The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2325: It’s The Return Of ‘Regened’, Complete With A Dreamy Dredd
by Richard Bruton
The first of the year for the regular 2000 AD Regened all-ages Prog, where the pages of the Galaxy’s Greatest get turned over to Tharg’s lil’ nephew, Jojo-Jargo, to fill the pages with all-new all-ages thrill power.
2000 AD Prog 2325 hits the shelves and digital on 29 March, bringing you 52 pages of 2000 AD all-ages fun.
This time it’s just four strips, albeit one of them’s a massive 20-pager. That’s the latest installment of the witching school tale, Lowborn High. Alongside that one we have our regular look at the world of Cadet Dredd, a return to the young G.I.s of the Nort-Souther war in Mayflies, and it wouldn’t be a Regened Prog without a proper RegenedFuture Shock! Finally, instead of the fifth strip this time around we have a two-page Robo-Hunter prose tale.
So, what do you say we take a little look at what’s inside?
CADET DREDD: DREAM TEAM – by Ned Hartley and Toby Willsmer, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Back to the world of Dredd as a lil’ Cadet now, with frequent Prog cover artist Willsmer taking on the visuals in one of the nastiest little Cadet Dredd’s so far – and that’s a good thing.
You see, with the story taking Dredd into a dreamscape of Rico’s memories thanks to a bit of malfunctioning Tek-Div test kit, Harley and Willsmer can go darker, gunshots and hi-ex to the head of the vicious-looking Muties Dredd meets along the way – after all, if they’re not real, you can get away with shooting them, even in all-ages strips.
It’s not just the Muties that get nasty here in Rico’s head either, with Hartley and Willsmer playing with the symbolism of the place as well, getting in a couple of licks about Rico’s embryonic distrust of the Justice Department as well, not to mention a little sibling shoot-out going on.
By its end, this has turned into one of the best Cadet Dredds for a long time, a fine-tuned little psychological tale and a trip into Rico’s disturbed head with some great-looking artwork from Willsmer.
LOWBORN HIGH: OLD FAMILIARS – by David Barnett and Anna Morozova, colours by Philip Vaughan, letters by Jim Campbell
Lowborn High is more magical Grange Hill than Hogwarts, the rundown inner-city comprehensive where the poor little wizards who don’t make the grade to get into the prestigious Wychdusk Manor.
But Androgeus Frost is a different kind of kid for Lowborn High, part of the Frost family, high fliers in the wizarding world, he’s been booted down to Lowborn when not even the family name can get him into Wychdusk. Anyway, now that he’s here, he’s been doing all the things you get in this sort of classic fish-out-of-water school tale, making friends, making enemies, high-jinks, sentimental friendship stuff, learning to be a better person, and all with that magical twist.
But even with all that familiarity, it’s a great little strip, enjoyable, packed with potential, and Anna Morozova’s artwork is just a delight, giving it a very distinctive look, full of great characters and magical glamour.
We’re starting out with Drill back in Brum, asking her Mum to write her a note to explain why she’s been off school for a couple of days. ‘Time of the month,’ says her mom, ‘which isn’t exactly a lie.’ Yep, that’s going to come into it all later. I reckon you can work out just what’s going on there, especially given the first couple of panels here.
But that’s just a little bit of extra character stuff going on, part of what makes Lowborn High a great read. Once Drill gets back to school we’re into the meat of this visit, with the kids of the Deadbeats Club having their familiars class…
So, those hi-jinks I mentioned? Well, that would be when the nasty kids swap the Androgeus’ temporary familiar powders for permanent ones, meaning that he’s lumbered with Manda the Panda for good now, unless the kids can break into the Familiars teacher’s room and read up on the spell to send Manda back. Of course, this being Androgeus, he manages to mess it up, ending up with a homicidal Panda familiar looking for revenge on the wizard that rejected it…
Yes, all lots of fun is Lowborn High. There’s silly stuff, fast-paced action, that sense of friendship and learning about each other, and the hints of a bigger tale developing with not just the prospect of a school inspection but whatever badness the female staff and their coven are planning for Androgeus.
It’s back in Prog 2336, which is great news – but it’s one I reckon would be a perfect thing for a long-form series in the main Prog.
ROBO-HUNTER: TOUGH CROWD – by Scott Montgomery
One of those weeks where déjà vu and synchronicity keep happening… well, you know what I mean. Robo-Hunter news followed by Ian Gibson news now followed by another new bit of Robo-Hunter, just in prose form by Scott Montgomery.
Strange choice of character for Regened, the cigar-smoking Sam Slade, but whatever, it’s Sam off to a comedy gig after falling afoul of a bit of contract legal-ise after his latest bounty deal – two pages of prose, plenty of deliberately cringy gags, and a fast mini-chapter format.
FUTURE SHOCKS: VIN-E, BLOW THE DOORS – by James Peaty and Gary Welsh, colours by Pippa Bowland, letters by Annie Parkhouse
It might be the 23rd Century, but they haven’t managed to get rid of crime yet. So here we meet Eddie Schlepper, experienced con man and thief. Eddie quite literally runs into a robot that could be his route to going bigger and better with his criminal schemes…
But criminals are a weak and cowardly lot, so of course Eddie manages to screw it up – always be nice to your friends and colleagues, kids, even if, especially if they happen to be robots with a broken emotion unit.
It’s a good little Future Shock, playing up the funny this time and all very well done by Peaty and Welsh.
MAYFLIES: THE SCARAB – by Michael Carroll and Simon Coleby, colours by Len O’Grady, letters by Simon Bowland
It’s back to the Mayflies now, the young gene-engineered clones grown by the Southers. Coming in the wake of Rogue Trooper era genetic infantrymen, these young clones are the next generation of G.I.s, designed with specialist abilities. But this particular squad of clones has gone AWOL, escaping from a Nort attack.
Now, they’re holed up on space station Camp Isthmus, having defeated the local criminal kingpin there and wondering whether it will be the Norts or the Southers who catch up with them first. Unfortunately for them, not only is there a Souther ship on its way to them but their presence has attracted the attention of a team of mercs looking to collect the bounty of the six gene clone kids.
But while the threat from without might be more pressing, it’s the threats from within that could break up the Mayflies for good in this latest episode.
Always good to see Simon Coleby’s distinctive visuals in the Prog and always good to have Mayflies back, it’s one of those that could fit in both the Prog and the Regened Progs – and it’s one I’d like to see in a longer run.