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2000AD, PROG 2105 REVIEW

by Gavin Johnston on October 30, 2018

Writers: Rob Williams; Dan Abnett; Ian Edginton; James Peaty
Artists: Henry Flint; INJ Culbard; Dave Taylor; Colin MacNeil; Richard Elson
Colourists: Chris Blythe; Dylan Teague; Abigail Bulmer
Letterers: Annie Parkhouse; Simon Bowland; Ellie De Ville 
Publisher: Rebellion

 

Oh, my goodness.
 

In an interview back in Prog 2100, writer Rob Williams promised something big. Here, he most definitely delivers.

 

When writing reviews, I try to avoid spoilers. For that reason, this week’s Judge Dredd: The Small House presents a particular difficulty. Almost everything about it shakes the foundations of Dredd’s world.  It's an astonishing few pages, which effortlessly becomes one of the most fascinating, tragic, and compelling episodes of Judge Dredd, ever.

 

Told from the point of view of the ever hopeful Judge Sam, it opens with a gloriously fresh look at Mega City One and ends with a shockingly dark few panels, which transform this world and everything we thought we knew.

 

A few weeks ago, Dredd’s world view was punctured with a simple phrase: “We’re fascists”. Dredd is, after all, part of a regime that denies basic rights, that stomps on protestors and imposes rules of “genetic purity”. The Machiavellian Judge Smiley, moving the pieces from behind the scenes, justified his actions and dismissed any attempts at being “good” and “decent”, as they must be seen through this lens of cruel authoritarianism.
 

This Prog challenges that stark view. To Sam’s eyes, the judges are part of a sacred compact which Smiley has broken. The Small House is intelligent and incisive. It gets to the very heart of this world and its characters not through wordy diatribes, but through small and subtle moments. Dredd’s stilted, gut response at hearing an old name – a character who probably hasn’t been mentioned in two decades – is particularly striking and reveals a huge amount about his character... that to Dredd, the Law isn’t about holding power; it’s a duty. That for all its anger and violence, Dredd’s is a life lived in the service of others.

 

Henry Flint provides not only a wonderful splash page which looks with fresh eyes upon an ugly city, but also an incredibly claustrophobic scene as four characters stand around a computer monitor, watching their lives collapse.

 

 

Brink: High Society will have lost readers along the way. Police procedurals usually involve car chases and at least one gunfight by now. Instead, Brink is a series of tense conversations, ostensibly about something else, during which secrets are revealed.

Having witnessed the Junot Corporation’s rather extreme reaction to corporate espionage. undercover agent Kurtis is called to a meeting with the most inappropriate Human Resources manager, ever.

Joel, who eagle eyed readers may remember playing a different role earlier, effectively demonstrates that out in space, different rules apply. A discussion about employee wellbeing quickly morphs into a monologue on creation myths. We’re reminded that the belief in tentacle headed-gods who will bring forth the end of the universe isn’t that far removed from some of the stuff that humans have believed for thousands of years. Ancient cultures and their gods are listed until the words loose meaning and language edges towards Lovecraftian babble. We are always on the brink of madness.

 

 

And if all of that is a bit too cerebral, there’s always Skip Tracer: Legion, in which an altogether more tangible demon blows some stuff up. It’s bright, and brash and ballsy, as the demon that was in Keenan’s head finally breaks free and incinerates some dudes. There’s not much more to it – but it’s fun.

 

 

Fiends of the Eastern Front:1812 comes to a solid, if unsatisfying close this Prog. Things get weird as Constanta battles the ancient Baba Yaga over the body of the dead D’Hubert.
 

Fiends has been an odd one. Quickly moving away from the cold front of Napoleon's march into Russia, and shifting to a supernatural battle against the idea of Russia. Constanta and D’Hubert found themselves battling not just dead soldiers, but bears, wolves, and magical old ladies. The final denouement is another shift, not unexpected and yet slightly awkward. It at least offers an opportunity for the many tales of the Eastern Front to be brought together.

 

 

Finally, Gene considers his future in Kingdom: Alpha And Omega. There’s been a lot of time spent on debating whether or not Gene should accept the inevitable, and join the partial hive-mind of the wild-Aux. Happily, the philosophical pondering has been interspersed with violence and bloodshed. That continues this Prog, as Gene reveals that he holds a secret that could end the war.

 

Our Score:

10/10

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