Following Rich’s review is like following Donald Trump on Twitter. It’s going to be disappointing and eventually and you can be sure that there will be something that sounds clinically insane. As if by magic, here is Orlok with his take on Prog 2000…
So, this has been a while in the pipeline as I have been patiently awaiting the hard copy that a mate was sending across. Why you ask? Well, this is Prog 2000 and a fucking marvellous achievement so I wanted the physical copy so that I could read it how Tharg intended.
On the toilet.
During a marathon anchor dropping session.
The cover I got was the Burnham one which riffs on the old “Any Questions?” classic and I really liked it. It was beautifully composed, deceptively simple and showed a grizzled Dredd with a shot out hunk of rock between his manly thighs. There’s some subtext there which I’ll leave to the likes of John and Flint to parse out but this is iconic stuff revisited for the delight of the Squaxx.
Inside Yewtree thanks everyone who made this whole thing possible and acknowledges their contributions over the last 39 years. Except Mark Millar. Fuck that guy.
The Cliff Robinson poster is brilliant apart from the creepy Hammerstein smile and Tharg burying his cock in Dredd’s neck. Still there was Anderson attempting to kiss Dredd since she is a sexual menace.
We begin with a neat intro featuring some black and white Bolland goodness showing Dredd in action thwacking his way through some Brexit supporters. I had forgotten just how good those sharp lines were and that is one gorgeously old school city in the background. I have missed those images though it is abundantly clear just how influential he has been to other artists.
When we get to the story proper it is a sadly weaker affair with Dredd teaming up with Alpha once again in what Rich describes in his review as fankwankery. I have to agree, even though my brain tells me to just switch off and enjoy it. But, that’s not me. I look for more than that in a story.
We’re off to shaky start when Dredd forgets his previous warning to the mutant and doesn’t immediately try to arrest Alpha for being on his turf.
A ransom has been placed on Joe’s head though 5 million galactic seems quite low compared to what has been offered previously for the old man and you would think that if there is a time job, then someone paying that much could get hold of their own time jumping stuff and really fuck things up. But I guess that’s the elephant in the room with time jobs and I suppose there is some regulation that the Stronts follow.
Here we also get another puzzle as Alpha says the bounty comes from 2220. Is that a fuck up and should this really be 2200? That latter date would put it a few years after Johnny is raised from the dead. Or do time jobs go forward as well as back?
After this revelation, Dredd goes with them on very little basis which seems a little contrived but it does move the story forward to where it needs to be.
One of the weaker points is the Stix betraying our heroes as Bovus and Pikey have been set up as honourable sorts since they didn’t fuck the gang over in the last story and were playing it straight. They had even been vouched for by the “good” Stix so this seems a waste of their characters to just dispose of them in this way. Even more bizarrely they just knock out Alpha and co in order to secure the prize. Why? If they are taking the money and are ruthless enough to betray their pals, that’s a black mark in the future. Killing them would solve the issue of their former comrades coming back for revenge.
Moving on we get McNulty doing some Scotty like Miracle Worker stuff on the skimmer to get it going and thereby ensure our heroes make the final act.
The big mystery about who is asking for Dredd is revealed and it is wall to wall Cals, apparently cloned from some of Cal’s genetic material which Dredd is puzzled at. You and me both, pal. This all seems a misstep since why would one Cal be the Chief and the others subordinates? This doesn’t make sense with his psychology since Cal has to be number one or nothing. If anything this story seems to be a pastiche of different concepts riffing a little on Behold The Beast which had a resurrected Cal presiding over Dredd’s trial.
What was funny was Chairman Cal giving it his all in the witness box.
Ditto for the Stix (in your own words) statement which was a simple “Yup”.
With Bovus and Pikey gunned down in affray, Johnny and the gang mop up to the satisfying conclusion.
Overall this seemed like something from a Summer Special that bears no relation to anything in continuity and will never be spoken of again.
The art though is just bloody lovely.
We start with some McMahon craziness on the intro with heads flying as Slaine goes mental with his chopper. He even cuts off some of Tharg’s hair.
And for the main course? Well, I must confess that Nemesis never really floated my boat and I need to remedy that when the time is right and pick up all ten volumes.
Straight off the bat the art is otherworldly and even the credit scroll is a brilliant touch.
Storywise we get an epilogue that somewhat dampens the perfect (if grim) ending we got back in the day.
