2000ad Prog 2096
Judge Dredd “The Booth Conspiracy” Part 2 by T.C Eglington, Staz Johnson, Abigail Bulmer and Annie Parkhouse.
The Judges really aren’t covering themselves with glory in this one. It’s understandable that it would be boring if they were infallible, but Eglington seems to have nerfed them to the point of incompetence. There was a time when Justice Department were a slick state machine, in control of every aspect of the citizens’ lives. Indeed it was one of the elements that made their fascist regime so terrifying and believable. Now it seem like every perp has a map of PSU blackspots. Even the cubes are now insecure, with the Sons able to sneak in a communicator. Granted it’s a psycho-cube rather than an iso-cube, but you’d still expect some level of scrutiny given the headcases we’ve seen locked up over the years. This is supposed to be MC1, not Arkham Asylum.
Dredd’s frustration with the lack of progress boils over, he’s sick of reacting to these creeps, so he decides finally to take the fight to them. Hopefully that means he’ll find his razor along the way as Johnson seems to have given him a beard which appears and disappers at will. Linus is right that the Judges are stabbing in the dark but he needs to be careful, Dredd’s pretty handy with that boot knife. For all that his intelligence is played down, Dredd knows how the criminal mind works and how to exploit people’s desires.
Survival Geeks “Slack and Hash” Part 1 by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby, Neil Googe, Gary Caldwell and Ellie de Ville
The Geeks are back and, after their skewering of ComicCon, Beeby and Rennie turn their eye on horror films. It’s a rich seam of tropes and cliches but also one that’s been done many times before (think Scream franchise et al). In that case it will be difficult to keep it fresh. The mention of the rules of survival isn’t original but there’s enough charm, particularly from Googe’s artwork, to carry it off. Quirky and cool, with Caldwell’s sharp colouring to bring it out, it’s a cartoony treat.
Survival Geeks isn’t going to set the world on fire, it’s just a fun diversion, and why not? It does fun particularly well, even a clown getting kebabed from above has humour. In the Final Girls, Sam looks like she’s met some kindred spirits; no doubt that’ll go horribly wrong before long too. We can only hope.
The Order “The New World” Part 10 by Kek-W, John Burns and Annie Parkhouse.
The Order gets to experience a period of relative calm after the events of the past few weeks.It’s a change of pace that Kek-W uses to allow them to cement some of the bonding they started last prog. Even this week’s cover presents them as a more unified team than previously. That said, don’t go thinking this is the A-Team here. Anna’s refound her armour after the glimpse of vulnerability she afforded last week. Even Clara catching her after her fall doesn’t get a word of thanks.
Speaking of Clara, there is a glaring inconsistency in her size. Armoured Gideon appears to be anything from 15 to 50 feet tall at any given moment. Burns’ artwork is normal flawless, so you can forgive a bit of license in the name of expediency, particularly as he produces a glorious Medusa-like figure to conclude the episode.
The unity we saw at the beginning seems to be short-lived but Kek-W is pretty good at taking us to unexpected places so The Order may yet salvage the situation.
Mechastopheles “True Faith” Part 5 by Gordon Rennie, James rennie, Karl Richardson and Simon Bowland.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire for the crew of Mechastopheles. Can we even call them a crew? They don’t seem to have much say in what the big guy does. Maybe they’re more parasites or passengers? Regardless, things have gone south since last week. In an unseen sequence, our demon-pilots have been separated and scattered throughout the church city. In jail or in hiding, we see the secret agendas of each party. It’s a story of growing depth with some excellent characterisation from Team Rennie and getting better with each prog.
Karl Richardson has done a fine job too of bringing to life the gallery of grotesques that inhabit the demon-infested world. Each one’s face givesa glimpse of the ugliness within, with the exception of the stowaway who is as smooth-faced an innocent as you could hope to meet. The fact that she is probably more dangerous than all the other characters is a compelling twist of the knife.
The journey into the bowels of Mechastopheles and the hint at his true nature echoes the prophecy from last week. Is he salvation or doom? All will be revealed in the fullness of time.
Grey Area “Objectives” Part 2 by Dan Abnett, Mark Harrison and Ellie de Ville
The attack on the slavers’ hideout begins in earnest in Grey Area and Bitch and Kymn struggle to retain their position as conscientious objectors. Meanwhile back on the Exo, the 86 get snarled up in red tape just long enough to prevent them from getting in the way. It’s another indication of the coverup that Bulleitt is sure to get wise to before too long.
Abnett’s timing of the concurrent stories works perfectly, with the 86 arriving just in time to be completely useless. Birdy’s deflated response is entirely human and fits perfectly with her reluctance to reenter the ETC in the first place. Props to Ellie de Ville for turning the volume down in her reaction. The smaller text size beautifully expresses the utterly despondent look Harrison gives her. It’s details like that which make Grey Area one of the best new batch of 2000ad thrills.
A solid prog elevated by some excellent human touches in Grey Area and The Order.