The Weekly 2000 AD Prog 2204: Dredd’s Been Through The Desert With A Horse With No Name…

by Richard Bruton

The Galaxy’s greatest comic has been delivering the thrill power week after week since 1977. So it’s only right that we take a look inside every week here at Comicon. It’s time for the Weekly 2000 AD.

Cover by D’Israeli

Inside, it’s the start of a new Dredd tale, as Rob Williams deals with Ichabod Azrael’s horse in ‘They Shoot Talking Horses, Don’t They?‘ and there’s more shark folk horror in Hook Jaw, more double-crossing bounty action in Skip Tracer, more mystery unfolding in Stickleback, and more tales of blood-sucking history in Fiends of the Eastern Front.
2000 AD Prog 2204 – out in the UK on Wednesday 21st October on digital and from newsagents and comic shops.

JUDGE DREDD: THEY SHOOT TALKING HORSES, DON’T THEY? – PART 1 – Rob Williams and Dan Cornwell, letters by Annie Parkhouse
This is one of those where you know Williams had a dumb smile on his face all through writing it, don’t you? The title, the Shakespeare quote from a horse, Anderson’s opening line (Why the long face?)… all of it’s quite ridiculously daft.
Anyway, after Ichabod died in End of Days, his talking horse is bereft… “What now? What worth a steed without its rider? What use?”
Dredd… full of sympathy as you might guess. He, Anderson, and Horse are out in the Cursed Earth searching for the Mouth-Hounds that came through with Horse and Ichabod. They don’t end up finding them yet, but something else finds them – not good, not good at all.
Wonderful use of the Horse, great opening couple of pages setting it up, great artwork from Cornwell, whose Dredd is getting better and better (great Lawmaster as well here). But one thing bugged me – Dredd being so keen to race into an obvious trap? An uncharacteristic slip-up from Williams there. Aside from that – nice opener.

STICKLEBACK – NEW JERUSALEM – PART 5 – Ian Edginton, D’Israeli, letters by Jim Campbell
The big problem with supernatural baddies? Shooting them in the head might not be as effective as it usually is. That’s the problem Stickleback et al have found out here as their adversary turns into something far more otherworldly…

The other problem with supernatural baddies? You never quite know who or what the hell they’re going to throw at you next. And thus it is right here.
We’re still waiting to see just how the Stickleback/Sherlock thing is going to work itself out, as all involved are pretty damn busy staying alive right now. But I hope it’s something Edginton does get around to doing here, rather than simply keeping us guessing for the next serial.

SKIP TRACER – HYPERBALLAD – PART 5 – James Peaty, Paul Marshall, colours by Dylan Teague, letters by Simon Bowland
Remember how that question of spoiled bratty pop star India happened to have those unexplained Manga-style features just kept going unanswered? Well, here we go.
And no surprise, it’s all to do with her dodgy as hell manager, Van Hess.
Meanwhile, Nathan Blake is busy down in the Underneath and things are coming together, just as we knew they would.
Perhaps the biggest issue with Skip Tracer is that it’s very much a strip that does just what you’d expect, going from A to B to C, little to surprise but doing what it does very well.

FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT – CONSTANTA – PART 4 – Ian Edginton, Tiernen Trevallion, letters by Annie Parkhouse
The art from Trevallion is still quite bloody beautiful on this one, getting all the folklore-ish-ness of the story just right, something of the ancient religious imagery, chursch mosaics, about it. And as for Edginton’s story, it’s veered far more into folklore than we ever thought it would, lookin gway back in the family history of the clan Constanta, confounding what was expected and coming up with a great tale.
So… blood, dragons, wolves, a tale told and a boy becomes a man. How we go from man to fiend… well, that’s for the future.

HOOK JAW – PART 5 – Alec Worley, Leigh Gallagher, letters by Simon Bowland
We were expecting a shark versus man sort of thing, but Hookjaw has turned into something else, a strange folk horror where the shark seems to be able to be something else… or perhaps something or someone else seems to be able to be the shark?
Anyhow, poor old Jack is on the verge of losing it, way too deep in things he doesn’t understand.
Hookjaw really has turned into something different, Worley’s script turning everything on its head, using the shark to set up something bigger, weaving magic and folklore in so well. And Gallagher… well, he’s doing incredible things. You will believe a shark can fit in a jacuzzi.

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