The Weekly 2000AD – Previewing Prog 2103 & Mourning The Passing Of Legend Carlos Ezquerra (1947-2018)

by Richard Bruton

Carlos Ezquerra (1947-2018)
Before I launch into this latest preview of 2000AD, a word on Carlos Ezquerra. We sadly lost this legendary artist on 1 October 2018 when he died from lung cancer. A lung cancer that he’d already beaten once.
To say that Carlos Ezquerra was one of the finest artists is something none would argue with, especially none in British comics. His artwork had graced the pages of 2000AD from the beginning and his co-creation of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog gave the comic two of its most iconic and popular characters. Of course, these weren’t his only creations, we could list Major Eazy, El Mestizo, Fiends of the Eastern Front, and so many more.
His loss has been felt by so many across the comics world and I echo all of those. We’ve lost another artistic genius this month. His name should be up there alongside Moebius, Kirby, et al. For us, it already is.

And here’s Bill Sienkiewicz with a suitably beautiful tribute to a legend…

Now, onto the comic Carlos Ezquerra played such a part in, with our weekly 2000AD preview. This week, we’re onto Prog 2103…
Four Progs into the latest set of all-new 2000AD and I’ve already told you, repeatedly, that we’re into a wonderful run of some amazing tales in the UK’s best sci-fi anthology series. I’m not going to be changing the tune any time soon. Not when we get more of the best Dredd in the last couple of years with ‘The Small House’, complete with the magnificently verbose Sensitive Klegg. We get more of the incredible slow burn of Brink, with INJ Culbard’s artwork switching from neon-lit starkness to sumptuous night in the city scenes at will. We get the ongoing darkness in the snows of the Eastern Front of the 1812 French push into Russia as the saga of the Fiends unfolds so beautifully. And to round things out, there’s the old school brilliance of both Skip Tracer and Kingdom, classic action-packed strips.
It is, quite simply, a breathtakingly great comic right now. You are reading it, right? UK and digital readers can pick up Prog 2103 on 17th October. North American readers get it in the 4-Prog pack sometime later, but best to ask in your local comic shop.

Cover – Adam Brown, giving us a super detailed look at just what Skip Tracer’s going through inside his brother’s head right now.
JUDGE DREDD: THE SMALL HOUSE – PART 4 – Rob Williams, Henry Flint, colors Chris Blythe, letters Annie Parkhouse.
Oh, this just builds and builds the tension. Williams and Flint really are creating something thrilling. The slow assemblage of the cast, the moving all into position, the teasing moments as things begin to accelerate.
Hershey’s doubting herself, just a small thing, that moment, that mention of McGruder so telling. And if Hershey starts to doubt, things are moving in troubling directions. Dredd knows nothing of this, as he gathers his secret squad to move against Smiley, including, quite brilliantly, the wonder that is Sensitive Klegg…

Williams definitely understands just how Wagner’s writing on the character works, finding comedy even amongst a story as loaded with dismal portent as The Small House. And you just can’t get a most comedic opportunity than putting Sensitive Klegg in the same room as a tense Dredd.
Oh, The Small House is just incredible, magnificent Dredd, perfectly guided by the hands of Williams and Flint.

BRINK – HIGH SOCIETY – PART 4 – Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, letters Simon Bowland.
The first two pages in the preview below should be enough to sell you on Brink. And they’re perfect to show you just how the series can switch up, all thanks to Abnett’s writing, but most particularly INJ Culbard’s exquisite artwork. Each series has had a different sense of space, and here it’s ever so cleverly done, with Bridgit Kurtis, Habitat Security Division, now undercover on Yuliya Hab, posing as a cleaner. On the pages shown there’s that washed out backdrop, perfect to push the serving staff into the background, explosively broken into with blood splattering all over the page, breaking the panel borders, beautiful design work. And then later, there’s this…

Culbard’s exceptional artwork bursting into colour and neon night, gorgeous, yet so controlled as well, something we could easily expand to describe the complete Brink.

FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT: 1812 – PART 4 – Ian Edginton, Dave Taylor, letters Annie Parkhouse.
Just as with Dredd and Brink, Fiends of the Eastern Front looks beautiful, a stunning reinvention of the original by Dave Taylor. And lets not forget that the original had the beautiful black and white artwork of Ezquerra, something you should definitely seek out, as it holds up incredibly well as a wonderfully original strip.
Here, with Ian Edginton and Dave Taylor’s reworking of the adventures of Romanian vampyre Hauptmann Constanta, we’re on the Eastern Front of 1812, with Hauptmann telling of his origins and his hatred of witches. Another stunning strip in a comic full of them.

SKIP TRACER: LEGION – PART 4 – James Peaty, Colin MacNeil, colors Dylan Teague, letters Ellie De Ville.
This one started out with the first season as a straight up sci-fi tale, but with this second season James Peaty’s taken full advantage of having Colin MacNeil on art duties to spin something a little more off-the-wall as Nathan Blake takes a trip round his brother’s head.
It’s an impressive second run for a good strip.

KINGDOM: ALPHA AND OMEGA – PART 4 – Dan Abnett, Richard Elson, colors Abigail Bulmer, letters Ellie De Ville.
And ending the Prog, more from the Kingdom, a cracking bit of old-school 2000AD, where mankind has been over-run, the insect Them hunting them down without mercy. Gene soldiers like Gene the Hackman are all that humanity has to protect them now, but now that Gene’s back on Earth, things have changed, and there’s a new breed in town.
Good fun stuff to end the Prog from Abnett and Elson.

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