The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2304: Target’s On Hershey
by Richard Bruton
It’s 45 years old and it just gets better & better – 2000 AD is the UK’s greatest sci-fi weekly comic and we’re here with The Weekly 2000 AD to give you a preview.
Five thrill-powered stories continuing in the Prog this week – sci-fi in Mega-City One, a swinging simian, magical noir, post-apocalyptic nightmares, and the cold creeping into the bones down in Antarctic City.
Yep, more inside from Judge Dredd, Chimpsky’s Law, Enemy Earth, Hope… In The Shadows, and Hershey. Five excellent strips hitting their stride in style.
2000 AD Prog #2304 is out now. Shall we take a look inside?
JUDGE DREDD: BURATINO MUST DIE – PART 2 – by Rob Williams and Henry Flint, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Well, seeing as we caught up with ex-Sov Psi-Judges Buratino and Isaaks last Prog, it was way past time we met the true star of the End of Days storyline, as Williams and Flint bring back Ichabod Azrael’s wonderful talking horse.
Oh, all right, it’s only a cameo, Dredd just walks past, thus making a terrible decision. After all, who wouldn’t want to see the further adventures of Dredd and the horse? No? Really?
Okay then, back to what we’re actually getting, as Dredd’s none too happy seeing Buratino and Isaak’s have re-purposed the Sentientoid as some bizarre servant, and as for the rest of what they’re up to. Well, according to Buratino, it’s classified.
Oh yes… classified. That’s just what Dredd loves hearing. But Dredd’s got form dealing with this sort of thing, especially after Smiley, and straightaway, we’re building a team, Anderson first, all to figure out what the hell’s going on with the secret Sov research section of MC-1.
And also… this gag…
Now that just works beautifully. So beautifully.
So, only the second episode and this one really is looking like something so good. Dredd already wondering what the hell’s going on, the Sov Psi team doing heaven knows what… and someone very suspicious getting into MC-1. And that’s without going into just how damn good Henry Flint’s artwork is looking here; sublime stuff from one of the best Dredd artists.
CHIMPSKY’S LAW: A TERRIFICALLY DISTURBING ADVENTURE – PART 4 – by Ken Niemand, PJ Holden, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Simon Bowland
So, after something big and important like Buratino Must Die in Dredd, Hershey’s just a delicious blast of perfectly done silliness.
Poor old Noam doesn’t realise it yet, but having those two annoying and psychotic psy-twins, Timmy and Thruppence, playing in his block, the one he’s done so much to protect, means he’s in some serious trouble.
(Well, about as serious as it gets in Chimpsky.)
Sure, they can’t work their psi-powers on Chimpsky direct, but that doesn’t mean they can’t seriously mess with his life and everyone he cares about.
But right now… he hasn’t quite put it all together yet, why there’s been all these strange things happening in his block, why it’s all started so recently… he’s nearly there… nearly… he’s trying to remember that ‘something bad’…
Yep, it’s super silly, but it’s also just so well done, full of great writing from Niemand and some career-high artwork from PJ Holden. His style’s developed and altered, and it’s a style that’s just perfectly suited here to the tone of what he and Niemand are doing with Chimpsky. The facial expressions, the body language, the panel and page flows… all of it just works so simply and so well.
ENEMY EARTH: BOOK 1 – PART 4 – by Cavan Scott, Luke Horsman, letters by Annie Parkhouse
So Zoe came back for Jules, putting herself in harm’s way, physically and emotionally, allowing herself to (nearly) get close to someone again, especially someone who reminds her so much of her little brother.
Anyhow, there’s murder weeds in the bunker, so it’s time for Zoe, Jules, and (eventually) Nanni to head out into the outdoors – and seeing as how the outdoors wants to rip them to shreds and eat them, that’s a big deal.
This one is another great little strip, very small scale by default, Scott concentrating on its limited cast so far, albeit a limited cast in a world full of lots of big, nasty things. And Horsman’s artwork really is rather perfect for it, raw and angular, fun and interesting, taking what made this one work as a Regened strip and transforming it into something that sits, very comfortably, between Regened and 2000 AD – hitting that sweet spot of something for older young readers, just like 2000 AD used to be.
HOPE… IN THE SHADOWS REEL TWO – PART 3 – by Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton, letters by Jim Campbell
Okay then, so President Truman is out visiting the nuclear town’s coven as we continue to follow Mallory Hope’s wife Alice into very dangerous territory.
President Truman lasts exactly two pages before Norma just blows him away… quite literally.
Turns out even some of the coven think Norma’s a little out of control. And on the final two pages, Norma shows just what she’s capable of. It’s not good, not good at all.
Following Alice this way has led the whole thing into darker territory, even though Hope had already been pretty damn dark already. Adams’ writing dark and moody, with Broxton’s artwork going over and above in the scene-setting and getting the tone just right.
HERSHEY: THE COLD IN THE BONES: BOOK 1 – PART 4 – by Rob Williams, Simon Fraser, letters by Simon Bowland
At the end of last episode of Hershey and Frank in Antarctic City, Frank went in to infiltrate the Joy gang… yes, that’s right, Hershey sent Dirty Frank into a drug gang… this really doesn’t bode well.
Or maybe not, not if the quite beautiful first page is anything to go by. Opening with Fraser’s usual stripped back colours and Frank sat quietly with Joe the Dog looking out onto the icy wastes, there’s a moment of serenity and calm that’s both touching and sad, with Frank finding a peace that he’s always been seeking, rarely to get…
Of course, even then, Williams and Fraser still twist the knife, that memory of Smiley and the snowflake. Cruel. Beautiful, but cruel.
Meanwhile, Hershey’s finding out more about Joy, the alien-derived new drug that Frank’s getting into. Hmmm, alien drug in Antarctic City, alien virus killing Hershey… you don’t think? Well, that we’ll wait and see how it turns out.
And her cover isn’t exactly holding up too well either…
Of course, this is all mood and gloom, after all, it has that end of times feel fro Hershey. It would, of course, she’s dying after all. You can’t get much darker than that. But it’s the way in which Williams writes it, clipped, downbeat, inevitable, marching towards an end, and the way Fraser sets out his pages, gets that colour tone just spot on… it’s a perfect thing, it really is, especially in this series so far, where it’s mostly been setting things up, exploring the place, nothing action-packed, just that overwhelming sense of menace of things to come – particularly as Frank ends this episode infiltrating the Joy gang… and if you’re selling, you’re taking.
Oh Frank, poor Frank.