2000 AD (progs #2257 – 2261) – Various

3 out of 5

Lots of really fun material to read these weeks, but somewhat lacking payoff in most cases.

Dredd starts off strong, with Mike Carroll’s sober take on Dredd – self-critical, aware of the ever-changing nature of the game – well supported by Simon Coleby’s heavy art style and John Charles’ brilliantly rich but weighty colors in the 2-part Tread Softly. Rob Williams’ “The Musical” – Sensitive Klegg returns to MC-1 to put on a Joe-themed hip-hop musical – sure seems like a win, especially with Chris Weston on art, but if you also kind of cringed over “hip-hop musical,” well, yes. The first two parts of this are admittedly very funny, because they’re more focused on the setup, and Klegg. Part three gets some mileage out of historical Dredd references, but falls apart over trying to justify the whole thing and comes to a pretty clunky conclusion.

Rennie switches over to Ravne on a Diaboliks art, which means – given how Gordon’s been alternating his approach – Dom Reardon is back on art. Rennie does have a tendency to hyper-plot, and I’m starting to see that he requires a certain type of artist to work with that style; Reardon just maybe isn’t that artist. The pacing on this one feels very off, and despite a ton of things happening – a flashback, superpowered villains – it also feels stalled, and unmoving. This is a strip I think will work better collected, as it’s often too cluttered for a drop-in drop-out weekly format.

Abnett, also doing the alternating shtick on Dexter, is paired with the right artist – Tazio Bettin – for a side romp against mutated dinosaurs. It’s totally a distraction, while being on the run from the AI, but it’s a fun one, and helps to clean up and streamline the cast list a bit.

Scarlet Traces’ arc concludes. I touched on this last time, but I did find the end of the story much more rewarding than the opening: once we got to the final stage of the tale, Edginton’s writing felt very solid, and followable – the players and concepts were clear, and gave the strip a good sense of momentum, versus what had come across to me, previously, as a wandering purpose. D’Israeli’s crazily-hued art is at a peak of coolness here, and I liked the jump ahead Edginton executes, that sets things up for an intriguing next arc.

Abnett’s The Out also continues along, much in the same fashion as the previous release as well. Although it gains some momentum in its last couple weeks (and hasn’t yet concluded), this “book” is still lacking the impact of the former, but I remain faithful that Dan will lead us somewhere fascinating.