The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2270: 45 Years Of Laying Down The Thrill-Power

by Richard Bruton

45 years and still going strong, it’s the UK’s greatest sci-fi weekly comic, 2000 AD.

The return of Brian Bolland to the cover of the Prog!

Yes, 45 years young this week – now that’s a damn fine achievement worth shouting about! And you know, that’s just what 2000 AD are planning on doing all this year.

48 pages of comic goodness awaits here – with new strips, one-offs, and the continuing adventures of three faves.

The new strips begin right from the off, with something rather exciting in the world of Judge Dredd – a brand-new John Wagner penned thriller, ‘The Citadel, promising is something incendiary coming at Dredd from the past. And at the end of this very special Prog, there’s the latest in Dan Abnett and INJ Culbard‘s always incredible slow-burn sci-fi crime procedural, Brink, promising us the answers (well, maybe) to the whole Mercury thing in ‘Mercury Retrograde’.

As for the one-offs, there’s Tharg The Mighty in a special celebration of the 45 years and a short visit to the world of Indigo Prime with ‘Whatever Happened to Mickey Challis?’ And then there’s the latest episodes of Proteus Vex, The Order, and the return, after a couple of missing Progs, of Kingmaker.

Now that, I think you’ll agree, sounds like a bloody good comic you should be reading.

Right then, 2000 AD Prog #2270 is out on Wednesday 23rd February. Time to have a look inside.

JUDGE DREDD: THE CITADEL – PART 1 – John Wagner, Dan Cornwell, colours by Dylan Teague, letters by Annie Parkhouse

This one’s been trailed for a while now, including that teaser ad there. It’s John Wagner returning to Dredd, which is always a big deal, but this one has a lot more going on, with the feel that it’s a big thing, an important thing, a world-changing thing. After all, this is the same John Wagner who’s been making huge changes to Dredd’s world for many years. Time and again, he’s shown he’s more than willing to make cataclysmic change happen.

So, when it says “This Changes Everything,” there’s a damn good chance they’re telling you the truth. And hell, it’s going to be worth seeing it all play out.

Here’s the 2000 AD PR on it…

As the Apocalypse War rages, Judge Dredd leads a squad of Cadet Judges into battle – launching an assault upon The Citadel, where the invading Sov forces have set up base.

But now, 40 years later and on the day of his execution, former Cadet Judge Winterton will tell the truth about what happened during the war, why the mission was subsequently covered up, and reveal the secret that Judge Dredd himself has been hiding for the past 40 years.

Within the intimidating walls of Iso-Block 1, a prisoner is scheduled to die after decades in isolation. But he has a tale to tell – one that may blow Judge Dredd’s world apart!”

Another fascinating aspect of ‘The Citadel’ is that the collection’s already been announced for July 2022, something that I can’t remember 2000 AD ever doing before – 128 pages for the collection, but still no indication of how many episodes of ‘The Citadel’ we’ll see, as there’s a good chance we’ll see extras, other strips, etc, etc, in the collection.

Anyway, that’s the set-up, here’s the opener… and oh yes, it’s all you’d expect from Wagner, tense and taut, dialogue sparse, drawing us into the new tale. Dan Cornwell’s art sets the scene so perfectly, as we’re pulled down into Iso-Block 1, where there’s an execution scheduled.

But then there’s an attack on the facility – no idea why yet, but you can’t imagine it’s unconnected – meaning that the Priest has the chance to talk to the prisoner, how has a tale of the Apocalypse War to tell.

Yes, this one really does feel important and it reads so well.

PROTEUS VEX: DESIRE PATHS – PART 9 – Michael Carroll, Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland

Still on the Scorcher’s homeworld, Proteus Vex and his Imperium pursuers come before the fiercely guarded race, who really aren’t going to take the information the Imperium stupidly give them very well at all.

All this jumping back and forth, all the new races, new threats, more and more intrigue added onto the complicated tale – it just creates a real richness to Proteus Vex. We’re so deep into the story here and there’s little hint of how far Carroll and Lynch are going to be taking it. Thing is, it’s such a good read that all that uncertainty just adds to the whole enjoyment of it.

