2000ad Prog 2086
Judge Dredd “The Paradigm Shift” Part 5 by Michael Carroll, Jake Lynch, John Charles and Annie Parkhouse
The Paradigm shift wraps up this week but, disappointingly, it’s with more of a whimper than a bang. Despite taking two in the back from Agent Sager last week Deacon shows little to no ill-effects. He’s able to chase down his perp in a sequence that, while exciting, renders last progs events irrelevant. Back in the future, the nerve agent everyone was so worried about is pretty easily contained with a dollop of riot foam. It’s all a bit “meh” after the quality of the preceding episodes.
There is a top quality legacy moment as Dredd and Deacon head back out on the streets to keep their presence felt. The message is clear. The Judges are here to stay despite anyone’s misgivings. Lynch makes a bold, imposing statement with his final panels. The stories became more intertwined as they go on and Lynch reinforces this continuity by allowing the slightest of overlaps in the near-mirror images.
Skip Tracer “Heavy is the Head” Part 6 by James Peaty, Paul Marshall, Dylan Teague and Simon Bowland
Nolan doesn’t exactly enhance his private eye credentials this week. He sticks out like a sore thumb, asking some conspicuous questions. Alright he gets a lead but it’s probably not worth it if he has to eat Paul Marshall’s extremely disgusting street food. Marshall gives a real sense of space to the environment; opening with a high, wide angle before zooming down onto the characters. Dylan Teague bathes everything in a hellish red glow, giving sinister shadows to the denizens in sharp relief to the futuristic neon blues of the Cube proper. His underworld imagery is made overt with the demonic splice and the cinder-like light particles swirling around.
With the exception of the nightclub episode, Peaty has controlled the pace well in this new thrill. He’s drip-fed the reader just enough to slowly expose the Cube and its seedier Underneath. This week we get some more hints at xxx empathy senses as well as the mysterious Grey Division. Always leave them wanting more they say. Skip Tracer is doing just enough to keep the reader on board.
Survival Geeks “Geek-Con” Part 5 by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby, Neil Googe, Gary Caldwell and Annie Parkhouse
We bid farewell to the Geeks this week. It’s been a fun ride sustained by on-point references in both text and art. Beeby, the queen of dialogue, has given us some memorable chat and there’s a sweetness to Si and Sam’s not-quite-relationship which stops the series from being just a dig at the fans.
The artwork doesn’t begin and end with just clever caricatures. Caldwell colours us a genuinely touching soft-focus reunion for Sam and Si. You can almost hear the record scratch as Si proceeds to ruin it as usual. The attack of Howard the Cthulhu beast is alarmingly well played and not for laughs either. So long Investigator Qui. Unlike the rest of the Geeks, we won’t see you soon.
Damned: The Fall of Deadworld Part 6 by Kek-W, Dave Kendall and Ellie de Ville
Deadworld is developing and deepening its mythos this week. Casey, emboldened by the sisters, looks to be staging a coup of his own. Are they just giving Sidney a gentle reminder of where the power truly lies?
Elsewhere, Jess is having two very different conversations with two of her significant companions. Is this a budding romance between Jess and Arthur? Their hand-holding is the sweetest thing imaginable. Kendall catches their childish innocence beautifully and Kek-W shows their tender concern for each other like a wee flower amid the desolation.
Jess’ growing sense of destiny is written all over. She’s now beginning to be aware of it herself. Her confrontation with Byke/Horse does not go the way Byke wanted. Jess is becoming formidable in her determination and the idea that Byke has a separate agenda just adds a layer to an already satisfying treat.
Durham Red “Born Bad” Part 5 by Alec Worley, Ben Willsher and Ellie de Ville
Nature or nurture? That’s the question at the heart of Durham Red this week. Her essential self is still pursuing her. The parallels between her own life and that of Bootha and her son are starkly exposed. Worley considers whether or not doing what you feel you have to do to survive is justification enough for your sins.
Past sins haunt both Bootha and Red. If someone sends a vampire after you, they must mean you ill. Bootha’s ruthless pursuit of a better life for her son isn’t what she sees as the problem. He’s innately evil, just like the vampire.
Either way, there’s more to it than familial ties. Bootha hints at a deal she made with her son and there’s an unfriendly team incoming. Expect fireworks next week.
Despite Dredd missing the target this week, the prog continues its impressive recent run. Next week The Order replaces Survival Geeks.