COMIC REVIEW: 2000 AD Prog 2025

The beloved British anthology comic 2000 AD has been published weekly since February 1977. Prog 2025 (05 April 2017) of “the galaxy’s greatest comic” features Judge Dredd, Brink, Scarlet Traces, Future Shocks, and Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld, with cover artwork by Clint Langley.

John McCrea and Mike Spicer unveil their fabulously vibrant vision of Mega-City One in all its grimy, violent glory in Part Two of Dredd maestro John Wagner’s ‘Harvey’. With Mechanismo Mark 8 RV robot Judge Harvey assigned as Dredd’s new rookie, the unlikely pair head for the aptly named Hellman Precinct, where “things have gone badly downhill” (to put it mildly). From the Pump Dump organ trading store to the zziz addicts, from Harvey and Dredd roaring through the garbage-strewn alleyways on their Lawmasters to them playing ‘skull music’ with ‘street lawyers’ (i.e. perps not inclined to take orders from a robot Judge), this is dynamic stuff, pulsating with life dirty and downtrodden, all blood and neon and the occasional bit of helping little old ladies included for good measure. Judge Harvey’s mighty speech – ending with the declaration “No breach [of the law] will go unpunished! This hellhole is closed for crime!” – should have Dredd in a state of rapture … so why does the city’s toughest lawman feel the need to “proceed with caution”?

At the apparently haunted Galina Habitat Construction Zone, our three intrepid investigators – Habitat Security Division (HSD) consultant investigator Bridget Kurtis and in-house HSD investigators Timothy Styles and Gita Gibrani – move past the group development stage of ‘forming’ into ‘storming’ with a bunch of tense, cranky conversations about worker deaths (they’re not even sure how many there have been), work crew substance use and abuse, and rumours of ghosts. Later, Gibrani tells Kurtis that “… a lot of construction workers talk about seeing people. Or hearing them. People who shouldn’t be here.” Scripted by Dan Abnett, Part 3 of the ‘Skeleton Life’ series of Brink is illustrated by INJ (Ian) Culbard and features Simon Bowland’s lettering.

From that emergency sitting of the League of Nations in Geneva (the boring one with the delegate nodding off), all of a sudden we’ve got BBC coverage – from the Hephaestus Anchorage on the Moon, no less! – of “the greatest single mobilisation of the Earth’s armed forces in human history.” Yes, that did indeed escalate quickly. The large panel on the opening pages by D’Israeli (Matt Brooker), depicting the “Dobrinya, or Dragon-Slayer, class vessels from the United Soviet Confederacy” alongside the “elegant-looking fleet of the German Federation, led by their flagship, the Raumschiffe Orion” and the “legendary Lion Armada of the Kingdom of Morocco” offers the proverbial feast for the eyes. Ian Edginton manages to deftly juxtapose the vast, Venus-bound space fleets of Earth with the ‘nuclear families’ of the Venusian diaspora watching events on their clunky old 1960s television sets before successfully segueing to human-Martian hybrid Icarus (still as flamboyantly grand-dad-esque as before, but now sans receding hairline plus ponytail, thankfully) and Earth-born Venusian Ahron Shakespeare plotting their penetration of the Martian ‘systems’. Part 3 of Edginton and D’Israeli’s Scarlet Traces ‘Cold War: Book 2’ features the letters of Annie Parkhouse.

While some Future Shocks satisfy their intended purpose of providing readers with “twisted trips into the galaxy’s dark side” and a shocking conclusion to boot, others are more formulaic and largely forgettable. In ‘The Dream Factory’ artist Steve Yeowell does well to present a visually satisfying four-pager that is unfortunately let down by Rory McConville’s unremarkable script. Compared to his accomplished Future Shocks script of last prog (‘Family Time’ in Prog 2024), ‘The Dream Factory’ disappoints. But then, as the strip’s main protagonist says, “Let’s face it: we can’t all get what we want.”

Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld Part III is written by Kek-W with art and letters by Dave Kendall and Ellie De Ville respectively. In this episode, Judge Fairfax and his ward Jess continue their puke-and-poop-filled drug detox nightmare roadtrip through the hellish wasteland of the planet that eventually became known as Deadworld. After a brief stop to feed scavenged chocolate to some hungry muties, Fairfax and Jess arrive at the old Chief Judge’s “hidden sub-surface bunker complex” to find that someone else has got there first. Dave Kendall’s gnarled-yet-ethereal artwork is reminiscent of Simon Harrison’s wildly original depictions of Feral and Revere that ran in 2000 AD during the early 1990s.

Title: 2000 AD Prog 2025

Publisher: Rebellion Publishing

Rating: 4/5

Reviewer: Paul Hardacre

More from the world of Geek Syndicate

%d bloggers like this: