The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2218: Beaten, Bruised, Broken; What’s Dirty Frank To Do?

by Richard Bruton

The Weekly 2000 AD, giving you a weekly glimpse inside the thrill-powered pages of the UK’s finest sci-fi comic. No matter how bad it might be out in the real world, 2000 AD keeps delivering the thrills…

Simon Fraser gives us a Frank and his dog – ready for battle the pair of them

Another done in one Dredd this Prog from Rob Williams and Simon Coleby looking superb, plus more from the other four strips – that’s Durham Red, Proteus Vex, Slaine, and the penultimate episode of this series of Hershey.

2000 AD Prog 2218 is out on Wednesday 10th February. Look for the Prog everywhere comics are sold – and remember to support your local comic shop, especially if your local comic shop is having to do mail order only right now, they need you more than ever!

JUDGE DREDD: HEALTH & HAPPINESS – Rob Williams, Simon Coleby, colours by Len O’Grady, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Harry Dump lives a healthy life; he runs, he eats well, he’s up to date on his health checks, he’s doing well financially, never committed a single crime. But Harry lives in Mega-City One, where you’re never more than a breath away from disaster.

Which is why he wakes up four months later after a brush with Dredd, his legs crushed under a passing roadster and a couple of cutting edge Veloci-Ripper Excel Plus legs in their place, thanks to his insurance company.

All looking good, yes? Well, no, not a chance… not in MC-1…

And that’s the end of that for Harry… legs gone, a crap attempt at getting revenge on Dredd seeing him off to the cubes…

Except that’s not the end of this one, instead we get to check in on what’s really going on at the health insurance company and get one last look at Harry.

It’s six pages of wonderfully done in one Dredd, doing that simple thing of having Dredd just in the background, his mere presence managing to screw over one of MC-1’s citizens. It’s a sideways look at the nightmare that every citizen is just one bad bit of luck away from – and Harry’s plight is a perfect example of that.

Williams might have made his name on the big, epic Dredds recently, but this is a fine reminder that he’s pretty good on these shorter tales as well. Meanwhile, it’s been too long since we saw Simon Coleby on Dredd – he gives us a bloody fine Lawmaster here and all the great art we’ve come to expect from him.

DURHAM RED: SERVED COLD – PART 7 – Alec Worley, Ben Willsher, letters by Jim Campbell

Willsher’s rather stunning artwork here gives us a gorgeous bit of Durham Red out in a snowstorm, after which everything is just perfect – the call for the cavalry goes through, the jail is saved, Danny Glover and Durham Red get out safely – oh, if only it were that easy, eh?

Nope, none of that goes down, it all falls apart… and we’re left with Red down, the prisoners in charge, and still the mystery of who the hell is behind all this still to be solved.

Again, there’s nothing more here than a simple siege thriller here, but it’s a damn fun and enjoyable thing anyway.

PROTEUS VEX: THE SHADOW CHANCELLOR – PART 7 – Michael Carroll, Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland

Vex’s flesh pilot is called into action for the interrogation of the captured Silent, the fleet of Citheronian ships is coming for Midnight Indicating Shame, and Commander Tross is calling the shots.

Or at least she was until the High Commissioner gets involved. And then things take a turn for the worse.

Proteus Vex is one of those strips that doesn’t go out of its way to give you the big action sequences, instead, we’re getting a huge, universe-spanning epic that’s building and building, drawing in more and more characters, expanding the scope of things – and it’s a series that’s getting better with each episode.

A big part of what makes it work is, of course, the artistic talent on display. The first series had co-creator Henry Flint delivering the goods, but Jake Lynch has come on board for this second series and is absolutely blowing things away. His figures are superbly alien, lithe shapes, extended, thin, angular, and that’s reflected in the page and panel design Lynch is using, everything off-kilter, panels breaking into other panels, figures breaking across borders to make this a visual delight.


SLÁINE: DRAGONTAMER – PART 7 – Pat Mills, Leonardo Manco, letters by Annie Parkhouse

It’s Sláine versus the Trojans, with the people of Britannia against him now that he’s allied himself with the Shoggeys and the other criminal classes of this world.

So, it’s interlude time, first with a partied out Sláine mulling over lost loves and how to get the better of Brutus, and then a little look at Brutus’ family problems; two kids who don’t want to kill and one monstrous kid who wants it far too much, a child Brutus knows the people can never know exists.

Again, plot-wise this is a by the numbers Slaine, but it’s not the plot we’re all really her for… it’s for Manco’s stunning artwork.

HERSHEY: THE BRUTAL – PART 7 – Rob Williams, Simon Fraser, letters by Simon Bowland

It had to happen really, Hershey must have known it, with Frank so unbalanced he was bound to break sooner or later.

But at least he managed to wait until it was time for the big fight in the presence of Edu, giving Hershey the chance to finish the mission… but what’s the cost going to be?

All through this and the last series, I’ve been praising Simon Fraser’s artwork, with the simple linework and gorgeous tonal colour.

Here on the penultimate episode, as things explode, there’s just a beautiful shift in the line, frenetic action shots as Frank takes a beating, background colours popping, more colours coming through in the characters as everything comes to its head. It’s a style that’s all on its own, something completely different, absolutely gorgeous to see.

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