After last week’s brilliant start to the year, 2000AD Prog 1863 has a lot to live up to. The cover presents an interesting opening right away, depicting an event from the current Strontium Dog storyline. It’s not as punch as last week’s orbital drop but Dylan Teague’s choice of high action depicted in muted colours is still lovely.
Cat Sullivan is back this week with another puntastic Droid Life. I have to admit to really looking forward to these strips turning up because even when they’re not laugh-out-loud funny, the puns are still worth the groan-inducing effort. This one is no exception.
Judge Dredd: Titan continues with more amazing artwork. Henry Flint’s depiction of SJS helmets is particularly nice – it’s good to see the skull symbol they use depicted in a less stylized manner for a change. It adds to the creepy factor. Script-wise, this week we’re getting a slower story.
I understand that it’s necessary to provide a little detail on the crew involved in the mission, so there’s no complaint here about doing that. Rob Williams has managed to make the backstory flow into the current action rather well so even if this is a plot dump episode, it’s still an enjoyable read.
What’s not an enjoyable read is Ulysees Sweet, Maniac For Hire. I’m sorry but this is getting more and more like a chore to read as the weeks progress. It’s obviously trying to be funny (although the sexism is off the scale this week as Ulysees Sweet sits around rating women on a 10-point scale and making sexual advances at the same time – not cool, guys) and I feel sorry for it as a result. It’s just not good. Paul Marshall’s artwork is nice and Chris Blythe does well with the greytones but Guy Adams’ script is letting the team down. Sorry guys but this is about as readable as another outing for The Red Seas.
Moving on to The A.B.C. Warriors and oh my goodness! Clint Langley’s artwork is nothing short of beautiful. This week he’s gone for a real old school, gritty punk feel to the art and it meshes so perfectly with Pat Mills’ amazing thrill-infused script. This is simply superb. There are references aplenty to previous Warriors stories but they are done in a way that won’t spoil the story for new readers, which is excellent. Roll on next week’s episode!
Next up is a “Star Scan” of a creature from Slaine. It’s incredibly grotesque, which is lovely in its own way. Another fine piece from Clint Langley that almost makes you forget these are used to fill space where there’s no advert available.
Grey Area makes a very welcome return this week with another story by scriptwriter supremo Dan Abnett and artist Patrick Goddard. After the superb introduction to this dystopian world in Prog 2014, it’s great to see another outing for this series.
Abnett has written a brilliant script here with an excellent cliffhanger that wasn’t obvious from the start, which is always a plus. Goddard’s artwork is suitably muted and really fits the bleak world of the story. This is great stuff and I can’t wait to see more.
Finally, we have Strontium Dog. This gritty war story hots up with plenty of action coming in thick and fast this week. It’s a brilliant story told in an expert way by John Wagner. The obvious main villains for this part of the war have now arrived and it’s looking like the rest of the story will be a no-holds-barred fight to the death. It’s going to be great.
The good guys are almost as bad as the bad guys; as it often true in war. Wagner isn’t making the mistake of presenting his underdogs as much-maligned saints and Carlos Ezquerra is doing his part to present both sides of the battle as dirty, ugly people. The mutants may have the moral high ground but the usual cliche of presenting the bad guys as the beautiful people is nowhere to be seen here – under Ezquerra’s brush, everyone is equally repulsive. It’s great to see.
2000AD Prog 1863 is another brilliant issue of a comic that is riding high on excellent writing & art right now. It’s available in UK shops from 8th January and internationally later this month. You can also get the digital version online from 8th January wherever in the world you are, via 2000adonline.com.