The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2317: Hitchin’ A Ride – Cyd’s Off 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.
Remember last week when I was soooo cocky that I’d finally got into the swing of things again and was getting these 2000 AD previews to you before release date… well guess who spoke too soon? So, Prog 2317, out now.
But even though it’s late, it’s still well worth your time taking a look through all the latest goodness to fill the pages of the Galaxy’s Greatest this week. We have a brand-new Judge Dredd written by Arthur Wyatt and Rob Williams (now with Paul Marshall on the art) dealing with the continuing fallout from the Red Queen and the Atlantis attack in ‘The Hagger They Fall’. There’s new time-twisting strangeness in what’s described as the final arc of Kek-W and John Burns‘ The Order as we enter the ‘Heart of Darkness’. We have more epic sci-fi adventuring of the highest order in two strips that really do epitomise just how wonderful 2000 AD storytelling can be in The Out and Proteus Vex. Oh, and there’s more Joe Pineapples (one more episode down means we’re getting closer to the end of that one.)
Like I say, Prog 2317 was out on 1 February. Sorry, I shall do better. My Comicon overlords/editors have already applied the shackles…
JUDGE DREDD: THE HAGGER THEY FALL – PART 1 – Arthur Wyatt, Rob Williams, Paul Marshall, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Well, it was only the other day that I was writing a preview for the forthcoming Judge Dredd: Regicide and absolutely loved it so much I realised I’d written a review instead. You’ll see both preview and the review next month, nearer the time of its release.
Anyway, Regicide collects all the Wyatt, Williams, and Jake Lynch tales with Judges Dredd and Maitland going up against the Red Queen and her Euro-Crime Syndicate, including ‘The Hard Way’, where La Reine Rouge set some of the world’s deadliest assassins against Maitland, including Keeper Hag.
Well, even though the Red Queen is no more, the threat continues.
Here’ we open on Skeev, ‘a desolate moon,’ (aren’t they all?) ‘in the outer spiral arm,’ and a place where the law is an alien concept. So what exactly is Dredd doing there?
Cut to six days ago and the discovery of a smart contract on Accounts Judge Maitland. The Red Queen’s desire to see her dead really does extend beyond the grave.
And that, no surprise, is why Dredd is off-world, looking for Keeper Hag… although he needs to watch his own back while he’s out there first.
Interesting opener here, all part of Wyatt and Williams’ overarching storyline, a storyline that, as I think I might have mentioned a few times, is up there with the very best of Dredd. Good to see Marshall back in the Prog again after the end of Skip Tracer as well.
THE OUT: BOOK THREE – PART 6 – by Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison, letters by Simon Bowland
And now onto the highlight of the Prog. In fact, the highlight of any Prog it’s in and undoubtedly one of my strips of the year in 11 months.
Last week, Cyd was facing the prospect of a lifetime’s equivalent of house arrest on the Unanima capital world. And then she discovered that someone had left the back door open – well, in as much as the back door was a far-matt portal pre-dialled to the local starport.
So, leaving aside the important questions of who did it and why they did it (which I’m sure we’ll get around to exploring at some point), what this means is that we have a whole new cycle of Cyd’s adventures into the Out now, with a different motivation and, I’m sure, lots to be explored in terms of keeping out of the grip of the Unanima. But for now, we’re focusing on the immediate, getting a lift off world.
There’s a whole load of Hitchhikers Guide vibes coming off this one – of course there are, I know Harrison’s a huge fan and I’m assuming Abnett is too. But homaging with love and fine style is just fine – and fine style runs all the way through The Out.
This one’s a fast one, Cyd zipping from here to there in a blink, and all of it leading to more and more questions – both for Cyd and for us.
So from Cyd hopping on a Eukin starshoal fishing trawler (it stinks, but she’s in a hurry to get offworld before they notice she’s gone), it’s straight off to Zotol (the place she was rebuilt after being killed by the Tankinar) for answers about when the Tankinar tech got inside her.
But of course, this is The Out, things were never going to be that easy.
Yep, confounding but fascinating, a fast episode for sure, one that exists just to move Cyd from one place to another and set her off on another path. But damn, it’s still one that you read and absorb and enjoy. And of course it’s also absolutely packed with the insane detail that Harrison puts into everything, the sort of detail that defines The Out visually, the sort of detail very few artists could make work without the whole thing looking like a complete mess of overlapping artwork and panels. But – and yes, I’ve said this again and again and again – Harrison’s pages are so incredibly dense without affecting readability or flow one iota. And that is truly a sign of a magnificent artist with a unique style.
JOE PINEAPPLES: TIN MAN – PART 6 – Pat Mills and Clint Langley, story by Pat Mills and Simon Bisley, letters by Annie Parkhouse
You know, there’s really something cruel about putting Joe Pineapples straight after The Out. For those of you old enough and British enough to remember, it’s like that moment in Bullseye when Jim Bowen would turn to the hapless pair who’ve just spectacularly failed to get a few darts anywhere near where they wanted them to be and said, ‘Here’s what you could have won.’
So… here’s what you could have won.
Poor old Joe Pineapples, greatest robo-assassin in history and he’s stuck here in the final every adventure being miserable, introspective, and mopey over Sue Bananas, the droid that only appeared in the history of the ABC Warriors and Joe a few weeks ago. All the while accompanied by Robo-Jaws, who appears to be here as an annoyance to Joe and me. They’ve been on this particular romp for a looong time. And I know just how they feel.
So, page after page of good looking Clint Langley artwork and dialogue that’s just leaden. Not for me. And from what I’ve read online about it, I’m not the only one.
THE ORDER: HEART OF DARKNESS – PART 1 – Kek-W and John Burns, letters by Jim Campbell
With the end of the last series of this time-spanning bit of strangeness, Anna Kohl and co were being attacked by the shadow-creatures that have been infiltrating the fractured chronology of this world and many others. Now, in ‘Heart of Darkness’, it’s time to see whether she can be reunited with her lost love Ritterstahl as her companions battle the forces of the evil Francis Bacon. Yes, Francis Bacon – it’s that sort of strip.
And it’s a strip that, over the past few years of series, just hasn’t really grabbed me. Having said that, coming after Joe Pineapples means that it’s a breath of fresh air no matter what, as we start Ann Kohl’s quest to reunite with Ritterstahl, accompanied, as always, with a hefty dose of shadow things.
As always, with John Burns’ artwork, it’s a sheer joy to look at.
PROTEUS VEX: CRAWLSPACE – PART 6 – Michael Carrol and Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland
The second of the magnificent strips in the weekly Prog, Proteus Vex keeps the whole epic scale going and going, as we descend further into the Imperium/Scorcher war, viewing it from two perspectives, as it happened and with the benefit of historical hindsight through the Crawlspace papers. It’s a method Carroll’s used throughout and it gives Proteus that suitable sense of import.
No Midnight Indicating Shame this time round, although obviously we’re going to return to her in time, as we’re focused on the war itself and the political machinations that have been going on as the Imperium attempts to salvage anything from a war they’re increasingly realising they’re going to lose, and soon. Vex and Naday, meanwhile, are in the Imperium’s shipyard to create their army from the slaves there.
Every episode of this current Proteus Vex series has been a slow burn, giving you the overview to the war, seeing huge, galaxy-changing events play out, all the while knowing that every moment here is important, that Carroll’s control of what he’s doing is so fine that the whole thing just flows, giving you epic level sci-fi with suitably epic artwork from Jake Lynch.