2000 AD Prog 2318 Featured Columns 

Multiver-City One: 2000 AD Prog 2317-2318

By , , , and | February 8th, 2023
Posted in Columns | % Comments

Welcome, Earthlets, to Multiver-City One, our “2000 AD” weekly review column! Every Wednesday we examine the latest offerings from Tharg and the droids over at Rebellion/2000 AD, the galaxy’s leading producers of Thrill-Power entertainment. Let’s get right to it!

Cover by Mark Harrison

Prog 2317 – Escape Route!

Judge Dredd: The Haggar They Are Part 1
Credits: Rob Williams and Arthur Wyatt (script), Paul Marshall (art), Dylan Teague (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)

Greg Lincoln: “Judge Dredd” spends so much time in Mega City One and on Earth that it is easy to forget that there is a much wider world to explore. ‘The Haggar They Are Part 1’ drops us right into it as Joe Dredd arrives on one of the distant space colonies pursuing a perp. Skeev is a world on the outer spiral arm that is largely lawless and a veritable haven for scum and villainy. As the narration says, it is no place for a Judge on his own, even if it is Dredd. Paul Marshal flexed his creative skills in making interesting n’eir-do-well aliens including a cameo or two. He included a suspiciously Blacksad-like “guide” who offers to lead Dredd to find the Keeper Haggar. This story links back to the tragedy that happened on Atlantis and involves a contract put out on the life of Judge Maitland.

This first chapter does a lot of set up and delivers a fair amount of it as exposition. Dredd’s guide, Sneetchs, leading Dredd into an ambush was a fun, if predictable twist. He did tell the Judge he was drocked up when they met. There is nothing wrong with the overall storytelling, but even with the amusing, incidental character and the animated feel of the art, much of this chapter feels a little dry. The care given to the character designs and the highlights and shadows created by Dylan Teague’s colors do stand out, even if the tale does not.

The Out: Book Three, Part Six
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Mark Harrison (art), Simon Bowland (letters)

Brian Salvatore: In what is a move that is surprising both in the context of the strip and in Cyd’s mind, ‘Book Three: Part Six’ sees Cyd travel back to the planet of the Zoto, where she was ‘rebuilt’ in ‘Book Two’ (I think? It may have been ‘Book One’). This trip is necessary to get answers about how she was infected by Tankinar, but it also represents a change in Cyd. Sure, she still is a free spirit, wandering the Out for adventure, but she’s not exactly as aimless as she once was, and now has definitive things to do and reasons to do them.

Mark Harrison’s art manages to convey this newly focused Cyd, which is stark compared to the Cyd of’Part Five,’ topless and snack eating. Harrison shows the determination in her every move here, and it is a different look for the character. Dan Abnett’s script tries very hard to convey that this is not a step backwards for either Cyd or the character, and it sort of works, but still feels regressive for “The Out,” even if it wouldn’t feel regressive in just about any other comic. But this strip has been constant forward progress thus far and, yes, there’s a reason for Cyd circling back, it can’t help but feel a little safe and ‘been there, done that.’

Joe Pineapples Tin Man 06
Credits: Pat Mills (script), Simon Beasley (art), Simon Bowland (letters)

Matthew Blair: Stranded on an asteroid a million miles away from any hope of rescue, the robot sniper assassin Joe Pineapples has little to do but look back on his life and a brief affair he had with his fellow robot soldier in murder: Sue Bananas. What follows is a rather interesting introspective look at the nature of the human soul and whether or not metal automatons are capable of having one.

Also, there is copious amounts of blood, violence, and a gang of robot vampires…just in case anyone gets bored reading this.

While the idea of a robot trying to emulate its human creators as a meditation on the nature of humanity is nothing new, this is still 2000AD and this is the story of a robot assassin, so writer Pat Mills has the interesting task of creating a story that is both deep and filled with blood and action, and it appears that he succeeds in “Joe Pineapples Tin Man 06”. Most of the heavy emotional lifting comes from the character of Sue Bananas, who is both a slave to the human programming that makes the ABC warriors think of themselves as heroes, but in an interesting twist she uses that programming to want to become more than a mindless warrior slave. It’s an interesting dynamic between Sue and Joe, who is the proverbial voice of sense and reason and doesn’t want to think about the nature of his existence, and should set the stage for some interesting emotional conflict.

