COMIC REVIEW: 2000 AD Prog 2024

The beloved British anthology comic 2000 AD has been published weekly since February 1977. Prog 2024 (29 March 2017) of “the galaxy’s greatest comic” features Judge Dredd, Brink, Future Shocks, Scarlet Traces, and Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld, with cover artwork by John McCrea and Mike Spicer.

Judge Harvey heralds the return of the controversial Mechanismo robot Judges amidst a hail of high velocity bullets and empathetic hand-patting after juve activists take over “a Happy Ender eld-shelt” and start “offing staff and residents in the Euthanasia Unit.” Trialed in response to the hard reality that Mega-City One continues “to lose more Judges than [it] can train to take their place,” the Mark 8 RV (standing for ‘Responsive Version’) Mechanismo Judge Harvey’s “behaviour patterns have been based on principles outlined in Dredd’s ‘Comportment [of a Judge]’.” And while robot Judge Harvey demonstrates the ability to brutally “eliminate” and “nullify perpetrators” just as effectively as the city’s toughest lawman, it seemingly out-performs Dredd in terms of the ability to empathise and form emotional bonds with citizens. No wonder Old Stoney Face expresses severe apprehension regarding his mechanical counterpart – now his latest rookie! Part One of ‘Harvey’ is scripted by the master (and Judge Dredd co-creator) John Wagner, dynamically and vibrantly illustrated by John McCrea and Mike Spicer, and features the letters of Annie Parkhouse.

Part 2 of Dan Abnett’s ‘Skeleton Life’ series of Brink sees Habitat Security Division (HSD) consultant investigator Bridget Kurtis hitching a ride on a LTV (or ‘Load Transfer Vehicle’) from Junot Corp’s Yuliya Habitat headquarters to the apparently haunted Galina Habitat Construction Zone. Upon arrival at Galina Habitat, Kurtis is met by in-house HSD investigators Timothy Styles and Gita Gibrani, who inform her that “There’s been another death.” Colourfully rendered by INJ (Ian) Culbard, this episode builds well on last prog’s solid establishing episode. Simon Bowland brings his neatest letters.

‘Family Time’ tells the tale of “the Wilkes – two of Hollywood’s biggest stars on a mission to adopt a child from every decade across time.” Having already acquired more than 300 children and collecting more all the time (pun intended), the Wilkes want to “show that people from all across time can live and work together harmoniously.” Suspecting that some of the ‘adopted’ children have been abducted from their birth parents, agents of the Chrono Child Protection Agency are kept at bay by a phalanx of lawyers. Having concluded that “the only way … to stop [the Wilkes] was by catching them in the act,” a baited trap is set as the Wilkes finally succeed in proving their point, i.e. that “people from all across time could work together.” A quirky ‘Brangelina’ child adoption spoof with a twist, this accomplished Future Shocks strip is written by Rory McConville, with art and letters by Nick Dyer and Ellie De Ville respectively.

With the Martians rapidly toiling away in order to turn the Sun into an immense engine of sorts fuelling the assembly of various “artificial environments” and destroying most of the solar system in the process, action is required. Icarus (the human-Martian hybrid who was reputedly “built for war” but more closely resembles a scrawny, flamboyant young grand-dad, all receding hair with ponytail) and Ahron Shakespeare (“an Earth-born Venusian” whose parents “left in the great exodus”) seek help from Perelandra (think Rogue Trooper’s Azure with a shorter Mohawk and exotic dresses in lieu of military fatigues) to locate Sohna, the “highly prized Theed mentat.” Given Perelandra’s penchant for supplying the Martians with slaves and her reputation as “a duplicitous bitch who has a hand in every dubious deal that goes on in this city,” Icarus and Ahron elect to request her help with the aid of violence, threats of violence and, eventually, surrendering themselves to possible violence. Preferable to an emergency sitting of the League of Nations in Geneva, which is all that folks back on Earth have so far managed in response. Part 2 of Scarlet Traces ‘Cold War: Book 2’ is written by Ian Edginton and illustrated by D’Israeli (Matt Brooker).

Talk about bleak: the word accurately describes the tale told in Part II of Kek-W and Dave Kendall’s Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld. With Judge Fairfax detoxing from the “drug regime … designed to keep [him] brutally loyal to the old Chief Judge” and subsequently unconscious (complete with crusty dribble), Jess is left to blow away a marauding giant mutant ‘gator – and later “kill, skin and cook” it. With that skills set, she’ll undoubtedly go far on the grim, poisoned planet that eventually became known as Deadworld. But such remains to be seen, as Fairfax continues to emit psychic ‘pings’ picked up by the ghoulish Sister Psiren, the dark Psi-Judge acting at the behest of Chief Judge Sydney De’ath and herself beset by the jealous ‘Sisters of Death’ – Nausea and Phobia – who are jostling for the Chief Judge’s continued attentions.

Title: 2000 AD Prog 2024

Publisher: Rebellion Publishing

Rating: 4/5

Reviewer: Paul Hardacre

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