This week’s cover by D’Israeli would look right at home as a poster for a 1950s B-Movie, with its classic science fiction style and reds saturating the page. Welcome to Prog 2028 fellow Earthlets!
Judge Dredd // Harvey Part 5 by John Wagner, John McCrea, Mike spicer & Annie Parkhouse
Despite Dredd’s advice against the implementation, Judge Hershey has gone ahead with the roll-out of the latest RV-8 Mechanismo units and Mega-City One now has a force to be reckoned with. Each unit have simple and easily remembered first names such as ‘Billy’ (and indeed Harvey) and despite their obviously mechanical exterior, the dialogue they come out with is often full of humour due to their out-of-place empathy and sentiment. Citizens are often perplexed at their decisions and methods, while others absolutely love the units. What we have is a complete turnabout from the usual attitude towards Judges and this gives a snapshot of what life could be life if the Judges were a tad more lenient – much to the disgust of Dredd of course.
The story has raised the question of empowerment to AI units and what this might mean for humanity; if you give a machine power over life and death of a human, where does it end? Dredd’s opinion has been made very clear throughout and yet the potential benefits this brings Mega-City One has overridden his concerns. In this part, Dredd is facing a very interesting situation and it wouldn’t be fair to write anymore than that for risk of spoilers.
As has come to be expected from John McCrea & Mike Spicer, the art continues to stand out as being damn-right cool and awe-inspiring. McCrea seems to have a really good ability to incorporate that iconic Judge’s helmet with great effect and there is an awesome panel depicting Dredd’s face with a flashback panel caught as a reflection in his helmet’s visor. The shading, the colours and the composition of this panel is echoed throughout this part and maintains the high standard we’ve seen this far.
Defoe // Diehards Part 3 by Pat Mills, Colin MacNeil & Ellie de Ville
Diehards continues with some insight into what Defoe’s current mission is and exactly why he is suffering the company of Gallowgrass, a sordid and morally bereft character who happens to have information that Defoe could use. Interestingly, this information paints a corrupt and in some cases more sinister side to well-known figures throughout London. There’s still a Reek problem and Titus Defoe intends to find out why.
The historic setting of Defoe is interesting and Pat Mills brings accuracy to this title in the same way he brings Celtic lore to Sláine; it feels like a reliable representation of 17th century London, (undead aside of course) and this seems to have been matched with Colin MacNeil’s artwork in the way clothes, buildings and haircuts depict this period in time (have a quick look on the internet). The result is a dark London with plenty of threat and creeping atmosphere.
The violence depicted in Defoe is graphic and holds no punches regardless of who it is at the end of a pistol or teeth, although it is not as all-out as a standard action-comic – there is substance.
If there is to be some criticism this early on, it is that some of the artwork on Gallowgrass is cartoony and not fitting with some aspects of the story – this might in part be to highlight him as a humorous side-kick rather than a more serious character but regardless, those crossed-eyes and formless expressions seem a tad silly at times. For some readers, you’d be forgiven to hope that he comes to a suitably grisly end – although there is no sign that this will be the case so far.
Brink // Skeleton Life Part 6 by Dan Abnett, Inj Culbard & Simon Bowland
So far Kurtis has been placed into numerous conversations with different characters and she continues to accompany Mariam Junot, acting CEO of Junot Corp – the organisation which owns Galina habitat – to find the project architect. Essentially, production has fallen behind on the hab and Junot wants to know why. The result of this meeting is the introduction of a character who is a potential candidate for a full-on Jack Torrance psychotic episode.
Skeleton Life has presented a story full of potential where the priorities are certainly that of corporate orders rather than the apparent safety of the workforce. This is a pressure that many people have felt in their day-to-day lives, be it a salesperson, administrator or company Director. In the case of Brink it just happens to be set in space, with less health and safety but with far more rumor than the average workplace (is your place of work reportedly haunted with strange deaths and reports of ghosts?).
The plot is crawling along but the interactions between characters is what makes Brink work. The dialogue and the character artwork is enjoyable and conveys a lot of human qualities with facial expressions and naturally flowing conversations. Kurtis’s eyes probably stand-out as an almost iconic feature that conveys a permanent expression of skepticism – she is constantly analyzing and in the final panel there is more than meets with eye.
Scarlet Traces // Cold War: Book 2, Part 6 by Ian Edginton, D’Israeli & Annie Parkhouse
Part 6 opens up with mass orbital bombardment and some fantastic war-tech at work as the Earth forces begin the attack on the Martians. And not just an attack, an attempt at all-out genocide. Again, the scale of Scarlet Traces and the powerful themes are evident in both the writing and artwork. Despite that, Part 6 doesn’t give too much of plot development other than a surprise entrance of Ahron and Iykarus as their plan begins to unfold.
Annie Parkhouse must have had a lot of fun lettering the Martian’s language and had a lot of creativity in delivering what is very much an alien language. The actual shape of the bubbles also helps to convey at least the tone of what is being said and certainly matches the artwork brilliantly.
Everything (well… as much as has been hinted at) is set in motion now and it’s going to be great to see where this title takes us next. The final page is extremely satisfying by the way, but you’ll have to read it for yourself.
Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld Part 6 by Kek-W, Dave Kendall & Ellie de Ville
Our three characters (Fairfax, Jess and Byke) have developed and have been fleshed-out over the course of these 6 parts and adversity is something that they have become accustomed to. The bonds formed are also clear and none more so than Jess’s sentiment towards Byke which presents an interesting relationship not a million miles away from Terminator 2 (although a sentient Bike with superior technology is arguably a lot cooler). It is therefore Byke that motivates Jess’s actions in this part with plenty of empathy for her and her innocent view of life even now, as it is being ravaged and destroyed.
Fairfax isn’t having a good time (as per usual) and things are truly getting nasty, to the detriment of everyone around them. Each step leads beautifully to the next throughout this title and we have had some great characters that have come to life, each with their own distinctive personality and appearance. There is plenty of back-story to be filled in and lots of vengeance to be had, all of which is simmering as we progress through each part. We also have perilous situations to overcome and a living nightmare to endure that has and continues to be a compelling and rewarding experience. That art, those characters – it’s unlike so many comic book stories out there and if you like your stories on the dark side, I would urge you to pick it up and read it (note that Tainted: The Fall of Deadworld will be released as a trade paperback later this year).
The current run of 2000 AD stories is a rewarding read each week but now we’re mid-way through some of them, it feels as though there is a storm coming (“Viene la tormenta!” to make another Terminator 2 reference). How each title is going to conclude is impossible to say and this keeps the reader guessing and craving more. It’s exciting to think of what other titles 2000 AD have in store for us this year, yet some of these current story arcs seem to be as good as they could possibly get.
2000 AD Prog 2028 is out Wednesday 26th April in stores, online and digitally via www.2000adonline.com.