The Weekly 2000 AD Prog 2201: Vamps, Sharks, Sherlock, Manga Pop Princesses And More

by Richard Bruton

Week after week, year after year, 2000 AD has been here to deliver the best of UK comics – it’s time for the thrill power with the Weekly 2000 AD.

Cover by Tiernen Trevallion

Prog 2201 is out in the UK on 30 September on digital and from newsagents and comic shops.
After the debut of four new strips last week, there’s the debut of the new Fiends of the Eastern Front inside – expect lots of gorgeous artwork from Trevallion to match that great cover!

JUDGE DREDD: CARRY THE NINE – PART 2 –  Script by Rob Williams and Arthur Wyatt, art by Boo Cook, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Dredd’s back on the beat but after what Maitland found out while running the models last episode, he might be out of a job pretty quickly… well, probably not, but damn it was a good opening episode. Just what she found… well, only a way to wipe out crime – as you can see from the last page of the first episode shown above. That was a real wow moment, Wyatt and Williams and Cook showing us that you don’t need action to give us a stunning cliffhanger moment.
It’s all turning out to be Maitland’s show, like she says…
“How do you wake up one morning and just know how to fix the city? How do you tell the Grand Hall there don’t need to be Judges?”
The problem now is that she doesn’t really know who to tell. Dredd? Not likely. But how will she go about getting this info to those who might make the changes? Oh Maitland, you need to be careful. There’s a perfect image in here, one you’ll see for yourself and love as it’s a full-page deep into the episode, where Cook has Dredd towering over Maitland, a living embodiment of the Justice Department she may well be suggesting is completely out of date and needs eradicating. Stunning.
Again, another slow burner of a strip after the shock revelation of last Prog, but no matter, as I could read this sort of Dredd for a long, long time before getting bored. And with Boo Cook on the artwork, there’s plenty of gorgeous to look at as well. One of my favourite visual touches amongst so many here has to be the Accounting Judges having a giant % sign on their shoulders. Superb.

STICKLEBACK – NEW JERUSALEM – PART 2 – Ian Edginton, D’Israeli, letters by Jim Campbell
Right then, so now we’re beginning to come to terms with the little matter of Stickleback being Sherlock Holmes, we can really get into things and see where Edginton and D’Israeli are going to take things.
His first order of business is dealing with the Suspira de Profundis – the three Sorrows – Lady Penelope, Red Penny, and Penny Dreadful. So it’s off to a dimensionally different library and the Brotherhood of the Book. Right now, given what’s happened before the introduction of a bigger-on-the-inside library utilising dimensional mechanics could well lead to Edginton bringing Doctor Who into things – frankly, all bets are off when it comes to where this one’s going.
Basically, it’s into the library and time to neck a few magic mushrooms and head off in search of those three Sorrows in this second episode. All of which means we get to see D’Israeli do incredible interiors and then go a little bit psychedelic on us – albeit in his amazing black and white style. Everything about Stickleback impresses, but it’s D’Israeli’s art that just leaps out at you first. Serious, it’s a gorgeous, lush thing, so full of detail that it’s well worth heading back over things and gleaning every little bit of brilliance from every little detail in every panel.

SKIP TRACER – HYPERBALLAD – PART 2 – James Peaty, Paul Marshall, colours by Dylan Teague, letters by Simon Bowland
So, an intriguing Dredd taking us deep into social change, a gorgeous black and white Sherlock Holmes adventure with so many questions… it all means that the more traditional style and plot of the new Skip Tracer comes off a little bit… well, staid.
Not the fault of the strip or its creators, who are both doing a decent job. No, it’s just that a straightforward adventure tale sitting next to those two great openers is a little pedestrian.
Skip Tracer’s doing a bodyguard (or babysitting) stint looking after a pop princess called India. As yet, no idea why she’s drawn as a Manga character in amongst the normal looks of the rest of the cast, but I can’t help but think that’s all part of the plot somewhere.
The action kicks in on page three here, and there’s a certain joy to be had in seeing the room service robot turn into a cliche-spouting killer…
“We have a number of specials on offer today. However, if I may be so bold, I’d like to recommend CERTAIN DEATH!”
And we’re off and running, the babysitting job won’t be as easy as Nathan Blake thought. And by the end of the episode, I was back enjoying things, enjoying Skip Tracer for the simple palette cleanser it manages to be.

FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT – CONSTANTA – PART 1 – Ian Edginton, Tiernen Trevallion, letters by Annie Parkhouse
You know the tale by now? A German soldier’s diary of WWII was found that described the terrifying vampire Captain Constanta and his Romanian platoon who worked for both sides, leaving a trail of death and blood in their wake. But Edginton’s work on the character has shown us that Constanta’s undead soldiering went back a long time, including the Western Front of France in 1916. And now it’s 1921 and a British pilot, Tim Wilson, has travelled to Romania to search for Constanta. He met Constanta before – it wasn’t all that pleasant.

If you’re more used to seeing Trevallion’s work in colour on Absalom, the burst of colour on Constanta may surprise you. But it’s a stunning shift in his art, the muted colours of the Romanian countryside look amazing, the strong solid linework gives the characters an aged, world-weary look – this is some great work from an artist we already knew was something special.
And the tale itself does a good job of setting up a meeting with the vampire Captain, giving us a few pages to get settled, have a drink, relax a little with the (presumably doomed) RAF pilot. We get a sense of a region that’s used to the barbarity of the vampires, the Strigoi, and a people whose religion has developed alongside the old Gods and monsters.
As first episodes go – this one is a stunner.

HOOKJAW – PART 2 – Alec Worley, Leigh Gallagher, letters by Simon Bowland
Another surprise last episode – who thought Hookjaw was going to be popping up in the pages of the Prog? Nope, not me either.
And the way Worley and Gallagher brought the legend of the pissy shark with a spear stuck in his jaw was done so well – an old legend of the Cornish seas, made into a cheap marketing gimmick for the local pub.
Except the marketing gimmick seems to have made a comeback – although not one the landlord, Kenver, will be able to profit off…

That was the shocking moment last Prog, the moment we got to see the monster for the first time – and possibly the most we’re going to see for a while. Pretty impressive stuff from Gallagher as you’d no doubt expect.
This week, the fallout from that death, a strange cult on the beach (are we going to be drifting into folk horror here as well as the straight horror of Hookjaw?) and another mysterious death – all of it making this new Hookjaw a wonderful thing, light on the shark, heavy on the horror.

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