The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2286: He Is Mega-City One

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.

Steven Austin going full Dredd on the cover there

This week, it’s the finale of the excellent Ken Niemand and Tom Foster Dredd tale An Honest Man, there’s more Hope… In The Shadows, more of the ever-excellent Brink: Mercury Retrograde, another excellent one-off John Tomlinson written Terror Tale, this time with the always stunning SK Moore on art. And making up the quintet of comics, the beginning of the final Skip Tracer adventure from James Peaty and Paul Marshall, Valhalla.

2000 AD Prog #2286 is out on Wednesday 15th June, so it’s time for a preview:

 

JUDGE DREDD: AN HONEST MAN – PART 6 – FINAL PART – Ken Niemand, Tom Foster, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Six parts in and we’re seeing the fallout of Asher’s decisions now as Dredd finally makes his presence felt. No surprise that it all comes to this, no surprises that Asher hasn’t got some improbably escape route… this is Mega-City One not Marvel after all.

In fact, it’s a pretty downbeat and fast ending to the whole thing, something that I imagine some will complain about. And yes, there would have been a way here to play it all out for a few more episodes, but that wouldn’t have been true to MC-1 or Dredd, wouldn’t have the right tone.

Instead, the downbeat ending, the speed of the resolution has that right feel – after all, an honest man in MC-1 is just one screw-up away from the law coming down heavy on you, just as it’s always been.

And taken as a two-parter, first A Penitent Man and now An Honest Man, the short saga of ex-Judge Asher rings so true, such is the way Niemand writes Dredd and MC-1. And all the way through, Foster’s artwork has been something very, very special, obviously harking back to the super-tight and dense work of the likes of Bolland, but with an evolving style all his own, something we’ll hopefully be seeing in the pages of 2000 AD for years and years to come.

 

HOPE IN THE SHADOWS – REEL ONE – PART 10 – Guy Adams, Jimmy Broxton, letters by Jim Campbell

All begins to come to a head in this first new set of Hope episodes, with Mallory making best use of the Hand of Glory and finding out that there’s some nasty magic running all the way through the movie he’s been investigating.

All of which means more mean and moody from Adams and particularly Broxton, whose art just evokes everything Hope is trying, and succeeding, in getting across. It’s dark, it’s a delicious slow-build, and it’s all working up to the first finale before we get reel two sometime later in the year.

 

SKIP TRACER: VALHALLA – PART 1 – James Peaty, Paul Marshall, colours by Dylan Teague, letters by Simon Bowland

Skip tracer Nathan Blake returns, the former soldier turned psi-tracker, now out of the biz and attempting to escape into anonymity with his new-found daughter.

But of course, that’s just not going to be so easy – for a start, calling yourself Blake Hastings isn’t exactly the greatest cover name surely? Anyway, Nolan and Eden are bouncing from place to place, him trying to stay under the radar, her acting up, and when Eden acts up, things can get a little bit explosive.

THARG’S TERROR TALES: LAST DAYS AT PORPOISE PLACE – John Tomlinson, Stewart K Moore, letters by Simon Bowland

Another one-off strip from John Tomlinson and another quite great little thing, all about Porpoise Place, a mysterious residential complex where spies, drug lords, prostitutes, and politicians have all been in residence at one time or another.

Right now though, there’s a writer-in-residence researching a book on the building, there’s a body discovered, an older resident talking about the weird time stuff that can happen here… and that’s all you’re getting from me for this. Suffice to say it’s another perfect little piece from Tomlinson, a Time Twister of old if you will, a great twist, a sense of complexity that belies the length of it, and it’s a damn enjoyable Terror Tale that you get here.

As for SK Moore and his art here, again, another gorgeous thing, something to show off the other side of what he’s capable of, different from what you’ve seen on his incredible covers of late or his first 2000 AD strip, Defoe: Divisor, this is all in something of the style of his (quite brilliant) MK Ultra graphic novel.

All in all, these Tomlinson one-offs have been a great run of really solid one-offs, always the hardest things to get right, and to have a set of them this good really is impressive.

BRINK: MERCURY RETROGRADE – PART 15 – Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, leters by Simon Bowland

Mas gets in touch with his wife, Lauren, to let her know that her source at Gentau Corp is ready to talk… and then everything blows up, in another one of those episodes of Brink that just makes you take a deep breath and realise that this one’s all about the long game and it’s just beautifully played out.

HabSec Investigator Berenger hauls Mas in, throwing accusations around like confetti, letting him know about the deaths that have been following Mas around – Bardot, Heena Menz, everyone on his contact list – and Berenger is convinced it’s all Mas’ doing.

And then comes the last couple of pages, where we get another familiar callback scene, back to the very last couple of pages of Brink Book 1. And it’s another wow moment, another one to stop you in your tracks and question just how long Abnett and Culbard have been plotting this out, how long it’s all been intended to connect together.

Hassan comes in, whispers something to Berenger, and Mas is out, but not before seeing Kurtis, in another interrogation room, getting the same news that Berenger just got, the news that Mas doesn’t know yet…

Here’s Maz’ viewpoint from this episode:

And here’s the same scene from the other angle in Brink Book 1:

Yep, Mercury just went dark.

We knew it had happened and we knew from the title of this one that it was going to come up at some point, but having it happen here still comes like a bolt out of the blue.

Damn, Brink really is just the greatest thing in 2000 AD, it really is. The tension is just incredible, the slow build paying off so regularly, the set-ups perfect, the storytelling a masterclass of doing everything just so right.

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