Time again for a monthly preview of all things 2000AD, the greatest sci-fi comic in the UK. Trouble is, over in the USA, it’s notoriously difficult to get hard of. But it’s my job to show you just how great it is so you’ll pop to your local comic shop and order the monthly pack of 4-issues, Progs 2087 to 2090, which, with luck and a following wind, should be in stores in August. Trust me, it’s well worth a try…
As usual, each Prog has five strips, with old stoney face, Judge Dredd heading up each Prog. But as well as Mega-City One’s premier lawman, there’s the apocalyptic horror of The Fall Of Deadworld, and finales for both the sci-fi detective thriller Skip Tracer, and an ending for everyone’s fave mutant vamp bounty hunter Durham Red. So with those strips ending, we get new tales beginning this time round with The Order in Prog 2087 and Grey Area in Prog 2090.
As for covers, my highlight this month has to be Prog 2090, a beautifully designed Dredd cover by Matt Ferguson.
As for what’s inside, we’ll start, as every 2000AD Prog does, with old Judge Dredd:
Judge Dredd: Integration – Rory McConville and Dave Taylor, with letters by Annie Parkhouse (Prog 2087)
A one-off Dredd to start things off, something that’s been a staple of the history of MC-1. And a welcome return for the exquisite artwork of Dave Taylor. Yep, just six pages, but six beautiful pages, with another chance to enjoy the beautifully Euro stylings, the subtle colors, the epic chin of Dredd! McConville is one of the up and coming Dredd writers, continuing to prove his mettle with shorts and singles, and yep, he’s doing a fine job with this one, a classic Dredd tech tale, with a comms implant proving a killer app in all the worst ways.
(Judge Dredd: Integration – Prog 2087. Rory McConville and Dave Taylor, letters Annie Parkhouse)
Judge Dredd: Elevator Pitch – Rob Williams and Chris Weston, with letters by Annie Parkhouse (Prog 2088 & 2089)
Always exciting to see Rob Williams and the excellent Chris Weston back on Dredd, even if it’s only a short two-parter. In Elevator Pitch we’re getting all the best of Williams’ dialogue, his splendid touch of the absurd coming out with the next step in MC-1 architectural social engineering, the ‘Poshtube’, where the ‘exorbitantly, offensively rich‘ can live way, way above the ‘troglodyte scum‘ of the usual City Blocks. Just a recipe for trouble really, although when the trouble does happen, with synthi-bananas dropping from the sky thanks to the mutie ape gang looking to rob the place, it does give Williams the chance for this great line from a young Cadet …
“Control! Got a 454! Synthi-banana riot at the Poshtube.”
“Son, I know you’re eager but you just invented that call.”
(Judge Dredd: Elevator Pitch – Prog 2087. Rory McConville and Dave Taylor, letters Annie Parkhouse)
Judge Dredd: Commuter Pain – Rory McConville and Lee Carter, with letters by Annie Parkhouse (Prog 2090)
Another single issue Dredd for McConville here, all about the stresses of living in Mega-City One, where even the daily commute can send the ordinary cits into criminals. These single issue Dredds have always been a staple of the Dredd mythos, fleshing out the world, and letting writers stretch their creative muscles. And McConville, along with Lee Carter, whose art really looks great here, certainly delivers the goods in Commuter Pain.
(Judge Dredd: Commuter Pain – Prog 2087. Rory McConville and Dave Taylor, letters Annie Parkhouse)
Skip Tracer: Heavy Is The Hero – James Peaty and Paul Marshall, colors by Dylan Teague, letters by Simon Bowland (Progs 2087-2090)
Nolan Blake, skip tracer, bounty hunter, doggedly getting himself into something way very dangerous, something reaching all the way up to the highest levels of this society. The conspiracy that’s been there since episode one has been unfolding ever since, and with the final page of Prog 2087’s episode, Blake finally gets a major breakthrough in the investigation of ‘The Crown’, and now he’s really in the deep stuff.
It’s classic sci-fi stuff from new to 2000AD writer Peaty and veteran artist Marshall, very Blade Runner-esque in the setting and the visuals. Peaty and Marshall have controlled the pacing so well, and now that things are really starting to heat up with run up to the finale in Prog 2090, it’s proven great fun. Even better news is that Season 2 is set up to begin in Prog 2100.
(Skip Tracer: Heavy Is The Hero – Progs 2087-2089, art above from Prog 2087)
James Peaty and Paul Marshall, colors by Dylan Teague, letters by Simon Bowland)
The Order: The New World – Kek-W and John Burns
Through the history of mankind, the men and women of secret society known as The Order have prevented complete extermination at the hands of the vile alien Wyrms.
