The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2266: Crixus’ Back And He’s Got A Huge… Blade

by Richard Bruton

Time to head out to the land of 2000 AD, the UK’s greatest sci-fi weekly comic, now celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2022

Crixus the Ork from Kingmaker courtesy of Leigh Gallagher

This Prog, the end of the skysurfing thriller Working Girl in Judge Dredd and the continuations of Saphir: Liaisons Dangereuses, Proteus Vex: Desire Paths, The Order: Fantastic Voyage, and Kingmaker: Falls The Shadow.

Right then, 2000 AD Prog 2266, out now. Time for a preview…

 

JUDGE DREDD: WORKING GIRL – PART 4 – FINAL PART – Ken Niemand, Patrick Goddard, colours by Dylan Teague, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Mona’s in deep here, carrying Mobz merch with the nasty addition of a booby-trapped bomb – like she says, as Tuesday nights go, she’s had better.

So, with Dredd on her tail and a bomb on her back, she’s flying for her life here.

Four episodes, over and done, with Mona Plankhurst deep into things now. Really deep. So, four episodes into this and it’s been a blast. Niemand and Goddard have made themselves a character who’s not going anywhere. It might be the end of this 4-parter, but Mona’s going to return – the ending of this one definitely promises that.

It’s been a decidedly Dredd-lite Judge Dredd serial, but then again so many of the really good Dredds are, aren’t they?

And no insult to Niemand here, but this one’s all Goddard’s show – the art has this stunning solidity to it, great character work, incredible action scenes, and the skysurfing scenes

PROTEUS VEX: DESIRE PATHS – PART 5 – Michael Carroll, Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland

The most weird and wonderful bit of sci-fi for a long time keeps going and going, getting stranger and better as the storyline unfolds. What with first The OUT and now Proteus Vex, we’ve really been spoilt for choice with brilliant sci-fi in 2000 AD these past couple of years. Obviously, they’re two very different series, The OUT more character-driven, Proteus Vex more huge scale galactic conflict all mixed up with politics, spying, genocide, secret investigations and the like. But both of them share one facet – the slow-build of the tension, the slow reveal of the plot, and the absolute alienness of it all.

Carroll and first Henry Flint and now Jake Lynch have crafted this stunning sci-fi epic that’s a real pleasure to be both amazed and confounded by every week.

Case in point, this week we get the concept of ‘Genesis Threads,’ something to do with a “long-gone, hyper-advanced race,’ who created ‘constructs that permit direct manipulation of the universe’s physical laws.”

Yep, that’s exactly the great stuff that Proteus Vex keeps on giving.

We’ve got Vex and his allies, multiple races, multiple characters, all with skin in this particular game, none of them exactly opening up about why they’re doing what they’re doing. Again, you can see that from Ko Andrum’s words on the second page –

Ko Andrum later wrote that the year she spent with Proteus Vex was ‘the greatest adventure of my life’ and that she only had one regret… ‘If I’d known what was coming next, I would have terminated him myself.’

Yes, that’s just the sort of thing that makes Proteus Vex a complicated, difficult, yet richly rewarding read.

THE ORDER: FANTASTIC VOYAGE – PART 5 – Kek-W, John Burns, Simon Bowland

As I’ve said before, in so many ways, The Order and Proteus Vex are very similar – complex, laden with characters, both slow to reveal. My problem is that The Order has just been going on for so long that I’m continually on the back foot with it and frequently more perplexed than satisfied with what I read.

Sure, I get what Kek-W’s doing, and sure the art by Burns is just always a sheer delight to view, but unlike, say, Kek-W’s Saphir, The Order just befuddles me.

This episode, more ideas thrown into the mix, John Dee and Edward Kelley and a scrying mirror allowing them to look into the Wyrmrealm and instead discovering the Nommo, “flying wind whales – creatures adapted to live in the temporal depths beyond times edge.”

Now the Nommo are talking through Armoured Gideon, currently inhabited by the digital consciousness of Clara Weitz, and they’re talking about leaving the world we’re in (wherever and whenever that is) before it collapses – which is when the members of the Order hop on and take a trip with them.

Like I say, it’s strange and confounding, but there’s also moments like this episode when I’m just finding myself accepting it all and just going along with the ride.

KINGMAKER: FALLS THE SHADOW – PART 5 – Ian Edginton, Leigh Gallagher, letters by Jim Campbell

Right then, Kingmaker has rather kicked up the peril a notch – and you have to remember that this is a series that began when the big bad, Ichnar the Wraith King, was defeated, only for the peace to be shattered by the alien Thorn appearing and doing what they could to steal every bit of magic. So, taking it up a notch really does mean it’s all going to hell.

Poor old Crixus and Princess Yarrow have already seen their pal, Wizard Abelard, hosting the reanimated form of Ichnar. Abelard’s now dead and Ichnar is currently hosting the Thorn Duke… meaning it’s Crixus and Yarrow against the worst of the aliens and the big nasty that tore apart their world before.

And this episode, all of that means that Crixus has to take on a hell of a lot of bad things, but he’s got the world spirit in him and a huge blade in his hand – all of it done in stunning fashion by Leigh Gallagher… beauty in the carnage!

So, Kingmaker keeps on entertaining and thrilling, massive threats, a world in peril, and an Ork on a killing spree – fabulous fun stuff.

SAPHIR: LIAISONS DANGEREUSES – PART 2 – Kek W, David Roach, colours by Peter Doherty, letters by Annie Parkhouse

God damn, this is so beautiful. David Roach’s artwork is just so perfect for this storyline of turn of the Century Paris meets other realms. Just take a moment to look at the two final panels of the first page and you’ll see what I mean…

The shift into tighter pencils, the beauty of Lady Sofia coming through, just stunning.

Anyway, we’re given the background to the revelation that floored poor old Inspector Mucha, so far out of his depth here and who’s just discovered that the perfect child Sofia’s carried has a lot to do with him. And then, on top of all that, he gets a lesson in the Aethyrsphere, “A multitude of dominions, each formed from one of the one hundred and twenty-eight universal aessences.”

Oh, he’s completely all at sea, but he’s in it now and there’s no getting away from it, especially now there’s an incursion from one of the other realms, bone soldiers coming through and putting the child at risk.

This second series of Saphir is doing just what the first one did – stunning artwork for a Kek-W series that I can be onboard for from the very start – it’s a gloriously heady mix of fantasy, lush and delicious stuff.

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