The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2279: The Finale To ‘The Citadel’ Reveals The Truth

by Richard Bruton

45 years and better than ever – it’s the UK’s greatest sci-fi weekly comic, 2000 AD and we’re here with The Weekly 2000 AD to give you a preview.

Dan Cornwell on the cover for the finale of ‘The Citadel’

The big news here amongst the five strips on offer is the climax of Judge Dredd: The Citadel by John Wagner and Dan Cornwell. But alongside that, we have three rather great continuing series in Brink: Mercury Retrograde, Hope… In The Shadows, and Fiends of the Eastern Front: 1963, and one excellent Future Shock from the winners of the 2021 Thought Bubble and 2000 AD talent search.

Next Prog is the quarterly Regened all-ages Prog, so it’s a week off for Brink, Hope, and Fiends. But join us next week for Regened with Cadet Dredd, Chopper, a Future Shock, and two excellent new strips, Lowborn High and The Unteachables.

Right then – 2000 AD Prog 2279 is out on Wednesday 27th April, so it’s time for a preview…

JUDGE DREDD: THE CITADEL – PART 10 – FINAL PART – John Wagner, Dan Cornwell, colours by Dylan Teague, letters by Annie Parkhouse

So, we had two Dredds… but only for a little while, just so that Wagner could do a little is he or isn’t he and make us wonder just which way he was going with the Citadel.

Here, in the finale… well, I’m not going to spoiler it bar the opening two pages in the preview and that panel above. But… well, I have been saying all along that Winterton was the perfect sort of unreliable narrator, haven’t I?

And the ending, again without giving it away, is a perfect sort of Wagnerian thing. He does this bait and switch really well, building things up and up and then giving us that final twist. Here, well it’s a great, downbeat ending to things, perhaps not the explosive, revelatory thing we were expecting, but it’s been a damn fine 10-parter. And of course, a great deal of what’s made it work so well has been the art of Dan Cornwell, someone who’s absolutely come into his own as one of his generation’s great Dredd artists.

HOPE IN THE SHADOWS – REEL ONE – PART 4 – Guy Adams, Jimmy Broxton, letters by Jim Campbell

Hope is all about tone, mood, and atmosphere rather than any huge story beats, and this series is definitely continuing that style. Sure, we had the slight cliffhanger of Hope nearly dying last episode, but that’s all swiftly dealt with here, as he delves deeper and deeper into the mystery of the magic and the murder attached to the cursed movie he’s been hired to investigate.

But the tone and the mood of this is all so well crafted, with that beautiful black and white and grey artwork from Jimmy Broxton, populated with some very familiar faces, not the least Broxton’s own.

BRINK: MERCURY RETROGRADE – PART 10 – Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, leters by Simon Bowland

Okay then, last issue we had investigative journo Mas coming up from the underground after his uncle’s pal, ex-Union boss Eugene Bardot let him into some of the Union’s secrets. Thing is, the unions aren’t too happy about Bardot talking.

And then we had this, the last panel of episode 9…

And if you’ve read previous volumes of Brink – and yes, you really should have done that, one of the best 2000 AD strips in many years – the very familiar face of Francine Lightman will have brought you up short. Except we knew her as Frannie, way back in Brink Volume 1…

And that’s just what is so damn brilliant about this current series, the fact we’re right back at the beginning here, just after Bridget’s partner Brinkman was killed. It’s that sense of looking at everything all over again from a different perspective, all adding quite magnificently to the mystery of what’s going on here in Brink, what the Union/Sect problem really is all about and how it all ties into Bridget’s investigations and the disappearance of Mercury.

Well, the final panel of this one might give us an indication of how we’re going to see Mas’s investigations get drawn into Habitat Security and, who knows, maybe even bringing him into Bridge’s orbit as well. But the brilliance of what Abnett and Culbard are doing here is that it’s just impossible to second guess.

It’s absolutely fascinating, it’s compelling, and it’s beautifully drawn by Culbard. Brink really is a masterpiece that keeps getting better and better.

FUTURE SHOCKS: RELICT – Honor Vincent, Lee Milmore, letters by Simon Bowland

This is one of those special Future Shocks for a couple of reasons. First, it’s the Future Shock prize for Honor Vincent and Lee Milmore after winning the Thought Bubble convention talent search for writers and artists that 2000 AD runs every year. It’s a prize that already found several writers and artists who’ve become semi-regular names in the Prog. And I fully expect Vincent and Milmore to feature in the future of 2000 AD as well because, secondly, this is just a superb Future Shock.

The first thing you’re going to notice about it is just how good Milmore’s art is, totally the finished work, not a hint that this is his first comics work at all. It’s dense, packed with detail, beautiful to look at with such a fine line and tight inking style. There’s no way Milmore isn’t going to be getting more work off the back of this.

But the art is also telling a really great little story from Vincent. And it’s something that’s so difficult to do, so much more difficult than telling a story over 20, 50, or more pages. The brutal nature of the process for Future Shocks, just four or five pages that require a complete story, beginning, middle, end, plus a twist in the tale, is something that established writers who came up through 2000 AD still talk of as being some of the most difficult writing they’ve ever had to do.

Thing is, Vincent has nailed it first time round. It’s just four pages long, but it’s four pages of really great storytelling, with a hell of a lot of the work done, of course, by Milmore’s art that flows so well, and a simple yet very effective idea, spinning on the idea of a post-apocalyptic world where humanity was wiped out. And in this we have our hero, a resourceful, long-lived, very special mouse whose sole purpose is to get back in time and save ‘the makers.’

Okay, so the twist is one you can see coming, but the way Vincent works up to it, the characterisation, the worldbuilding, the way you’re immediately invested in the story and the quest… that’s a great way to write a Future Shock.

FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT: 1963 – PART 7 – Ian Edginton, Tiernen Trevallion, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Last week we had Constanta and his US spook comrade in arms making their escape from the clutches of Baba Yaga and then got to discover just who it was behind Baba Yaga, another infamous Russian name indeed. Yes, curiouser and curiouser indeed.

I did have a little moan early on with this one that Edginton had gone too quickly from the idea of a vampire espionage thriller to bring in Baba Yaga and the occult overwhelming the spycraft. Well, as usual, I was obviously talking rubbish and should have trusted Ian more.

Because we’re back in London and we’re deep into the Le Carre espionage I was looking forward to, as Constanta has made his way back to Blighty and into the house of a Major Doleman. The vamp wants answers to why he was sent over to Berlin and, wouldn’t you know it, it’s all a little more involved and devious than it might seem.

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