Now… time was fractured but now is healed, although that meant the loss of the fabled robo-knight Ritterstahl. With the Wyrmrealm altering the human world’s timeline, some historical members of The Order are appearing in the present while others have vanished from time completely. In the wake of the repaired timestream, the attempts at peace with the Wyrms have fractured the Order, with leader Anna Kohl determined to find Ritterstahl. And then there’s the Shadowthings… proving that, no matter how bad things are, there’s always something worse out there!
Have to admit, The Order’s never been a particular favorite of mine in the past, despite a love of John Burns’ artwork. However, it’s a refreshingly different bit of sci-fi shenanigans, with the medieval looks and steampunk-ish vibe going on. And proof, if ever it were needed, that there’s space for all sorts in 2000AD.
(The Order: The New World – Kek-W and John Burns, letters by Annie Parkhouse)
Durham Red: Born Bad – Alec Worley and Lee Carter, letters by Ellie De Ville (Prog 2087- 2090)
The revamped Durham Red really has been a spectacular success thus far, with Alec Worley and Ben Willsher giving the new series some of their finest work to date. Sadly, Willsher had to leave with episode four, after a nasty little accident with a boiling water tap and his drawing hand (fear not, he’s all better now). Replacing him is Lee Carter, and although he’s also raised his game to new heights, there’s still a sense of loss not having Willsher on board any more. But, the story works beautifully and once I’d gotten over the art changes, it’s business as usual, and the vamp still looks phenomenal.
Turns out that Durham Red taking a search job from the dying mutie monkey mob boss to find his old ma might have had another angle. And now Red’s got a point to prove. It’s just a fabulous revamp, a great opener to a whole new set of Durham Red adventures.
(Durham Red: Born Bad – Prog 2087-2090, art above from Prog 2087
– Alec Worley and Lee Carter, letters Ellie De Ville.)
Damned – The Fall Of Deadworld – Kek-W and Dave Kendall (Progs 2087-2090)
Deadworld, home to the Dark Judges, that quartet of apocalypse bringers led by Judge Death. We’ve known them in Judge Dredd, after they laid waste to their world, but in The Fall Of Deadworld, Kek-W and Dave Kendall are taking us back to the time when everything went to hell. And it’s been a nightmarish tale. But nightmarishly good.
It’s a dark tale, made darker thanks both to Kendall’s art and the knowledge that we’re definitely on a road to the end of days. All these great characters we’re meeting along the way, all those moments of rebellion, hope, and triumphs we share with them… it’s all pointless. Deadworld will fall, and we all know it. But that doesn’t make the journey any less of a ride.
In these episodes, Jess, the Judge Child, heads to the Capital, aiming to rescue Judge Fairfax. And in the city, the forces of Judge Death and the remaining Judges, including the spectacularly bad-ass Judge Ava Eastwood, all begin to make their moves.
(The Fall Of Deadworld: Damned – Kek-W and Dave Kendall)
Grey Area – K.I.A. – Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison (Prog 2090)
This is a series that’s gone from strength to strength over the years. So much so that it’s definitely one of my favourite 2000AD stories in recent years. I’d definitely recommend you catch up with Grey Area in the first collection, reviewed right here.
The Grey Area is the Global Exo Segregation Zone, where Earth attempts to control alien immigration, following a disastrous first contact two decades back. And it’s down to the officers of the Exo Transfer Control Squad to attempt to hold onto a very fragile peace. Naturally, something like this lends itself quite rightly to issues of immigration and xenophobia faced by all of us in our own troubled times, and it’s something Dan Abnett does extraordinarily well. Here in the first part of K.I.A., it’s all about the prospect of Earth finally opening its doors to a major advanced civilisation, the Congruence. And as you might expect, there’s many out there opposed to such things.
But right now, Captain Adam Bulliet and his team of Exo Transfer Control Squad officers aren’t too bothered with politics, as there’s something big, and nasty, and decidedly alien on the loose. As always.
A great opening chapter to a real favourite.
(Grey Area – K.I.A. – Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison, letters Ellie De Ville – Prog 2090)
Terror Tales: The Ticket – Paul Tobin and Dan Cornwell
Terror Tales are another form of one-off 2000AD tales, much like Future Shocks. Short, sweet and scary, just like this one, The Ticket. Proof, if proof were needed that getting on a black, unmarked night bus is a very, very, very bad idea.But if you’re very lucky, or very cunning, even if it’s Death driving the bus, you could find a way out.
Tobin and Cornwell really do deliver a great little Terror Tale with this one, all about turning the scare on its head and delivering a great comedy final line. And Dan Cornwell is really making a name for himself with a series of excellently drawn pieces in 2000AD right now.
(Terror Tales: The Ticket – Paul Tobin and Dan Cornwell, letters by Simon Bowland.)
That’s it for this month, join us next month for more from the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic!
And finally… a quartet of cover artists:
Prog 2087 by Brendan McCarthy , Prog 2088 Neil Roberts, Prog 2089 Chris Weston, Prog 2090 Matt Ferguson: