2000AD, PROG 2061

by Gavin Johnston on December 12, 2017

Writers: Michael Carroll; Ian Edginton; Pat Mills; Peter Milligan; Kek-W; Eddie Robson; Kenneth Niemand
Artists: Colin MacNeil; INJ Culbard; Patrick Goddard; Rufus Dayglo; Dave Kendall; Nigel Dobbyn; Clint Langley; Henry Flint
Colourists: Chris Blythe; Dom Regan
Letterers: Annie Parkhouse; Ellie De Ville; Simon Bowland
Publisher: Rebellion


It's the end of year special, which means an extra helping of thrill power in this 100 page 2000AD.  Beneath a cover featuring some of the comics biggest characters fomr the 1980's are a series of tales which look to be aimed at bringing lapsed readers back into the fold.


In the dramatic twist to last week’s story, a disgruntled Sov Judge placed an explosive on a Justice Department craft, causing Dredd and his squad to crash in the snowy Siberian wastes. Dredd: Echoes sees Judge Dredd and Judge Salada struggle through the snow, haunted by the echoes of Dredd’s past. Dredd’s actions against the Sovs during the Apocalypse War storyline way back in 1982 have had a major impact on the character and his world over the last few years, but it looks like Echoes will take a new look at things, with a focus of Dredd’s victims rather than on him directly.
The developments of the last few Progs really seem to be plot driven, with unusual behaviour or impossible events used to push things forward. Here, Dredd is happy to basically be taken hostage by a gang of looters, leaves a crash site where he might actually be rescued to wander aimlessly in enemy territory, and major locations are somewhat misplaced.


Ian Edginton and INJ Culbard’s vast epic continues with Brass Sun: Engine Summer. A universe where each world is part of a clockwork orrery which is gradually slowing, Brass sun is of a scale which makes Frank Herbert’s Dune seem small. Each world is this unique, and the hidden forces behind this universe are being slowly revealed. Engine Summer is a small window into a complex world consisting largely of a monologue by a military general, and might signal a welcome return for fans, but will probably leave new readers wondering what just happened.


Back in Prog 2010, Bill Savage was in front of a firing squad. After trying to track down a German resistant group to help in the ongoing war against the Volgan authorities, Savage discovered that said group weren’t too keen on his new hobby of ritualised serial murder. Despite the year long gap between Bill’s predicament and his inevitable escape, Savage: The Thousand Year Stare makes no concession to the reader, picking up in the middle of a conversation. Bill has found himself fighting transformers from the future, trying to make friends with a graffiti artist who is also a freedom fighter, whose secret base is a tourist attraction and who avoids attention by attracting attention. Savage is, as it was a year ago, filled with dumb action, with a thick dollop of political lecturing and moral lessons which are immediately contradicted for the sake of the plot.


Back in the mid-'80s, Bad Company was the story of a squad of misfit soldiers fighting an insane war on a distant world. The story was self-contained, but the company members have returned a few times since in sequels that have often been troublesome, contradicting or ignoring what came before. In Bad Company: Terrorists, the squad are back among civilised society, on the run from the law after destroying a war monument. Bad Company is frenetic, with wild, brightly coloured art, bizarre characters and over the top action. The company has always had a wide cast of disparate characters, and giving them time to shine rather than just be cameos is likely to be a big problem. This might be worth watching.


In the alternative reality where the justice department fell to the malevolent force that would become the Dark Judges, an elderly lady lives along, watching her world slowly decay and refusing to become involved. The Fall of Deadworld stories so far have shown a world of despair and decay, where deformed corpses stalk the ruins of a fallen society. In The Fall of Deadworld: Ava, its hard to tell where everyday poverty and depravity ends and where the rein of Judge Death begins. As the title character, Ava, observes her neighbourhood gradually decline, there’s little separation, and the violent rage which brings her to start smashing skulls sees no division between local drug addicts and hideous monsters. Like everything that has gone before in the Deadworld series, it’s a compelling and terrifying idea: that when the apocalypse comes, it’s not a single event. The end may have already begun.


Another blast from the past, Ace Trucking was a comedy sci-fi series from the ‘80s, following the crew of an interstellar haulage ship. Ace Trucking Co: Muggo’s Moon brings back the old crew, on a job to deliver candy canes to Christmas Moon, a distant world whose principle export is Christmas spirit. Ace Trucking is fun, with a small cast of oddball characters speaking space trucker lingo. Muggo’s Moon has some issues with a few panels which are difficult to follow, and relies on nostalgia rather than provide any real introduction to its characters, but on the whole it’s an enjoyable if forgettable adventure, with the obvious target of commercialised Christmas.


Ostensibly, ABC Warriors is about a group of renegade robots who battle the authorities. ABC Warriors: Fallout is really about the art. The plot is paper thin – corporate cops are bad guys who murder street kids, before being stopped by a robot on a mission. It's a world where the two dimensional villains literally wear black hats and speak in villainous slogans. Where cops tasked with stopping a bad gut find out that some street kids know his whereabouts, but decide to just murder the street kids rather than go to the effort of questioning them, because thats what bad guys do.

The appeal here is the art by Clint Langley, which is bold and iconic, with full page spreads galore. Langley makes heavy use of photo references, which gives his art a realistic but strangely static feel. His panels are often glorious, but like a series of staged photographs they often lack a natural flow.


Starlord was a sister publication to 2000AD which started in 1978 and only ran for 22 issues before being absorbed by the House of Tharg. Like all good 1970’s comics, the comic was fronted by a character editor – in this case Starlord himself: A spacegoing soldier who sought to educate the people of Earth on the ongoing battles across the universe.

Starlord: Watch The Stars reveals the awful truth, as alien reporters investigate Starlord’s villainous mission to recruit child soldiers to his genocidal war. It's interesting to see 2000AD openly mock its own history, having fun the absurdity of characters like Tharg the Mighty and “Big E”, the editor of the also subsumed Tornado comic (who was portrayed in photos by the artist Dave Gibbons). Watch the Stars is a fun little distraction which takes a fresh and humour look at a comic which became an important part of 2000AD, and British comics, history

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