It’s a bumper Prog this week for the Weekly 2000 AD, as it’s another one of those perfect jumping-on points with a huge 8 strips, including the opening chapters of new series for Dredd, with the return of John Wagner and Colin MacNeil and a heartbreaking farewell to Hershey, Hope, Brink, and The Fall of Deadworld. Plus, one-off tales in the shape of Sinister Dexter, Anderson, and a cracking Future Shock.
And all this under a cover from Joseph Michael Lisner… which is… well, it’s really not all that good, is it? I suppose if you do have Lisner on cover duties you can’t be surprised to see Anderson looking like she’s posing for a calendar shoot in full make-up whilst having a bit of a migraine, but bloody hell, this really does feed into the worst ideas of Anderson.
Prog 2150 is out in the UK and on digital from 25 September, with international copies coming out later – ask for it by name at your local comic shop.
JUDGE DREDD – GUATEMALA – PART 1 – John Wagner, Colin MacNeil, colors Chris Blythe, letters Annie Parkhouse.
John Wagner returns for what looks like the finale for former Chief Judge Hershey.
When Hershey stepped down we got the body-blow that she was dying from a pathogen. And with the first page, Wagner does his best to break our hearts, allowing something akin to caring from Dredd as he sits by the bedside, waiting for her scheduled termination.
It is a beautifully written opener to this latest Dredd from Wagner, with MacNeil perfectly capturing everything necessary to give this Chief Judge the farewell she deserves. The goodbye old friend line though… that hit hard.
Brutal, hard-hitting, in a way only John Wagner can do. And that’s even before we get into the meat of the storyline… in Guatemala… and Hershey’s last request…
HOPE… UNDER FIRE – PART 1 – Guy Adams, Jimmy Broxton, letters Ellie De Ville
A welcome return to the alternate 1940s USA of Hope, where magic won the war and is now everywhere. Mallory Hope is one such magician, although he throws his occult skills into private investigating, but calling on the dark arts the way he does certainly takes its toll.
Now, he’s in New York, at the behest of an old army colleague, having thoughts of the war, and it turns out that in that particular WWII, having the wrong sort of thoughts could leave you dead. Lovely bit of imagination from Guy Adams, all accompanied by Broxton’s artwork, lush b&w and grey tones, that looks simply amazing here, never more so than that killer first page…
BRINK BOOK 4 – HATE BOX – PART 1 – Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, letters Simon Bowland
The best series in the Prog for the past however many years returns for Book 4.
It’s the late 21st Century and Mankind has had to leave a devastated and barren Earth for a series of deep-space Habitats. And tasked with keeping the peace in the often cramped and overcrowded habs is Hab-Sec Division, including one Bridget Kurtis. Over the course of the last three books we’ve seen Bridge come up against the spectre of the bizarre and deadly sects springing up across the Habs.
And it’s only going to get worse for Bridge, when she eventually appears, since this episode is all about the rookie HabSec officer.
Abnett and Culbard keep delivering the goods, on a new Hab with the old problems. And damn, it’s beautifully done, with Culbard’s art just so incredibly controlled and vibrant, full of energy, the most powerful talking heads, incredible effects.
Just take the piece above, where it’s simply another set of two figures talking, yet there’s so much in Culbard’s artwork to love, so much drawn out from body language, expression, just the movement in the officer’s eyes… it’s simply sublime.
FUTURE SHOCKS – RESTRUCTURING – Karl Stock and Will Simpson, letters Annie Parkhouse
Will Simpson’s back in the Prog on a Karl Stock written Future Shock, diving deep into post-apocalyptic fantasy territory, a populus imprisoned, worker cogs in the grand machine
Simpson’s artwork is looking so good, black and white but far from simple, and with incredible looking perspective work going on.
And like the best of Future Shocks, it’s constructed wonderfully concisely yet tells a cracking little tale with that characteristic FS twist.
ANDERSON; PSI-DIVISION – JUDGE DEATH: THE MOVIE – Alan Grant, Jake Lynch, colors Jim Boswell, letters Simon Bowland
There’s a Judge Death copycat killer murdering their way through MC-1 and it’s down to Anderson to track the perp down. On top of that, there’s a Judge Death movie being filmed in MC-1 right now. Coincidence? Anderson’s not so sure.
