Hope is back! The series seemed to end abruptly back in Prog 2016 leaving us all to wonder exactly what happened. Jimmy Broxton’s cover announces the return perfectly with a noir feel that summarises what Hope is all about. We also have the last part of Judge Dredd “Ouroboros”.
Judge Dredd // “Ouroboros” Part 4 by Michael Carroll, Paul Marshall, Quinton Winter, and Annie Parkhouse
Dredd stories can really vary in theme. Sometimes, Dredd doesn’t actually do much and other times he’s a machine of law enforcement that allows him to take down a room of perps completely unarmed. In “Ouroborus” we have a perfect balance that is brilliantly paced.
Vega is so damn cool and her abilities are both a mystery and superior to everyone around her. Kudos to Michael Carroll for this part because the action kicks off with gunplay galore, sick jokes and a great resolution at the end. If Vega comes back to Judge Dredd it won’t be soon enough.
Marshall and Winter’s work on these four parts has conveyed the comedic nature of Vega while making her a force to be reckoned with. She’s agile and is illustrated as such, all the while her facial expressions change from elated happiness to pure anger. On the subject of anger, the violence is served with brutality, enjoy!
“Ouroborus” is Dredd as you would expect right now: he’s old, cynical and doesn’t mess around. So having a young character that is so full of vitality to riff off of Dredd works brilliantly.
Grey Area // “Signal Six Twenty-Four” Part 2 by Dan Abnett, Mark Harrison, and Annie Parkhouse
The moral dilemma reaches a conclusion in Part 2 and it’s an important moment in the current arc for Grell and Bulliet.
Grey Area could be about sci-fi gunplay or any other action set piece you could think of. Yet this part has very little in the way of traditional ‘action’ present. Despite this, it is perhaps the most satisfying part of the current run of Grey Area. Dan Abnett builds our expectations, denies them to us and then delivers an even better moment.
Mark Harrison? Well that guy delivers environments that few could imagine let alone illustrate. The colours are vivid and intense, the characters are often abstract and the aliens are bizarre and original. You’re unlikely to see art quite like it and it’s simply awesome.
This is the last we’ll see of Grey Area until Prog 2050.
The Alienest // “Inhuman Natures” Part 3 by Gordon Rennie/Emma Beeby, Eoin Coveney, and Ellie De Ville
A drunken Sebastian Wetherall (or Reggie, his actual name) is venting to nearby patrons of a local tavern when things go bad for him. At the risk of spoilers, let’s just say things get utterly strange towards the end of this part yet compelling. In fact, waiting for the next part is going to be a tough one because there is a great reveal and plenty of intrigue.
Coveney’s art get’s a large spread on one page that seems sparse of detail until you look at it again. Then you look at it longer and you notice something in the background which might just be a shadow or could be something else entirely. This part feels short but there are some great wide-eyed facial expressions slapped over the hapless Wetherall that is full of detail in Coveney’s black and white imagery. There is also some interesting character design on a new arrival to the story.
The Alienist is a weird and wonderful title that is full of fun. So far, there has been little of Vespertine in a lot of ways who has had very little dialogue compared to the other characters. It’s going to be great to see how she’s going to try and clean up the paranormal mess that has been created.
Greysuit // “Foul Play” Part 5 by Pat Mills, John Higgins, Sally Hurst, and Ellie De Ville
With Prince poisoned and abandoned by British Intelligence, Blake’s now after a confession from him before he dies. The set-up Pat Mills has created is great and there is a monologue of Blake reading the CVs of each of the bodyguards that Prince has employed. This is not only funny but demonstrates just how untouchable the Greysuits are compared to ‘normal’ humans. The CV monologue is timed with perfection, giving an enjoyable punchline (pun intended) as Blake takes them out one-by-one.
The violent plot is filled with action that often comes across in a stylish way. Why perform a silent neck break or use a silenced pistol when you can punch a man’s face to a pulp in an instant kill? Frank Castle wishes he was this deadly.
Higgins and Hurst serve up more varied and rich panels, including some impressive portraits hanging in the decor of the mansion Blake has invaded. Was it necessary to have such a detailed and well polished portrait in the background of a panel? Probably not. But what it does do is bring the environment to life, right before Blake ends another bodyguard’s career. Also take note of the subtlety employed as Blake gives a slight smirk after being harmlessly punched in the face.
The sick ending is fitting and Blake’s self-guided mission is far from over.
Hope // “…For the Future” Part 7 by Guy Adams, Jimmy Broxton, Simon Bowland
Simultaneously bleak and thrilling, Hope is a fascinating blend of noir tropes and the arcane arts. If the Rivers of London series has been described as “Hot Fuzz meets Harry Potter” Hope is L.A. Confidential meets Harry Potter who then hang out and watch back-to-back Hammer Horror movies.
Let’s make a quick list:
The PI with the drink problem: Check.
The femme fatale client: Check.
The case that twists and turns: Check.
The onlooking demon that soaks up Hope’s misery: Definitely!
There is a re-cap at the beginning of this part which is very much needed if you weren’t reading it before but this Prog is full of the moody dialogue and dark noir-style artwork that you’ll come to expect. Both Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton have created an utterly engaging and wonderful alternative 1940s US, filled with period clothing, cars, furniture and architecture. The dialogue is slick and dry, the action is sparse but hard-hitting and the themes are positively sinister.
As mysteries go, it’s original yet familiar, playing off our existing expectations of noir fiction and twisting it into something even darker. Whatever Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton have in store for us, it’s going to be a page-turner each week.
Prog 2044 is another fantastic issue filled with variety from a host of amazing talent. Tharg must be hammering his droids hard to get this level of work out of them. On a side note, look out for an excellent back cover from Cliff Robinson and Dylan Teague. It’s caught some attention: https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/08/08/donald-trump-policies-2000-ad-comics/
2000 AD Prog 2044 is out on Wednesday 16th August in stores and online, as well as digitally via www.2000adonline.com.