Welcome, citizens, to this week’s installment of Multiver-City One! Every Wednesday we examine the latest offerings from Tharg and the droids over at 2000 AD, the galaxy’s leading producers of Thrill-Power entertainment! Between the weekly “2000 AD” itself, the monthly “Judge Dredd Megazine”, an extensive library of graphic novel collections, and new US-format one-shots and mini-series, they have decades of zarjaz comics for you to enjoy.
There’s both a new Prog AND a new Megazine to talk about this week, so we’ll jump right in after this quick public service announcement!
We understand that having such a large selection to choose from can make knowing where to start with 2000 AD seem daunting. What do they publish? Where can I get it? What’s up with Judge Dredd? Can I still read “2000 AD” if I don’t like Judge Dredd?
So in an effort to help new & potential readers, we’ve put together An Earthlet’s Guide to 2000 AD. A regularly updated FAQ, The Guide will collect everything you need to make your initial foray into the 2000 AD Thrill-verse as simple as possible.
II. THIS WEEK IN PROG 1908
Judge Dredd: Block Judge, Part 9
This is it! Gramercy Heights erupts in violence this week, and it’s looking like both sides can expect losses.
It feels like we’re coming to the close on this one. I’d almost say it feels like next week’s strip would be the wrap-up to this story, were it not for one little dangling plot thread. Remember that bomb? The one that only us readers know about? It’s still out there, waiting for its time to go off. It feels awful knowing that the residents of Gramercy have another catastrophe hanging over their heads, especially after how brutal this week’s riot was. So many innocent people lost their lives, and so many more are still at risk, this time of being blown to smithereens without even seeing it coming.
Credits: John Wagner (script), Carlos Ezquerra (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Stickleback: The Thru’Penny Opera, Part 9
No time for biscuits or honey or exposition in libraries this week; there’s a dragon (or fire-drake, to be more precise) to be fought! Surely this mythical beast is laying waste to London and only Stickleback & crew can save us. That’s how these things work, right?
Not in an Edginton/D’Israeli comic they don’t. The fire-drake is actually protecting London, and the two immortal beings attacking it are part of a sisterly trio looking to transform London into a shell for some elder god to take root in as a home here in the physical dimension. So if your natural instinct in seeing someone fighting a dragon is to root against the dragon, the citizens of London kindly ask you to refrain from doing so this time.
This week’s installment felt like it was over much too quickly. Good thing the next one’s only seven days away, but I hope there’s a London left for me to read about by then!
Credits: Ian Edginton (script), D’Israeli (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greysuit: Prince of Darkness, Part 8
Man, this week’s Greysuit is super-spy to the max! Surveillance, biometrics, a safe room; this comic’s got it all.
In a lot of ways, this strip is pretty similar to last week’s. We learn about one of John’s fellow Greysuits through him snooping through their home, then they walk in and the trap is sprung. I’m enjoying this story, but at this point I’m kinda thinking that it’ll be a far more compelling read once it’s collected. I still want to submerge myself in this world and follow John to its bitter end, but eight weeks in I’m reaching to the point where all the starts and stops are getting to me. It feels like once the strip picks up some momentum each week, we’re greeted with the “to be continued.” I understand that’s the nature of a serialized anthology, but maybe the format is beginning to hinder this particular story.Continued below
Credits: Pat Mills (script), John Higgins (art), Sally Hurst (colors), Ellie de Ville (letters)
The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (And The Dead Left In His Wake): One Last Bullet, Part 8
There is no pithy sarcastic comment from the talking horse this week. I am sad.
There are third-wall-breaking characters and a ton of hints that Williams is going to make things a hell of a lot stranger before we’re done here. I am confused.
There is a reveal as to the mysterious woman’s identity. I am intrigued.
There are many bits of business executed with skill by Dowling. I am pleased.
There are seven days until the next Prog. I am impatient.
Credits: Rob Williams (script), Michael Dowling (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Kingdom: Aux Drift, Part 8
Gene the Hackman finds himself in the middle of a dogfight with a gigantic crab monster this week. For a guy who’s never been in a plane before, he sure has no qualms about jumping out of one! This battle feels like it’s got much higher stakes than the last few we’ve followed Gene into. Maybe it’s the fact that it seems like victory is going to be impossible for our heroes.
