The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2171: Skip Tracer Back On The Job

by Richard Bruton

Cover by Jimmy Broxton

The Weekly 2000 AD: week in and week out, giving you the preview of the new 2000 AD Prog. The UK’s best sci-fi weekly since 1977. four decades and still going strong.
This week, under a Skip Tracer cover from Jimmy Broxton, there’s (not surprisingly) a new series of Skip Tracer, new Dredd in The Relic, continued episodes of The Zaucer Of Zilk and Feral & Foe, and the finale to Proteus Vex.
Prog 2169 is out in the UK and on digital on 4 March, with international copies coming out later – those of you in the good old US of A might need to ask for it at your LCS. Now, without further ado… The Weekly 2000 AD.

JUDGE DREDD: THE RELIC – PART 1 – Kenneth Niemand, Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Annie Parkhouse
MC-1 is a horrible place, even more so if you’re a visiting alien looking to retrieve the remains of their revered Grandfather from the Museum of Alien Anthropology.
Another Niemand Dredd, one day the secret of who it is might be revealed? But until then, enjoy what they write, because they do write a rather good Dredd.
And in Jake Lynch, there’s another fine new(ish) Dredd artist. Dynamic and angular looking and full of those neat touches that add so much. Case in point, alien immigration at MC-1, and there’s a great touch there on page 1, after all, not all Judges get to do street work and standing behind immigration all day tends to play havoc with the physique.

PROTEUS VEX: ANOTHER DAWN – PART 9 – FINAL PART – Michael Carroll, Henry Flint, letters by Simon Bowland
Now Proteus Vex has been rather a strange one, Flint’s artwork is a huge part of what’s made it such a grand looking thing. Going back to what we saw on Zombo and riffing off the ever-developing look he uses on Dredd, it’s got a vibrancy and weirdness that’s held the entire thing together.

In terms of story though, it’s a tricky one. Not a lot has gone on. A mission, a hunt, and completed in nine parts. Yet, in amongst all that, there’s been a real info-dump of flashbacks and world-building going on. And, Prog by Prog, it made things difficult to really get into a rhythm. However, given the benefit of this being the final episode, there’s chance to head on back and take in all 9 parts. And, no surprise, read as one, all of those flashbacks and info-dumps, alongside the ongoing action of the now all works way, way better. It’s the old problem we see more and more in this age of everything designed for trade, that individual episodes sometimes fail to engage, whereas the whole thing, as one longer read, is an engaging, fascinating read. So it is with Proteus Vex, where what we have here is not just a simple mission for an intriguing character but is also a set-up for the next series. That it doesn’t completely hold together episode by episode is a problem, but not a terminal one, not one that should stop a second series for sure.

SKIP TRACER: NIMROD – PART 1 – James Peatty, Paul Marshall, colours by Dylan Teague, letters by Simon Bowland.
To say the least, Skip Tracer is a divisive series. Although having said that, it’s divisive on a number of 2000 AD forums and groups that I’m part of. And there, all too often, it’s a case of ‘why oh why can’t 2000 AD be like it was when I was younger and reading it?’ The classic modern comics and strips don’t match what I used to love argument you can find anywhere that comics are discussed.
Skip Tracer is, quite simply, a back to basics thing, a simple strip with a great artist who’s never overly showy, just delivers what needs delivering and does it very well. The storylines have been the same. In fact, it reminds me of Rogue Trooper, a single line thing, tell the story, do the mission, get out. To compare it to strips like Proteus Vex, Brink, Zaucer of Zilk, Dredd… that just doesn’t hold up. It’s not meant to do any more than tell an entertaining, old-fashioned romp of sorts, or at least I don’t believe it’s meant to.

And the last two series have done just that. Take the idea, former soldier turned tracker, hunting down undesirables and wanted crims, set it somewhere familiarly alien, in this case, The Cube, 27th Century city floating in space, and what you get is a simple closed world adventure, Nathan Blake, the Skip Tracer taking on a new challenge each time, often pulling him into contact with the good and the bad from his army days. The result is entertaining, nothing incredibly deep, but entertaining nonetheless.
And so it is here, with the opener of Nimrod. Although right now, all we have is a Skip Tracer dream of military action and the news that someone he’s looking for has just turned up.

THE ZAUCER OF ZILK: A ZAUCERFUL OF SECRETS – PART 9Script by Peter Hogan, art and story by Brendan McCarthy, colours by Len O’Grady and McCarthy, letters by Jim Campbell
Okay, final page and things drop into place here in part 9, with the identity of The Criminaut out in the open. But before then, we get four pages of glorious McCarthy/O’Grady chaotic technicolour delights. You know, things like this…

Again, the issue with Zaucer is somewhat the same as with Proteus Vex, that thing of where’s it all going? Except with Zaucer, there’s always been that slightly lesser need to have some vast, involved storyline, as the concept just lends itself to chaos and beauty rather than an involved storyline. However, in the way this second series has played out, things have taken a rather hmmm turn, after all, the whole thing of the rebirth of T’Tooth and the smarty pants seems mere inconsequential filler at this point, Zaucer treading water (admittedly, it’s LSD-spiked, incredible looking water, but still..)
All in all, another gorgeous thing, and one I want to see where it’s all going, but it feels increasingly a little emptier than that first series.

FERAL & FOE – PART 9 – Dan Abnett, Richard Elson, colours by Richard & Joe Elson, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Pure fantasy with a few gags ably done by Abnett and Elson, it’s the perfect end to the Prog really. The basic idea is one of those great simple things – what happens to the evil minions after the big bad gets defeated in your favourite epic LOTR style fantasy scenario.
Well, in Feral & Foe, the warrior Wraith and necromancer Bode have picked up work for the other side, hunting down fellow ex-evil minions. They’ve hired and dispatched another Tank, the big muscle for hire types, something they seem to make a habit of, and Wraith’s picked up a particularly snippy sentient sword… and then this…

Their new Tank’s turned on them (kill enough tanks and one of ’ems going to have a relative in the same biz after all) and there’s a bloody great engulfer-class battle-wyrm on the loose. It’s all the fun you wanted to have playing D&D, just with great art and Abnett’s fun turn of phrase and fun way of getting this pair our of both problems.

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