The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2312: It’ssss Christmassss… 2000 AD Style!
by Richard Bruton
It’s 45 years old and it just gets better & better – 2000 AD is the UK’s greatest sci-fi weekly comic and we’re here with the Weekly 2000 AD to give you a preview.
It’s the final 2000 AD of the year, taking a couple of weeks off over Christmas to let the droids recuperate and get an oil change. So, what we get is a 100-page end-of-year blowout, featuring nine strips, including the return of new series of The Out by Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison and Proteus Vex by Michael Carroll and Jake Lynch. There’s the continuation of Hope… In The Shadows, double Dredds, special one-off episodes of Rogue Trooper and Ace Trucking Co., and a bittersweet return of Bonjo From Beyond The Stars by the late and much-missed Kevin O’Neill. And making up the nine strips, there’s the return of Pat Mills and Simon Bisley to the Prog with Joe Pineapples: Tin Man. Plus tributes to Kevin O’Neill and Alan Grant, two more giants we lost this year.
Prog #2312 is out now. Are you ready to get all festive, 2000 AD style?
It all opens with the Christmas episode of Cat Sullivan’s Droid Life, where things open with the most unlikely Christmas movie you’ll ever see…
And then we’re into the Christmas Prog proper, all beginning with a return of a certain diabolical fiend to Mega-City One…
JUDGE DREDD: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF JOE – Ken Niemand and Lee Carter, letters by Annie Parkhouse
39 years ago, Dredd locked up the Devil himself in Iso-Block 666… and now he’s escaped. So, break out Faustus Squad and get Dredd on the case… it’s round two of Joe vs the Devil.
Time for a spot of temptation and the Devil laying out some nasty home truths about Dredd’s past aand, like the title says, his last temptation.
Well, that’s provided any of this actually ever happened, it could just be one of those cute little Christmas tales that pop up at this time of year, even in Mega-City One.
All said, as a one-off Dredd it’s a perfect little slice of Christmas silly, but a silly with a nasty streak running through it, all complete with Lee Carter’s art, all sharp sci-fi hard-edge lines and looking damn fine.
ROGUE TROOPER: BROTHERS – Kek-W and Warwick Fraser-Coombe, letters by Jim Campbell
Nu Earth, the Nort-Souther war rages on in the poisonous atmosphere of a lethal cocktail of pollutants. To continue the war in these conditions, the Southers created the Genetic Infantrymen – and Rogue Trooper is the last of his kind.
Here, it’s a journey into Rogue’s nightmares, as Helm, Bagman, and Gunner go silent on him, cyber-kidnapped as part of a strange Nort cloning program. All of which makes Brothers another inward-looking strip that’s pretending to be an action-packed thing and full of vibrant colours and unusual ideas in the art from Fraser-Coombe.
Oh, and I was thinking that this sort of one-off was the only way we were going to see any more Rogue in the future, only to see this at the end of the story here…
BONJO FROM BEYOND THE STARS: SOLIDS IN THE BILE TUBE – by Garth Ennis and Kevin O’Neill, letters by Rob Steen
Sadly for us all, this turned out to be the very last work O’Neill would produce before his untimely death earlier this year.
So it’s sort of fitting that he returned to one of the first things he did for 2000 AD in 1977, Bonjo, the ridiculous 2000 AD version of Godzilla, an alien who arrived on Earth and set about causing carnage. There’s nothing on the planet that can stop him… unless he’s eaten something that disagrees with him…
Basically bloody brilliant stuff, and fascinating to compare this with those earlier Bonjo strips – O’Neill’s art obviously changed a hell of a lot but there’s always been that magnificent anarchy to it all, something that’s here in spades as Ennis and O’Neill give us something suitably daft as Tharg notices something disturbing emanating from the old King’s Reach Tower filing cabinet. With Tharg off schmoozing and wheeler-dealing, it’s time for Cyber-Matt, Molch-R, Robo K33F, and Pik-lz to deal with Bonjo as he escapes from the depths of limbo… it doesn’t go well…
Oh, it’s ridiculous, it’s daft, it’s over-the-top madness, and it’s bloody magnificent to see, especially as Kev lets loose one last time. Damn, what a year it’s been for those we’ve lost.
THE OUT: BOOK THREE – PART 1 – by Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison,letters by Simon Bowland
My favourite series in 2000 AD in the last 20 years? Quite possibly. It’s such a wonderful slice of sci-fi, something that started as completely unassuming, a travelog of Cyd Finlea, photo-journalist working for publishers Global Neographic, a chance for authors Abnett and Harrison to dazzle with some magnificent tales of far, far away worlds.
