The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2302: The Shadows Gather As Hope Returns
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.
This Prog, we have the start of Reel Two of Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton’s Hope… In The Shadows, where darkness is coming in the shape of his wife for poor Mallory Hope.
Aside from that, we have three strips hitting part 2, Chimpsky’s Law: A Terrifically Disturbing Adventure, the post-apocalyptic world of Enemy Earth, and the cold, cold Antarctic for Hershey in ‘The Cold In The Bones‘.
But the highlight here has to be Judge Dredd: The Pitch, where Accounts Judge Maitland finally gets to go before the Council again with her plan to transform Mega-City One. It’s only one episode long, but this is something Arthur Wyatt and Rob Williams have been long building up to. And oh boy, is it worth the wait.
Prog #2302 is out on Wednesday 5th October. Shall we take a look inside?
JUDGE DREDD: THE PITCH – by Arthur Wyatt and Rob Williams and Boo Cook, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Accounts Judge Maitland’s been a highlight of 2000 AD and The Megazine recently, featuring with Dredd in the takedown of the Red Queen’s operations, but it’s her big idea that could see MC-1 transformed.
Back in Progs #2200-2203’s ‘Carry The Nine’, Wyatt, Williams, and Cook showed us that she’d developed a model that shifted resources to education and away from policing, a model that she’s convinced would dramatically reduce crime – here’s the moment from Prog #2220…
That’s brought her into conflict with the Council, nearly led to her blowing her career, and has her under surveillance. Taking her idea to Dredd, he promised that she’d get her chance.
And now… well, now it’s time for ‘The Pitch’. I don’t think it’s hype to say this short 6-pager could be one of the most important Dredd stories of the last few years.
And it’s perfect, it really is. Wyatt and Williams’, along with some great art from Cook, have Maitland in front of the Council again, making her case again, but this time the outcome’s different. This time, although Maitland’s not got all she wanted, she has a chance, has a shot at making her change.
Five pages of someone giving a presentation has never been as thrilling as this. And those last couple of panels – well, that’s just sublime work.
How it’s going to play out? Well, that’s something I’m going to be eagerly awaiting.
CHIMPSKY’S LAW: A TERRIFICALLY DISTURBING ADVENTURE – PART 2 – by Ken Niemand, PJ Holden, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Simon Bowland
Evil Enid Blyton, that’s how Ken Niemand described the vibe of what he and PJ Holden were going for with this latest Chimpsky adventure – and that’s exactly what they’re delivering.
Here, we have those little scamps Timmy and Thruppence in Chimpsky’s block and looking to find themselves new parents, whether the particular candidates want to or not. One little nudge of psi-powers and T&T have their own little family. And yes, of course they’re absolute sociopaths with no compunction about doing whatever they want to get their way, but that’s exactly the fun of this one. Well, that and seeing just how Chimpsky’s going to get drawn into it all.
And speaking of Chimpsky, bonus time for you here – a third preview page with PJ Holden absolutely outdoing himself artistically…
The composition, the unusual panel layouts, the unusual angles – it’s all just a delight to see on the page. I’ve always enjoyed Holden’s storytelling and artwork, but here on Chimpsky, he’s really taking it up a level.
And of course, there’s the fun of the narration from Niemand when it comes to Chimpsky as well, all of it adding up to a great read.
HOPE… IN THE SHADOWS REEL TWO – PART 1 – by Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton, letters by Jim Campbell
Poor old Mallory Hope, magician detective in an alternate 1940’s USA where magic is part of everyday life – he’s one of those guys who’s life is just spiralling down and down.
Case in point – the end of Reel One saw the reappearance of Hope’s missing wife Alice, but this doesn’t feel like it’s going to lead to a happy family reunion.
Instead, Alice left with the film cans from the cursed movie Mallory’s been investigating, leaving a trail of blood and dead bodies in her wake.
Picking up with this first episode of Reel Two, Alice takes a little pitstop – magic makes you hungry it seems. And it’s a horror-fuelled nightmare for all those in the unfortunate diner and an exercise in how to do nasty and gripping comics from Adams and Broxton.
ENEMY EARTH: BOOK 1 – PART 2 – by Cavan Scott, Luke Horsman, letters by Annie Parkhouse
A little back story on Jules opens episode 2, how he ended up alone, and how Nanni came to be his protector. And it’s distinctly bloody and horror-filled stuff – definitely more blood than was allowed in the Regened strip this started off as.
In doing that, it’s wandered a little away from all-ages perhaps, but there’s no denying that this is a strip that holds true to 2000 AD’s old remit of appealing to young and old alike, just maybe not quite so young as Regened.
Anyway, filling in a little more of the characters here means we have a three-hander tale, Zoe, Jules, Nanni, all against the horrors of the mutated world outside the bunker.
Or at least they used to be outside… which is where we’ll be picking up with part 3 next week.
HERSHEY: THE COLD IN THE BONES: BOOK 1 – PART 2 – by Rob Williams, Simon Fraser, letters by Simon Bowland
Although we’re in Antarctic City, we’re still on familiar ground with Hershey’s structure. For a start, it’s one of the most visually arresting strips in 2000 AD, Fraser’s use of a set palette for every locale makes sure of that, but it’s also there in Williams’ clipped, business-like narration and dialogue and the use of flashbacks to force home just how shit Hershey’s life has become.
And yes, Hershey’s life truly is shit, dead to the world already but slowly dying as the virus ravages her body, trailing from place to place to wipe away the remnants of Smiley’s work that she allowed to go unchecked as Chief Judge – but more than anything else there’s that sense of failure that’s never far from her thoughts.
It shows up as memories, whether it’s the early days of a promising Cadet that we see in the first couple of pages or worse, the moments of those devastating words from Dredd, playing over and over throughout Hershey so far, cutting her to the quick each and every time, and shown so damn well by Fraser…
And then it’s back to reality, back to Antarctic City, back to the job in hand. And back to the bloody cold.
Antarctic City is on the final tour for Hershey because of Smiley’s frequent visits. What that means, neither we nor Hershey have no clue as yet, but she’s not hanging around in finding trouble…
And if everything I’ve said in praise of Hershey thus far makes you think it’s dark and miserable, well it is – but there’s always Dirty Frank to raise a much-needed smile…
Oh yes, Dirty Frank, always a joy.
So, Hershey in Antarctic City rolls on, the same mood, the same vibe, the same gorgeous artwork. Yet Williams has already gone on record that this is the final outing for Hershey, one last mission. We’ll have to enjoy it while it lasts.