INDIGO PRIME: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MICKEY CHALLIS? – Kek-W, Lee Carter, letters by Annie Parkhouse

The multiverse, an infinite number of parallel realities, all of them managed by Indigo Prime, the multiversal troubleshooters. Trouble is, IP’s HQ was destroyed by a cataclysmic event and most of the personnel have been lost.

So, it’s a trip back in time now, as Kek-W takes a spin around how Mickey Challis got recruited to IP – just after getting killed by a Deliveroo scooter, dangerous little bastards that they are.

And then we’re off into post-IP life, where it’s all weird overload, fictions bleeding into reality, as Vista (or whatever the hell that is) and Mickey track the living book as things get stranger and stranger… all the way up to a familiar face turning up and what’s promised as ‘a new era for Indigo Prime.’

It’s a longer than normal episode, all the better for Kek-W to do a bit of clearing the decks and ushering in the new regime – that sort of thing, all to the glorious accompaniment of Lee Carter’s great artwork. I’m still rather on the fence with Indigo Prime, that whole thing of it being one of those long-running and complex strips where there simply isn’t any easy way to jump into it… well, not yet, but the whole thing with the ‘new era’ thing is that there’s a chance there’s an in with the strip.

KINGMAKER: FALLS THE SHADOW – PART 7 – Ian Edginton, Leigh Gallagher, letters by Jim Campbell

Leigh Gallagher’s couple of weeks off from the Prog is the perfect example of you sometimes need to wait for it if you want it looking this good.

So, after a quick break, it’s back to the Nine Kingdoms and a hell of a lot of trouble now that Ichnar the Wraith King’s spirit has found its new home inside first Ablard and then the Thorn Duke.

All of which means it the armies of the old world against the hordes of the new, with Crixus having a bit of a day…

Oh yes, it’s good to have Gallagher’s art back here in the Prog and bloody good to have Kingmaker back, glorious fantasy, grand vistas of pissed-off Orks taking their anger out on the world.

THARG THE MIGHTY: STARS ON 45 – David Barnett, Robin Smith, letters by Jim Campbell

Tharg The Mighty has been coralling the creative droids now for 45 thrill-powered years. And to celebrate, time to pen a hit single… he might be the best at whipping the droids into shape, but he’s not going to be hitting platinum sales any time soon.

So, time to draft in some assistance…

A joy to see Robin Smith’s artwork back in the Prog, with David Barnett writing a silly thing, packed with dumb gags, just the way it should be for something like this. Even Tharg’s allowed some time to do something a bit daft on a special anniversary after all.

THE ORDER: FANTASTIC VOYAGE – PART 9 – Kek-W, John Burns, letters by Simon Bowland

That thing I was saying earlier about Indigo Prime? About it being difficult to really get into because of the multi-layered ongoing nature of it not giving you any way in? Well, ditto for The Order. And then some.

Which is why you have Benjamin Franklin currently being investigated, Fantastic Voyage style by Small Paul, the son of Paul Bunyan (a worm in human form) to try and save him from the shadow things. And while that’s going on inside poor Ben, The Order are diving down into the different realities as the Shadow-Kraken chases them down. Yeah, a lot going on.

BRINK: MERCURY RETROGRADE – PART 1 – Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, leters by Simon Bowland

Back to the Habitats housing the remains of mankind, all of them overseen by the Habitat Security Division, few of them places you’d want to live.

With everything that’s gone on so far in the world of Brink, with all of the Sect crime, the murders, the strange events… and, yes, the whole Mercury thing, I suppose it would really be some sort of miracle if someone outside Hab Sec and the authorities wouldn’t have noticed by now.

And that’s why we’re here in the opening episode of Mercury Retrograde with this…

Yes, we’re right back to the beginning of it all, with Abnett and Culbard revisiting this climactic moment in the very first book of Brink from 2017 where they pulled the first huge surprise in Brink with the reveal that the book’s supposed lead wasn’t making it past the first storyline…

And then we switch, as one of the crowd around that scene happens to be Nolan Maslow, investigative journalist.

See, just when you had some idea of how Brink was going to develop, they’ve changed it up again, quite brilliantly, surprisingly.

Damn, it’s good to have it back.

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