And is it just me, or is this a small dig on Grant’s part at Judge Death being turned into something of a comedy character over the years?
I do particularly enjoy Jake Lynch’s artwork on pretty much anything he draws, but there’s a particular sense that he’s a great Dreddworld artist. And that doesn’t matter whether it’s the b&w of Orlok, the Meg adventures with Harry Heston, or his recent Dredd tales, all of it has a wonderful look, a nasty, gritty, weathered sort of thing, reminiscent of MacMahon. And it’s something that we get here in this one-off Anderson tale, albeit with a bit of a weird look in that first panel with Anderson on her bike. But, aside from that little blip, it’s all looking superb.
One particular thing I do love here is how Lynch doesn’t go the route so many do, of making Anderson the sort of simpering supermodel with immaculate hair and make-up that you see on the cover of this Prog.
Instead, this is an Anderson you can believe in, the experienced older Judge, fit for the job of being a Psi-Judge on the streets of MC-1, and oh so tired and worn down by it all. One of the best interpretations of Anderson I’ve seen for a long time.
DEFOE – THE DIVISOR – PART 1 – Pat Mills, SK Moore, letters Ellie De Ville
London 1668, a city recovering from the Great Fire, and reeling now under the tide of undead, the Reeks, that rose from the ashes. Zombie Hunters such as Defoe are all that stands between the people and death.
And if that wasn’t enough, there are those supernatural entities giving humanity the info to built rocket ships. The sort of rocket ship we see on that first page below, as those in power begin to doubt the sanity of Bishop Wilkins, leading His Majesty’s taskforce to landing on the moon and making contact with those mysterious Selenites, a taskforce brought down by Reeks.
It’s now six months later and Wilkins’ competitor in space conquest is questioning the Selenites’ motives and recommending the termination of the moon programme.
How all this feeds into Defoe is not clear, not yet. But it will, as one thing Pat Mills always likes to do is connect everything together. To be honest, I’ve never been that big a fan of Mills’ work, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate that there’s gold to be found in amongst his tales. As with so much of his work, much of Defoe has rather washed over me, but this one does seem to have a fair bit of potential. We’ll see.
As for the new artist on Defoe, in fact new to 2000 AD, SK Moore is doing some lovely looking work here, mixing a lot of influences in (Talbot, D’Israeli, Langley… no doubt more) but delivering something that looks pretty cohesive and attractive.
Yes, there’s some jarring collision between comp-generated effects and Moore’s more cartoonish aspects, but I can deal with that – an impressive debut indeed.
In fact, the more I look at it, the more I like it. I’m going to say it quietly but I’m hoping what we’re seeing here is a new (to 2000 AD) artist who has the potential to deliver art as different and as incredible as the late John Hicklenton, another one of Pat Mills’ artistic companions on those incredibly visceral Nemesis stories.
SINISTER DEXTER – WAITING IN CHAIRS – Dan Abnett, Steve Yeowell, colors John Charles, letters Ellie De Ville
Last Prog, we saw Finn desperately trying to get the badly injured Ray to the hospital after their babysitting job on a very smart computer.
Here it’s time for the sitting and waiting. And piecing together just what the funt happened and how much trouble everyone’s in with those tattooed and enhanced soldiers coming after them.
A quiet episode, but a nicely done one, all setting up what might be big things coming in new storyline The Frighteners.
THE FALL OF DEADWORLD – DOOMED – Part 1 – Kek-W, Dave Kendall, letters Annie Parkhouse
Back in time once more, to the poor doomed planet and its people, a planet that will become Deadworld, where the Dark Judges spread their contagion to wipe out all life.
These are the days before the fall, where this world is truly doomed. Now there’s another problem for the Judges of this alternate world, as if the Dark Judges and their followers weren’t enough to cope with, there’s now the Soviet threat to deal with. When it rains, eh?
Kek-W does seem to enjoy spreading all this doom and gloom though, but thankfully he’s a good enough writer to let Kendall’s perfectly pitched grotesque art do most of the heavy lifting. Other writers might ladle on the purple prose, Kek-W uses it sparingly, all the better to hammer home the despair of inevitability.