Four times a year, the pages of the Galaxy’s Greatest get turned over to Tharg’s lil’ nephew, Jojo-Jargo, who fills the pages with five all-ages tales to appeal to the next generation of readers. This is 2000 AD Regened!
2000 AD Prog #2246 hits the shelves and digital on 18 August, bringing you all the Regened action you’ve come to expect – it’s 2000 AD thrill-power meets all-age fun… with more all-ages action from Cadet Dredd, more from the Rogue Trooper-verse in Mayflies, catching up with a young Chopper in Mega-City One, a brilliant brand-new strip called ‘Splorers, and (of course) a Future Shock.
Yep, it’s all a bit good.
CADET DREDD: THE BLOCK WITH NO NAME – Liam Johnson, Duane Redhead, colours by John Charles, letters by Annie Parkhouse
More than anything else, Cadet Dredd is such an easy sell in one way, young Dredd as a cadet, all the thrills of old Dredd, all the weird and wacky of the regular Dredd, just less blood and fascism accusations… simple. But then again, look at it the other way and it’s a really fine line to skirt. You have to get all the essence of Dredd in, but you can’t overtly go into the things that make Dredd Dredd… no absolute justice at the end of a Lawmaker, no bloodshed, no jackboot of Justice, and all wrapped up in an all-ages friendly strip.
Yep, it’s a damn sight harder than it looks to make Cadet Dredd work. And it’s telling that all the Cadet Dredds thus far have been done in one things, all the better to tell a simple, all-ages kind of tale.
Thus it is here, another single, Judges setting up the destruction of city buildings to make way for a new Mega-Block, and when a bunch of juvies set up a resistance to the whole demolition, young Cadet Dredd gets his first bit of undercover work. Okay, okay, suspend your disbelief time – one, get over the fact the Justice Department is telling us they can’t manage to deal with a gang of kids in time for the demolition droids need to get in, go with the whole face-changer thing – after all, the odds of one of these juvies knowing and recognising who the hell Dredd is is pretty damn small.
The problem is with Dredd in this situation. Basically, with adult Dredd it’s easy to see his absolutely fixed view on the law – you break it, you’re done, that sort of thing. But when you’re watching a 12/15 year-old do the same – it just has trouble working.
And then we get to the ending and the most difficult leap of disbelief in here – the notion that a lowly Cadet could get a direct line to the Chief Judge and get a suggestion approved to give us at least a bit of a touchy-feely ending… well, that just doesn’t work.
Although, when you think about it, everything I just wrote comes from the mind of the adult me, with a bit of knowledge of Dredd already. Coming at it from the mind of a youngster, maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have had those same problems with it (although, your average literate youngster is pretty much a lock-in for smart, literate understanding of anything and everything they read right now… so maybe I’m just talking out my hat).
MAYFLIES: THE WAY FORWARD – by Michael Molcher, Simon Coleby, colours by Dylan Teague, letters by Simon Bowland.
Back to the Mayflies of Nu Earth and the forever war between the Norts and the Southers. The Southers Genetic Infantrymen program has been tinkered with and modified, giving rise to this ragtag group of teen Souther GIs, each with specialised skills and abilities. After a Nort attack, they were freed from the program early and have now made their way into the world…
Now, it’s 22 days after the Mayflies escaped and they’re running low on food, fuel, air… and options.
Time to seek sanctuary on Isthmus, the hub for smuggling refugees out of the warzone. And here we get the very adult storyline of a war tale, from the perspective of those caught in the middle of it all, the human suffering and the hateful people who seek to exploit that. Carroll writes this on every carefully, skillfully navigating the dire situation with a view to the audience but still managing to not pull any punches.
And then there’s Coleby’s artwork, wonderfully gritty and dark still, just as with his other Rogue Trooper-verse saga, Jaegir, but making it slightly, only slightly, more all-ages friendly. But, just as Carroll’s story, there’s no shying away from the sheer desperation of the situation, and damn, it looks so good.
Not to say we don’t get a chance to see the Mayflies flexing their genetic skills, in a beautifully choreographed couple of pages.
In fact, the only problem with Mayflies comes from Carroll just not giving Coleby, an artist who not only loves drawing epic spacecraft but also happens to be great at it, any chance to flex these particular artistic muscles – and that final panel… oh, that’s actually a little cruel on the artist, for shame Mr Carroll!
‘SPLORERS – by Emma Beeby, Gordon Rennie, and Neil Googe, colours by Gary Caldwell, letters by Simon Bowland
Well, I wasn’t expecting this at all – ‘SPLORERS just happens to be the follow-up (sort of) to Survival Geeks…
“Once upon a time, there were three twentysomething geeks – Simon, Rufus, and Clive – who shared what looked like an ordinary semi-detached on a regular suburban street. But Clive had fitted the house with a transdimensional drive that enabled it to cross time and space, although it malfunctioned and they spent years bouncing between worlds. Joined by skeptical new housemate Sam, their travels finally came to an end when they returned to Earth and became responsible adults – Rufus entered politics, Clive became a CEO, and Simon and Sam got together as a couple, eventually having kids. But the adventures didn’t stop there…”
Oh, this is a joy, an absolute joy. Jaina and Jacen are Simon and Sam’s kids, with Jacen just wanting to play ‘Splorers with his big sis, and neither of them too keen on having Isaac around, their robot teacher.
In just 10 pages, Beeby, Rennie, and the ever-wonderful Googe just get this so right, giving us absolutely everything we need to know about this rather strange set-up, the family dynamic, the laughs, the peril, the craziness… hopefully this is one we’ll be seeing get its own series very soon!
FUTURE SHOCKS: TRASH CULTURE – by Karl Stock and Steve Roberts, letter by Annie Parkhouse
Karl Stock’s turning into the go-to writer for the Regened Future Shocks, delivering great little stories, making use of the extra pages to really explore his tale.
Here, joined by cover artist Steve Roberts, it looks real great and reads well, plenty of fun to be had from a wasteland where scavenging for tech scraps puts one young treasure hunter in a nicely wacky race to get safe and discover just what the tech actually does.
Sure, it’s not really a Future Shock, as there’s no real twist in the tale to be found in the ending, but it’s still a lot of fun, with Roberts’ artwork adding a hell of a lot to the fun to be had.
CHOPPER: CHOPPER DON’T SURF – by David Barnett, Nick Roche, colours by Pippa Bowland, letters by Jim Campbell
After all those stunning Chopper storylines, it’s time to take a trip back to 2103 AD Mega-CIty One, with a juvie Marlon Shakespeare just starting out on his life of being a scrawler and sky-surfer…
Think Tank Girl done 2000 AD style and you’re right where you need to be with this Chopper strip, Barnett doing a fast, frantic story and Roche’s cartooning artwork just perfect for ending this Regened Prog with a bit of chaos and seeing young Chopper discover skysurfing.
It’s a great strip, full of Chopper breaking the fourth wall, lots of chat to the reader, lots of the cliches – the training montage is always a favourite, and an absolutely unrelenting pace, just as a young Chopper series should be.