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Richard Elson (art), Abigail Ryder (color), Ellie DeVille (letters)
III. THIS MONTH IN JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE 354
Judge Dredd: Dead Zone – Invisible, Part 2
Mega-City One is full of crazy technology. It’s science fiction taking place in the future and also a comic book, so I know we’re in for all sorts of fantastic tech. I guess that’s why I never thought to ask where this bracelet came from. Yeah, the Justice Department had never seen anything like it, but I figured some mad scientist in some back-alley lab somewhere cobbled one together somehow. But John Wagner actually lets us find out where that bracelet came from this month and, I gotta say, I did not see that coming.
The fact this strip would be absurdly well-drawn, however, I saw coming a mile away. How is Henry Flint not the biggest name in comics? That’s not a rhetorical question; his acting and visual storytelling is head and shoulders above the majority of what’s being published today. I don’t mean to sound so hyperbolic, but it’s true. It could be because he’s paired with Wagner on this, or maybe he’s in the midst of an artistic growth spurt, but this story is probably the best Flint has ever looked. And given his pedigree to this point, that’s saying a lot.
Credits: John Wagner (script), Henry Flint (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Lawless: Welcome to Badrock, Part 5
Halfway through this installment of Lawless, I wondered to myself how long Winslade could keep up this level of art quality in the strip. The way he’s able to suggest different materials in clothing, the way he creates contour, the way he’s able to use so many likes and still make everything look so clean; it’s all phenomenal. “I could read this story forever,” I thought. So imagine how crushed I was to see the words “The End” on the last page.
Of course, Abnett deserves a heaping of praise here, too. He’s introduced a new setting and characters that feel as if they’ve been around for decades in just five installments. They’re flawed and complex people that Abnett has given the illusion of history. And of course, snaking around under the main narrative, there’s the question of whether Marshall Lawson is really who she claims to be. At this month’s conclusion we’re told that ‘Lawless’ will return next year, so here’s hoping we won’t have to wait more than a few months to see Badrock again in all its corrupted glory!
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Phil Winslade (art), Ellie de Ville (letters)
Tales From Mega-City One: Wendell Says
Let it never be said that Tharg does not aim to please. Just a few short weeks ago I sang the praises of Darren Douglas, hoping out loud to see more work from him. Well, this issue makes it clear to me now that the surveillance equipment Tharg’s droids installed in my home is in proper working order.Continued below
I really enjoyed the cast of this story. Even though my favorite of the bunch was not long for this world, I’d love to see them return for another misadventure. Their shared journey through the different levels of the Adam Curtis Psychiatric Block teetered between buddy comedy and heartbreaking drama. And of course there’s Wendell, the chatty star of the strip. There’s only one person who can see Wendell, but that doesn’t stop him from calling the shots and guiding the narrative.
Eglington and Douglas did such a wonderful job on this story. In just ten pages they introduced a large cast, established a very vivid environment, and gave readers a reason to be invested in it all. these characters seem like a bunch of innocent weirdoes trapped in a hard place during a pretty trying time. They’re the unlikely hero underdogs that the reader can’t help but root for.
Credits: T.C. Eglington (script), Darren Douglas (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Dredd: Uprise, Part 4
It’s credits time for this ‘DREDD 3D’ movie sequel to the sequel, but not before all manner of things, robotic and otherwise, get a taste of the incendiary, the armor piercing, and the hi-ex! Not that 2000 AD has ever been squeamish, but as a kid, I always knew when I was watching cartoons that whenever robots showed up to face off against the hero, there was going to be some real destruction because Standards & Practice had no complaints about robots being blown up and demolished the way they would if those targets were flesh & blood. So any story with a pissed off Dredd against robots is one that you know is going to have a high explosion quotient.
Wyatt says in his Interrogation that he has more movie-verse ideas for stories, and that’s great to hear. He tones down the over-the-top satire and out-there sci-fi elements, but he keeps enough of the core ‘Dredd’ness (for lack of a better term) on the macro and micro levels that he can keep doing these as long as he wants in my book. My favorite this month was a small bit of business for Dredd taking a beat to make sure an opponent he’s been told not to worry about STAYS something not to worry about. Wyatt & Davidson really sell this panel and the story as a whole.
Who wants to take a guess at what the next ‘DREDD 3D’ sequel idea will be? Anderson? Wally Squad? Dark Judges?
