In anthology comics, where storylines are often of varying lengths and titles therefore start and end in different issues, putting together a clear jumping-on point for new readers requires a lot of planning. Prog 1824 shows what happens when all that planning pays off. It is not just a good issue for new readers to start with, it’s a good issue and and of itself.
Beginning with a new story for Judge Dredd, we see solid writing and excellent art right from the start. Dredd is thrown into a high-speed chase when a mysterious criminal disrupts a meeting between Chief Judge Hershey and representatives from East Meg-2. It’s fast and it’s fun.
Writer Michael Carroll is quickly becoming one of the most dependable Judge Dredd writers. He produces consistently solid stories that hark back to the action-oriented tales from early 2000AD.
The artwork for this episode is equally solid. Artist Inaki Miranda’s command of space and motion produces some stunning action sequences and highly detailed scenery shots without clogging the page up unnecessarily. The only downside is that he has a tendency to elongate characters’ torsos; which has the effect of making Dredd appear a little stretched and less muscular than normal.
Moving over to Dandridge, we are presented with an hilarious opening to this suave modern supernatural tale. I can’t help but feel Dandridge is supposed to be a British Nikolai Dante, and if this is not the case then the excessive womanising and lack of ability to take any situation seriously isn’t helping to distinguish this new character from an established fan favourite.
That aside, writer Alec Worley presents us with a brilliant comedy script that had me genuinely laughing out loud at several points. The clean lines of Warren Pleece’s art makes each page a pleasure to read but I am once again reminded of Dante. The visual style we are presented with would not look out of place if it were dropped right into The Romanov Dynasty.
That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, but if this story is going to stand the test of time it really needs to find its own voice, and quickly.
Another run of Tharg’s 3rillers always brings with it a sense of trepidation. 3rillers is less the proving ground for new writers that Future Shocks is but even so, what you get is often rather hit and miss. This is part one of a three-parter about a group of nerds in a house that can travel between dimensions. That idea alone was enough to grab my attention.
The writing team for this tale 2000AD veteran Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby, whom Doctor Who fans may know from Big Finish’s audio plays. Together they have constructed a tale that spends the whole episode establishing characters and giving only a vague idea of what the story is about. It’s enough to get the reader interested but with only 10 pages, in total, left to tell the rest of the story I’m concerned about where this is going and whether it can pull off a decent resolution.
Any misgivings about the writing are not carried over to the artwork. Bazooka Jules artist Neil Googe is on fine form, bringing us plenty of detail without crowding the page. His characters are visually distinctive and brimming with personality. As an added bonus, we have a realistic depiction of a young woman main character.
The only downside to the art is that the colours feel a little too bright here and there, especially on the final page. A more muted palette would have made this story look so, so good.
When I first saw the cover to this week’s comic, the depiction of Stickleback by D’Israeli gave me the creeps. It oozes character and the use of white-on-black is visually stunning. This all carries over into the comic itself. This is a double-length opening episode and every single page oozes character. It’s worth the cover price just for this art.
Story-wise, this is typical Ian Edginton fare; so you will either love it or hate it. Now he’s over his dual run on Ampney Crucis Investigates (whose last outing was great fun) and The Red Seas (whose last outing sucked so much), Edginton is able to devote his entire attention to this story – and it really shows. The pacing here is spot on, devoting part of the time to giving the readers a clear impression of who the characters are, and part to explaining their backstory for new readers. As openings go, this is really good.
If you’re new to 2000AD or want to give it a try for the first time, you can’t go wrong in Prog 1824. Equally, there’s a lot here for established readers to get their teeth into as well. The collection of stories is excellent, the humour is on form and there’s plenty of action to go around. Overall, this is the kind of line-up that earns 2000AD its place at the top of the independent comics pile.