The Weekly 2000 AD Prog 2324: You Really Want To Mess With This Judge?

by Richard Bruton

Since 1977 2000 AD has been the UK’s greatest sci-fi weekly comic, and every week we give you a glimpse inside the new Prog… it’s The Weekly 2000 AD.

Yep, 46 years and still going strong. In fact I’d go as far as saying we’re seeing a comic that’s getting better and better and better with age.

This week, the finale to both Judge Dredd: Succession and Proteus Vex: Crawl Space, more sci-fi brilliance from The Out, and more sci-fi weirdness in The Order.

(Leonardo Manco with the cover there – that’s a Dredd where every crime has etched a line on his face)

And filling out the Prog this week we have the Thought Bubble winners for 2022, Tom Watts and Mike Walters with their Future Shock: Love Birds. After having battled their way through the entrants to the TB script and art contests, these two triumphed and this is their prize. It’s a one of a kind thing, I don’t know of any other publisher who does anything like this and it’s one of the reasons that 2000 AD continues to find new and exciting writers and artists to fill the pages of both the Prog and The Megazine.

2000 AD Prog 2324 is out now in the UK and digitally. Now, whether or not this one makes it to you before or after that publication date is dependent on a couple of things… first, how late on Tuesday 21st I send it in to the Comicon overlords. But second, and more importantly, it all depends on just how long I’m going to spend stood in line at my local social security office here in the USA to see someone about a social security number. It could be a couple of hours, it could be all day, time seems to move very strangely in those places. Someone should do a Future Shock or a Time Twisters about it. Although frankly, given how many years 2000 AD‘s been going now, I imagine someone already has!

Right then, let’s have a darned good little look inside…


JUDGE DREDD: SUCCESSION – PART 4 – FINAL PART – Ken Niemand, Leonardo Manco, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Annie Parkhouse

The finale to Niemand and Manco’s corporate warfare, MC-1 style, here – although I did read that it was originally meant to be a six-parter but got curtailed after Manco had some deadline issues and Niemand re-wrote it to fit first five parts and now four.

So far, we’ve seen the trouble at Curare Corp engulf the city after the staff got word that the big boss of the Corp kicked the bucket. That led to a little bit of corporate bloodletting, with employees at every level deciding to do their best to move up the corporate ladder the quick way, by killing off as many of their competition as they could. Well, it is a very Mega-City One solution to the problem after all and they do say that there’s not that much difference between a psychopath who kills and a psychopath who makes a killing in big business.


It’s also been one of those Niemand Dredds where Dredd takes a bit of a back seat and we get to watch the craziness of the city and its citizens unfold before us. Which means here in this truncated finale, it’s time for Dredd, after the Forensic Accounts team has done their thing, to storm in on a very stylish Manco-original Lawmaster. It’s all about the way Curare Corp has been recruiting and manipulating their staff and just what bad, bad things old man Curare had been up to.

At its end, it does feel like one that could have/should have gone longer, allowed Niemand to play around with the psychopaths in big business angle some more before having Dredd march in and shut it all down. As is, as you’d probably expect, it’s all a bit rushed here – still good Niemand Dredd writing and of course some great Manco artwork, but it all rather ends like a lawgiver bullet to the head… short and sharp.


THE OUT: BOOK THREE – PART 13 – by Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison, letters by Simon Bowland

13 parts in and no sign of this one stopping quite yet. No possibility of Abnett and Harrison having to bring it to a premature close – and that’s exactly what we all want. Frankly, if Abnett and Harrison came out and said that this book of the Out, or the next book, was going to run many, many, many episodes (just as does Abnett’s other bit of 2000 AD brilliance, Brink) I’d just be jumping up and down with joy.

As I keep on saying, The Out is just the closest thing to perfection I’ve read for so long. Everything about it works and works so damn well.

Oh yes, I’m meant to be talking about this specific episode, aren’t I? Well, last episode was a bit of a cliffhanger, after Cyd, Bag, and their new companion Cheerio were finally hunted down by the Unanima. They want Cyd back under planet arrest, while the Zoto – also on her trail – just want to shut her up about the fact that they implanted Tankinar tech into her. And of course, there’s the little fact that the Unanima appear to be looking to Cyd and her connection with the mysterious entity/place/thing/whatever it is… The UP.

So, last episode’s cliffhanger went something like this…


And things really didn’t look all that good for Cheerio. Not at all. Poor Cheerio, we only really just met you.

And poor Cyd. She’s possibly lost another companion, one of the few friends she has.

But sorry Cyd, no time to mourn. The Unanima are here and they want you back…


Well, things really do turn in The Out, don’t they. Just as with the other Books, there’s episodes and episodes of quiet moments, of talk, of brilliant exposition and character building, of comedy, of intrigue, of fascinating exploration. And then we get episodes like the last few where it all takes off and explodes into frenetic action. Thankfully Abnett and Harrison are more than capable of making it all work – and they have done.

