The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2314: Going Out Again
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.
For many different reasons this one’s not just late but very late – blame a London trip, blame the US Embassy, blame a nasty dose of whatever’s been going around this winter. Seriously folks, get yourself a flu vaccine if you can, it won’t prevent you from getting the bugs but it will definitely mean you don’t get put on your back for a couple of weeks.
So, anyway… this one’s late because Prog #2314 came out last Wednesday – packed full of the same five strips as before – the middle episode to a three-part Judge Dredd, more Joe Pineapples, the penultimate episode of Hope In The Shadows, and more from two of the best 2000 AD strips for so many years… Proteus Vex and The Out.
Prog 2314 was out on 11 January. Here’s a quick run through what you should have been reading already…
JUDGE DREDD: THE NIGHT SHIFTER – PART 2 – FINAL PART – Ken Niemand and Nicolo Assirelli, letters by Annie Parkhouse
After last week, Luna Aguerra, escapee from a terrible regime full of terrible men, is convinced she’s spotted one of those men working a hottie stand in MC-1.
But it appeared that the law didn’t really believe her, not straight away, not even Dredd. Now though, even though Dredd’s looking into things, it’s perhaps too late, with a hit squad on her trail.
Another simple Dredd from Niemand, concentrating much more on the city and the people than Dredd himself, and all the better for it. As for Assirelli’s artwork, it’s so wonderfully vibrant here, every bit as good as his Returners artwork in style but benefiting so much from a denser plot forcing the artist to tell a lot more story through the pages. Although you do have to wonder why the cars and vans in MC-1 suddenly looking very very old-fashioned indeed.
And when it starts with a great gag like this, well it’s all good…
JOE PINEAPPLES: TIN MAN – PART 3 – Pat Mills and Clint Langley, story by Pat Mills and Simon Bisley, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Well, two episodes on Bisley and then he’s off. But let’s face it, he was rather phoning it all in anyway. Instead, we get the perfect replacement of Clint Langley, whose artwork’s been a fixture on ABC Warriors in recent years. And it does look rather damn good – and there’s a lot less fixation on any female characters ass than there was with the Bisley episodes as well.
However, the phoning it in thing extends to the storyline. Frankly, it’s a shame that this is Pat Mills’ final thing for the Prog, as it’s pedestrian at best. It’s especially thrown into sharp relief in this set of Progs where the story is running up against the likes of Proteus Vex and The Out, which are leagues ahead of the sort of epic sci-fi Mills is trying for here. Or maybe he’s not, maybe it really just Mills trying to replicate the stories of old, things that worked then but don’t really work anymore. We’ve moved on, maybe Mills just hasn’t?
As for what’s happening, it’s more cosmic adventures of Joe Pineapples and Ro-Jaws, with the bad guys doing bad guy things because they do… that’s really about all the motivation we get here….
Joe, meanwhile, is having his own existential crisis, complete with some ass-puckeringly bad dialogue…
See, Joe had a lost love, Sue Bananas. She’s a big sexy robot (of course, designed by Bisley, what else would she be?)
That’s about all you get here, no doubt every episode of this will have some more wistful moments of Joe imagining what things would have been like with her, right up until she reappears as some big bad with a serious bone to pick with poor Joe.
It’s an example perhaps of something that might have worked in days gone by, but not something that holds up next to the best of today’s 2000 AD.
THE OUT: BOOK THREE – PART 3 – by Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison, letters by Simon Bowland
And just to emphasise the fact that Joe Pineapples really isn’t up to snuff, here comes The Out to really make the point. Hardly fair really.
The Out, as I keep banging on about, is my favourite thing in 2000 AD for many, many, many years. I think it’s one of those that will go down as the very best of 2000 AD, right up there with the likes of Halo Jones et al. It simply is that good.
