2000AD : Prog 2050
Review by Luke Williams
It’s “junp on” Prog time again. Still suffering from the lurgy, Luke figures this might kill or cure and concludes that scanning images for this blog is a pain in the arse.
Is it really 50 Progs since the big 2k? Isn’t time flying? These jump on progs seem to come more rapidly now. Or is that the onset of age? When I was a lad the prog’ were mainly black and white ad on bog paper, kids these days don’t know they are born with all this colour etc, mumble grumble 24p an issue, gave prices for the rest of the solar system etc yadda yadda
Anyway, bumper edition this week. Depending on your viewpoint, there are some treats in store or the sullying of classic characters. Only you, dear reader, can decide.
Dredd first. I was a bit underwhelmed by “War Buds”,I think it was a good idea, but a story that should have been used many years ago, particularly as all the protagonists in the strip are now of pensionable age. Nice to see Dan Cornwell in the prog’ though.
Tom Eglington is one of Tharg’s go to Dredd writers at the moment. As it’s a jump on prog I was hoping that it would be Wagner, or Williams, or Ewing. The premise – that MC1 wants to build a memorial to Chaos Day using Dredd as a model is a little far fetched, it’s well known that Dredd doesn’t do publicity. The decision is not without controversy and causes friction amongst the cits. In the meantime Eglington’s “Sons Of Booth” see an opportunity. Colin MacNeil plays a blinder on art as normal, and my reservations were a little premature. It also shows how hard some cits are. Look at this guy smiling though half his hand is blown away by a lawgiver.
First of the progs two resurrections is up next. “Rogue Trooper” revived for the umpteenth time,this time by newbies by James Robinson and Leonardo Manco. I know Manco from his work on Marvel’s “Hellstorm” with Warren Ellis and “Hellblazer” (the Vertigo one, not the neutered DC Universe version). James Robinson has got House Of Tharg form, but in a editorial role at Revolver alllll those years ago. This 10 pager, told from the perspective of Norts, is Rogue “101”.
The art is beautiful. Gritty and stark, with some direct lifts from Gibbons’ originals (properly credited). On script James Robinson can be guilty of going into histrionics occasionally, but he keeps a tight reign here. Rogue doesn’t say much, and neither do the bio chips. A great one off, but it’s just a recap and a reminder to those that don’t already know, that the “Rogue Trooper Redux” game is now available.
As much as I was looking forward to this and enjoyed it; please, retire him permanently. His mission is well and truly over, rehashing and continual revival just devalues what has gone before.
Ah “Grey Area”. Always fun. One of the things I like about Grey Area is that although there is an overarching plot, it has short bursts of storylines. It doesn’t feel like it is being written for a collection.
Creator Dan Abnett teams with regular contributor Mark Harrison. I’ve become a fan of Dan Abnett over the last 5 years or so, particularly with this, “The New Deadwardians” and “Wild’s End” and “Brink” is one of the best strips in the Prog.
The new alien members of the ECT teams are firmly embedded. The teams are dispatched to the middle east where competing nations are seeking the technology left behind from the god star incident. The region is teetering on the precipice of war. Harrison’s art is suitably futuristic,techie if occasionally indistinct. Interesting to see where this goes.
Talking of stuff that should be given a rest,”Slaine”s back. Yay. For many years, “Slaine” has been a showcase for spectacular art, but not much else. I’m lost with what is happening in the current storyline, but I don’t care either.
I do like Simon Davis reinvention of Slaine as being old and grizzled, I’ve never been that much of a fan of his art, I appreciate the work that goes into it, and his work looks lovely. It’s just not my thing. Story wise the strips are ponderous and meandering with a few exceptions, this has been struggling for direction for years. “Slaine” should have ended at the “Horned God”.
The long awaited return of Indigo Prime, scripted by creator John Smith and drawn by the magnificent Lee Carter. Dense? Yes.Confusing? It’s John Smith, what did you expect? Beautiful art – oh most definitely.
We have the return of Jerry Foundation from the very first appearance of the then named “Void Indigo” from 1986. Something is up at “Indigo Prime”, probably following on from the last run – but I can’t be arsed to dig through my old Progs in the attic to find it. Basically, it’s all going a bit wrong, operatives are falling ill, agents Burroughs (Williams) and Crippen (Doctor) have immunity and are tasked with getting to the bottoms of it. Slow, verbose but balances the rest of the issue’s brashness, and if you can resist the inevitable headache, the pay off should be good. However, “Previews” has confirmed Interweb mutterings that this run is finished off by Kek W. It’ll be interesting what this means for the long term future of the strip, and Smith’s with the Prog as a whole.
Possibly the most controversial revival is the two page “interview” with Zenith, written by Martin Howe (pseudonym for Matt Smith?) with a spot illustration by Steve Yeowell who makes Zenith look incredibly like a certain publicity droid.
Its fun enough and doesn’t detract from the original run – hell, you can just pretend it doesn’t exist. But what’s the purpose of this? Are they looking to try re boot? Or is this purely to attract lapsed readers back to the Prog with a character that has been shut away for the last 10+ years? Either way, it would be interesting to see what Grant Morrison thinks of this, does this mean that the copyright dispute has been resolved?
Does any of that actually matter? Anyway, like Rogue, Zenith’s time is done. Leave him in retirement.
“Sinister Dexter” return, and I think they are the reason it’s taken me so long to come around to Dan Abnett. It was fun at first, but it’s a joke that went on too long.
The recent reboot of their reality (with potential for upset) should mean a fresh start, dumping most of the convoluted “mover” storyline. This works better as short bursts of puns and guns. This episode has Ray and Finny spending 5 pages trying to dispose of a body, which is more fun that it sounds. Steve Yeowell provides the art, so clean you could eat your lunch off of it.
“Fall of Deadworld” – I’m having difficulty following it, what doesn’t help is that some of the way some of the characters are drawn can be indistinct, Dave Kendall’s art goes for muddy and murky in the painted art spectrum, it’s nice art, but not necessarily ideal for story telling, but does create a suitably creepy atmosphere.
Kek Ws plot moves along nicely, I think. I’m getting a bit lost now. I do wonder whether revealing more about Deadworld actually has any value,somethings should remain a mystery. Having said that, it is certainly better than some of the recent Dark Judges outings (“Dominion” in the Meg’ seems to be reversing that trend).
It’s not a bad Prog, but not that special. Where is the new strip? Or new character? I’m not going to pretend to understand the vagaries of commissioning and timing of publication, but Tom Eglington and Rory McConville seem to be getting a lot of work at the moment. They are both good writers, can they bring something new?