Pretty but violent – 2000AD Prog 1871

Bold cover artwork courtesy of Jon Davis-Hunt

Bold cover artwork courtesy of Jon Davis-Hunt

After last week’s explosive birthday issue, 2000AD Prog 1871 has a lot to live up to. Can it manage this epic task? With two short-run stories (a one-part Terror Tale and a 3-part 3Riller) in the line-up, that will be a difficult task but let’s read on and find out!

Michael Carroll continues his run on Judge Dredd by adding comedy to this detective story. The result is a brilliant episode that fits right in with the tradition of Judge Dredd comics. This is turning out to be a really enjoyable story and I’m looking forward to what is shaping up to be a brilliant finale next week.

Nick Dyer’s art is still excellent, as is Chris Blythe’s superbly moody colouring. I’m still not sold on Dyer’s interpretation of the Judge uniform but I’m sure there will be some who really enjoy the mixture of the traditional comic look with the Karl Urban film version. For my part, I’ll accept the extra padding on the uniform if they will put Dredd’s hoster back on his boot where it belongs.

This week’s A.B.C. Warriors starts as it means to go on: with a fist to the back of a guy’s head. You know where you’re at with an opening shot like this – you’re in for a proper, old school pounding by Pat Mills and Clint Langley. They don’t disappoint!

Quartz tells us “we have to get back to basics” and that’s really the crux of how Mills has put this story together. People want to see giant robots having a fight, so he gives us giant robots having a fight. It’s gritty, it’s visceral, it’s wonderful. This is what 2000AD does best and I love it for it. Action aside, there are some surprisingly moving moments in this story, which I was not expecting. Pat Mills really knows how, and when, to pluck the heart strings.

Clint Langley’s amazing artwork helps in this regard. He’s really managed to give a sense of humanity to Tubal Caine, a giant robot with a shield for a beard. I really felt like the old machine had a heart. If there’s one down side to Langley’s art it’s only that you wouldn’t realise Caine’s son is his son – he looks a lot like a cute goth girl. Still, that’s a minor issue and Langley more than makes up for it with his spot-colour shading method, which makes the comic look like it was printed back in 1977. It’s a wonderful technique and it really adds to the feel of the episode.

David Baillie’s script for Tharg’s 3Rillers: After The Vengeance is a story that’s really of our time. A post-revolutionary tale full of anti-capitalism and clearly inspired by the Occupy Movement. As stories go, it’s a decent set-up for a tale but it introduces too many characters too quickly and that leads to it being a little confusing about who is who and why anything is happening. This is quickly remedied by looking back over previous pages to work out who each character is talking about but, to be honest, that should not be necessary. Tighter scripting in future would be nice.

The artwork is wonderful however. Everything looks suitably worn out, there’s sufficient rubble and debris all over the place and I really love the overall feel of the world we are presented. Jon Davis-Hunt’s penmanship is impressive in this respect; and he’s very nicely backed up by colours from Gary Caldwell. It’s a good-looking story.

As Terror Tales go, this is a bloody stupid one. There’s no terror here, it’s pure science-fiction hokum. The plot was obvious from the start and it was clear there were only two ways this was going to pan out – victory, or defeat. I won’t spoil the story by saying which happens but it’s sufficient to say that by the end you’ll be wishing the story took the other option. Sorry, Kek-W, but it not a good script.

PJ Holden’s art is lovely, however. He’s got a real knack for sci-fi machinery and he’s clearly enjoying himself with all the different weirdnesses that inflict the people in these pages. It’s a delight to look at.

Dan Abnett presents us with a surprisingly quick ending to Grey Area this week. I was expecting to get at least a fourth part out of this but never mind. His quick pace and brilliant dialogue keep this story running at full pelt right up to the joke at the end. It’s wonderful stuff from a relatively new series that’s really impressing. Hopefully there will be plenty more to come.

Once again Patrick Goddard and Abigail Ryder present us with stunning visuals of a used future that feels real enough to step into; although I doubt you will want to when you see the hideous alien monsters that infest it. This is a visual feast that gives you plenty to enjoy, so hopefully we will see more from this duo in the future as well.

While 2000AD Prog 1871 is let down by a couple of short-run stories that just don’t quite match up with the established titles, there is still a lot to enjoy. Hopefully next we we will see a better replacement for the Terror Tale that will bump this current run of stories back up to the five-star rating it deserves.

Prog 1871 is available digitally and in British newsagents from Wednesday 05 March, and in print overseas later in the month.

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