The Weekly 2000AD – Prog 2109 Previewed: Small House, Big Finish

by Richard Bruton

How much was I looking forward to this 2000AD? Oh, a lot. In fact, so much so that even being in a post-operative combo of general anesthetic and Oxy couldn’t stop me downloading it when the press copy came through. I was totally and utterly wiped out but, nonetheless, despite being sleepy, dozey, and those other lesser known dwarves, zonky, wobbly, druggy, and incapable of proper thinky, I loved it. Yes, Judge Dredd: The Small House is one of my comics of the year.
Prog 2109 is released in the UK and on digital on 28 November. US readers need to wait until the 4-pack monthly bundle hits comic shops. Poor US readers.
Now, the only real disappointment from this Prog… no Dredd cover. I wanted to see a Henry Flint cover to truly cap off the best Dredd story in many years. Not knocking the Sinister Dexter cover by the ever-excellent Cliff Robinson, but a missed opportunity there.

JUDGE DREDD: THE SMALL HOUSE – PART 10 – FINAL PART – Rob Williams, Henry Flint, colors Chris Blythe, letters Annie Parkhouse.
The ending. The finale of the best Dredd in many, many years. Since Day of Chaos and Trifecta, in fact.
Now, I’m monumentally biased in this. I way prefer the big, important, epic Dredd tales. I understand and love the fact that Dredd has developed and thrived over the years precisely because it doesn’t go the Marvel/DC route of massive event overload and spends much of the time doing the small stuff, the routine tales, the life on the job stories. But, still, I’m a lover of the epic stuff. It’s probably got something to do with the fact that my first real connection with Dredd proper came with reading a Block Mania & Apocalypse War reprint at some point.
With is a bit of synchronicity, because… well… spoilers.

Suffice it to say that, as with so many Dredd epics, this finale is played somewhat deliberately low-key, a Wagnerian trait that Williams has taken on so well. Without spoiling anything, Dredd faces off Judge Smiley in a finale that settles a fair few things and opens up Pandora’s Box well and truly.
It was, quite simply, magnificent. Williams and Flint have just laid claim to being the premier team on Dredd. The whole thing has been page-turning brilliance, despite there not, in all honesty, being that much action fighty stuff going on. Instead, it’s been a beautifully developed thing, tense, taut, thrilling, something that’s explored the very nature of Dredd and the world he exists in, the super-cop as fascist. And every single panel of the art has been a sheer delight to see.

BRINK – HIGH SOCIETY – PART 10 – Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, letters Simon Bowland.
All through High Society, there’s always been that sense of when, not if, Bridge’s cover would be blown. And ten episodes in, it’s happened. Junot Corp knows she’s Habitat Security. What they don’t know is just why she’s here. And that’s where Bridge, under the careful guiding hand of Abnett’s writing, gets clever. As with every episode of Blink, there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye, and that’s to say nothing of the introduction of the mysterious “Bilder”, the high-level HabSec undercover operative who’s just starting his infiltration.
And the art, oh, the art. Those striking colors, so effective. But it’s the facial details, the body language that Culbard is just so skilled with that we’ll look at here. The first three panels show you all you need, to be honest. The detail, the furrowing of the brow, the movement, leaning forwards in threat. Superb.

SINISTER DEXTER – THE SEA BENEATH THE CITY – PART 1 (DOUBLE SIZED) – Dan Abnett, Steve Yeowell, colors John Charles, letters Ellie De Ville.
Returning for a double episode this Prog, it’s Downlode’s most notorious gun-sharks, Finnigan Sinister and Ramone Dexter. Except that’s the old story. Now, thanks to some complicated back-story stuff that you really don’t need to worry about, the whole continuum has been reset and no-one knows who they are anymore. No-one, that is, except for hacker Billi Octavo. Oh, and then there’s the mystery of Ramone being able to see his own thoughts, a little voice in his head made real.
Now, the pistol-packing pair are finding gainful employ, working for the Lizard King and currently looking for “The Wharfinger”, Downlode’s fabled smuggler king. It’s a funny old strip, full of silliness from Abnett, unusual textures through Yeowell’s artwork, ridiculous puns, daft acronyms, and a deliciously over the top Bond movie script of a tale.

KINGDOM: ALPHA AND OMEGA – PART 10 – Dan Abnett, Richard Elson, colors Abigail Bulmer, letters Ellie De Ville.
And ending the Prog, the third Abnett penned tale, really showing us just how wide a range he has in his stories. The cerebral slow burn of Blink, the silly adventuring of Sinister Dexter and here, the all-out action of Kingdom, full of big characters and bigger fights.
We’re racing to the end next issue, with the masters having done that old favourite and nuked the site from orbit, Gene the Hackman’s made his escape, and the Aux Riders are in pursuit.

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