With last week’s issue ending so many strips all at once, it was inevitable that 2000AD Prog 1888 was going to be something either absolutely unmissable, or something of a disappointment. Thankfully there’s a lot here to be pleased about.
The opening story, as always, is Judge Dredd and my goodness, there’s a cracking story here courtesy of writer Rob Williams. What starts out as a comedy quickly becomes very moving, before ending with an unexpected and highly dramatic last page. I have to admit to being shocked by the sudden shift toward high drama but my goodness, it’s an effective jolt to the senses. This is going to be a cracking story.
Chris Weston’s line art is amazing. There’s a mixture of old school crazyness with modern computer clarity that makes these pages a delight to view. He is accompanied by the amazing colour work of Michael Dowling, who produces some fantastic work in a subdued pallette that really fits the feel of Mega-City One.
It took me far longer than normal to write this review because I stopped reading to take in the art. The 2000AD marketing department has been showing off these pages for weeks now and when you see them full-size, you will understand why. These pages are beautiful, simply beautiful.
Turning the page to the start of a new chapter of Brass Sun and I will again admit that I came to this one with mixed feelings. Ian Edington has written some excellent, fast-paced stories in the past but his record also contains The Red Seas, which went on for far too long and bored the pants off so many people. Edington writes for the trades, rather than the individual issues; and that can cause a problem when his work is presented in 5-page, weekly chunks. Will he return to form with Brass Sun (which has been receiving rave reviews for its US reprints) or are we in for another long and drawn-out bore-fest?
The opening episode suggests this is a return to form. There’s a lot going on here and while there are plenty of unnecessary splash pages here (page 2 is a fine example), there is also plenty of action and the dialogue is nicely limited – no monologuing about internal thoughts, or over-written exposition. This is good stuff.
Inj Culbard’s artwork doesn’t stand up quite as well on the individual pages as it does on the cover, however. He’s not quite got character consistency down pat just yet – there are a few faces, probably because they are drawn at different angles to normal, that just don’t quite look right (page 3, panel 3 and page 4 panel 1 are prime examples). That said, he’s got a definite flair for action and the combat sequence looks great.
This week’s Brass Sun is a double-length feature so we only have four stories this time around. Next up is another of Tharg’s 3Rillers, the three-part twist-in-the-tale series that is part Future Shock, part Terror Tale and usually disappointing in the third act. Will this one be any different? It’s written by Guy Adams, the writer responsible for the godawful return of Ulysees Sweet earlier this year, so make of that what you will.
There are some interesting ideas in this script but, from the look of the characters to the ideas in the story, it all feels a little like we’ve seen it before. PJ Holden’s artwork is excellent as always but he makes the main character look like she’s just stepped out of After Earth.
Meanwhile, the bogeymen and the mad scientist voodoo doctor are cardboard cutout villains from The Big Boy’s Book of Baddies. I’d like to think there’s something good coming up in parts 2 and 3 to make this a worthwhile story but right now all that it’s got going for it is the artwork.
Finally, we come to Grey Area. Dan Abnett has been bringing us some amazing stories with this series all year and Mark Harrison’s artwork is always a perfect accomanyment to Abnett’s writing. Together they’ve produced an excellent end to this current story. I really, really didn’t see such an abrupt ending coming and I hope we see more of this, because right now it’s been a great ride and the characters deserve better than to be going out on that ending.
Overall, 2000AD Prog 1888 is another great issue for the Galaxy’s Greatest. While there is one disappointing story, that’s to be expected in an anthology of this kind. The pro’s definitely outweigh the con’s however, so if there’s one comic you read this week, it should be 2000AD, yet again.
2000AD Prog 1888 is out in print in British newsagents from Wednesday 02 July and internationally later in the month. It’s also available digitally wordwide from 2000adonline.com from Wednesday 02 July.