Continued below

While enough has been said about the quality and faults of Simon Beasley’s artwork in previous sections, “Joe Pineapples Tin Man 06” gives Beasley a chance to flex his creative muscles with another fun bit of narrative gymnastics: flashbacks. Beasley shows a narrative distinction between the present and the past by drawin the past in black and white, with splashes of color on each page that reminds the reader of books like Sin City. It’s a move that suits the art style very well and allows the artwork to become clearer and more detail focused. With any luck, we’ll see more of this as the story and art style continue to develop.

“Joe Pineapples Tin Man 06” delves into familiar science fiction tropes and ideas with robots questioning their purpose and programming but does it in an interesting and unique way with great artwork and incredible violence.

The Order: Heart of Darkness Part One
Credits: Kek-W (script), John Burns (art), Jim Campbell (letters)

Chris Egan: Anna Kohl has lived for too long and she is ready to let go. The first chapter of “The Order: Heart of Darkness” takes us through Anna’s life in what, at first, looks like a dramatic period piece, and it is, but it is also much more. The script by Kek-W is stripped own, full of emotion and a basic presentation, but the more we learn about Anna through the writing, the more we understand that this is a bizarre story of time travel action through the art. Blending nautical, Lovecraft-ian horror, bizarre fantasy, and various sci-fi sub-genres, like steampunk, with 18th century fashion it is clear from the first panel that something far more unusual than horesback riding pirates and clanging cutlasses are afoot.

John Burns delivers the goods with his gorgeous, painterly art. He fully understands the genre blending here and it makes for a truly stunning chapter that, if this kind of story wasn’t enough to draw you in, the illustrations certainly will. Tentacles, robots, and swashbucklers should be enough to make anyone happy and this premiere is absolutely a welcome addition to 2000 AD if you’re feeling a bit burnt out on Mega City One and its ilk.

Proteus Vex: Crawl Space Part 6
Credits: Mike Carroll (script), Jake Lynch (art), Jim Boswell(Colours), Simon Bowland(letters)

Michael Mazzacane: “Proteus Vex” takes a minute to slow down and try to talk it out and avert more galactic-wide disaster. But one disaster just creates the groundwork for the next one, as Vex and crew look for warriors among the enslaved worker population of the imperial shipyard at Tahus Void. This episode is all preamble to the next set of strips where things promise to reach a destructive finale. It’s maybe not the most interesting strip in the world, but it has one good trick up its sleeve.

Mike Carroll and Jake Lynch are getting much better at melding the past-present-future together on the comic page. Look at the third and fifth page of this strip, Lynch effectively cuts to the present and the past. It isn’t always artistic, the shifting on the third page has a certain match-cut quality as it shifts from Vex to the imperial council. The jumping on the fifth page is just a hard swap. In both cases, these cuts do a good job of linking the causality of linear time together, even if their connections cannot be understood in the moment.

This melding of moments in time also helps to build some effective dramatic irony and, maybe, tension. The use of the Crawlspace narration to comment on the events we are seeing is more effective than usual. This strip has it commenting on ongoing actions versus the historical exposition of previous strips. All of this works together to make for a feeling of tension and fait acompli, it’s all going to go bad, and I can’t look away.

Cover by Toby Willsmer

Prog 2318 – Hag Team!

Judge Dredd: The Haggar They Are Part 2
Credits: Rob Williams and Arthur Wyatt (script), Paul Marshall (art), Dylan Teague (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)

Greg Lincoln: This week’s “Judge Dredd” is full of bright and flash action and, though it’s lively to look at, it is all just a bit too much flash. The action picks up with a reminder that Dredd has been openly looking for Keeper Haggar across the outer spiral rim for a while. He’s made his presence know in an area that he’s kind of a wanted man. It has flushed out a lot of bounty hunters and criminal with a bone to pick. They ambushed Dredd at the end of last week, and it’s no shock when the firefight that Dredd seems trapped by is interrupted by an ambush lead by Judge Giant. Dredd was bait to flush out more perps to make to cost of the op worth their wild. It’s a neat play, but it’s a card played too soon, story-wise.

