The Weekly 2000 AD – Prog 2124 Previewed: Say Hello To The Pinstriped Freak!

by Richard Bruton

Time to take a spin once more around the sci-fi feast that is 2000 AD, where you’ll find pinstripe freaks, psychopaths hiding behind patriotism, old threats resurfacing, and a good dose of fantasy and comedy in another excellent Prog. All beneath that Max Normal cover from Jon Davis-Hunt.

2000 AD Prog 2124 is out in the UK and digitally on 27 March. If you’re outside the increasingly small and inward looking island of Great Britain (oh Brexit, just don’t get me started!), you’ll need to search for it on the shelves of your local comic shop a while after that.

JUDGE DREDD: UNEARTHED – PART 1 – Rob Williams & Chris Weston, Patrick Goddard, colours Chris Blythe, letters Annie Parkhouse.

A chaotic nightmare of a country barely held together by those in charge, described by one major figure as smelling of “defeat, loss and weakness”. Yes, that could easily be the UK right now as we wander into Brexit with all the coordination, planning, and good sense of a 4am drunk looking for a kebab house. But no, it’s Dredd opening this new tale, a new series featuring the combined writing skills of Rob Williams and Chris Weston, alongside artist Patrick Goddard.

It’s always struck me that it must be unnerving for an artist to draw another artist’s script, and when that artist is as fine as Chris Weston, it must be hellish! Thankfully, Goddard’s Dredd just looks superb, every bit the weathered and worn lawman we expect. Goddard’s artwork is spectacular in its classicism, that all too easily overlooked, non-flashy styling that just looks and reads so well.

As for Unearthed, it’s something that feels a little more tongue in cheek right now than the usual Williams and Weston tales, but it’s also a damn fine opener.

There’s more rebuilding going on in MC-1 and as the excavators move in, something old, something distinctly East-Meg, is unearthed. Or, as one unfortunate screams, “Subterranean cannibal communist Sov-zombies have come to eat our capitalist brains”. Now that, you have to agree, is a great name for a band.

KINGMAKER: OUROBOROS – PART 2 – Ian Edginton and Leigh Gallagher, letters by Ellie de Ville.

Last Prog, we saw the wizard Ablard, ork Crixus, and dryad princess Yarrow journey into what was once a friendly, out of the way little place, straight out of Tolkien. Ablard knew the folk here and they were lovely folk, always with a warm welcome. This Prog… well, things have changed. , Hobbitville, where things are not what they seem…

Oh, Edginton really is leaning heavy into Lord of the Rings here, isn’t he? Hobbit-ish folk, a firedrake heart from an adventure with the wizard, that whispers into the minds of those holding it… oh yes, all very familiar.

But, it matters not, as Kingmaker is delivering a Tolkien-esque fantasy with wit, pace, and stunning Gallagher artwork.

SURVIVAL GEEKS: DUNGEONS & DRAGONS (BASIC) – PART 2 – Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeny, Neil Googe, colours Gary Caldwell, letters Annie Parkhouse

Insert tongue hard into cheek, prepare to mercilessly take the mickey of another section of fandom, it’s another series of Survival Geeks and this time it’s the RPG world coming under fire.

Last Prog, Clive came up with the role-playing simulation, fully expecting his vast intellect to be the one controlling things. Turns out that Sam, the reluctant housemate onboard the trans-dimensional hopping vessel cunningly disguised as a simple two-up, two-down, is the one with the smarts and the willpower after all. Which means the others are going to be put through the wringer. And we’re going to love seeing it happen.

MAX NORMAL: HOW MAX GOT HIS STRIPES – PART 1 – Guy Adams and Dan Cornwell, colours Jim Boswell, letters Simon Bowland

When he first turned up in Dredd way, way back in the rarly days of 1977, Max Normal, the pinstriped freak, was Dredd’s go-to informant, with his fingers on the pulse of all the bad things going down in the big Meg.

Now, it’s 40 years on and Max is living the quiet(er) life. Until his old pal, Vito, turns up outside his window that is and all of a sudden, Max has a desire to get into the shuggy hall business.

It’s light, it’s fun, it’s having a go at the urban hipsters (Aggreegan gunge – it’s like vegan, but more killy), and it’s a fine addition to the Prog.

GREY AREA – MAKING HISTORY – PART 2 – Dan Abnett, Mark Harrison, letters Ellie De Ville

A while ago, I read someone, somewhere on some social media, describing Grey Area’s artwork as “A blobby mess”. Ok, each to their own and all that. But in this case, your opinion is just plain wrong. Busy, sure, packed with detail, absolutely. But blobby? Oh FFS. No.

Grey Area itself is coming to its conclusion next Prog but here it’s just your everyday tale of a rogue black-ops unit, run by the racist psycopath Grell, unleashing a reverse engineered ‘God Star’ weapon at the Congruence.

It’s ever the function of great science fiction to tell tales that resonate with the world we’re in. Sadly, the current Grey Area, with the saga of xenophobic, racist, terrorists, lashing out at whomever they choose to hate, hating the idea of anyone they consider ‘other’, is hideously accurate.

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