The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2315: Angry? Positively Vexxed

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.

(Proteus Vex takes it out on the galaxy with a cover from Neil Roberts)


Well, last week I was very late with my Weekly 2000 AD, this week I’ve got it down to just late. (Cough Hack Bleurgh, etc.)

Anyhow, Prog #2315 is another weekly hit of five strips, including the finale of Hope In The Shadows, more political thrills in Judge Dredd, plus more in the latest incredible sci-fi spectaculars that are Proteus Vex and The Out. And then there’s Joe Pineapples.

Prog 2315 was out now. Here’s a quick run-through of the Prog…



JUDGE DREDD: THE NIGHT SHIFTER – PART 3 – Ken Niemand and Nicolo Assirelli, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Niemand gets political, playing up the ideas of immigration and asylum here, where this tale of a Puerto Plata political agitator who moved to MC-1 to escape the vicious former regime there could easily be any number of similarly brutal regimes across this world of our own. And it works, it definitely does. Anyone out there who ever complains that Dredd gets too political and it was never like that in their day really hasn’t any clue what Dredd’s always been about. From the start, or at least from incredibly early on, Dredd and Dredd’s writers always played with politics, always played compare and contrast with the now.


Anyway, as Dredd investigates the ex-Puerto Plata hitman and torturer he’s also trying to stay one step ahead of Senior Admin. Judge Keller, a man who just screams future thorn in Dredd’s side from the moment you see him.

Yep, posture, tone, talk of adjusting justice to suit ‘the city’s wider interests,’ it’s got that whole vibe of someone who Niemand’s got teed up to become a character to play around with in the future. And it doesn’t take all that much for one of those to turn into a Smiley, a Pin, or a Bachmann.


JOE PINEAPPLES: TIN MAN – PART 3 – Pat Mills and Clint Langley, story by Pat Mills and Simon Bisley, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Okay, I get that it’s one of the things with anthology works that you’re not going to like everything, but this is just coming off as something so wildly out of kilter with anything we’ve had in 2000 AD for so many years. I know it’s one that’s taken a long, long time to get to print, but it feels so dated it could have been from any time in the ’80s.

On the other hand, Clint Langley’s artwork on ABC Warriors is always a bit of a visual energy burst, bright and in your face. But even there it’s obviously driven by the plot, which is pretty much bad nasty things after Joe and Ro, Joe having major feels for a character that’s never been mentioned before yet seems hugely important to his backstory, and that means that Langley’s a little constrained here.

And finally, on the plus side of these things, as with any strip you may not like in 2000 AD, Joe Pineapples episode three means there’s one less week of them to go.


HOPE… IN THE SHADOWS REEL TWO – PART 12 – FINAL PART – by Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton, letters by Jim Campbell

And here we have the ending of the entire Hope saga. Or at least that’s what I was thinking it was. Now… well, after reading the ending here, I’m not so sure. I was convinced I’d read somewhere that it was the final series of Hope, but now I’m veering towards that was me misremembering what I’d read.

Anyway, here we have an ending for sure, albeit one that’s very open to being continued after a while. But in terms of what’s happened in both Reels of Hope In The Shadows everything is pulled close and finished off, meaning that we have Mallory and Alice reuniting, where he’s got himself a beard and she’s in possession of a film can containing ‘one of the most powerful, most destructive spells in the history of magic.’ Oh, and the US Air Force is on its way to create Arizona Bay.

So we have a two-hander to end, Mallory and Alice against the world, taking one final decision to save the world. As Alice comments, it all smells of ‘brimstone and no future.’


Like I say, it’s final, but it’s open to a further series, one I’d like to read. The whole thing has had a gloriously atmospheric tone, dark as hell, teasing it all out, all to get to an end that sees them doing the only thing they can. It’s been hugely enjoyable.


THE OUT: BOOK THREE – PART 4 – by Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison, letters by Simon Bowland

Now onto the finest thing in the Prog. It has been through Books One and Two, so no surprise that it’s keeping on being every bit as wonderful in Book Three.

Cyd arrives on the Unanima hypercarrier at their capital world. She knows she’s some kind of impossible hope in the fight against the Tankinar, especially now that the Unanima seem to have realised that they’ve got no real defence against a race that continually evolves, is totally ruthless, and has become a universal threat to life.

And although that is, of course, the huge thing in the background, the great thing about the Out, as it’s always been, is that Abnett always writes Cyd as someone believable. Yes, there might be a universe-ending threat, she might be the only answer to it, but here she is, down in the capitol world and she’s mostly concerned about the ridiculous outfit they’ve put her in. It’s that level of reality that turns a great sci-fi epic into something that’s up there with the absolute best in the 45-year history of this comic.

And of course, once she gets her flatspace bag back and is informed that her tribunal appearance is tomorrow – because of course there’s still the small matter of possible war crimes when she was in the Tankinar warbody – she then spends her time deciding what to wear for it. Again, some other artist and writer would have made the conflict between the big and the small scale jarring, but here it’s all part of the rich character-driven storyline that’s built up. It’s clever, it’s funny, and it’s just so damn good.


And the art, oh the art. Every panel has so much packed into it, information layer upon information layer, detail upon detail. So much so that it would be incredibly easy, were this anyone else, to regularly lose the reader. But no, in pages so densely packed like this, Harrison’s art is still completely readable, the flow is always there. It’s a simply staggering achievement week after week.

Oh, and don’t tell anyone I’m doing this, but this week the second preview page is part of a gorgeous double-page spread of Cyd beaming down to the Unanima world. So rather than show you a little of it… here’s a treat – three pages of this weeks trip to The Out…


PROTEUS VEX: CRAWLSPACE – PART 4 – Michael Carrol and Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland

And we end this Prog with more epic space opera that just gets better and better.

Last week was Vex giving himself up to the Alliance, putting himself into harm’s way – he’s still a war criminal of course – just because he knew that the Alliance/Imperium were coming around to realising that he was a valuable piece in the ongoing war with the ancient Scorcher race.

Here, he’s back with the Imperium, putting the plans he’s been formulating into place. Carroll’s repeated motif of using the captions as a future voiceover, telling their tales, clarifying what we’re seeing in part and yet also crafting a mythology, full of truths, half-truths, speculation, tales told in praise and in damnation.

It all adds to the epic nature of Proteus Vex and allows Jake Lynch to go on some wonderful flights of artistic fancy, filling panels and pages with alien shapes and ideas.


By the end of the episode, Vex’s plan has begun, they have a fleet in place, possibly a crew, and we’ve watched a perfectly done example of how to deliver a narrative that twists and turns, confusing and difficult at times perhaps, but one where, once you get to an outcome, suddenly all fits into place.

Yes, Proteus Vex is a beautifully done thing, with Lynch’s art such a perfect fit. Yes, it can be dense and some may even call it difficult. But hell, if needs be, head back and re-read previous episodes – it’s no chore, more a reminder of how great the whole, huge, wonderful thing is.

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