The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2214: It’s Vexplosive!

by Richard Bruton

Here we go, barrelling into 2021 and it looks like it’s going to be just as interesting as 2020. Strap in, breath, and relax… maybe with a good comic. On which note, it’s time for The Weekly 2000AD, Comicon’s weekly look through the best British sci-fi comic of all time…

Proteus Vex cover by Neil Roberts

Well, that’s a bit of an eye-popper of a cover to kick off with, don’t you think?

Anyway, into the second Prog of the year and it’s all as was last week, with more Will Simpson artwork on Judge Dredd: Desperadlands, more brutal, brutal stuff from Hershey, more dragon-smashing action in Slaine, more vexing goings-on in Proteus Vex, and more bloodthirsty thrills in Durham Red.

2000 AD Prog 2214 is out on Wednesday 14th January, you can find it in all good newsagents, comic shops and digital stores. Support your comic shops, they’re still there, you can still give them your cash and right now they really need it.

JUDGE DREDD: DESPERADLANDS – PART 2 – Mike Carroll, William Simpson, letters by Annie Parkhouse

As with so much of Michael Carroll’s writing on Dredd, I think it’s safe to point out that Desperadlands might work very well as a stand-alone serial but, should you wish to go back and explore a bit of his previous work. There’s plenty out there to see and explore.

But, as with a lot of you, the big name here (and I know Carroll won’t mind saying this as well) is William Simpson, who’s now left the world of Westeros where he spent many years storyboarding the saga of the Iron Throne, and makes something of a triumphant return to Dredd in Desperadlands, after almost 20 years.

Right then, we in the area of Ciudad Barranquilla’s outskirts, where there’s a dead body found with the DNA of one of MC-1’s most wanted under his fingernails. That most wanted is Syan Hegedos, former associate of ex-Judge Doya Meekins, and for some reason Hegedos has kidnapped an eight-year-old cadet, Odessa.

Something’s just taken Dredd’s wagon out of the sky, frying all the electronics. So they’re grounded, they’ve got limited weapons, and they don’t know what’s waiting for them, just a damn big town with weird physics and a lot of nasty people.

So far, two episodes in and it’s all looking like a great Dredd goes somewhere outside MC-1 and gets into a hell of a lot of trouble. But there’s more going on here than just what’s on the page, there’s a lot more to be explored… or at least that’s what it seems like to me, with Carroll carefully moving all his pieces of his particular bit of Dreddworld around and joining up a few threads.

HERSHEY: THE BRUTAL – PART 3 – Rob Williams, Simon Fraser, letters by Simon Bowland

Brutal. That’s what it all is, whether it’s who they’re up against, whether it’s the brutality of Hershey’s illness or the brutal use she’s making of Frank. All of it just brutal.

Getting Frank into one of Edu’s bouts is the deal here, where he’s going to fail, you can just feel it.

It’s all part of the doomed nature of The Brutal, all with Rob Williams’ dark tones in the writing and still so beautifully drawn and coloured by Fraser.

SLÁINE DRAGONTAMER – PART 3 – Pat Mills, Leonardo Manco, letters by Annie Parkhouse

The general thinking or rumour on why this was so late in coming is that Leonardo Manco took a long time and re-did so much of it.

But whatever the reason, it was most definitely worth it as Manco’s work here is simply stunning. Packed with detail, recognisably Sláine, with something of Glenn Fabry about it, a perfect look for this final Pat Mills Slaine saga.

As for the story, well it’s Sláine being Sláine against one of the dragons of New Troy. And when that doesn’t work, they’re going to send a dragon squadron against him. In between, something to do with a grotesque child in the dungeon, followed by the lady Imogen making an appearance… for what reason we hae no idea yet.

But that’s pretty unimportant, exposition between the moments of Sláine being Sláine.

PROTEUS VEX: THE SHADOW CHANCELLOR – PART 3 – Michael Carroll, Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland

Imperium agent Proteus Vex and companion Midnight Indicating Shame investigating something to do with the Mutaverons, a species used by the Imperium to create the Mutaveron Framework, the thing that gives this universe faster than light travel and its comms system. But the framework is under attack from the race known as the Silent, and the now-dead Chancellor Rho 7 Baryon was aware it all.

All of which tells us why we’re watching the forces of the Imperium against the Silent in an isolated Mutaveron outpost, all choreographed wonderfully well by Jake Lynch.

It’s something that builds and builds through the pages until the moment where Proteus Vex and Midnight burst into things – the strangest cavalry you’re ever going to see.

DURHAM RED: SERVED COLD – PART 3 – Alec Worley, Ben Willsher, letters by Jim Campbell

With the Galactic Crime Commission’s guns all pointed at the jail holding Durham Red, things don’t look all that good for our favourite bounty-hunting vamp.

How she’s going to get out of it, and we’re all assuming she will but I’m taking no bets on the sheriff (played here by Danny Glover) making it out alive.

And then there’s the introduction of the immaculately coiffeured bad guy paying to bring in Red.

Three parts in and it’s been a bit of a slow start of a thing, fun enough but really needs something more going on to kickstart things now.

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