Torquemada and Nemesis complete their journey, flipping back in time to where Nemesis is befouling Torque’s mother’s ashes. This act of deconsecrating a holy relic is something that screams Pat Mills from every panel. With Nemesis on the rampage we get another bon mot from Mills speaking to the actions of Torque’s rule over the people of Termight.
“They don’t want to think! They prefer to believe!” Well said, Brother Mills.
By the end of this, Torque is crucified and kicked down the time tubes to drift for all eternity.
At least until Mills comes up with another ending to this.
I have to be honest here and say I was pleasantly surprised by this since it starts with a good lead in with squaddies swapping jokes and ghost stories in the midst of a Nort bombardment.
This tale takes place between All Hell On The Dix-I Front and You Only Die Twice (since Gunnar is the old style rifle here) and there is a nice bit of Nu Earth mythos played out with Rogue’s legendary status up for discussion as either a hero, a freak or simply a propaganda tool.
When the enemy shelling reduces power to the cell holding a deserter, it is revealed to be the Traitor General and he breaks out gunning down hardened soldiers.
As an untold one off story of the Traitor General this would be ok. Since we know how it ends we don’t need this to be retconned or an expansion of the tale. The Traitor General’s motivations were explained and sometimes that simplicity of villainy is best left alone.
Elson’s art is nice but not sure the vivid colour really suits the strip since I never imagined Nu Earth to be this colourful. Breacher’s pose on the bottom of page 2 is a little odd too. Is he fucking an invisible ghost or just describing what Trump told him to do with the women he meets.
Rogue looks good in Elson’s hands, though the Traitor General seems physically different to the one we know.
A Robin Smith page leads into this and is great work. I never really appreciated his work before but he has done some absolutely brilliant stuff over the years.
Speaking of brilliant, we now get some gorgeous, gorgeous art which is the best in the prog by a long way since every panel a fucking gem.
The lovely light play and striking pencil work is jaw dropping and we really do not get enough of Roach in the Galaxy’s Greatest. Aside from the clean, simple lines of the surroundings, Anderson is drawn beautiful and yet still strong. She is every inch the feminist icon without having to draw her like Luke Goss.
The story is simple. A Lucid dream one off leads to Anderson facing her greatest foe and giving him a fucking good shoeing. She even gets to kick’s Death’s head off, which has been a long time coming.
The lead in for this excuses some of the eccentricities of the 90s which is something that Therg should probably discuss with his therapist.
Though a self-confessed loather of this strip since it is the unflushable turd of the Prog, this was actually a really good read and Mark Sexton’s art is a perfect fit (though it was nice to see that one panel from Simon Davis for the nostalgia thrills) and he gets extra points for the shocking stuff going on at the Valet Of The Dolls car wash, including that dirty wench washing the driver’s door with her arse. Ban this filth.
I am so glad the old Mary Whitehouse lady was protesting it in the corner of the panel.
The background work and layouts are excellent and even his rendering of Billie Piper knock off Billi Octavo is good.
I also liked the nice touches on the gravestones with “Mark Sexton- Missed Another Deadline” and “Matt Smith- Tolerant To The End” perhaps speaking to the relationship between the two with regard to artwork not being delivered on time.
The focus of the strip is Ramone’s iconic car and this becomes the thing that jogs the alt universe memory of Billi, which is a nice touch and though the continuity has gone through a New 52 style reboot I still think that it needs to move to an end really soon. It is very much a strip that has its day.
And so Tharg moves us to the present and gives us a new thrill to show that the GGC is still evolving and still breaking new ground, even though some creators seem content to just recycle older, better tales. You know who you are.
On the downside this has lots of exposition but hopefully this is just for the intro to get the background set up so we get to move with whatever adventure “Lulu Fun” is on.
A myriad of dense artwork from Dayglo drops us right into the hectic and almost overwhelming world of The Maze and this was consistently good. Compared to his work on Bad Company this is a step up and it keeps your eyes moving over the panels to pick out detail and action.
There were some nice social digs here (Albion for example being weapons dealers, exploiters and tax dodgers) and Lulu is as anti-establishment as the origins of the very Prog she appears in.
The only sour note was the “Anyone fighting the system, anyone messing with the corporations, they get my services for free” which made me groan as it was like something from Revolver.
The Tharg one pagers provide an excellent bridging point (revealing the stories all take place in bubble universes) and I loved this aspect, especially spotting the Alec Trench poster for some nostalgic feels.
Best of all though was the Anderson story. Both Grant and Roach have been sorely missed on this strip and they should return to it with powerhouse stuff like this.