That cover by Cliff Robinson and Dylan Teague couldn’t be any more fitting and the Judge Dredd Sons of Booth story continues with Part 2 as the rest of the titles in this prog are approaching their climax.
Judge Dredd // Sons of Booth Part 2 by T.C. Eglington, Nick Dyer, Chris Blythe, and Annie Parkhouse
We’re in Part 2 and it’s interesting to see the development that Kelvin is having already. While he’s still a nerdy looking little guy, he’s found a new Him in the Sons of Booth and his character is taking an interesting turn. From the first part, we had some introspection in the form of a monologue and he was very much recounting his story as we read it, but it’s good to see development setting in so soon. Part of this is due to a propaganda video he’s been given by the Sons and he’s got himself in deep already.
The theme of this story pushes our political buttons and the fact it happens to be taking place in Mega-City One doesn’t detract from the very obvious grounding in reality. Minorities being attacked and a radicalized fervor for a corrupt American president is made even more relevant thanks to recent occurrences in the news. If one thing can be said for politics, it’s a fantastic muse.
Dyer and Blythe’s artwork brings the dirty, ‘white trash’ followers of Booth to the forefront with slack-jawed grins and hillbilly attire. The smell of beer would be hanging on their breath and their hatred for anything ‘un-American’ is worn like a badge of honour in their acts. Eglington’s monosyllabic dialogue delivered by these characters is fun to read and Parkhouse’s lettering is perfectly placed.
The irony involved in placing what is essentially an all-American terrorist cell at the centre of a story, in today’s climate, is utterly rewarding.
Brink // Skeleton Life Part 9 by Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, and Simon Bowland
Things are getting increasingly suspenseful as Kurtis and Gibrani go deeper into the partially constructed habitat. The colouring depicts the darkness by using purple hues and some great shading. The environments are very different from what we’ve seen previously and the detritus suspended in mid-air due to the lack of gravity in that area is a nice touch, presenting a dirtier imagery than the clean and crisp upper floors.
Brink hasn’t been about action and has perhaps been a bit languid in getting started, but this part in particular gives the reader some fantastic suspense as the two protagonists become aware that they are not the only ones down there. During their continued investigation, the two characters also flesh out what might be going on and Kurtis divulges further theories on what may have been happening. The result is a series of panels that pull the reader in deeper and pays off at the very end with a ‘don’t end now!’ moment. If you weren’t hooked before, you likely are now.
Defoe // Diehards Part 6 by Pat Mills, Colin MacNeil, and Ellie De Ville
The prologue to the start of this story brings us up to speed with the Diehards presenting a suitable threat to even Defoe. It is obvious now that they are being controlled, but to what end is yet to be established. For what is essentially an undead hunt with plenty of violence, the plot is thick with intrigue. The various suspects have been shown, but exactly who or what is behind these recent attacks remains clouded and this serves well to keep the investigation interesting. To give an example; there is a panel slap bang in the middle of a fight sequence with an opened book full of occult lettering. A shadow is thrown across this book and out of view a bubble creeps in with some form of incantation. The shadow gives nothing away, but also throws us what could be a red herring as it appears to reference a particular suspect – the art comes together to deliver this juxtaposition of action with an invisible threat.
There are sub-plots as well, including what is essentially a ghost writer for a popular novelist (whom is also a suspect). This gives a change of focus and could potentially add to the plot or at least serve to paint a picture of this suspect a little more vividly. Speaking of writing, Defoe fires some pretty harsh truths towards a local magazine editor in a tavern and it’s quite easy to see the Pat Mills behind the grimacing Defoe – if you’ve read Serial Killer: Read ‘Em and Weep Book 1 by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The disdain for the mundane drivel produced in 70s British comics seems to come through in this week’s Prog. Those 70s British comics must have been a horror that thankfully many of us have never had to endure and the thousand yard stare worn by those ‘that were there, man!’ shows that the veterans of 2000 AD have plenty still to give us.
Scarlet Traces // Cold War: Book 2 Part 9 by Ian Edginton, D’Israeli, and Annie Parkhouse
With the forces of earth having made their attack while Ahron and Sohna create a chain reaction to attempt to kill all the Martians, the main characters on both sides are in a race to escape the facility. Motivations are slightly different on each side, but the atrocity that has been committed hits home for the characters as they witness the aftermath. Indeed, it’s also the first time we fully appreciate it as the reader.
What has been so clever with Scarlet Traces is the ability of Edginton and D’Israeli to bring us into the characters on a personal level while delivering a large scale to the events. The story has changed pace and built speed to the finale with this Prog being the fastest yet, depicting a frantic scramble for survival. How this story will end is going to be fun to find out and the results of the actions taken will likely need to be accounted for.
Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld Part 9 by Kek-W, Dave Kendall, and Ellie De Ville
Things got brutal in Part 8. Really brutal. With the dark menace to the events in the last part, there is some eccentricity to this prog with the guerilla’s tech guy having now been corrupted and ‘turned’. Stand out line from this entire Prog has to be “Sparky! Tasers set to Kill. And make me a playlist…” as the rambling engineer finds a new motivation. This brilliantly breaks the suspense and horror from the last Part and plunges us into an all-out fight with a healthy dose of humour.
Yet again, Jess comes into her own and her significance grows hugely thanks to a character revelation. Where this character could go next is exciting to think about, particularly as she already has her own nemesis… no spoilers!
There is a great reference to the world of Judge Dredd and there is a potential for a crossover to happen thanks to a single line uttered by Psiren. It’s not the first time it’s been said in this story, but with the potential revelation what has happened to Jess, it’ll probably geek out any Judge Dredd fan further.
Dave Kendall’s art switches up the sense of dread from the last part and paints a more dynamic scene as things get chaotic. Gunshots, explosions, and blood spatter are all depicted in great stylish detail, but always match the tone of the story so far. There is a great panel which takes up about a third of a page featuring the deranged engineer holding a detonator in one hand, a severed hand in the other and sports an expression of pure insanity across his face. All against the backdrop of a bright (for this title) explosion.
2000 AD Prog 2031 boils, simmers, and explodes with a perfect balance of differing paces and eclectic titles. 2017 is shaping up to be a great year to be a 2000 AD reader.
2000 AD Prog 2031 is available on Wednesday 17th May in stores, online and digitally via www.2000adonline.com.