And if that were all it ever was, that would have been fine with me. Just those adventures were perfect things, expansive, beautiful, different, a new location wach week, something new for Cyd to see. But no, that wasn’t Abnett or Harrison’s plan here with the Out. As the first book rolled on the little things turned into big things and in short order Cyd got involved in a war where the terrifying Tanikar were feared yet never seen. She became a refuge, became transformed, found a calling to find other humans, met her long-lost daughter (of sorts), discovered the UP, and then, shockingly, at the end of Book 2, we learned that Cyd had ended up part of the Tanikar warbody.
Yes… a LOT happened in a strip that started off looking like not that much would happen (but in magnificent fashion.)
And so here we are, episode one of Book Three, where we get a recap of sorts, Cyd telling you just what happened… or at least trying to tell you. Things are getting a little confused in that regard.
But that all adds to the mystery, to the fascination, to the continuation of what is still the best thing from 2000 AD in the last 20 years.
JOE PINEAPPLES: TIN MAN – PART 1 – Pat Mills and Simon Bisley, letters by Annie Parkhouse
The sharpshooter for the Meknificent Seven, the coolest of the ABC Warriors… Joe Pineapples finds himself in need of a break from his comrades and heads off across the cosmos with sewer-droid Ro-Jaws (who, let’s be honest, would absolutely be the last droid you’d want to be alone with from the entire ABC Warriors).
Well, this is one that’s been promised for what seems like forever, Mills and Bisley on one last hurrah for the Prog before Uncle Pat goes off and flogs NFTs or something like that.
So, there’s Joe Pineapples and Ro-Jaws somehow marooned on an asteroid and a bunch of Lord of the Rings elf rejects looking to off the killer of killers.
So far, so good. Pat Mills’ swansong to 2000 AD and it’s very much what you’d expect, albeit with that bit more energy and less overwrought exposition than we had with the last lot of ABC Warriors. And as for Bisley, well, it’s Bisley actually pulling it back a bit and being that strangest of things… restrained. And that, to my mind, isn’t a bad thing at all.
HOPE… IN THE SHADOWS REEL TWO – PART 9 – by Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton, letters by Jim Campbell
Again, an episode where we pull back from the immediate of either Alice and the Trinity Coven’s experiences with the film spell or with Mallory and the running stitch spell.
This time we’re in full on Dr Strangelove, all around the big table in the war room as the new President and his advisers debate what the hell they’re going to do to deal with the chaos that’s threatening to engulf Los Angeles.
But what to do? How do you react to a threat this dangerous, something that is just a moment away from spinning out of control? Well… this President’s out to prove he’s the man to take down the Coven, whatever way he can.
The way that Adams and Broxton are making this one a huge thing, way more wide-ranging than previous series, is so impressive. There’s a sense that there’s huge things happening here in Hope and it’s fascinating to see it all playing out here.
ACE TRUCKING CO: UNTRENCHED – Karl Stock and Nick Dyer, letters by Simon Bowland
Getting cargo across the universe for a hell of a long time now, Ace Trucking Co. and we’re back with the Captain of the Speedo Ghost, Ace Garp and his trusty engineer Feek and bodyguard GBH…
Here they’re doing a bit of salvage, onboard a cryo boat for frozen folks from before, including one Alec Trench, one of Alan Grant’s pseudonyms from his early career and a character he’d take great delight in returning to, a failed 2000 AD writer who just keeps on dying and dying and dying.
It’s a grand tribute to another of the greats that we lost this year, Stock and Dyer doing good things with taking us back to Ace Trucking and tipping the hat to Alan.
And while we’re on tributes to Grant… this beautiful thing from David Roach…
JUDGE DREDD: TROUBLEMAKER – Gordon Rennie and Robin Smith, colours by John Charles, letters by Jim Campbell
And another tribute here, again to the great Alan Grant, with Rennie and Smith taking Dredd on a simple perp hunt, going after one Alvin Gaunt… “no respect for the law, no respect for authority, hardcore troublemaker.” Yep, that’s Alan Grant right there that is.
So it’s Dredd and Grant chatting, truth-telling, and even finding an unexpected accomplice in his flight from Dredd… although given Grant’s writing career, surely not that unexpected?
It’s a tale that wears its heart on its sleeve for sure, but goddammit it’s okay to do that when you’re talking about someone as important as Alan Grant.
And again, another beautiful tribute page, this time from Stewart K Moore…
PROTEUS VEX: CRAWLSPACE – PART 1 – Michael Carrol and Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland
Back to the intricacies and intrigues of another great strip of the last few years, another one that’s all about that delicious sense of worldbuilding and expansiveness, following the Imperium agent Proteus Vex, now an enemy of the Alliance after he released crucial information about past war crimes.
Now, there’s a war with the Scorcher race that’s broken out…
We set things up as we have in the past series, looking back from two centuries hence to a time when things were changing and wars were fought and Proteus Vex was somehow at the centre of it all.
And then we’re straight into it, back to the now, where the Imperium are suffering heavy losses at the hands of the Scorchers.
Oh, and we also get the return of Midnight Indicating Shame – this is a good, good thing.