The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2229: Get Out Of His Grud-Damn Way

by Richard Bruton

The Weekly 2000 AD, Comicon’s weekly preview of all the thrill-power the UK’s finest sci-fi comic has to offer…

Cover by Dermot Power

Wow. That’s a damn fine cover from returning art droid Dermot Power.

Inside, after the end of Slaine and the Tharg’s 3Riller: Chorus & The Ring last week, we have the return of those excellent Visions of Deadworld, plus another one of those excellent Tharg’s Future Shocks from Mark McCann and Glenn Fabry. And of course, there’s more of Judge Dredd’s investigation into ‘A Penitent Man’, more sword & sorcery silliness in Feral & Foe, and more folklore horrors in Thistlebone.

2000 AD Prog 2229 is out on 28 April. Here in Britain, we’re finally out of lockdown, meaning that your local comic shop here is open again. If you feel confident to do so, go along and pick up your comics, every comic shop really needs your business right now! And if you don’t want to go out quite yet, hit them up for mail order and help out their precarious cash flow situations!

And yes, we know lockdown is over and the vaccine rollout is working so well (thank you NHS!) – but no matter where you are, keep safe, keep wearing the masks, keep social distancing.

JUDGE DREDD: A PENITENT MAN – PART 5 – Ken Niemand, Tom Foster, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Asher and Dredd versus the SJS? Yes, of course, it was going to happen, but it’s still an exciting moment as it all kicks off down in the tunnels. One SJS Judge and two SJS Mechanismo units against Dredd and a former street Judge tempered by his time on Titan. It’s really not going to be a fair fight, is it?

Next week it’s going to all be finished. I think we can see how it’s going to play out. Although there’s always this:

Anyway, five parts in and it’s turned into a really solid Dredd. I can’t imagine that the end result of this one won’t be having some serious repercussions for both Dredd and the SJS somewhere down the line in another Niemand penned tale. And of course, there’s been nothing but an outpouring of praise for Tom Foster’s artwork – we’ve definitely found another incredible Dredd artist for the future here.

THISTLEBONE: POISONED ROOTS – PART 9 – TC Eglington, Simon Davis, letters by Simon Bowland

This second series of Thistlebone continues to follow the path set right from the first episode, with Malcolm Kinniburgh seemingly taking the role of ‘bad guy’, or at least the one influenced and affected by Thistlebone the most.

Now, whether this is the case or not doesn’t really matter, as this isn’t a series that needs a twist, it’s one that has the horror in its bones, just the ideas and the tone of the series is enough to chill you.

Case in point, this episode shows us the continuing horror of that fateful scout trip, as Seema interviewing one of the boys involved. There’s just over a page of Davis’ “normal” artwork here, with the rest of the episode taken up with that more cartoon-ish style that looks so damn good here. And it’s the sharp contrast between what we see on the page, the lightness of the style, and the horror of what’s going on that makes it work so well.

Because Thistlebone is such an immersive series, you can genuinely feel the darkness of the wood at night, you can imagine the terror of these poor kids as whatever they’ve been drugged with kicks in, the hallucinations, the sickness, and worst of all the sense that there’s something in the forest that’s coming to life…

Now that’s a horror moment right there. We don’t need to have it spelt out, we don’t need it in Davis’ usual intensely detailed style. Just that moment, the ‘I think there are others here…’ – that’s the chill moment.

Still quite wonderful stuff and, as we race to the end of this one, I’m thinking that my enjoyment of it is going nowhere over the next few weeks.

VISIONS OF DEADWORLD: TRANSPOLAR – PART 1 – Kek-W, Dave Kendall, letters by Simon Bowland

Something of a switch-up, as this is the first Visions of Deadworld two-parter, where a gas-extraction plant gets a visit from both the Dark Judges and the Sovs. As you’d expect, it really doesn’t go too well for the poor bastards working there (or, and I’m not really spoilering anything here, for the Sovs either – I mean, these are bloody Dark Judges after all).

Freed from the rigours of the regular Deadworld saga, where we all know where we’re headed in the end, these Visions of Deadworld have given Kek-W the chance to flex the creative muscles a little more, resulting in these great vignettes of a world going darker and darker. And this 2-parter format seems to be continuing in the vein of what’s gone before, enjoyably doom-laden, capturing fragments of the world going to hell.

And, of course, there are few who could do this and make it look so gloriously grotesque as Dave Kendall. Between him and Nick Percival doing the Dark Judges over in the Megazine, we have two artists perfectly capturing the nastier side of these characters who’ve all too often been downgraded to light relief.

FUTURE SHOCKS: REGARDING HENRY – Mark McCann, Glenn Fabry, colours by John Charles, letters by Annie Parkhouse

I think this is the third outing for Mark McCann on Future Shocks, his second with the great Glenn Fabry. There was Congested Anima in 2149, and Talk’s Cheap, with Adam Brown, in Prog 2099. And they were both quite magnificent examples of just how good a Future Shock can be, the epitome of getting it right in six pages.

So damn good to have more full-colour Fabry art here as well, all those deep textures… so good.

As for the story – poor Jane’s been marked out as potentially anti-social in the preventative screening the authorities are running, booting her into Covington Institute with all the other anti-social (potentially) kids… another idea you can see the current Government cackling over.

FERAL & FOE II – PART 4 – Dan Abnett, Richard Elson, letters by Jim Campbell

Off on a side-quest, one of those annoying wastes of time according to Abnett’s words last week, the trio of Wraith, Bode, and Krodgun are now doing Golgone the Necromancers bidding. The plan is to go and grab the Malign Chalice.

It’s gone off the rails by the end of the first page.

The Woodwoes don’t seem too bad though, sharing plentiful food, that ‘special’ milk, and even inviting the gang to a sleepover in time for the festival. It’s a private thing, but they’re sure that there’s a place for them in the rituals somewhere… hmmmm.

Again, the final panel of the episode sums it up oh so well. Not spoilery in any way but perfect to give you an idea of what to expect…

Oh yes they are. Totally.

Another great and funny episode, Abnett’s dialogue still crackling, Elson’s artwork all rich and warm and organic.

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