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2000AD, PROG 2080 REVIEW

by Gavin Johnston on May 08, 2018

Writer: Alec Worley:  Dan Abnett; Emma Beeby; James Peaty; John Wagner
Artists: Karl Richardson; Steve Yeowell; Mike Collins; Cliff Robinson; Nick Dyer; Carlos Ezquerra
Colourist: John Charles; Jose Villarrubia
Letterers: Annie Parkhouse; Simon Bowland; Ellie De Ville
Publisher: Rebellion


Judge Dredd: Nans of Anarchy
is neatly wrapped up with its second episode. An elderly bike gang pull off a heist, using motorcycle enthusiast hipsters as cover, and the judges are on their tail. This week manges to be non-stop action whilst still squeezing in a satisfying plot and plenty of character. These old ladies are tough, managing to almost take down Dredd himself at one point. The whole story has been packed with humour, including a biker related rendition of a classic Meatloaf song, and a host of crazy businesses providing a backdrop. The idea of time passing too quickly; of approaching the end and asking if it was all worthwhile; of fighting with everything you have for what you believe in...these ideas cut through Nans of Anarchy and are an essential part of the Dredd character. It may have been brief, and Dredd might not have done very much, but this is an immediate classic.

 

With an assassination attempt taking an odd turn, Sinister and Dexter are trapped in a virtual version of 1940’s Britain. With the target turning the tables on our heroes, the pair retire to a village pub to consider their next course of action. Sinister Dexter: The Gangbusters heaps meta-fictional humour upon itself, with the duo commenting on the nature of their reality, referencing video-game tropes, as well as the lettering taking on the style found in the classic Commando war comic – a point that the characters themselves notice and comment on. Artist Steve Yeowell meets the Commando’s high standard of historical accuracy too (the public phone box featured is a K6 model, telephone-fans...accurate and appropriate for the era!).

 

Anderson PSI Division: Undertow has been a confusing adventure. I’m sure that many readers will have lost track along the way, and might be planning to sit down and all of the densely written episodes that started with such high hopes eight weeks ago. Bringing Judge Karyn back to the Prog, and using her possession as a major plot point, but at the same time never actually explaining its history, Undertow has been confusing, complex, and a little unsatisfying. Scenes were often jarring, with Twin Peaks-style strange events and kookie characters. The hugely talented writer Emma Beeby perhaps hit a wrong note with this one, trying to have the story do so much, squeezing in conspiracies, international intrigue, long forgotten storylines and new characters. Personally, I was also disappointed that we didn’t see the return of Judge Hamida, a much more interesting character that the new ones on show here.

 

Ed Higgins frequents a shady establishment where shape-changing robots are psychically linked to customers, carrying out their every whim. And all at competitive hourly rates. But when one of the robots goes rogue, Ed is off on a violent revenge spree to find his true self...but will he get lost along the way.

James Peaty’s Futureshock: The Puppet is densely plotted, full of action and bears a second or third reading. It does however, hold up under scrutiny. The Puppet is a story that could easily have been extended into a short series, which is the hallmark of a great one-off. Nick Dyer’s art is a joy, as ever.

 

With Kenton Sternhammer on the mend, Johnny Alpha devotes himself to teaching his new partner the ropes in Strontium Dog: The Son. It's an unusual but insightful episode, with Alpha giving a commentary on his decision making process. Whilst it ticks all the nostalgia boxes, with bounties being taken by two jocular friends, it also hints at the darkness of Alpha’s character and his world. For the reader, many of Alpha’s contracts appear to be him tracking down a villain only to be forced to defend himself, often giving away any money in a Robin Hood-style gesture. The Son shows Alpha considering the economics of deciding whether to take a target dead or alive. We see our hero luring a criminal into a trap, with the deliberate intention of killing them because it makes more sense economically.

This revealing episodes builds Alpha and Kenton’s relationship, packing in a huge amount of action and character development. That writer John Wagner does all this so casually is a sight to behold. It looks like Kenton Sternhammer could be here to stay...

Our Score:

9/10

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