A Punch to the Head! – 2000AD Prog 1872

Dylan Teague is on top form with this brilliant cover.

Dylan Teague is on top form with this brilliant cover.

Still fresh from its birthday celebrations, 2000AD Prog 1872 gives us a continuing set of brilliant stories and slots in some new tales to keep everything fresh & interesting.

This week’s finale to Michael Carroll’s latest Judge Dredd three-parter shows us that he really can write a good ending to a tale without relying on a time skip. This is a brilliant, funny and action-packed story that has been a real pleasure to read over the last three weeks. The ending is not only fitting for the story itself but also works really well in the face of the continued aftermath of the Chaos Day saga.

Nick Dyer and Chris Blythe continue to impress with their respective line art and colours. The Mega-City One tube system is suitably grimy and the streets, while a little less filthy than I’ve come to expect over the years, look suitably full of people. All in all, it’s good stuff.

The opening panels of this week’s A.B.C. Warriors¬†should be on a t-shirt. Here we have¬†Tubal fighting Mek-Quake while Quartz taunts our beleaguered hero about how a lone man can’t realistically overcome such epic odds. It sums up this story so well that I won’t be surprised if it turns up as the splash panel on the back of the inevitable trade paperback.

This is a bloody punch to the face of an episode. It’s harsh, it plays the heart strings. It ends with you rooting for the hero even more than you had before. Mills is the master at work here, and he is not let down by Clint Langley’s amazing artwork. If there’s one story to read this week, it is this one. Roll on the next episode!

I’m not sure where this Tharg’s 3Rillers story is going, to be honest. The last episode seemed slow because it was setting the scene. This one seems slow for an entirely different reason – there doesn’t seem to be anything the plot is actually heading toward; which is a shame.

The same characterisation and dialogue problems we saw last week are still present this week; although that’s only to be expected given that the scripts will have been written at the same time. The only thing saving this story is the art team of Jon Davis-Hunt and Gary Caldwell, on inks and colours respectively.

Next up we have a Future Shock from Eddie Robson, whose Terror Tale last week was less than stellar. I’m pleased to say this week’s story is far, far better. A highly enjoyable sci-fi tale with a twist you won’t see coming immediately; which is always nice. I hope to see more of this kind of story from Eddie Robson, he’s clearly got what it takes, last week’s effort notwithstanding.

In terms of art, this is beautiful. Robin Smith’s line work is amazingly clean yet still very detailed. He’s not quite Brian Bolland but he’s clearly from the same school of thought. His grey washes help to pick out detail and provide excellent depth to the visuals; which further enhances the overall look and feel. This is really good stuff.

Finally, we come to Grey Area and my goodness, Mark Harrison makes a stunning return to the pages of 2000AD. For those of you who still adore Harrison’s mixture of line art and CGI, you may be a little disappointed here – he’s going for something different but I really think it works. This looks gorgeous.

Well, except for his rendition of Birdy. She’s looking a little too skeletal here to be the same woman who was sporting power armour and helping to beat the crap out of 500 alien monsters just last week. Cute, frail-looking girls are all well and good but I can’t see this tiny lady slugging it out with vicious creatures while wearing a personal tank. She needs a bit more muscle on her.

Dan Abnett’s script, on the other hand, is an odd one. It’s setting up something big for the series, but it does it in a way that renders the episode mostly pointless. It’s basically one page of set-up and four pages of the big bad telling us how big and bad he is. I’m sure it will be worthwhile as the story progresses, but as stories go, it’s got as little meat on it as Harrison’s interpretation of Birdy.

2000AD Prog 1872 is a mixed bag this week but there’s enough here to keep readers appetites whetted. Prog 1872 is available online and in British newsagents from Wednesday 12 March and in print overseas from early next month.

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