2000AD Prog 2015
Review by Seth
The sickeningly sentimental festive supermarket advertisements are on the TV, huge national retailers vainly trying to hide the fact that profit comes before goodwill; the neighbours have tacky illuminated decorations that could be mistaken for Heathrow landing lights and I have Advocaat in the refrigerator.
It must be Christmas.
Which also means the 100 page issue of the prog’! Does anyone else salivate at the thought of these bumper end of year specials?
No? Okay; we’ll swiftly move on from that embarrassing personal revelation.
Big news of course is the return of the other JD – Death. Greg Staples draws a beautiful first episode, Wagner setting a scene that takes inspiration from Alien or 2001. Death searches for his brothers, Dredd checks out the newest itineration of the lawgiver and Anderson treats a judge who has been “infected” by the Dark Judges. This has been a long time in coming; please don’t let it disappoint.
Mills contributes two strips to the prog’, the first is the now annual return of the “Visible Man”. Whereas in the past this has succeeded with its Roger Corman or Hammer Horror feel, mainly down to Henry Flint’s schlocky visuals. David Hitchcock’s a good artist and I’m looking forward to his WW1 collaboration with Mills, but this didn’t work for me. Mills is quite mad, and shoehorns lots of ideas into just 6 pages, but not even a master can get a quart into a pint pot. Time for a rest?
Kek W and the legendary Jon Burns contribute the new thrill this prog’. Another of Tharg’s stabs at historical / fantasy fiction. “The Order”. A secret group of knights combating supernatural threats in the dark ages (or thereabouts), disappear. A daughter of the one of the missing knights is on their trail. John Burns excels at this kind of swashbuckling, and Kek W supplies an entertaining script. Hopefully this won’t overstay its welcome like the Red Seas did.
I get the feeling that the last series of “Ulysses Sweet” had a mixed reception. I thought it was a riot, it had that thick vein of 2000ad humour running through it, along with the extreme violence of course. This time around, a Ulyssess, who clearly has undergone some “work” has had his old psyche chip replaced with a newer, patronising, slogan spewing, buzzword discharging version. Clearly not happy – he seeks to be reunited with the missing microchip. Guy Adams does sterling work, and Paul Marshall is ideal for this strip, not holding back on the slapstick or the gratuitous violence but with a lightness of touch which means you just can’t take it seriously.
“Jaegir” comes in for a bit kicking on these pages. I can’t see the problem, myself. By no means a classic strip it does provide a twist on the Nort / Souther war the “Kampfgruppe Falken” of 2000ad if you will. Rennie uses this one off as a prologue, give a bit more background on Jaegir and to set up the direction of the series. Coleby’s faces could do with a bit more detail, but his broad, coarse strokes are well suited to illustrating a grim conflict.
Dirty Frank returns! “Low Life” is one of my favourite strips in the prog’ for many a year, Rob Williams is one of the best of the “new” 2000ad writers. He gets the balance between humour, action and intelligence that has been at the core of the Galaxy’s Greatest for many years. D’Israeli’s quirky line work is perfect for Dirty Franks’s surreal and skewed world. One of Frank’s Wally Squad colleagues is on to something in the Low Life, and pays the ultimate price. Sadly, this is a one off. But hopefully it won’t be too long before he returns for a longer run.
A septuagenarian (?) “Max Normal” helps out an old simian buddy to get back on his feet, a tale that just ends up being a bit pointless, but harks back to the old stories whose sole purpose was to big up 2000ad. Guy Adams has Max down pat, but the punchline doesn’t pay off. As ever fab’ artwork from Ben Oliver.
“Savage” returns, fantastically drawn by Patrick Goddard, with Mills bringing the war in Britain to a close, but the Volgs aren’t finished yet and the forces of liberation look to impose a different form of oppression. I feel a Mills lecture coming on. With the appearance of “grinders” – cyborgs, the appearance of Mr. 10% cannot be too far away.
Wrapping things up is a nice Mike Carroll / Karl Richardson” Dredd”. A mob enforcer undergoes his own “Christmas Carol” epiphany, with predictably bloody results. Carroll is one for the quieter more thought provoking Dredds and this is no different. Richardson’s is typically jagged and brutish, good stuff.
Another great bumper prog’ balanced nicely with a Christmas quiz that makes you go all fuzzy and nostalgic, 2015 should be a good year.