Here, it’s all building and building and building, with the Unanima going from a gentle, almost friendly thing, someone Cyd almost thought were looking out for her to something very, very sinister indeed, a classic example of someone or something doing the terrible thing because they see no other way of defeating something as dangerous as the Tankinar.

Oh, and two things to end on. First, just wait for that final page turn to the last page of this episode – it’s one of those moments that Harrison does every so often here, going from those tight, busy (but never anything less than flowing beautifully) pages of so many panels, of so much detail, to suddenly open it all up in a huge, monumental full page. Simply beautiful, and perfectly paced, ending the episode on a real high.

The second… well hopefully it’s only because next week is a Regened Prog, but the words ‘Book III continues soon!’ at the end of this one? Please tell me were not having longer than a week break here?


FUTURE SHOCKS: LOVE BIRDS – by Tom Watts and Mike Walters, letters by Annie Parkhouse

As I’ve already said, this Future Shock is the special Thought Bubble prize-winning one. Writer Tom Watts and artist Mike Walters were picked from all the entries for the script and art contests and here we see Walters illustrating Watts’ prize-winning entry.

It’s all about a science project on some alien planet, humans investigating the ‘Love Birds’ of the title, ferocious, untameable things that somehow mate for life. The two doctors in charge of the project have just found out that the funding’s been pulled and it’s time to ship out, the Love Birds just another resource that’s no longer needed and has to be disposed of. But… well, this is a Future Shock, so it’s always the way that you can’t take anything or anyone for granted.

And so it is here, with Watts’ script twisting and turning nicely, doing that thing about humanity being far more dangerous and deadly, far more vicious and venal than anything you could find in nature, no matter what planet you’re on.

Just four pages of Future Shock, but it’s a damn fine four pages. Walters’ art has that solidity to it, good storytelling, good flow, that shows just why he was picked as winner. Sure, it’s not quite perfect, but that’s fine, as with any Future Shock winner or any new artist to the Prog, there’s time to improve and perfect. After all, the likes of Henry Flint and Jake Lynch didn’t burst onto the page fully formed, they all took time. But that’s another one of the reasons 2000 AD is just so good, there is that time, with the weekly churn of strips, to have artists improve in front of our eyes.

And it’s pretty much the same with Watts’ writing here. The script, the story works really well, ticking all the essential Future Shock boxes in making you question everything. Yes, there’s a couple of moments where the scene to scene transitions don’t quite come off, but overall there’s some great potential in here.


THE ORDER: HEART OF DARKNESS – PART 7 – Kek-W and John Burns, letters by Jim Campbell

Same as last week really – chaos and weirdness abound as the Order wraps up. Or at least I think I read that this was the final series of The Order, it sure reads that way.

It’s Kek-W and John Burns doing their thing. Kek’s thing is to make it all come together neatly whilst also giving us all the strangeness that we’ve come to expect after this many episodes.

We’ve seen the Order mount an assault against the shadow-creatures, we’ve had a part-shadow Ben Franklin infiltrate the shadow White House, we’ve seen an Order ship wrapped in shadow tech fly in to bring a massive temporal shift in society, and last episode we saw the shadow George Washington get decapitated, meaning that there’s some hope for a new world order and an America finally coming togther.


But we also saw the moment Francis Bacon, a dimension away from all this, realised something was wrong and begin his attempts to stop the Order going through with their plans. Which meant we got to see Ritterstahl again. And in this episode we get to see Armoured Gideon once more, and Clara Weitz, who started this particular series thinking about Ritterstahl… yep, you can see where it’s all going can’t you, Kek-W is neatly squaring the circle, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s and putting all the ducks in a row… well, you get the idea.



PROTEUS VEX: CRAWLSPACE – PART 13 – FINAL PART – Michael Carrol and Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland

The grande finale, the end of the war, and the end of Crawlspace… and possibly a lot more of a finale than we thought it would be. Could this really be the end of Proteus Vex? Surely not?

Anyway, no spoilers going on here. All I’ll do is put up this magnificent little reunion from the end of last Prog…


… and point out just how wonderful the relationship between Vex and Midnight Indicating Shame is. Just one of the truly great things that Carroll’s included throughout Proteus Vex.

But it’s a hell of a lot more than that, it’s all about how both Carroll and Lynch have made this, made all of the Vex series so huge and epic in scale – and oh boy, has it been epic and huge in scale at times, especially this last series – but its also one of those series where there’s been so much characterisation along the way, and so much characterisation of so many alien creatures.

In short, there’s so much in Proteus Vex that works so beautifully well. Written and drawn with grand style, something genuinely alien in outlook, a perfect bit of grande space opera. But… the end? Say it ain’t so Mike and Jake!

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