The Weekly 2000 AD: ‘Regened’ Thrills For Prog #2306
by Richard Bruton
Four times a year, the pages of the Galaxy’s Greatest get turned over to Tharg’s lil’ nephew, Jojo-Jargo, who fills the pages with five all-ages tales to appeal to the next generation of readers – it’s 2000 AD Regened!
2000 AD Prog #2306 hits the shelves and digital on Wednesday 2nd November, bringing you all the Regened action you’ve come to expect – it’s 2000 AD action meets all-ages fun.
It all opens with more Cadet Dredd, as Dredd and clone brother Rico investigate a suspicious ship, there’s more youthful adventures of Marlon Shakespeare in Chopper, another twist in the tale Future Shock, and two new strips – the debut of the 25th Century sport of Gravity Blading in Bladers and the early days of maniac-for-hire Ulysses Sweet in Psychobaby.
Five strips, all-ages, all great… shall we have a little look inside?
CADET DREDD: UNDERTOW – Paul Starkey, Silvia Califano & Gary Welsh, colours by John Charles, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Down on the Mega-City One docks, where the poisoned Black Atlantic meets the city, Cadets Dredd and Rico are on patrol, although Rico reckons Dredd’s still pissed he outdid him on the last dissertation – all to do with Joe being just that bit too rigid and inflexible in his thinking, something that Starkey uses through Undertow to hit Dredd with and push it all forward, Rico egging him on all the way.
It’s your standard Dredd and Rico out on a mission sort of tale, something these Cadet Dredds have to fall into, by virtue of their one-off nature. All of which means that Starkey has to use the interplay between Dredd and Rico – the goody-two-shoes and the rebel – to give it something extra. And that’s why the two cadets end up rather a long way from MC-1 and in rather a lot of trouble.
Like I say, it’s Cadet Dredd by the numbers when it comes to the plot, but Starkey adds enough in to make it fun, playing on the competing brothers vibe to things with Dredd and Rico – and how can you not raise a smile when you get to read this as well…
Yep, that works for me, as does the art from Califano and Welsh, dynamic and flowing nicely, with a lovely little touch of facial expression when it’s called for – I particularly enjoyed Rico’s bemusement on the very final panel. All in all, Cadet Dredd done well, fun and simple stuff.
BLADERS – James Peaty, Leigh Gallagher, letters by Jim Campbell
It’s the 25th Century and humanity has exported the sport of gravity blading to the stars.
Like any sport, it’s full of tales of players who nearly made it… including Abi Caine, whose dreams of being a top Blader were crushed after a severe injury forced her out of the trials. But thanks to an unexpected inheritance she’s got another chance to re-enter the world of G-Blading and has just bought the Gravity Bombshells, although she’s got her work cut out for her if she wants them ready for the playoffs.
Okay, this is a little bit weird, especially as Ramzee and Korinna Veropoulou are already delighting us with their Harlem Heroes reboot as exclusive new tales in the Regened collections, because Bladers is very much in exactly that same <ahem> ballpark – the same violent future sport thing going on.
Having said that, it’s absolutely gorgeous to read because, well, Leigh Gallagher – what else was it going to be? Anyway, loads of creative panel and page layouts, a delicate line and perfection in the action scenes.
As for Peaty’s story and script, once you get over the Harlem Heroes-ish thing it works wonderfully well. It ought to, as it’s one of those strips where every beat of it is pure cliche – the down-on-their-luck team on the back of a financial scandal, the idealistic new owner with a point to prove, backs against the wall, needing to qualify, the last minute winner – all that sort of thing. And don’t think I mean any of that in a bad way, sports comics – no matter how sci-fi they are – have a wonderful pattern to them that works, one that always makes you excited to read to the end. And it’s one that means I do rather want to see Bladers continuing for a future series.
ULYSSES SWEET: PSYCHOBABY – Guy Adams, Paul Marshall, colours by Dylan Teague, letters by Jim Campbell
Over in grown-up 2000 AD land, Ulysses Sweet’s name is synonymous with mayhem and madness, a maniac-for-hire prone to unpredictable violence and a tenuous grasp on reality.
Here in Regened… well, Adams and Marshall take us back to the babyhood of a maniac in Psychobaby – think of it somewhere along the lines of Sweeney Toddler with deadly weaponry.
And it’s rather wonderfully done, Adams and Marshall making it a loving homage to strips of yore, running landscape across the double pages – something that makes previewing them much more difficult, but wonderful to read – and giving us a complete Ulysses adventure on each double page spread.
So… you get the chance to see Ulysses cope with his mommy issues and struggle with getting the cash together for the weaponry he wants across four complete strips – all of it playing off the classic ways that the classic humour comics used to pace things. It’s so much fun and, at times, rather more violent than you might expect from a Regened strip.
FUTURE SHOCKS: THE PLANET BREAKERS – Karl Stock, Karl Richardson, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Running out of resources, humanity has taken to the stars looking for other planets to strip mine as a solution to its energy crisis. But what happens when plundering a world goes terribly wrong?
So it is here, as another broken planet strip-mined out of existence uncovers a new (albeit dead) lifeform that was inside the planet.
Karl Stock really is cutting his teeth on these Regened Future Shocks of late, and they’re all rather good examples of the form, stories that make sense, twists that feel suitably twisty. Here, we have the addition of 2000 AD veteran and Regened debutante Richardson making all the pages look so very lovely and a great choice of a vibrant colour scheme as well.
CHOPPER: ALL FOR ONE – David Barnett, Gary Welsh, colours by Gary Caldwell, letters by Simon Bowland
Marlon Shakespeare would become famous the world over as the greatest Sky-Surfer of all time. But even the greats have to start somewhere, and that’s where we are right now, with the continuing adventures of young Marlon, an ex-scrawler just out of the iso-cubes and taking up skysurfing.
This time round Chopper gets a little lesson in taking responsibility for himself and others – although don’t get to thinking that’s anywhere near as boring and overly virtuous as it sounds. Nope, there’s plenty of skysurfing action here and a great, fun story – and one that’s full of some really top-notch artwork.
Gary Welsh replacing Nick Roche on the art for young Chopper was a surprise… but there’s a very similar style to both artist’s work that means the whole vibe of Chopper carries on visually. And Barnett keeps the whole vibe going with all the stuff we’ve seen in the previous couple of adventures – all the talking to camera, the narration filling us in, the lovely little touches of self-awareness thrown in. My personal favourite, done with that knowing wink, is the whole Chekhov’s Gun’s thing…
It’s things like that all the way through that have made Chopper work so far and continue to do so in ‘All For One’.
Yes, three episodes of young Marlon’s adventures so far and all the signs of us getting more in the future – a very, very good thing!