The beloved British anthology comic 2000 AD has been published weekly since February 1977. Prog 2020 (01 March 2017) of “the galaxy’s greatest comic” features Judge Dredd, Sinister Dexter, Kingmaker, The Order, and Kingdom, with cover artwork by Ryan Brown.
When the eponymous host of Channel 9’s Chet-Chat Show, and Theresa Grayle, host of the PTSD Today fundraiser, dissolve into meaty goop live on vid, Judge Dredd can’t rule out the possibility of “a dormant chaos bug” or some other form of bio-terror attack. With help from Forensics and the Public Surveillance Unit (PSU), Dredd leads the investigation to a place more terrifying than any Sov attack or biological weapon: the puerile world of Mega-City One celebrity culture and its shadowy – yet ultimately ludicrous – underbelly. Written by T.C. Eglington and featuring art and letters by Boo Cook and Annie Parkhouse respectively, Part One of ‘Thick Skin’ astutely balances gritty police procedural with satirical barbs, riffing on both the absurdity of celebrity and the agony of anonymity in the mega-city.
To say that Finnigan Sinister and Ramone Dexter were having troubles with the maid in their new apartment would be an understatement, to put it mildly. With Kalinka, their “A.I. domicile unit that oversees cleaning, maintenance and residential security,” having identified them – two of Downlode city’s most notorious hitmen – as threats to the safety of the exclusive Blevmoi district’s Titwiler Building, it’s a situation of whannging skillets and thunking toilet seats versus bam-bam-bam-baming high-powered automatic weapons and more proclamations of “Funtity funt funt!” than you could poke a sexy-hot female kill-bot cleaning lady at. The affably ladish Part Two of ‘Electric Landlady’ is scripted by Dan Abnett, illustrated by Steve Yeowell, coloured by John Charles, and lettered by Simon Bowland.
Part Ten of Ian Edginton’s Kingmaker is sheer, unadulterated fantasy battle action, magnificently rendered by Leigh Gallagher (and with Ellie De Ville lettering). As the mid-air melee continues, the Thorn fire catch nets at our dragon-mounted protagonists, explosive spears are hurled, elemental spells are unleashed, dragons collide, an ork cusses, and a princess plummets. Kingmaker is an unrelentingly dynamic reverie in weekly installments and a case-in-point for a sustained fantasy presence in 2000 AD.
That said, some fantasies can go too far – after all, there’s ‘challenging complex’ and then there’s ‘convoluted’. Redolent of some kind of lush, kooky, vintage diabolism, the artwork of John Burns has remained a genuine highlight of the ongoing ‘Wyrm War’ series of The Order. The near-ruination of New Atlantis by Wyrms from another dimension, and the desperate defense of the city by the motorcycle-riding Queen Iztaccihuatl and her rag-tag historical ensemble … well, it just seems to go on and on. And now there’s a giant robot time-submarine called Iron John. But presumably it will all end soon (by Prog 2022, in fact). Written by Kek-W and once again lettered by Annie Parkhouse.
If Part Nine of Dan Abnett and Richard Elson’s Kingdom was so-much ‘samurai’, then Part Ten is bigtime ‘shinobi’. With the blood spray having dissipated, and the dead Reject Clan members piled up down the hall, genetically modified dog-soldier Gene the Hackman is free to channel his inner ninja (albeit a perpetually snarling inner ninja) and get up to all manner of sneaking about, code-pinching and wafer-pilfering. The hybrid ‘aux’ reject and terrorist Pause provides characteristically mischievous feline support in the form of messing with the Masters’ power and atmospheric processing systems, and other distractions-from-a-distance. Who said that cats and dogs couldn’t be friends?
Title: 2000 AD Prog 2020
Publisher: Rebellion Publishing
Reviewer: Paul Hardacre