Dave Kendall’s 2000 AD cover is the darkest you’re likely to see for some time. The gloom and menace that radiates from Judge Fear is engrossing and the scene is painted with a nightmarish style familiar to many Deadworld readers and those who know of Kendall’s style. Things are getting sinister in Deadworld and this incredible cover hints at what’s in store for us.
Judge Dredd // Harvey Part Six by John Wagner, John McCrea, Mike Spicer & Annie Parkhouse
Harvey has been a great read and in this Prog we reach the conclusion to Wagner’s new take on the Mechanismo units. Dredd faces a formidable adversary as a RV8 unit stares him down, demanding that he drop his sidearm. This is where the action depicted by McCrea and Spicer shine once again with superbly drawn movement to the abstract imagery, making use of that vivid coloring.
The dialogue is strong and Dredd’s lines are delivered perfectly by Parkhouse’s lettering in conjunction with the artwork that, yet again, presents us with a sense of what Dredd’s voice might sound like (even if it is an inner-voice).
It’s sad to say, therefore, that this story arc simply doesn’t feel long enough. The story itself is great and the artwork by McCrea and Spicer is fantastic, but there was no proper conclusion, merely a hiatus in the story. What we can take away from this, though, is that there is more to come from the new Mechanismo units, but it is unfortunate that we’re just going to have to wait for it.
Defoe // Diehards Part Four by Pat Mills, Colin MacNeil & Ellie de Ville
Part Four sends us back two weeks prior to the recent (and grim) business in Grub Street where Defoe is gathering intel on the Diehards. This part acts as a plot builder which expands on the last part and is pointing towards a link that is focused very heavily around Grub Street itself. With plenty of intrigue, shady characters, and gritty horror, Defoe: Diehards is shaping up to be an interesting tale.
We’re only four parts in and London really comes alive through the artwork and the seedy connections that Defoe is making throughout his investigation. The descriptive language centering around the Reeks and their actions layer upon the artwork and gives the reader a suitably grim depiction of the undead, while the characters themselves are contrasting and have a part to play. Titus Defoe continues his strong, measured investigation dispassionately, yet shows a human side to the reader to make him somewhat sympathetic.
There is plenty more story to be had and 17th century London is hiding many secrets yet to be revealed.
Brink // Skeleton Life Part Seven by Dan Abnett, Inj Culbard & Simon Bowland
Brink has yet to fully expand on the story and where exactly it is going. This is a concern given we’re now on Part Seven and there has yet to be any kind of answers. What this part does do, however, is provide a frame of reference for Kurtis and her previous job/life as well as the theory she is formulating. This, coupled with a shock ending, makes for a good read.
Brink is very much a detective thriller and for fans of a mystery and the slow unfolding of a plot, you will relish Skeleton Life so far. For those of a rather impatient nature, you will be left frustrated that there have been no answers provided and only the very lightest of speculation as to what might be going on. There is the potential for readers to be very much torn on Brink, but the thing that keeps this series so engaging is a combination of the sci-fi setting created by Inj Culbard and the free-flowing dialogue presented by Dan Abnett.
Part Seven gives us a shock ending to an interesting exchange between characters, but yet again, fails to provide any real explanation of the events or where the characters are being taken.
Scarlet Traces // Cold War: Book Two Part Seven by Ian Edginton, D’Israeli & Annie Parkhouse
Moving from Brink into Scarlet Traces is a big shift in dynamic as an aerial attack is underway with some devastating results on the local population. It’s a bold choice to tell the story of collateral damage and it seems very close to home when we hear on the news of civilians being harmed in real conflicts throughout the Middle East. This, therefore, speaks strongly of the futility of war and the cost in lives.
To look at, Part Seven has some wonderful aircraft designs as well as the Martian ground forces that are retaliating. The futuristic craft show a traditional design and even decals, but are created suitably different (and un-flyable) to real-life air craft designs. Explosions, missiles, and bullets riddle the panels as a destructive battle comes tearing through the pages. It is all-out action that never feels cheap due to the heavy-hitting themes that surround it and the suitably ironic line near the end ‘There’s no major damage done’ set against the backdrop of collateral damage.
Scarlet Traces never lets up and so far the story has been balanced very well with each part.
Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld Part Seven by Kek-W, Dave Kendall & Ellie de Ville
Over the last few parts, we have been presented with some pretty sinister characters and events, but it’s time to take those moments and raise the stakes with Judge Fear doing what he does best.
While Fairfax is going through a pretty nasty psychic grilling, Psiren who has now located Fairfax and Jess is calling in back-up from a senior Judge. It’s fascinating to see how a truly horrific character such as Psiren becomes the equivalent of a cute puppy when compared to Judge Fear. The artwork has more atmosphere in a single panel than entire books that are out there have. A visage of Judge Fear is iconic with his helmet design but Deadworld is a different beast to the Judge Dredd titles you might be familiar with and the result is more gothic and horrible than anything a Dredd book has thrown out there. This isn’t a slight on Dredd, this is an attempt to describe the horror of Deadworld.
Whilst the art speaks for itself, the writing from Kek-W also paints a sinister and dark intent, with plenty of sadistic moments. It leaves the reader on a dark note that creates great anticipation for the next part.
With Defoe, Scarlet Traces: Cold War and Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld easily being the highlights of this Prog, there are two titles that haven’t fully delivered on expectations. Judge Dredd: Harvey has been brilliant in every way, but seemed to end prematurely. Perhaps this is selfish rather than objective because it felt there was a lot of road to travel down, yet we ran out of gas – it is hopeful that this journey will continue at some point in the future. Brink is a mixed bag with some fun character interactions on one side, but lacking a direction (so far) on the other. Let’s hope there is a big pay-off as we approach the conclusion.
Overall, Prog 2029 continues a number of great story arcs, but stops one of them somewhat abruptly. With events unfolding and feeding the reader plenty of potential in most titles, it is a little disappointing that one of the titles still hasn’t quite found its legs, despite giving us some interesting and unexplained events.
Prog 2029 has been available as of Wednesday 3rd May in stores, online, and digitally via www.2000adonline.com