Abnett and Harrison are absolutely nailing everything with The Out. They’ve established a character that we could have quite easily just followed around the galaxy, enjoying her meanderings. But no, that obviously wasn’t enough for them. They set it up as one thing and them just kept veering off whatever I thought the course may be, taking poor Cyd into war, killing her, bringing her back, establishing her history and the tragedy of her daughter, giving us a glimpse of something else in the UP, something bigger than all this, and then, with the end of Book 2, really blowing things up by making Cyd one of the unwilling vessels/pilots of the ultimate killing race, the Tankinar.
We’re now wrestling with the fallout from all that, the mystery of how Cyd managed to take control and the fact that she could be hugely important against the Tankinar threat, then there’s the possibility that she could still be tried as some kind of war criminal, it’s all just so deliciously full of possibilities and it’s just bound to head off in even more surprising and wonderful directions with each storyline.
For this episode, Cyd’s de-brief continues, even as the ship they’re on takes her to the Unanima capital world for her to receive judgement. She’s finding it difficult, she’s bloody annoyed, she’s exhausted, and underneath it all, she’s scared. So, perhaps it really is time for the Neffing Do-Nots…
Along the way, we’re learning with Cyd, learning more and more of the Tankinar and the terrifying threat they pose, with Abnett and Harrison making a simple conversation on a couple of pages here more thrilling than the entire Joe Pineapples strip has managed to be.
And let’s not forget just how much Harrison brings to this as well – every single page is a thing of beauty, packed with details, all of them potentially contributing so much more to the story. It really is just magnificent work, page after page of imagination transferring straight to the page.
HOPE… IN THE SHADOWS REEL TWO – PART 11 – by Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton, letters by Jim Campbell
It’s all coming to an ending, building up to the finale, the very last of Hope, and there’s not much Hope to be found here.
Mallory Hope’s at the dog end of his time with the magical actors he’s been hanging around with, watching them destroy each other as he takes cover, waiting for the inevitable reunion with his estranged wife Alice, something that we all know is coming and so does he. But what’s going to happen when they do meet each other once more is anybody’s guess.
Hope’s been a series where the plots meandered and shifted along the way, where it’s not all about everything happening all at once and one that’s definitely more of a tonal piece that relies on the mood and the style to convey what it needs – and that it’s done in spades for this last, two reel tale. And of course, along with Guy Adams’ story setting it all up, so much of what makes Hope so enjoyable comes from Jimmy Broxton’s atmospheric artwork, beautifully done in black and white, so full of character and style, perfect to tell the tale it’s told.
PROTEUS VEX: CRAWLSPACE – PART 3 – Michael Carrol and Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland
Just like The Out, Proteus Vex does big epic sci-fi almost despite itself at times, and that just makes it so much better.
It’s space opera with character, with huge stakes and equally huge landscapes, following the adventures of Former Imperium agent Proteus Vex, a being now hunted by the Alliance following his betrayal of his own and the release of war crimes information.
But his actions come against the backdrop of a huge, galaxy spanning war between the Alliance and the ancient and unstoppable Scorcher race. Here, this episode, we have the beginnings of the Imperium formulating a plan, or rather, the Imperium being asked to trust Vex once more now that he’s turned himself in and see what plan he might have to help them win the war. But could it really be that easy?
Well, given how well Mike Carroll and Jake Lynch have made Proteus Vex thus far, how many twists and turns have been involved already, I sincerely doubt it’s that easy and that simple. (Plus we have the wild card of Vex’s once comrade-in-arms, the wonderful Midnight Indicating Shame to come into play at some point, and that should prove quite marvellous.)
So yes, more incredible space opera going on here, with Carroll knowing that the key to making it work isn’t to have every single page packed with stuff and pile on the meaningless action (yes, I am talking about Joe Pineapples one last time here), but more in crafting a tale that, when coupled with a great great artist in Jake Lynch who can fully realise everything that Carroll can imagine and then add so much more, gives the reader a truly wonderful reading experience week after week.