The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2313: Joe Cool Brings Out The Big Guns

by Richard Bruton

Since 1977 2000 AD has been the UK’s greatest sci-fi weekly comic, and every week we give you a glimpse inside the new Prog. It’s The Weekly 2000 AD.

Simon Bisley back on the cover of 2000 AD after many years away

The first 2000 AD of the year and its got three strips carrying on from their introduction in the Xmas Prog a couple of weeks back, one strip well into its run, and a brand new serial beginning for Dredd.

Judge Dredd: The Night Shifter finds Dredd investigating an allegation from a MC-1 immigrant that could spiral into something dangerous for Dredd. The long-running magical noir thriller Hope… In The Shadows continues to weave its magic spell of murder and intrigue. And those three new strips that started in the Xmas Prog are The Out Book Three – one of the best strips in 2000 AD for the last 20 years – Proteus Vex: Crawlspace – another epic sci-fi series, and Joe Pineapples: Tin Man.

Prog 2313 is out on Wednesday 4th January. Let’s bring in the New Year, 2000 AD style!


JUDGE DREDD: THE NIGHT SHIFTER – PART 1 – Ken Niemand and NIcolo Assirelli, letters by Annie Parkhouse

It’s easy to forget that, despite its draconian rules and fascist Justice Department, Mega-City One is a city of immigrants. Often coming from terrible regimes that they desperately need to escape from. (And yes, it is abominable that Britain’s immigration policy may well be as bad as – or even worse than – Britain’s right now.)

Anyway, The Night Shifter opens with one of those immigrants recognising the cook at a Petey’s Hottie 2 Go as “the man who tortured me, the man who killed my friends!”

Which leads her to interrogation by Dredd, who already knows she’s an immigrant from Puerto Plata City, flagged up as a political radical there – she sees it differently…

She tells Dredd of how people like him disappeared when the regime fell… but not in the way so many of her friends did. And she begs Dredd to do what she was told the Judges do, seek justice.

But sometimes justice isn’t straightforward and this is going to be one of these cases. Because although Frank, the cook at the Hottie 2 Go, gets cleared by Dredd, it seems he really is just who she thought he was, and he wants her disappeared.

So, it’s your classic take a story from here and transplant it to MC-1, something done many, many times over the years, and it’s continued well here in this opener.

And then there’s Assirelli’s artwork, something I’ve enjoyed for the style and skill that’s obvious on his pages, but then criticised for the way his expansive, 2 or 3 panel pages on The Returners over in the Megazine meant there was no room for any story. Here, none of that. It’s tight stuff, showing just how good a story of his can read.


THE OUT: BOOK THREE – PART 2 – by Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison, letters by Simon Bowland

So, last episode we re-met Cyd Finlea, photo-journalist working for publishers Global Neographic, who’s been Out for a long time, charting the wonders of the universe so far from home.

And we re-capped the traumas she’s suffered, her terrifying experiences seeing the Tankinar forces up close, her death and rebirth in a new, manufactured, body, and the revelation that she ended up part of the Tankinar warbody.

She’s now somewhere, being interviewed about what happened when she became the first person ever to overcome Tankinar programming and turn her guns on the other Tankinar. Not that she remembers how she became Tankinar or how she stopped being Tankinar.

That’s where we are right now, it’s Day Six of the interviews and it’s annoying the crap out of Cyd. Ouj is the Unanima investigator appointed to her case, who’s busy ‘rummaging through her memories’ to use as ‘conversation sites,’ and it’s a method that might be annoying her but it is getting her to talk.

And then we get the twist, not the fact Cyd is the only life to survive Tankinar, the fact that the Tankinar have never turned on themselves before and the Unanima are wanting to find out why to weaponise that, but the issue of culpability… could Cyd really be a war criminal?

Oh yes, quite amazing work, both from Abnett and Harrison, doing things with The Out that just makes it a continuing favourite.

And such a big part of all that is Harrison’s artwork, where the pages are giant flowing vistas of imagery merging together, backgrounds and foregrounds mixing, creating a beautiful and stark effect that mirrors the confusion and frustration in Cyd’s mind. It’s truly beautiful, a visionary look that matches Abnett’s reach for something different and expansive every step of the way.


JOE PINEAPPLES: TIN MAN – PART 2 – Pat Mills and Simon Bisley, letters by Annie Parkhouse

The sharpshooter for the ABC Warriors has taken himself off with Ro-Jaws for a bit of alone time. They find themselves marooned on an asteroid for some time… we’re talking millennia here.

There was something to do with Joe’s chest plate (S.B. 060594 ABC) that, for some reason he can’t remember, he’s deleted all files referring to it – might be something to do with why they left Mars, he just doesn’t know. And then there’s the Heaven’s Gaters, a group of LOTR-elf rejects who’ve been waiting for Joe, the boss elf coming out with – “This is the big one,’ and ‘our boarding pass to the highest level.” Something to do with them having “done all the other ‘cides: patricide, matricide, xenocide, urbicide, regicide, genocide…” it seems all they need is one more ‘cide and they’re off to the “ultimate level.”

That final ‘cide? That would be robocide, killing the killer of killers.

That was the first episode. Here’ Joe, Ro-Jaws and the Heaven’s Gaters are having at it, in one of those lovely to see, awful to try to preview double-page spreads.

After that we get a bit of one of these ‘ascended beings’ molesting Ro-Jaws and trying to give Joe a dose of nanobots.

I know plenty of older fans will be loving this return to the old days of Mills and Bisley, but to me there’s a feeling of at least Mills rather phoning this one in, his final thing for the Prog. Still, horses for courses and all that and there’s no way something like 2000 AD can please all of the people all of the time. This could be my time for this one. And of course, there’s always a hope in me that next week will prove me completely wrong.


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

It’s a three-handed thing now is this latest and most involving Hope serial. There’s Mallory Hope and his struggles with the actors and the operating of the running stitch spell, then we have the new President making his plans – plans involving potentially nuking LA, and finally, we have Mallory’s somewhat estranged wife Alice and the Trinity Coven dealing with the film spell.

It wouldn’t be over-egging it to say that things at the Coven aren’t all rosy right this moment.

Again, it’s something that’s just so well put together, such is the way Adams and Broxton have constructed this extended run through reels one and two of Hope… In The Shadows. It’s involving and evolving, with that lush Broxton artwork an absolute treat.


PROTEUS VEX: CRAWLSPACE – PART 2 – Michael Carrol and Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland

And just as The Out and Hope do multi-layered, we’re back into the world of Proteus Vex, the space opera finale to the Prog – absolutely huge in scale, alien in outlook, choreographed perfectly by Jake Lynch and Michael Carroll.

Former Imperium agent Proteus Vex is now hunted by the Alliance following his betrayal of his own and the release of war crimes information. But along the way, there’s also the war with the ancient Scorcher race that’s broken out, with the Imperium’s losses mounting.

But this episode goes in tight to one particular little skirmish in the war, that involving Vex’s once comrade-in-arms, the wonderful Midnight Indicating Shame, who’s been busy ‘defying the orders of her people for over four years,’ to the point where she’s become an absolute pain in whatever the Citheronian’s have as their ass.

Here, a Citheronian ship finally tracks her down, something mentioned in those ‘Crawlspace Relics’ that opened this series. Those Citheronians have long sat out this war between unequals, but Midnight Indicating Shame’s actions could yet be the thing to drag them into it. And dammit, she’s such a character, utterly alien in appearance and motivation yet ending up as the Puck of the series, something to add a lightness and immediacy to the huge, overarching elements of the series.


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