The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2253: Empire State Martian

by Richard Bruton

Time to head out to the land of 2000 AD, the UK’s greatest sci-fi weekly comic for four decades and counting… it’s the Weekly 2000 AD

Who else? D’Israeli

Well, we’re into the runs of all five strips here… meaning more strange assassins after Dredd & Maitland in ‘The Hard Way, the troublesome question of what to do with a living book you’ve bought off the Catholic Church in the Diaboliks, the continuing silliness in Pandora Perfect, a martian storm is approaching in Scarlet Traces, and we continue the wonderful and strange adventures following Cyd as she goes further and further into The OUT.

All in all, five rather damn fine strips in an excellent Prog!

So… what you waiting for? 2000 AD Prog 2253 in store and online from Wednesday 13th October.

Ready for a look inside? You know you are…

JUDGE DREDD: THE HARD WAY – PART 4 – Rob Williams, Arthur Wyatt, Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Annie Parkhouse.

Ooooh, even though it’s all a bit (wonderfully) old-skool silly, Williams and Wyatt still manage to do a bit of mean and moody mystery on the first few panels… what is it the ‘she’ who’s been confined too long? What is the rage she’s holding in? Reckon we’ll find out before too long (in fact, about four pages time – this ain’t one of those Dredds that takes its time!)

Meanwhile, Dredd and Maitland have got more immediate things to worry about – the squad of weirdo killers out to silence Maitland on behalf of La Reine Rouge. Last we saw… the Atlantis Station, midway station of the Trans-Atlantic tunnel between Mega-City One and Brit-Cit, was filling up with water and having one of those unfriendly sorts of cuddles with a Sov War Droid.

Meanwhile, the Mechanismos appear to have been hacked – troublesome bloody robots, eh?

All in all, Dredd and Maitland aren’t exactly having the best of days.

But we are. Williams in particular has rather become known as the Dredd writer who does the epic, serious, moody, doom-laden storylines. So it’s a damn fine time seeing him, and Wyatt, get back to those good old-fashioned sorts of silly, all-out action kind of Dredd, where the baddies are silly and the action just keeps on coming.

Loads of fun, loads of great art from Lynch, a definite star in the new Dredd firmament.

THE DIABOLIKS – ARRIVEDERCI ROMA – PART 4 – Gordon Rennie, Antonio Fuso, letters by Jim Campbell.

Okay, where are we at… The Vatican (boo! Church bad!) has been holding a very special auction of some the diabolical stuff held in the archives. The Diaboliks (yay! strange hero types!), under orders from the demon masters of the demon inside Jenny (boo? yay? it’s all just that little bit fluid,) have walked away with a copy of the Codex Infama.

Now, the problem is that the Codex Infama just happens to be a little girl. Or a massively powerful mystical power source.

And, because the good guys are good guys, no matter what diabolical influences there are, they’ve decided to go after all the other Codices, all the other children. Time to storm the Vatican!

Oh yes, it’s The Diaboliks does capers, fun and hijinks with the devilish and the damned.

And it’s turning out to be a hell of a lot of fun so far.

Rennie giving it all he’s got to max out the action this time round, Fusa’s striking black and white artwork just looks superb.

PANDORA PERFECT – MYSTERY MOON – PART 4 – Roger Langridge, Brett Parson, letters by Simon Bowland.

Well, poor old Pandora Perfect… Bartleby Spugg’s nefarious plots seem to have landed her in chokey for a couple of years while he goes after all that tricked-out tech on Gort’s circuit boards.

Oh, woe is us, all seems lost, it’s a terrible, terrible… oh. Nope, actually, she’s only gone and broken out by page two!

Well, what did you expect? This is a romp, a mad-cap, zany, super silly romp. And that is a damn fine thing.

Next up, more silliness – it’s everything we expect and it’s done rather well!

SCARLET TRACES – STORM FRONT – PART 4 – Ian Edginton, D’Israeli, letters by Simon Bowland.

So, it’s back to Earth with Ahron and Ikarys bringing the cavalry to the rescue.

Thrilling, thrilling stuff…

Okay then, how many of you had any idea Edginton and D’Israeli would open this one up in some sort of Flash Gordon style epic? No, me neither. But goddamn, it does rather work, doesn’t it? Those first few pages are really out and out space epic of a bygone age. And thrilling? Oh yes, thrilling as you can get.

D’Israeli doing epic space battle scenes? Is it Christmas already?

THE OUT – BOOK TWO – PART 4 – Dan Abnett, Mark Harrison, letters by Annie Parkhouse.

Cyd’s on her travels again, and all is good in the world. Well, my world. Not Cyd’s world. She’s having to deal with a 16-hour layover waiting for a connection jump in a place where all the tech is organic-based. And now she’s dealing with the horror of customer service corpuscles.

And that’s just almost exactly what I adore about the OUT, this whole wonderful alienness of it all. Abnett just stretching the imagination out to give us all those fabulous details, something wonderful in every panel. And he’s matched, moment by moment, by Harrison’s visuals, packing every panel, every page with some absolutely fabulous stuff.

Meanwhile, back in the semblance of a plot… Cyd’s Flatspace bag has first been pulled by customs and then nicked. The diplomatic staff are no help, so Cyd takes the decision to head outside… not a good move. Bad move. Bad move.

Oh, and please, don’t think me saying it’s got a semblance of a plot is a bad thing – far from it. The big attraction of the OUT is the fact that that the plot is simply Cyd doing stuff, everyday stuff. What makes it brilliant, what makes this the best thing I’ve read in 2000 AD for a long time (and that’s saying something ’cause we’re in something of a rich vein of form here at 2000 AD!) is how it’s just about one woman, someone we’re deeply invested in at this point, we just want to see the day-to-day dramas unfold in her (granted, somewhat unusual) life – and it’s thanks to the wonderful work of Abnett and Harrison that this is the most perfect sci-fi dramas.

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