2000AD Starts the Year With a Bang

After the 100-page extravaganza of Prog 2014, you might think the first issue of 2000AD in 2014 would be a more subdued affair. You would be wrong. Prog 1862 begins as it means to go on with one of the most impressive comic covers in a while, courtesy of Henry Flint. It’s likely to be the cover image for the inevitable trade paperback of the new Judge Dredd story, Titan, which begins this issue.

Henry Flint is on form with this amazing cover.

Henry Flint is on form with this amazing cover.

If you liked the cover, you’re going to love the comic itself. Flint is on top form, delivering some amazing splash pages and scene-setting wide-angle shots with immense detail. The colours are great, the inks are great. It’s all so sweet you could spend hours just staring at the artwork. This really feels like the start of something special.

The only down side to Flint’s work this week is something that plagues 2000AD in general, so it may not be fair to single one artist out. Nevertheless, Judge Hershey looks young. She graduated from the Academy of Law in 2102 and she was 18 then. It’s now 2136. The woman is 52 years old but she doesn’t look a day over 20. Either she’s taking illegal doses of Stookie or Flint has gone with the annoying convention of letting male characters get older and more rugged while keeping female characters looking like eye candy well until the bus pass is nearing.

Rob Williams delivers a brilliant script this week with some wonderful dialogue. I’m really looking forward to where this story is going.

We have a similarly strong script from Eddie Robson on his Future Shocks story. This is a nice little morality tale with some good characterisation and great artwork from Jake Lynch. It’s just a shame the build-up to the twist ending feels edited down to fit the space available. Aside from this glitch in the pacing, it’s a good story.

Speaking of good stories, this week’s ABC Warriors is another great character piece from Pat Mills. It’s wonderfully written and Clint Langley delivers some simply amazing art. I’m starting to feel like the story as a whole isn’t moving along however, even if the individual episodes are great in and of themselves. Will we get to see what the Warriors are up to any time soon, or is this solely a potted history of Happy Shrapnell? Time will tell, but if it would tell in the next couple of weeks that would be great.

This second episode of Ulysees Sweet, Maniac For Hire continues to demonstrate why this story is the runt of the litter. It starts well, with writer Guy Adams giving us some very welcome biting satire, but by page two it’s back to being a Zombo wannabee. There is still not a single likeable character in the whole story. The wonderful 50’s era sci-fi stylings of the artwork, delivered by Paul Marshall on line art and Chris Blythe on colours, can’t save it.

Finally we come to Strontium Dog, which last week I said was the story to watch. Now Judge Dredd: Titan is here, the John Wagner/Carlos Ezquerra team have some real competition for best story. I’m happy to say they both rise to the occasion. Ezquerra’s art is simply beautiful this week. His use of line and colour to depict a burning ship has to be seen to be believed. It’s wonderful stuff.

John Wagner script is subdued this week, which only adds to the story. This is a gritty war story told from the side of the underdogs. It’s not a Hollywood blockbuster, it’s more like a news report from the front lines. It’s harsh, it’s dirty, it’s not afraid to show the real costs of war. Once again, it’s the story to watch in this current crop of tales.

2000AD Prog 1862 is an impressive start to the new year. If you are new to the comic, it’s not too far into any of the ongoing stories for you to not be able to catch up and the inclusion of a new Judge Dredd tale this week means you can jump in at the start of what is sure to be a ride worth taking.

The comic is out from 01 January in UK newsagents while American readers can pick it up later this month. Digital copies are available internationally from 01 January via www.2000adonline.com.

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