Credits: Arthur Wyatt (script), Paul Davidson (art), Chris Blythe (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
IV. MEGAZINE FEATURES
Besides scheduling, there’s a big difference between a Prog and a Megazine. While each weekly Prog acts as a comics anthology, “Judge Dredd Megazine” is more of a, well, magazine. In addition to all the comics (new and reprints), a variety of contributors write articles focusing on topics that, while usually related to the Dredd-verse in some way, spread the scope of the Megazine beyond the obvious cast of characters and into topics, both Meg-centric and real world, that would be of interest to the readership as a whole.
Interrogation: Paul Davidson by Matthew Badham
The Megazine shines some light on the ‘DREDD’ movie-verse duo this month, with partnered interrogations for writer Arthur Wyatt and artist Paul Davidson. Reading this one in particular will give you such keen insights as why the ‘Uprise’ artist would often pick Judge Dredd as the strip to skip when he was reading the Progs as a boy. But don’t worry, he’s since seen the error of his youthful ways, and holds the current run of Mega-City adventures in high regard. You can also find out what creator-owned idea Davidson has on the shelf, placed there by necessity to avoid competing with a similarly-set-but-later-debuting Alan Moore comic, what Marvel work he’s lent his pencil to, what he thinks of his ‘Uprise’ collaborator, and just what the hell a Dwarflord is.
Interrogation: Arthur Wyatt by Karl Stock
These interviews have been called ‘interrogations’ for quite some time, but this issue in particular made me feel like a cop talking to two suspect partners in adjacent interrogation rooms. Fortunately for them, their stories match up in regards to how one feels about the other’s contribution to ‘Uprise’; all good. After that, you can find out what its like to introduce a recurring character into the Meg in the form of Psi-Judge Zheng, what Judge Dredd story Wyatt thinks of as a John Le Carre Cold War thriller (or Thrill-er), and just whose motto is ‘Always Be Killing’. Also, the Lunar Olympics. LUNAR. OLYMPICS.Continued below
Fiction: Too Hottie To Handle by David Baillie
I love that the Megazine has articles, interviews, and other text pieces in it. But I’ll admit, I’m always a little apprehensive when I come across a Dredd prose story. Don’t ask me why, I’ve never read one I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. That said, Too Hottie To Handle is probably my favorite Dredd prose I’ve read.
The story is about a bank robber named Lenny Stark. When it comes to his chosen profession, Lenny does it like they did in the good ol’ days: by calmly sliding a note to a teller informing him or her that they are currently being robbed. Lenny’s appreciation of days gone by goes further than how he goes about the art of thievery. To him, 2015 must have been the most perfect year in all of human history. I found the reference to his classic, first generation smart watch to be particularly funny.
Baillie’s story is tight, with not one extraneous word. But at the same time, it’s incredibly robust and descriptive. It’s interesting seeing a prose story using the same type of economic sensibility that your average 2000 AD strip is so commonly known for.
V. MEGAZINE REPRINT
Every month, Tharg finds a little something from the back catalog to include with the Megazine. This month is ‘Rose O’Rion’ by Kek-W, Dylan Teague, Andy Clarke, Alan Craddock, and Chris Blythe.
Rose O’Rion is the story of a professional thief and her sci-fi adventures. The stories are fun and the art is pretty solid. When I first saw the cover and got into the story, I was struck by what a task Teague had created by making Rose’s outfit mostly fishnet. Sure, it looks cool, but can you imagine having to draw that over and over again? Just panel after panel of fishnets? Clarke couldn’t, as you can see by her costume design switching over to something more manageable the moment he started working on the strip. I thought that was funny.
VI. THRILLS ARE COMING
VII. DEATH IS IMMINENT
VIII. FUTURE PERP FILES
ATTN: ALL CITIZENS OF THE MEG! Be aware that there is always a Judge watching you. Each sector is equipped with millions of HD-CCTV and bioID units. They are there for your protection. If your intent is upright citizenry, then you have no qualm with our surveillance. And remember: if you see something, you are now an accessory to a crime. That’s six months in an Iso-Cube, creep! Random CPU algorithms has selected this citizen for immediate surveillance and assessment…
That’s gonna do it for us this week! “2000 AD” Prog 1908 and Judge Dredd Megazine 354 are on sale today and available from:
- The 2000 AD Newsstand app for iPad and iPhone,
- 2000ADonline.com in print or DRM-free PDF and CBZ formats,
- Select US newsstands, and
- Finer comic shops everywhere
So as Tharg the Mighty himself would say, “Splundig vur thrigg!”