COMIC REVIEW: 2000 AD Prog 2026

The beloved British anthology comic 2000 AD has been published weekly since February 1977. Prog 2026 (12 April 2017) of “the galaxy’s greatest comic” features Judge Dredd, Defoe, Brink, Scarlet Traces, and Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld, with cover artwork by Dylan Teague.

Although Mechanismo Mark 8 RV robot Judge Harvey may be Dredd’s best performing rookie ever, Mega-City One’s top lawman remains unconvinced and apprehensive about robots being afforded ‘executive powers’ (i.e. being able to kill human perps). Seemingly undeterred by Judge Dredd’s grumbling ruminations, Harvey goes to work fatally shooting a knife-wielding hostage taker during a live interview with Midnight Bulletin’s Avril Glamp, successfully interrogating captured zziz dealer Raymondo Bedding, and then charging in guns blazing during a raid on zziz supplier Charlie Lobos and his henchmen and booming out the terrifying declaration: “You won’t escape the Law! And I am the Law!” Written by John Wagner, Part Three of ‘Harvey’ features the almost disturbingly vivid art of John McCrea and Mike Spicer with letters courtesy of Annie Parkhouse.

‘Reeks of renown’ – specifically Tom Cox and Auld Reekie – return to ravage alternative 17th century London’s Cripplegate district and the chapbook-fuelled degeneracy of Grub Street in particular, and only zombie hunter extraordinaire Titus Defoe can reign in these unruly dead (and their flesh-hungry ilk). Scripted by Pat Mills, Part One of ‘Diehards’ picks up where previous story ‘The London Hanged’ left off. Replacing Defoe co-creator Leigh Gallagher on art duties, Colin MacNeil manifests a suitably grim-dark London of nightshirts, candles, hermits, poetry recitations in taverns, and ghost stories made flesh – which means zombies … plenty of zombies.

Habitat Security Division (HSD) consultant investigator Bridget Kurtis sets about sorting through work contracts for the Galina Habitat Construction Zone crew with some doozy search terms including ‘haunting’, ‘ghosts’, ‘strange phenomena’, and ‘unknown personnel’. Looks like another fabulous day in the office … until the suitably uptight Head of Station Security for Junot Corp, Ludo Gentry, shows up and plays his part in a semi-obligatory ‘clash of jurisdictions’ type dialogue. Like some stern mall cop or disapproving dad, Gentry is both condescending and dismissive, and Kurtis’ speculations regarding possible ‘sect activity’ gain little purchase. Apparently Gentry isn’t a fan of ghost stories or cult activity or visits from the boss, for that matter – which is where Part 4 of the ‘Skeleton Life’ series of Brink concludes (i.e. with the arrival at Galina of the Acting CEO of Junot Corp, Mariam Junot). Oddly more compelling than it might sound, in the way that much of Dan Abnett’s writing can be, Brink is illustrated by INJ (Ian) Culbard with lettering from Simon Bowland.

The “highly prized Theed mentat” Sohna takes Earth-born Venusian Ahron Shakespeare on an experiential journey into the Martian ‘race memory’ and elaborates that long ago some unknown factor compelled the Martians to leave their homeworld in order to “predate upon the stars” and thus colonise myriad planets along the way and to “not only to conquer but to remake themselves over and over in order to adapt to each new environment” until “they could no longer recall who they were or what they had lost” and were thus debased to the point that “all that remained was forward motion … survival at any cost” and so sadly “they are as far from their true selves as it is possible to be” and although it’s a highly regrettable state to find oneself in Sohna takes pains to emphasise to Ahron that the Martians really are nasty pieces of work and that there has never been a better opportunity – with the Martians at “the weakest they will ever be” – to brutally exterminate their entire race. Genocidal sales pitch aside, D’Israeli’s two-page depiction of the Martian world-conquering race memory is like some bonkers psychedelic Tree-of-Life-cum-DNA-strand, and undoubtedly the highlight of Part 4 of Ian Edginton’s Scarlet Traces ‘Cold War: Book 2’.

Busted in the bunker! That’s Judge Fairfax and his ward Jess moments after entering the old Chief Judge’s “hidden sub-surface bunker complex” … as our duo engage in ‘constructive dialogue’ (think flying arrows, gut kicks, head butts, and a whole bunch of cussin’ and a-hollerin’) with their captors – the Democratic Resistance – we learn (via flashback) that meal times at the soon-to-be-Deadworld Academy of Law were all fun and games until someone lost an eyeball, or a nose, or a lower jaw. Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld Part IV is scripted by Kek-W and features the art of Dave Kendall and letters of Ellie De Ville.

Title: 2000 AD Prog 2026

Publisher: Rebellion Publishing

Rating: 4/5

Reviewer: Paul Hardacre

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