The Road to Hell continues in Prog 2025 with plenty of Thrill Power laid before us by Tharg The Mighty. The cover depicts the horror of Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld, beautifully drawn and coloured by Clint Langley, and it fittingly entices the reader to open the comic. There are four current story arcs and a new one-off Future Shocks story.
Judge Dredd // Harvey Part 2 by John Wagner, John McCrea, Mike Spicer, and Annie Parkhouse
The current story arcs are ramping up with Harvey Part 2, putting Harvey through his paces on a typical day out with Dredd. Closely watching Harvey, Dredd is determining whether or not this new Mechanismo unit should be put into service. Given the past experience, Harvey isn’t going to have an easy run of it.
The art and colouring by John McCrea and Mike Spicer really stands out yet again, with the opening page featuring a full-page panel depicting a Mega-City one street, complete with mega block, store fronts, citizens, neon signs and the debris strewn street itself. Both Dredd and Harvey sit astride their Lawmasters which are suitably imposing and impressive. The detail is rich and the design of Harvey brings the character to life with a chin to rival Dredd himself.
The procedural nature of a Mega-City One Judge on the beat is played out with plenty of brutality and efficiency, with the looming size of Harvey scaring the hell out of perps. Throughout the story, Dredd is very much on the sidelines and background of each panel, yet it’s clear he is watching with raw scrutiny.
Wagner makes Harvey compelling to read, so it’s going to be with anticipation we wait to see what happens next.
Brink // Skeleton Life Part 3 by Dan Abnett, Inj Culbard, and Simon Bowland
Skeleton Life has been a straight up detective thriller so far. Not quite a noir feel, but certainly a P.I. doing what she does best. Kurtis wears a permanent expression of skepticism as she questions the security staff on-board the Galina habitat, where rumours of ghosts surround several deaths of on-board construction workers.
Brink continues to be driven by engaging dialogue by Abnett, which makes the characters play off of one another effortlessly. This is engaging, while serving the reader tidbits of intrigue and plot.
Inj Culbard has more room in this part to design an interior of the habitat that varies from a clinical security office space, to the hallways throughout the habitat and domiciles, where some of the more fortunate inhabitants will be able to experience, (should construction ever finish).
The colouring by Culbard changes to give each section of environment a different feel: yellows in the security office, blues in the hallways for example, but always gives the impression of a habitat that is very much under construction.
So far, Brink has been very easy to read and gives you plenty to remain invested while setting up the plot to keep you looking forward to the next part.
Scarlet Traces // Cold War: Book 2 Part 3 by Ian Edginton, D’Israeli, and Annie Parkhouse
Part three presents a double-page spread consisting of a huge and expansive orbital fleet amassing above the Moon. Various countries have pulled together, and each society brings with it their own unique fleet design of war ship, clearly defining each country and the roles they might play later.
While the Earth forces pull together in an attempt to save the solar system, Icarus and Shakespeare are on their own mission to stop the Martians from destroying the entire solar system. The two characters are great fun with a dynamic that speaks more of a bickering married couple than a dynamic duo. The plan they have is not clearly defined, but there is reveal towards the end of this part as to what they’ve been up to. It also presents a wonderful comedy moment.
D’Israeli’s artwork is superb from the outset of this part, with a large-scale fleet in the expanse of space, down to the more claustrophobic confines of Icarus and Shakespeare’s ship. There are some fantastic computer simulations running on-board their ship, which is illustrated to give the impression of a computer generated hologram, yet fits the styling and colouring running throughout the rest of the panels.
Scarlet Traces continues to impress and deliver a large-scale threat being opposed by a small-scale pair of underdogs, with a yet undisclosed big idea.
Future Shocks // The Dream Factory by Rory McConville, Steve Yeowell, and Ellie De Ville
Future Shocks can vary in quality, which is perhaps not surprising considering the short, and one-off nature of its stories.
In this issue we have The Dream Factory which has an interesting concept: sell people time to sit on a machine and experience different dreams. Not too far away from our current pass-times including video games, movies, social media and, ahem, comics. As usual therefore, we have a running commentary of present life through the medium of Future Shocks.
The story centres around the manager of The Dream Factory, a dream arcade, and a troubled patron who sneaks in to get free dream time. The monologue by the manager sets the scene nicely for the story, and is well written by Rory McConville.
Steve Yeowell’s art is simplistic at times, but the design of the arcade, and particularly the dream machines, is clever, using familiar font styles to reference old-school arcade machines. Not to mention the customers are suitably zombified by their experience while plugged in.
Overall, with a Future Shock you are typically left with a ‘shock’ moment. In this case the ending was relatively predictable and less original than McConville’s other work, (see Prog 2024 last week), leaving a lingering, rather tepid finish. That said, it does give a nice social commentary on the addictive nature of technology.
Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld // Part 3 by Kek-W, Dave Kendall, and Ellie De Ville
As each part of this series unfolds, it becomes more and more apparent that Jess is really coming into her own as a capable character. Fairfax is not firing on all cylinders and is struggling with the come-down and withdrawal from Justice Department-issue drugs. This leaves Jess at the handlebars of Byke, much to the dismay of Fairfax.
Jess shines through as a compassionate character with a sufficient assertiveness to stop Fairfax from accidentally shooting an entire mutant family, a scene which stands out for both its harrowing concept of a family trying to get by in desperate times and incredibly grotesque artwork by Kendall. Kendall’s artwork is a nightmare in paper-form, and never fails to hit the mark: everything from the characters to the environments is full of detail, yet remains shrouded by an intense gloom.
Kek-W’s writing brings humour and wonderfully contrasting characters to what could easily be a miserable story at a first glance at the synopsis. This couldn’t be further from the truth as the three main characters gel and raise their game for every situation, bringing a sense of hope despite the catastrophe they face.
In summary, Prog 2025 continues four impressive story arcs that leave a persistent hunger for more. There seems to be plenty that is unexplained, yet each part gives a sense of satisfaction to read and enjoy. The quality of writing is consistently high throughout these ongoing stories, and the artwork wraps up the package beautifully, not to mention grimy and grotesquely. 2000AD Prog 2025 is out Wednesday 5th April in stores, online and digitally via www.2000adonline.com.