The second Prog of 2019 comes around, with more of the Galaxy’s Greatest sci-fi strips filling the pages. This includes a brand-new Judge Dredd serial and continuations of all of last weeks strips; Brink, Skip Tracer, Fiends of the Western Front, and the middle part of the latest Tharg’s 3Riller, The Scorched Zone.
2000AD Prog 2113 is out in the UK and digitally on the 9th of January and out in the North Americas later in the month, all under a Block Buddy cover from Patrick Goddard.
JUDGE DREDD: BLOCK BUDS – PART 1 – Kenneth Niemand, Jeff Anderson, letters Annie Parkhouse.
City Hall has had a new idea, Block Buds, giant hologram mascots all to make the cits feel better about living in the big Meg. Cute, cuddly idea… oh, we all know this one’s not going to end well, don’t we?
Well, all it takes is one big ol’ Block Bud deciding to show a little initiative and we have the start of a Block Buds war.
This is an interesting one, with art from Jeff Anderson, who’s worked on many UK things in a long career, including Judge Dredd, but his most high-profile project has to be the Lion Graphic Bible from 1998. Interesting style too, part cartoon cuteness for the Block Buddies, part computer stylised stuff for the rest. As for writer, Kenneth Niemand, well, all he’s done before is the Tharg Starlord strip in 2017’s Xmas special Prog. Who could he be?
BRINK – HIGH SOCIETY – PART 14 – Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, letters Simon Bowland.
Still a brilliant strip, very much the best thing in 2000AD right now. With Abnett’s tight plotting combining with the sumptuous visuals from Culbard, Brink just keeps getting better and better.
Now that Hab security Officer Bridget Kurtis’ cover has been blown, things only seem to be getting worse, getting more tense, and it’s a stunning read, every twist and turn that Abnett throws in just works, magnificently. We’re getting to the end right now, and I’m already looking forward to getting every episode in front of me for a fabulous whole story re-read.
SKIP TRACER – LOUDER THAN BOMBS – PART 3 – James Peaty, Paul Marshal, colours Dylan Teague, letters Ellie De Ville
Once more, Nathan Blake, the Skip Tracer of the title, finds himself strongarmed into working for the Consociation. This time, it’s literally down the barrel of a gun. And this time it’s to stop a terrorist campaign linked to the Furia 7 resistance movement. He’s simply got no choice but to say yes. And so, we’re off and running into another adventure.
Is it a revolutionary thing? Nope, not a bit. But it is thoroughly enjoyable work, a simple, old-fashioned sort of strip, with Peaty proving a solid new writer enjoying a great deal of artistic support from Paul Marshal.
THARG’S 3RILLERS – THE SCORCHED ZONE – PART 2 – Eddie Robson, Nick Brokenshaw, colours Gary Caldwell, letters Ellie De Ville
The middle part of the 3-parter, where the exploratory team find themselves in a barren Brasilia, looking to reactivate the robots sent in to battle the world-devastating climate change that’s gone on. Last time they came up against some mutants/zombies/whatever, in a very familiar Walking Dead meets Resident Evil sort of vibe thing.
Here, there’s a little moment of throwing a bit more mystery into this, but the pace of having to deliver a tale in 3 parts simply means it’s off and back to the zombie/viral mutants against the tech team again.
FIENDS OF THE WESTERN FRONT – PART 3 – Ian Edginton, Tiernan Trevallion, letters Annie Parkhouse
Now, last Prog, I wondered whether having the sheer horror of the idea behind Fiends, that of a vampire batallion of soldiers stalking the battlefields had been somewhat watered down by the inclusion of something somwhat Frankensteinian with the introduction of old Brit comic character Black Max.
And I’ve still got that feeling, as Black Max unveils a plot to transform the Kaiser’s army into his own bat creatures, using Constanta as a brood mare. We’ve gone from stark horror to Universal Monsters territory over a few episodes. And I’m still not sure it’s working. One thing that does work damn well though is the artwork, from Tiernan Trevallion, who’s really bringing a great A game here.