2000AD #2234 Review

by Gavin Johnston on June 01, 2021

Writers: Chris Weston; Gordon Rennie; Laurence Rennie; Rory McConville; Dan Abnett; Kenneth Niemand
Artists: Chris Weston; Boo Cook; Dan Cornwell; Richard Elson; PJ Holden
Colours: Len O'Grady; Chris Blythe
Letters: Annie Parkhouse; Simon Bowland; Jim Campbell

Dredd doesn’t do reboots. The stories are never just reset, deleting past events that have become inconvenient or unfashionable. Instead, over 40 years of Dredd stories the tone and content have simply adapted, never completely ignoring the past, but never being beholden to it. It’s like if Adam West’s Batman and Christian Bale’s Batman were the same Batman, separated only by decades and fashion.

70s Dredd was a futuristic super-cop who had an Italian-stereotype housekeeper named Maria who kept trying to feed him pasta, and a comedy-sidekick vending-machine named Walter. Walter had a speech impediment.

Simpler era Dredd lived in Rowdy Yates Block, a building that was inexplicably named after a character from a ‘60s TV show.

With Judge Dredd: Adios, Rowdy Yates Artist Chris Weston once again doubles up as writer and shows he has quite a talent for it. The decaying Rowdy Yates Block is scheduled for demolition, and Dredd is roped into pushing the button as a PR exercise.

There are some really quite lovely call backs for longer-term readers, along with truths that certainly made me surprised at just how long I’ve been reading 2000AD. The usual Dredd self-denying introspection is there, in a few key words that are really quite touching in their own way.

Mechastopheles: The Hunting Party sees a soft reboot of the saga. The story of a walking steampunk tank taking its rag tag crew across a demon infested wasteland had previously focused on the crew themselves. Here, the hidden forces that drive the machine are the centre of attention. Boo Cook takes over art duties and provides some gorgeous panels ranging from the warty crowds of hell to over the top sea battles filled with action.

Criticism has been levelled at Feral & Foe’s self aware dialogue; that the characters talk to each other as if they know they’re playing a role in a story. I enjoy it for this very reason. Feral & Foe takes fantasy tropes and filters them through the expectations of modern mediums. Its three main characters stumble from adventure to adventure, behaving as though they are D&D players, chatting and bickering over the rules.
The strip took a break last week, but in that time the characters have managed to get their hands on the Malignant Chalice (the Chalice of Malice), the very Mcguffin they set out to find. That the culmination of the quest would actually happen when the reader isn’t there is exactly the sort of humour that runs through the whole thing.

The judges of Department K had their last adventure brought to an abrupt end in last week's Regened prog, premumably to line-up this week's Mega City set Department K: Cosmic Chaos. A dimension hoping alien arrives on earth during a sporting contest and the judges of Department K have to make first contact.
This is an lovely first episode that channels the wackiness of those early Dredd adventures; the nature of the sporting contest, the overblown rhetoric of the commentators (at east one of whom must, by law, be based on John Motson), the Judges with weird names...it all feels like its from that simpler era.

Here’s something else simpler-era Dredd had: Talking chimpanzees. Talking chimps were all the rage in Britain and for decades were used to sell tea, before the public starting being concerned that maybe dressing these animals up in suits and filming them pretending to move pianos wasn’t the best things for their welfare. From early 2000ADs, Mega City One had an underclass of talking primates. They had their own criminal gangs styled around comedic mafia stereotypes. An orang-utan named Dave was once elected mayor.
Chimpanzee vigilante Noam Chimpsky finally gets a well deserved series of his own in Chimpsky’s Law: The Talented Mr Chimpsky. Starting as a fun romp, it quickly moves in very dark territory as the origins of talking primates is laid bare. This looks like it’s going to be a fantastic new story from a character with huge potential, merging the wild adventures of old with a smart, modern awareness.

A prog with four new stories and each of them a diamond.


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