45 years and better than ever – it’s the UK’s greatest sci-fi weekly comic, 2000 AD and we’re here with the Weekly 2000 AD to give you a preview.
All the same as last week here – but that means there’s five incredibly strong strips to delight and amaze, including Judge Dredd: The Crucible, where John Wagner and Dan Cornwell are promising something major happening to Dredd’s world, the vampire cold war thriller Fiends of the Eastern Front: 1963 gets into gear after the opening episode last Prog, plus three brilliantly different sci-fi thrillers in Kingmaker, Proteus Vex, and Brink. That’s a solid five for five, a fabulous line-up. Seriously, if you’re not reading 2000 AD right now, you’re missing out on something very special.
Right then – 2000 AD Prog #2274 is out on Wednesday 23rd March. Now, time for a preview…
JUDGE DREDD: THE CITADEL – PART 5 – John Wagner, Dan Cornwell, colours by Dylan Teague, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Five parts in and still no real idea of what the huge thing is that we were promised was going to ‘change everything,’ but that’s not a problem at all as we’re getting vintage Wagnerian Dredd writing here, all that tense, taut, clipped stuff, just that brilliant voice he has for the character.
And alongside Wagner, we get to see more of Dan Cornwell’s artwork. He’s rather the anointed son in terms of Dredd, becoming Wagner’s go-to artist on the strip along with Colin MacNeil. And it’s been such a pleasure to see his talent absolutely blossom, a good artist turning into a great artist.
This week, Dredd and his diminishing gang of Cit-Def and Cadets, including Cadet Winterton, the one recounting all this 35 years on, the one promising big revelations, are into the undercity, still running from the Sovs, but now running towards the Citadel. Why? No one but Dredd (and Wagner and Cornwell of course) seem to know.
Another week, another death, another chance for Dredd to be brutally truthful with his troops. It’s Dredd the bastard once more, doing what’s necessary, realising that he’s at war and nothing will stop him doing what needs doing.
It’s just a masterclass of storytelling going on, such a delight.
KINGMAKER: FALLS THE SHADOW – PART 10 – Ian Edginton, Leigh Gallagher, letters by Jim Campbell
Duke Eschatus got thrown into space, meaning that Crixus is the Ork in charge of things. Not that that’s really helped any, as he’s discovering having all that power doesn’t really mean he can do all that much to change things, like trying to get the magic-extracting rigs of the Thorn shut down.
Of course, Crixus being Crixus, he’s not going to take no for an answer, something that promises to bring the rest of the Thorn hierarchy coming down on his head. Then again, maybe that’s just what he’s after?
Again, just excellent storytelling, Edginton letting his characters develop and grow really organically and Gallagher’s beautifully light and lush artwork a perfect fit for this strip mashing fantasy and sci-fi tropes together so very well.
PROTEUS VEX: DESIRE PATHS – PART 13 – FINAL PART – Michael Carroll, Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland
It’s the final part of Book 3 of Proteus Vex and now that Proteus Vex has managed to trigger a war between the Imperium Alliance and the Scorchers, it’s time here to take a sideways step and go and see what’s happening with Midnight Indicating Shame, Vex’s old comrade and one of the most wonderfully strange characters in a strip packed full of wonderfully strange characters.
And it’s not exactly looking good for her, with an execution party headed her way and a lethal bio-toxin set to do the deed.
It’s a sad moment in the series, as we lose a great character. But hey, this is Proteus Vex, one of the most fascinating and enjoyable series of many years and there’s always chance for Carroll to throw another twist in the mix right before the end – no spoilers, but I reckon you’re all going to be as pleased as I was with how this one played out. Meanwhile, Jake Lynch’s art here is just sublime, the sheer alienness of what we’re seeing, the absolute strangeness of the Citheronian race.
It’s been a truly incredible third series, one that’s really building and building into something incredibly good, something that both sits in there with the bets of 2000 AD but one that also makes its own path, something completely different, wonderfully bizarre, very modern, and ever so great. Definitely up there with Brink and The Out now in amongst my favourites from the past few years.
FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT: 1963 – PART 2 – Ian Edginton, Tiernen Trevallion, letters by Annie Parkhouse
In 1980, the diary of German soldier Hans Schmitt was discovered in Berlin, detailing the events that occurred in 1941, when he encountered the terrifying vampire Constanta. But the vampire Constanta is long-lived and drawn to war, which is why he was also there on the Western Front in WWII, as well as France in 1916. But now, it’s time to turn to a different sort of war – Berlin of 1963 where we’ve discovered that Constanta is now working for Britain’s ‘Uncivil Service,’ the spooks running the spooks it seems.
Last week it was the intro, but this week we get to see a ’60s Constanta at work, stylish, almost Bond-like, sharp-suited, slicked back of hair. He’s there for the Brits to investigate a potential defection, but he’s not the only spook with a supernatural twist on the loose in Berlin – something that just opens the world of Constanta up even more.
Effectively, it’s a strip that Edginton’s really transformed, building on the simple yet so brilliant initial concept and ending up here with a whole world of the supernatural all coming together, manipulated and manoeuvred by the powers that be, although there’s always the sense that players like Constanta will always follow their own path. And of course, Trevallion’s artwork, here in glorious black and white and grey tones, is simple spellbinding.
BRINK: MERCURY RETROGRADE – PART 5 – Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, leters by Simon Bowland
The continuing slow-build of the latest Brink just gets better and better, the tension already palpable even though we really don’t know quite which way it’s going to go.
What does seem obvious is that Nolan Maslow, investigative journalist looking into sect crimes, Union links, and the death of Bridget Kurtis’ partner Brinkman (from way back in book 1 of the series) will find himself getting deeper and deeper and way deeper into trouble. Here, he’s busy rubbing HabSec up the wrong way when trying to identify the HabSec officer he saw at Brink’s scene of death. We all know it’s Bridge, but so much has gone on in Bridge’s life since then that I can’t see anyway Nolan will get to talk to her anytime soon.
The joy of Brink, as I’ve said so before, so many times before, is that everything just fits together so beautifully, Abnett’s writing is so sharp, establishing and then building up characters so well, immersing us in the world of Brink so deeply.
And then, essential to the success of the strip, you have INJ Culbard’s artwork, where every panel, every figure, every motion, every expression is doing everything so right, so simple yet so damn great. Personally, this episode was all watching Culbard do this masterclass of a two, then a three-handed conversation in the bar and outside between Nolan and HabSec, the view switching back and forth, the lighting and mood colours just so good, never anything but absolute mastery of the scene.