The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2283: The Bad Thing In The Thing For Dexter

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.

Another week and another set of five series, including the last part of the latest Dexter strip, ‘The Thing In The Thing’. As for the other four continuing strips, there’s An Honest Man getting deeper in trouble in Judge Dredd, investigations continuing in Brink: Mercury Retrograde, there’s film threats in Hope… In The Shadows, and the latest supernatural surprises in Fiends of the Eastern Front: 1963.

Tazio Bettin’s spooky Dexter cover beckons you inside

Right then – 2000 AD Prog #2283 is out on Wednesday 25th May, so it’s time for a preview:

JUDGE DREDD: AN HONEST MAN – PART 3 – Ken Niemand, Tom Foster, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Annie Parkhouse

There it is, page 2, lying to a Judge, withholding information, minimum eight years’ cube-time – Asher’s taken the plunge now and just can’t go back. Not that we ever thought he would. No, we knew his fate was sealed even as we met him for the first time in the last series, A Penitent Man.

Anyway, Asher’s got the encrypted key and Asher’s got a plan. He’s also got a pissed-off rookie Judge Purcell on his case, not to mention Dredd lurking in the background investigating things that are bound to bring him, Purcell, and Asher into contact and conflict.

Not a Dredd-lite, more a Dredd-absent episode here, something you don’t see all that often but something that fits the storyline here, dark and brooding stuff, a slow spiral down to chaos for Asher, Niemand’s Dredd voice all Wagnerian and Foster’s brilliantly rendered artwork just making this a damn fine Dredd, whether he’s actually in it all that much or not.

BRINK: MERCURY RETROGRADE – PART 13 – Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, leters by Simon Bowland

There’s a magnificent opening three pages here that just do that perfect thing of establishing Maslow’s twitchiness, the paranoia creeping in after the Hab-Sec had a chat about his investigation into the Union/Sect link.

Mostly silent, Culbard’s art takes all the weight of the storytelling and he just nails it – but then again, you can say that about every page that Culbard’s done for Brink, he’s such an essential part in what makes the whole saga one of the best things in 2000 AD.

We’re deep into things now, Maslow’s had contact with Hab-Sec, there’s hints and moments of a wider thing happening, callbacks to the original trouble running parallel to this series, way back in Brink volume 1.

And here we get another moment of crossing over, as Maslow meets the undercover Hab-Sec officer Bilder… and we know all about what happens with Bilder, don’t we? (And if you can’t answer that, you so need to get the entire Brink series and read it right now, you won’t be disappointed.)

No idea how many episodes this one’s going to run to, but there’s that delicious sense that things are building up, bad things on the horizon. And it’s an incredible read.

HOPE IN THE SHADOWS – REEL ONE – PART 7 – Guy Adams, Jimmy Broxton, letters by Jim Campbell

More artistic playing around in cinematic style for Jimmy Broxton – just look at the art previewed here to see what I mean. It’s been something of an artistic tour de force so far, with this episode seeing him burst into colour – red, of course – with the nightmarish and demonic themes, what else would do?

It’s a deep dive into Mallory Hope’s soul; dark, red, full of memories, and a wife looking very Lauren Bacall-like. An episode of introspection and Hope working the case in his head. Oh yes, and he may just be a little bit dead.

It’s an intriguing thing is Hope, with the fact that this current series is just Reel One of Two, so we’re into this for the long haul, plenty of time for it all to fester and develop, it’s another slow build of a strip but it’s not an issue, not when the mood is so good and the art looks like this:

DEXTER: BULLETOPIA CHAPTER 9: THE THING IN THE THING – PART 3 – FINAL PART – Dan Abnett, Tazio Bettin, colours by Matt Soffe, letters by Simon Bowland

Well, this was always going to happen, wasn’t it? Dexter et al pitch up at a creepy, no-tech, cult-ish place, full of dark corners and weird-looking folk and what do you know… there IS something nasty in the barn, you know, the thing in the thing as Billi put it.

And that’s why Dexter and Billi are strung up, upside down, with an angry mob and, again, as Billi says, ‘you have got a funt-nasty moth monster hidden in your barn, so it’s a bit rich you making us out to be the bad people in this scenario.’

Of course, this being part 3 of 3 of ‘The Thing in the Thing’, we know they’re getting out of this one, but it was damn fun for Abnett and Bettin to play with all the horror tropes for these few episodes. It’s the good and the bad with the whole Bulletopia run, on the plus side it means a quick blast of something fun like this, Abnett playing with styles and genres, but it’s also something that just feels a little too fast, a little too disconnected at times.

FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT: 1963 – PART 10 – Ian Edginton, Tiernen Trevallion, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Curiouser and curiouser here. Rasputin was secretly Cain, the first sinner, and he’s had a long-term plan to get Constanta into place, convinced after walking the Earth for all eternity that the Almighty’s power isn’t all that much. He’s way more interested in the power Constanta has, or at least his link to Balaur and the ancient ones, the Sevenfold Dragon as he says…

Again, it’s just another fabulous thing, one that’s moved through the London to Berlin Cold War espionage and then straight into mythology and ancient supernatural plans.

You just get the impression that Edginton and Trevallion have the greatest fun doing Fiends, with Edginton full of plots and plans to keep expanding the simple original idea of Constanta and Trevallion’s artistry, all that grotesque black and white artwork full of his strong line, the multiple different styles he’s using, all of them just so impressive.

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