The Weekly 2000AD: Prog 2102 – Five Of The Best Once More!

by Richard Bruton

Forty plus years of UK comics history, some of the greatest sci-fi stories and characters in the world, written and drawn by the finest creators – a library of Thrill Power without peer – this is 2000AD!
With Prog 2100, we saw a set of all-new tales in the comic, five of which hit part three here. We have the continued brilliance of the Dredd tale, ‘The Small House’, where Dredd’s life just gets more and more complex with Judge Smiley’s meddling. Brink starts it’s slow burn to brilliance, the Fiends of the Eastern Front are fighting for Napoleon, tooth and claw, whilst both Skip Tracer and Kingdom deliver the goods, with old-school sci-fi action done right. Five strips, all different, and brilliantly so.
UK and digital readers can pick up Prog 2103 on 10th October. North American readers get it in the 4-Prog pack sometime later, but best to ask in your local comic shop.
Cover – Cliff Robinson and Dylan Teague…

JUDGE DREDD: THE SMALL HOUSE – PART 3 – Rob Williams, Henry Flint, colors Chris Blythe, letters Annie Parkhouse.
It’s the voiceover that does it, Rob Williams sitting in Dredd’s head. The tone is just perfect, that pissed off, ground down, and tired, oh so tired sense of being Dredd. It sets the mood of the Small House, that sense of things moving beyond Dredd, the actions of Smiley way beyond anything Dredd imagined. Right now, the pieces are all moving around the board, Dredd marshaling his troops, but always at least one step behind, with Smiley in control at all times – mysterious Smiley, dangerous Smiley…
“Smiley knew.
“He knew about Gerhart, about Sam, Giant, Maitland… he knew about Frank.”
“Always one move ahead. Two. Three.”
“A small, bland man who knew their conversations like he was in the room when they spoke them… Smiley had official authorisation ‘without portfolio’ but… how much official authorisation?”
Cut to Hershey. How much authorisation indeed?

Like Dredd ponders, if Smiley’s been there since Judge Cal, what does he know, what does he have his fingers in? And what does Dredd do to combat a threat he doesn’t quite understand. That’s why there’s a two-page interlude in here, with Dredd called away on a simple street case, a monster not meant to be here but smuggled into the city anyway… the allusion obvious. But it’s Dredd back on the streets at least, doing what he knows best, safe in that comfort of the familiar while drowning in uncertainty thinking about Smiley. Oh, The Small House is everything I was hoping it was going to be, a slow burn perfection.

BRINK – HIGH SOCIETY – PART 3 – Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, letters Simon Bowland.
Bridgit Kurtis, Habitat Security Division, currently undercover on Yuliya Hab, posing as a cleaner, literally merging into the hologram backgrounds of the Hab when the higher-ups enter the room. She’s looking into possible cult links all the way up to the highest rungs of society… and you don’t get higher society than here on Yuliya. But, with everything locked down in Yuliya, secret meetings and week-long waits cause no end of problems, especially when events get away from her by the end of this episode. Brink part 1 and part 2 both managed to have their own unique voice and look, with Abnett and Culbard both bringing their best game to bear, and this third part looks and feels different once more, the claustrophobia of the situation at beautiful odds with the expansive look of the surroundings…

FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT: 1812 – PART 3 – Ian Edginton, Dave Taylor, letters Annie Parkhouse.
Relocating the classic 2000AD tale from the eastern front of WWII to the similarly doomed push for Napoleon’s army in Russia, Fiends of the Eastern Front takes on new life amidst the freezing snows of 1812, as Hauptmann Constanta brings the undead experience to a young French officer, caught between the vampyrs and the ghouls and forced to take sides.

If Dredd is all creeping menace and Brink an exercise in slow build, Fiends of the Eastern Front is more straight out wish-fulfillment of sorts, a hugely enjoyable reminder for those that read it the first time. For those that never experienced the original, it’s a reminder that, sometimes, the simplest of ideas work out so well. As for Dave Taylor’s artwork, it’s different to that you’ll usually see from him, but there’s a dark beauty here in every panel.

SKIP TRACER: LEGION – PART 3 – James Peaty, Colin MacNeil, colors Dylan Teague, letters Ellie De Ville.
Nathan Blake, the Skip Tracer, hunting down those that need hunting, except this time, it’s a family thing, with Blake called in by the military to track down his own brother. Although, it’s not so much tracking him down as dropping into his brother’s mind to attempt to rescue him. Which gives MacNeil the glorious opportunity to cut loose with a couple of beautiful pages of psi-scapes. It’s enjoyable stuff, with a real retro feel to it.

KINGDOM: ALPHA AND OMEGA – PART 3 – Dan Abnett, Richard Elson, colors Abigail Bulmer, letters Ellie De Ville.
Like Skip Tracer, Kingdom is one of those strips that just rattles along, more retro sci-fi stuff done just right, Mad Max with more expensive special effects. With Gene the Hackman, gene-engineered dog-soldier, captured by a new breed of creatures on Earth, the Riders; tick infected gene mixes of human and aux, a new breed entirely, for what they see as a new Earth, where the insect menace of Them are vanquished. Gene the Hackman just has no way to deal with it, no capability of even understanding it. Meanwhile, the masters are plotting and planning to take back control. It’s simple enough stuff, but it’s a lot of fun.

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