Continued below

The tension for this scene was not built up enough and the only character that seems in jeopardy is Sneecths, who we just met last week. Sure. Dredd’s presence flushes out Haggar and ups the ante, but much like last week, the tension doesn’t really feel present.

The Out: Book Three, Part Seven
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Mark Harrison (art), Simon Bowland (letters)

Brian Salvatore: One of the best parts of “The Out” is Dan Abnett’s ability to make an idea seem absolutely alien, but still make it understandable for us non-aliens who read it. Take, for instance, Cyd needing to replicate musical tones to open doors/files in the Zoto medical area. Music is obviously something very human, but the use of it as a security measure is a fun idea (and not LOST having the coda to “Good Vibrations” be a numerical code. That almost ruined a perfect episode. But that’s a conversation for another day).

This chapter doesn’t give Mark Harrison a ton to do, as Cyd is more or less restricted to a few (very cool) locales, but Harrison really doesn’t get to go as ape as he normally would. That said, his layout work has never been better, and he does the most possible with the script he’s given. This script winds up devolving into chaos, and allows the story to feel a little more freewheeling and unexpected than we’ve been getting in this book so far, so this is a welcome change. The first two books of “The Out” felt like every cliffhanger was written without a solution yet in mind. That’s how this chapter feels too, and it’s a wonderful return.

Joe Pineapples Tin Man 07
Credits: Pat Mills (script), Simon Beasley (art), Simon Bowland (letters)

Matthew Blair: Joe Pineapples is revisiting the memories of his relationship with fellow assassin Sue Bananas, a lady bot who wants to believe that she is capable of having a soul despite Joe’s best efforts to tell her otherwise. This brewing conflict is put on hold when Joe is tasked with killing the devious robot General Blackblood, who is killing humans by operating on them in an attempt to discover where the human soul is located.

For such a weighty topic and with such a limited amount of space per issue to tell the story, writer Pat Mills does a pretty good job in “Joe Pineapples Tin Man 07”. General Blackblood is an over the top cartoon villain with one hell of a violent streak and a clear lack of understanding of the nuance of human nature, but his desperate search for the human soul raises some thoughtful questions and is kind of hilarious in a sad way. The dark humor of the battle between Blackblood and Pineapples serves as a talking point in the ongoing relationship between Pineapples and Bananas, which is now threatening to take a darker and more violent turn.

Everything that has been said about Simon Beasley’s artwork in the previous review applies here in “Joe Pineapples Tin Man 07”. With that said, a moment of particular note is near the beginning of the story where General Blackblood is introduced (the character is drawn to evoke a lot of evil dictator/general type villains and he looks great) as he operates on a human to find their soul. While a robot has no need to feel squeamish about pain or blood, the scene is done in a fairly tasteful manner and we don’t have to see all the blood and chaos that the general has inflicted on its human victims. If anything we’ve been seeing more and more restraint from Beasley as time goes on and it actually makes the artwork better.

“Joe Pineapples Tin Man 07” may be a bit heavy handed with its message and story, but just because something is obvious doesn’t mean it can’t be good, and this story is definite proof that over the top and excessive action and violence can still make a great story.

The Order: Heart of Darkness Part Two
Credits: Kek-W (script), John Burns (art), Jim Campbell (letters)

Chris Egan: This week’s chapter moves away from Anna Kohl to give us a look at an adventure involving The Order’s submarine. Continuing with the genre mashing, part two is very much an homage to works dating back to Verne and Melville, leading all the way up to Alan Moore. There is a bit literary magic that happens when an author can successfully blend 18th century dramatic adventure with sci-fi and fantasy in a compelling way, and Kek-W does that perfectly with “The Order.” It can’t be understated that this sort of thing can easily fail, and fail miserably, but this creative team is having an absolute blast bringing this story to life.

