year-eight Cadets who’ve already got the respect of their elders here.

Which is why the pair of them are infiltrating a locked-down Block in the middle of a hostage situation, where a group of armed juvies calling themselves Wasted Youth have 50 cits trapped.

So, action-packed Cadet Dredd adventure with a more adult Dredd feel as befitting the older Cadets, including younger Dredd getting a hard lesson on the Law and Justice. Great opener to this Regened Prog.

PANDORA PERFECT – Roger Langridge, Brett Parson, letters by Simon Bowland

Mary Poppins gone wrong, a con-artist with a bag of tricks – that’s how Roger Langridge explains Pandora Perfect, and from the very first page it’s one of those that just breezes along, envelops you in the silly and goes with it.

Fresh out of chokey, MIss Pandora and robotic assistant G.O.R.T. – channelling his very best Dick Van Dyke – go on their own little crime spree, with the first step to get the ankle shackle off.

Cue nanny disguise to get into the penthouse where Castor Pollux has the universal key. She’s Pandora Perfect and G.O.R.T., well, he’s inside the bag – cause every great nanny has one of ‘those’ bags.

Hi-jinx, a couple of very naughty children, death-trap tunnels, G.O.R.T. in chimney-sweep gear, and best of all, a little bit of singing…

Simply brilliant fun, Langridge supplies the daft ideas, Parson delivers a pitch-perfect art style, and by the end of it, I’m left wanting more. Whether that’s in the next Regened or a strip in 2000 AD, I don’t mind – although now that Survival Geeks is done and dusted, it strikes me that the regular Prog does need a silly, fabulous strip like this occasionally.

FINDER & KEEPER – THE CURSE OF KREEPINDETH – John Reppion, Davide Tinto, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland

The UK, 2020 – Meera Hundal and Eliot Hunter are just your everyday kids who happen to have been doing community clean-up at the home of Victorian ghost-hunter Professor AJ Mortimer and ended up with the spectral devices he used to trap ghosties and spooks. Now, armed with their spectral vision googles and a spirit-trap, they keep finding themselves in ghostbusting action.

With a three-month gap between episodes, it’s great writing to see that Reppion gets every bit of recap needed over and done within just the first two panels – all so we get more chance to get into this particular adventure. Clever, simple writing there.

Year nine, including Meera and Eliot, are at the Natural History Museum – where the Egyptology exhibit is closed and it’s absolutely NOT because of any curse of Pharaoh Kreepindeth… hmmmm.

Cue adventure, a reanimated Pharaoh, possessed hands, ghostly apparitions, and the spirit of good old fashioned Colonial jealousy come back to haunt our two intrepid kids.

Again, so much is right with Finder & Keeper, a cracking romp that’s just perfect for Regened.

FUTURE SHOCKS – BOSS LEVEL – Karl Stock, Tom Newell, colours by John Charles, letters by Annie Parkhouse

There’s a new game taking over the UK – Free the Monkey – and everyone just can’t get enough of it. This is one game that takes the idea of addictive gameplay just that little too far.

So when two kids get sucked into the game – literally sucked into it – the action takes off from there.

DEPARTMENT K – Rory McConville, PJ Holden, colours by Len O’Grady, letters by Jim Campbell

Dept K is a small section of Mega-City One’s Tek-Div, the place where the Justice Department takes a look at all the interdimensional weirdness that happens to MC-1 with startling regularity.

Judge Kirby and her… slightly unusual little team are the ones working to keep MC-1 safe.

Like Pandora Perfect, this is a new one that just works from the first page, McConville and Holden delivering something recognisably Dreddworld, yet managing to do it perfectly all-ages in the truest sense of the word, the same way that early 2000 AD was always all-ages – meaning everyone could enjoy it for what it was. You don’t need gore, swearing, sex or anything like that to deliver a great sci-fi tale like this.

McConville goes the way of giving us our link to the story with the intern, Afua, as we see the weird and wonderful stuff of Dept K through her eyes. Add in Estabon, the gruff Mechanismo with a dry saracsm in everything he says, and you’ve got a great caper strip.

And then there’s PJ Holden, together with stunning colours from Len O’Grady, absolutely knocking it out of the park, artwork wise.

Whether it’s the detailing in the labs, the wonderful variety of characters developed, or just the sheer Kirby-esque adventure stuff later on, this looks fabulous.

And yes, of course, this one absolutely can and should see the adventures continue very soon in the pages of the Prog.

Department K is a perfect fit in the pages of Prog or Meg – and with that ending, a continuation surely has to happen?

Please Tharg?

And as for the overall feel of this latest Regened?

I’ll leave you with the words of Mech Estabon from Dept K – although when I say it’s a terrific Regened Prog, I don’t have a touch of sarcasm in my voice.

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