The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2213: Happy New Year Happy New Prog

by Richard Bruton

It’s time for the 2021 show to begin, let’s hope it’s not as bad as 2020. But no matter what, 2000 AD comes out every week and we give you a look inside the comic with the Weekly 2000 AD.

Dunham Red – cover by Cliff Robinson and Dylan Teague

After the Christmas blowout of Prog 2212, we’re back to the standard five strips to start off this new year. The big news is the return of William Simpson for his first interior art in the Prog for more than 20 years. His gorgeous artwork on Judge Dredd: Desperadlands, written by Mike Carroll, begins right here.

And then we have the second stunning episode of Sláine: Dragontamer where Leonardo Manco is absolutely on fire. And there’s also the second episodes of new Durham Red, more Proteus Vex, and the latest from Hershey in ‘The Brutal’.

2000 AD Prog 2213 is out on Wednesday 6th January, you can find it in all good newsagents, comic shops and digital stores.

JUDGE DREDD: DESPERADLANDS – Mike Carroll, William Simpson, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Last seen in 1989 on the Dredd tale Banana City, William Simpson’s exquisite painted artwork has been missing from the Prog for far too long. Seriously, far, far too long.

So, we’re in Ciudad Barranquilla, there’s a dead body with the DNA of one of MC-1’s most wanted under his fingernails.

The most wanted is Syan Hegedos, known associate of former Judge Doya Meekins, who’s down here with Dredd to investigate. She’s taken an eight-year-old cadet, Odessa, for reasons unknown and now the trail has led them all to Banana City’s outskirts.

The start of something here, something weird going on, and looking very, very good.

DURHAM RED: SERVED COLD – PART 2 – Alec Worley, Ben Willsher, letters by Jim Campbell

Well, after the opener we’ve seen Red in jail, after being brought in by a new boy to the new Strontium Dogs to a tiny little jail with an old guy running things. And then the supposed good guys turned up and proved not to be all that good at all. Red does her thing and blood is shed…

But outside there’s a massing of bad guys, all after just one thing – the Vamp.

Again, lovely looking artwork from Willsher here.

SLÁINE: DRAGONTAMER – PART 2 – Pat Mills, Leonardo Manco, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Okay, we know this is most likely the last we’ll see of Pat Mills and Sláine here (well, there’s the near-mythical Joe Pineapple’s thing that might happen sometime, albeit with Simon Bisley), but if it is then it’s a perfectly gorgeous way to go out.

Leonardo Manco’s artwork is, let’s not be underplaying this here, absolutely stunning. There have been plenty of great artists on Slaine in the history of the strip, but Manco’s already right up there with them.

Now, as for the whole story – Sláine’s in the city of New Troy, looking to free Albion by beating the living crap out of the Trojans, led by Emperor Brutus.

Basically, it’s Sláine being Sláine. With added dragons. But damn, those are some absolutely gorgeous looking dragons…

PROTEUS VEX: THE SHADOW CHANCELLOR – PART 2 – Michael Carroll, Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland

The continuing adventures of Imperium agent Proteus Vex and companion Midnight Indicating Shame – bizarre sci-fi of the highest order. It’s a strip that delights in strange forms and strange words, Carroll having to work hard to pull it all together and new series artist Lynch having to work just as hard with the visuals.

Definitely one that needs you to sit up and concentrate on, but all the better for it – this is hard sci-fi in a number of ways.

So, we’re looking in on Vex and Midnight and get a lesson in Mutaverons, a species harnessed by the Imperium to enable universal comms and faster-than-light travel as the Mutaveron Framework. We also discover that now dead Chancellor Rho 7 Baryon was aware of hundreds of attacks on the Framework by a seemingly undocumented race – The Silent. And it seems that Baryn had met with the Silent before.

(At this point, yes, it is all sounding a little bit Doctor Who-ish, and not just for similarities in the names.)

However, after the first episode of bedding in, now we’ve got a direction for this series, Vex going after The Silent and working out why they’re going after the Mutaveron Framework.

So yes, it’s complex, but it’s also settling down to be a really good bit of hard sci-fi, the whole Iain M Banks thing. And with Jake Lynch onboard on art, I think we have an excellent replacement for Henry Flint.

HERSHEY: THE BRUTAL – PART 2 – Rob Williams, Simon Fraser, letters by Simon Bowland

Simon Fraser’s totally on fire here, the line he’s using is fabulous, but it’s that subtle colouring job that’s elevating this strip – an absolute joy to look at.

Again, Hershey and Dirty Frank are down in Ciudad Barranquilla, Frank’s getting in with the mobsters through boxing, Hershey’s still dying slowly, and now they appear to have a dog.

And no, this is not a gentle Hershey, this is not a buddy cop sort of tale, this is Hershey using Frank as a means to an end, a weapon even.

Final page, Hershey goes into action and it’s brutal and brilliantly done, even though we don’t quite know who the hell she’s hitting, cause it ain’t the Edu we see on those first two pages.

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