Continued below

In this wild and quite spooky chapter there’s a bit of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “Moby Dick,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” “X-Men,” and “Dagon.” The unknown the story’s playground, and tentacles, lots and lots of tentacles. Burns’s use of color and shadow is masterful as he moves between the bright clothing of the Order members and the great depths of the sea. The entire chapter is gorgeous, but moves away from the how and why of his work in the previous chapter. It’s equally fantastic for different reasons. “The Order: Heart of Darkness” continues to be the kind of horror fantasy story that on one hands seems to come around often, but on the other rarely succeeds in the way it was intended and thus far, this story is doing well as both an homage, and its very own thing.

Proteus Vex: Crawl Space Part 7
Credits: Mike Carroll (script), Jake Lynch (art), Jim Boswell(Colours), Simon Bowland(letters)

Michael Mazzacane: Mike Carroll’s varied narration has been a strength and something of a weakness for me as a reader. It attempts so many different styles and, at times, levels of irony with Jake Lynch’s art that it can feel a bit too clever for its own good. That isn’t the case in this seventh entry of ‘Crawl Space’. Caroll’s narration is purely in the mythopoetic space in sync with Jake Lynch’s art as the defense of the planet Sovereign is underway from the Scorcher armada and their world splitter. It uses the retrospective frame device that is the crawl space McGuffin to deliver a thrilling action strip that hits all the expected beats and does so well. From a pure entertainment standpoint, this is the most plainly enjoyable 5 pages in this series thus far.

It felt like I was watching 300 to a certain degree, which is to also say that I was deeply skeptical of the clean, romanticized narrative that was being put forward. Which is why it works so well! The past strips have trained us as a reader to look for the gaps and slippages, the conclusion of the previous strip was all about dramatic irony and limited perspective. So then to have this strip a pure military engagement that reads like a propaganda piece meant to support a dominant narrative, my antenna went up. Jake Lynch’s art does a good job of raising this specter by emphasizing the scale and lack of comprehension. We see massive explosions. Huge armadas. Guns firing. But what we do not see are individuals fighting and dying. They’re sure there somewhere, elided by the thousand-foot view of history. And from that perspective, it all looks a little too clean. Just at the right moment when all hope is lost, Proteus Vex arrives with his rebel army to save the day and stop the planet splitter. It’s like he’s Captain Blood with that timing.

Mike Carroll’s narration subtly tips the reader to this narrative perfection in the final panels by highlighting the minor gap in this narrative. It’s unknown if Vex himself led the assault on the world splitter. And yet here we have Jake Lynch’s wonderful art showing it to be so. Which then retroactively puts everything else into question.

The seventh entry of ‘Crawl Space’ doesn’t try to be fancy and stylish, it tries to be entertaining. In that mode, the creative team reveals the style and irony that had previously been too conscious to be just below the surface if you stopped and thought about it in retrospect.

//TAGS | Multiver-City One

Brian Salvatore

Brian Salvatore is an editor, podcaster, reviewer, writer at large, and general task master at Multiversity. When not writing, he can be found playing music, hanging out with his kids, or playing music with his kids. He also has a dog named Lola, a rowboat, and once met Jimmy Carter. Feel free to email him about good beer, the New York Mets, or the best way to make Chicken Parmagiana (add a thin slice of prosciutto under the cheese).


Michael Mazzacane

Your Friendly Neighborhood Media & Cultural Studies-Man Twitter


Greg Lincoln


Matthew Blair

Matthew Blair hails from Portland, Oregon by way of Attleboro, Massachusetts. He loves everything comic related, and will talk about it for hours if asked. He also writes a web comic about a family of super villains which can be found here: https://tapas.io/series/The-Secret-Lives-of-Villains


Christopher Egan

Chris lives in New Jersey with his wife, daughter, two cats, and ever-growing comic book and film collection. He is an occasional guest on various podcasts, writes movie reviews on his own time, and enjoys trying new foods. He can be found on Instagram. if you want to see pictures of all that and more!


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