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2000AD, PROG 2092 REVIEW

by Gavin Johnston on July 31, 2018

Writers: Rory McConville; Kek-W; Dan Abnett; Gordon Rennie; Lawrence Rennie
Artists: Leonardo Manco; John Burns; Mark Harrison; Karl Richardson; Dave Kendall
Colourists: Chris Blythe
Letterers: Annie Parkhouse; Ellie De Ville; Simon Bowland 
Publisher: Rebellion


There are many readers who have perhaps come to Dredd following the 2012 movie and assumed it would just be a gritty and grim story of a fascist cop. The constant silliness of the early days, and the frequent absurdity which still runs through the streets of Mega City One, comes as a surprise to many.  Judge Dredd: A Better Class of Criminal takes the grim and gritty Dredd and mixes it up with giddiness of the over the top future, creating a police-procedural satire packed with absurdity which manages to satirise comics themselves.

 

“Its been a busy few days in Sector 11”, says the narration, as we’re delivered five pages which feature giant spiders, criminal masterminds with enormous shark aquariums, and the ridiculously named super-metal “Adamontoniumite”. Despite Dredd’s snarling demeanour, the story is full of the fun of early Dredd, and includes a short tale of the pride a family feel when their kid joins a good gang, and the cross and doubled cross of the criminal underworld.

 

Rory McConville has produced some excellent work for 2000AD, but this is his best so far. Leonardo Manco’s art is packed with detailed characters, so even Sandy the Giant Alien Spider has personality.

 

The Order: The New World is a curiosity. It’s an ongoing series about alien invasion, time travel and killer robots. It has an ensemble cast which frequently throws historical characters into the mix and where everyone has their own motivations. The Order also makes no attempt to explain its self or slow down for the benefit of the reader. The painterly art from John Burns, a true legend of British comics, is full of close-ups and full length characters. Even crowd scenes are delivered with a panicked immediacy, with no time for establishing panels or pauses. This week, as a new faction is revealed and wounds are licked from last week’s battle, our heroes take a moment to reflect, safe in the knowledge they have a few days prepare for another onslaught – a pause which in comic-book-time lasts less than a panel. Once again, this is a story packed with ideas, which takes no prisoners.

 

Grey Area: MIA takes a moment to breath this week, after a couple of weeks of angry action. With the border control agents suspended from duty pending an investigation, even the art slows down. Gone are the packed, angry panels lit with neon. This week is more of a character study, as Birdy reflects on loss. It’s a moment to collect, looking back on the non-stop action of the last few Grey Area stories, and the impact they’ve had on the characters who we most often see screaming orders at each other from behind big guns.

Grey Area has always been about a people’s reaction to the outsiders – a commentary on how nations secure their borders and how the walls they build impact people on both sides. After the flurry of aggression, it looks like the border agents have a more important battle to fight with their own leaders. Again, Grey Area reflects changes in the real world.

 

Originally appearing as a three part Tharg’s 3riller last year (“Threeriller”? “Threeler”?), the futuristic, apocalyptic, steampunk kaiju returns in Mechastopheles: True Faith. With no recaps, and character introduction limited to a couple of panels each, part one sets us on a clear path for where we’re going. Mechastopheles is the story of an enormous steam powered demon punching monsters in the ruins of a collapsed civilisation, whilst future-medieval Venetians argue inside him, like Mediterranean numskulls. As a weekly anthology, 2000AD is suited to quick, sharp stories with a punchline or cliffhanger every five pages. Quite how successful the tale of lumbering giants battling through this format will be, remains to be seen. As it is, this opening episode is a decent set up. The character introductions are sound, the aesthetics are lovely, and it’s an interesting twist on an old idea.

 

There are few Judge Death stories which don’t have Death die at some point. Last week’s shock ending to Damned: The Fall of Deadworld, which saw Chief Judge Death finally emerge from the shadows only to be killed off, won’t be much of a surprise. This week, however, despite the cover image, we learn nothing about his fate, and another book of Damned comes to an end. There are revelations as familiar faces return and alternative versions of history are unleashed. The Damned series continues to be something special. It plays with Judge Dredd history, taking characters we thought we knew and presenting an altogether darker, more morbid version. It’s been a wild ride, with a band of misfits fighting a hopeless war against the armies of Death. It has satirised modern day politics by taking a satire written in the 70s and giving it a fresh coat of blood. This week’s jaw-dropping finale has at least three shocking moments...but don’t expect any answers until at least the Christmas special in five month’s time.

 

Our Score:

10/10

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