2000AD, PROG 2119 REVIEW

by Gavin Johnston on February 20, 2019

Writers: John Wagner; Rory McConville; James Peaty; Dan Abnett; Gordon Rennie
Artists: Colin MacNeil; Duane Leslie; Paul Marshall; Mark Harrison; Simon Coleby
Colourists: Chris Blythe; Quinto Winter; len O'Grady
Letterers: Annie Parkhouse; Ellie De Ville 
Publisher: Rebellion

What makes a “friend”?  What purpose does “friendship” hold?  These are questions that trouble Judge Dredd in Machine War.


New Chief Judge Logan has appointed a robot to his cabinet, and Dredd is not okay with his new boss being a computer. It spurs a rare moment of self doubt, as Dredd questions his relationship with his fellow judges and friends, contrasting his unbending “human” judgement with that of an inferior “machine” capable of nuance.


Five parts in and Machine War already stands alongside some of John Wagner’s best Dredd stories. Dredd’s cold and logical approach to relationships is contrasted with the robotic Judge Harvey’s easy-going empathy, and Dredd’s own stubbornness is used against him. Is Harvey plotting, or is Dredd seeing enemies where none exist?


Elsewhere, Dredd seems genuinely hurt that a “friend” has excluded him. His self analysis gives us a two page narrative that could stand as an equal to the iconic “Justice has a price” scene from the classic America as a pronouncement of Dredd’s ideology – one is a meditation on the need for order, the other on his personal weaknesses. In so firmly arranging the pieces of this new world order, Wagner could be setting in place the early scenes of a bold new arc.


There are a couple of issues with reviewing a weekly anthology comic. The first is that for a prog to be 10/10, there are five separate stories that have to hit that mark. Standing on it’s own, Machine War is as close to perfect as a story can be, and already worth the price of admission.  But there's more to come...




Writer Rory McConville provides a light comedy intrigue in the court of an alien monarch in the Future Shock: Grave Negotiations. It’s a bit wordy but that’s in keeping with the premise. Elaborate art from Duane Leslie is delightful.  If anything though, it's a little flat and could do with some colour to break it up a bit.


There are toxic colours galore in Jaegir: Bone Grinder. The battle takes a momentary pause in order for us to catch up to why this battleground is known as “the bonegrinder”. This is a meaty future war tale, with interesting characters and a nice undercurrent of politicking.


Meanwhile, the battle heats up in Grey Area: Rogue, as involuntary black-ops agents Kym and Bitch go, well, Rogue. Mark Harrison’s art crackles with energy, and each page is packed with character – from the floating admin staff, to the cheeky aliens squeezed into the background.


The second problem with reviewing an anthology is made clear by the ongoing Skip Tracer...now on its third multi-part story in less than nine months.


A story’s quality is likely to be fairly consistent. If it doesn’t impress for it’s first eight episodes, it’s unlikely it’s ninth will change things. If I spend nine weeks pointing out flaws, I might start to become one of those blokes on the internet, ranting about how I don’t like something, and complaining that someone retrospectively stole my childhood. There’s already too much negativity in the world.



So here goes… Skip Tracer: Louder than Bombs is like cheesy 80’s Sci-fi. This week, Nolan meets some freedom fighters and falls into another trap. If you like that sort of thing, and want something untaxing, then maybe Skip Tracer is for you.


Our Score:


A Look Inside