Writers/Artists: Judge Dredd: The Lion’s Den – Michael Carroll and PJ Holden
Survival Geeks: Lord Of The Ringers – Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby and Neil Googe
Sláine: Psychopomp – Pat Mills and Simon Davis
Brink – Dan Abnett and INJ Culbard
Tainted: The Fall Of Deadworld by Kek-W and Dave Kendall
Cover: Simon Davis
Release Date: 4th May 2016
Being a 2000AD reader is like being in a really messed up relationship. We have fun, it’s addictive almost, yet somehow it’s hard work, demanding, pushy – and you need a break… but you come back, for the occasional one-off, that turns into a few, and the cycle begins again.
So what’s got me back this time? Pat Mills’ Sláine, that’s bloody what. Prog 1978 was one of these periodic reentry issues – new stuff from Dan Abnett (woo), return of Survival Geeks (boo) and continuation of last year’s Dredd in Eire story (woo-hoo), amongst other things. But I was strong. I was resolute.
And now Sláine is back, all over another raw, visceral Simon Davis cover, and I have succumbed. And it sexy as all hell.
JUDGE DREDD: The Lion’s Den
Carroll and MacNeil’s Blood of Emeralds was one of last summer’s highlights for me, more so than the Enceladus saga to be honest. The brash art droiding of Holden works well as a successor to MacNeil and any tale of dirty cops, terrorists and quasi-justice isn’t going to be that hard to pick up. It’s satisfying and sets the tone for what’s to come without being inaccessible. More than that I can’t really go into, but it’s a big, bold opener that kicks off the prog in style.
Survival Geeks: Lord of the Ringers
When this debuted last year with its attempt at knowing self-referential geek humour and tale of transdimensional 2-up, 2-down house, I wasn’t terribly impressed. It was trying awfully hard to be clever and ended up just being the annoying know-it-all nerd at the party who nitpicks and corrects everything. I’m not crazy about the art, which feels like an unsuccessful mash-up of Phil Foglio and Rob Guillory. This story deals with their arch-nemesis changing time to join them (or something) for no apparel t purpose. Yay. Leaving aside the appropriation of a line from my favourite episode of STTNG (hey, now who’s the nitpicking nerd?), I just don’t like this, and I consider myself a fan of Rennie, mostly. It’s not big, it’s not funny, and it’s not clever.
Sláine : Psychopomp
So, this is why we’re back together again. Unlike Dredd, or even some of the other long-established thrills, there isn’t the gentrrsl familiarity for most people when it comes to Sláine, mythic ancient king of the isles. Add to that the fact that this part 3 of an extended saga, where Sláine’s oldest friend has sided with the monstrous and unknowable Cyth, and this could be frustrating and inaccessible. However, once more Mills proves his creative mastery of the Prog form by turning the story on its head, and going back to very origins of the character and his driving, deepest fears. It’s a brilliant, logical, and engaging return to the world, coupled with plenty of pulsing, intense Davis art. So very worth coming back to.
New fiction from Dan Abnett you say? Well alrighty. So as with any new thrill, missing the first expositionary Prog could leave you bewildered, but no – instead we are brought up to speed in 3 panels to a post-earth 2077 humanity living in orbital habitats owned by corporstions (see? like that). With problems of endemic drug culture and festering pseudo religious fanaticism, this Abnett creates a world that’s reminiscent of authors as diverse as CJ Cherryh, Michael Moreci, J Michael Straczynski and Neal Stephenson to set his otherwise conventional police procedural. It’s highly effective, and the stylised, cel-shaded appearance of the art compliments this perfectly – I honestly wasn’t sure about Culbard’s art on this to begin with, but by the end of the thrill I was absolutely sold.
Tainted: The Fall of Deadworld
Part 7 of a continuing story? How the heck am I supposed to make sense of that!? Well let me tell you, this was the biggest surprise of the issue – I was absolutely riveted. Kendall’s art hooked me in straight away, in a sickening, seductive frenzy of images. As it emerged that I was witnessing the fall of civilisation through the lens of the Dark Judges’ reality, it made every trope of post-apocalytic Zombie horror seem fresh. The desperate attempt of a lone Judge to survive, to dispense justice, against an inevitable fate – to my delight, Kek-W’s writing is the highlight of the issue, and brings us back also to the masterful editing on the part of the team, in construction of the issue as a whole.
How do I rate this issue overall? Well that’s just it, isn’t it? Like any long-term relationship it has its highs and lows, and both are horribly intense. It’s mostly brilliant, with flashes of turgid mess. But of course, everyone will take something different from this also, which is of course the key to its success in both the short and long term.
Go on, fall in love with 2000AD again. I won’t judge you.
Overall Rating: 5/5.
The Writer of this piece was: Sam Graven
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