The Weekly 2000 AD Prog 2162: Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Tharg Is On His Way…

by Richard Bruton

This week, it’s the special 100-page Christmas Comicon Weekly 2000AD, taking a look through the final 2000AD of the year and acting as the starting point for the thrill-power coming at you in 2020 with a host of new stories starting up.
You get the first episodes of Proteus Vex, Feral & Foe, the new Zaucer of Zilk, alongside the continuation of Brink and one-off tales from Dredd, Durham Red, and The Fall of Deadworld. And a surprise return to the world of Absalom as well as a very nice unexpected pressie in your 2000 AD stocking!

(Cover by Alex Ronald)

Prog 2162 is out in the UK and on digital from 18 December, with international copies coming out later – ask for it by name at your local comic shop. It’s a perfect Christmas present for everyone you know. Except babies. They tend to just eat the pages.

JUDGE DREDD: SNOWBALLED – TC Eglington, Karl Richardson, letters by Annie Parkhouse
It’s a white Christmas in MC-1, thanks to weather control, and everyone’s busy getting their festive on. And yet, all it takes is just a couple of accidents, a few choice words, and there’s a stand-off…
It doesn’t take all that long before the two are turning all that anger on Dredd. And just how do you think that’s going to end?

It’s a neat old tale, a little thing with Dredd a bit-part player, and the accidental nature of it is all played out perfectly here.

GRADUATION DAY – Gordon Rennie, Tiernen Trevallion, letters by Simon Bowland
Now this was a turn-up, returning to the world of Absalom after the rather final finale earlier this year. But no, we’re back in a Britain where the Accord has been brokered between the throne of England the powers of Hell. And it’s no surprise to anyone that they’ve managed to ascend to the heights of the aristocracy.

So, we’re looking in on Daniel, Harry’s man, who’s just graduated from Hendon Police College and is busy on a night being something superheroic… or maybe something a little more vengeful…
And there it is… a cool little coda to Absalom. And you know what, it works. In fact, it’s almost sentimental. Not what you might expect at all!

THE ZAUCER OF ZILK: A ZAUCERFUL OF SECRETS – PART 1 – Script by Peter Hogan, art and story by Brendan McCarthy, colors by Len O’Grady and McCarthy, letters by Jim Campbell
It’s a return to the weird world of the realm of Zilk, right there on the fringes of the imagination. Alongside an interview with co-creator Brendan McCarthy and new writer Peter Hogan by Karl Stock, you get the first instalment in the brand-new dip into the pool of crazy that is Zilk.
And it’s very Zilk-ish, beautifully Brendan McCarthy, opening with the ‘tailor of tales’ encouraged to tell us this latest Zaucer yarn, with a wand now fused with that of the dark Wizard Errol Raine. And like he says, ‘No good can come of it’.
All you really need to know from the strip is there in the first few pages, but basically it boils down to this… The Zaucer was the wizard to the royal court of Curtaindown, powerful, famous, an arse basically. And then along came Errol Raine, despair monger from the world of Dankendreer. So the Zaucer sacrificed his immortality to save his young ward Tutu.
So now he’s a little greyer and no longer immortal, able to be hurt. And a resurrected T’Tooth means to do him serious harm…

Simply fabulous. That’s the usual reaction to seeing McCarthy’s work in the Prog. And with Zilk, we have a strip where he’s able to go nuts, aided wonderfully both by Hogan stepping in to script (that Al Ewing is far too busy being all brilliant over at Marvel) and with Len O’Grady working his own magic on the colors.

BRINK BOOK 4 – HATE BOX – PART 13 – Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, letters Simon Bowland
Well, it’s no surprise to find that Bridge has managed to get herself in trouble with that request to subpoena the Hate-Box voice logs to get the answers about the mass kill. But Commissioner Guizar is particularly pissed at her.

Not a happy bunny. Not a happy bunny at all.
So, it seems the idea of using the Hate-Box info isn’t going to work. Back to the drawing board…

And with the end of this episode, a whole new line of intrigue opens up.
You see a lot of folks online talking trash about Brink and almost universally, everything they’re moaning about is everything I love it for. It’s long, it’s slow, it’s a quiet, slow build of a thing. ANd in INJ Culbard, we have an artist capable of doing so much with so little action, crafting page after page of brilliance.

PROTEUS VEX: ANOTHER DAWN – PART 1 – Michael Carroll, Henry Flint, letters by Simon Bowland
So great to see more Henry Flint in the Prog, and even better to see it on a new strip. Now, don’t get me wrong at all, Flint’s Dredd is always special, but here on Proteus Vex, you’re seeing Flint go out there and do things differently, brilliantly.

In the world of Proteus Vex, we’re deep in the world already, with a simple back-story; The Alliance and the Obdurate peoples had been at war for centuries and then, decades past, the Alliance teleported a dying white dwarf star into their system and killed a billion Obdurate citizens.
Now, Imperium agent Proteus Vex has a mission… that’s it. That’s all you get. And from there, it’s straight into things, the world forming in your head as you read. A gorgeous start to a good reading strip.

THE FALL OF DEADWORLD – SIDNEY – Kek-W, Dave Kendall, letters Annie Parkhouse
Well, it finished last week, but here we are again, visiting the parallel dimension that’s going to fall to the Dark Judges at some point.
Anyway, there was a young Tek worker, Casey Tweed, who managed to engineer a coup, destroy Sidney De’ath, and has taken control of the forces of the dead. Sidney was very pissed at that. But, in Deadworld, death or De’ath doesn’t always mean what it usually means.
It’s a journey back into what made Sidney the lovable psychopath we’ve already met, all blood, nastiness, gore, and some delightful father-son bonding for the holidays…

And where does this little psycho end up in Deadworld? Well, as a Judge of course. It’s a twisted origin tale, just as you’d expect from a tale from the Fall of Deadworld

FERAL & FOE – PART 1 – Dan Abnett, Richard Elson, colors by Richard & Joe Elson, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Another new strip, another post-war setting, but here Abnett and Elson are drilling down into the bad guys, specifically those too often faceless minions of the evil-doers. It’s five years since the ‘Last-of-All-War’, where the good guys (the Monarchy) beat the forces of evil (The Malign Lord). With the death of the Malign Lord, all those minions scattered.
And two of those evil minions, the Necromancer Bode and the warrior Wrath, are who we’re going to follow right here… declared Feral & Foe they’re sentenced to execution.
Which is where we come in…

Which just about sets the tone for Feral & Foe, an adventure, a fantasy, with just that little bit of Abnett’s great ear for comedy. In the future, we’ll be seeing the two off to get the head of Haggart Morn, a dangerous, near-suicidal thing, trading future death just to get out of certain instant death. So now they’re off, Feral & Foe hunting down their own, screwed either way. Another great start to what could be a great little series.

DURHAM RED: MISTLETOE KISS – Alec Worley and Ben Willsher, letters by Jim Campbell
We’ve already seen Worley and Willsher’s Red a couple of times. And it was all good. Stylised artwork from Willsher, an obvious love of the character from Worley.

And now, hopefully ahead of more tales in 2020, a one-off from the pair, with Red on a bounty hunt that takes a turn for the bloody and the weird…
And yes, it’s a Christmas tale, albeit one drenched in blood and sorrow. Nicely done stuff form both.

%d bloggers like this: