2000 AD (progs #2270 – 2279) – Various

4 out of 5

A really strong set of titles, kicking off with a very fun 45th anniversary bumper prog, which started some intriguing Dredd / Brink thrills, and included a traditional-for-anniverary-progs Tharg the Mighty strip, jumping humorously around the 2000 ADverse to gather backup singer for TMO’s musical career. Stupidly hilarious.

But: to the thrills.

Wagner’s / Dan Cornwell’s The Citadel. This was a big one: Wagner weaving back into Apocalypse-era events via flashback, with modern superstar Dan Cornwell handling moments great and small with equal bombast. Citadel is part of the ever-growing pile of evidence of why John essentially owns Dredd: he’s always* been able to nail that balance of dark humor, commentary, and character / world building for Dredd, remaining mindful of the slow changes that have been effected in his personality over the years. Citadel is pretty genius. It’s “twist” is not really a twist; the real punch is in the uncertainty John brings to the resolution. Fantastic colors from Dylan Teague. *(I mean, at least 95% of the time, which is pretty damn good for 45 years…)

Proteus Vex, The Order, and Kingmaker all resolve their arcs started in the last chunk of progs. The Vex strip was a knockout – it felt very focused, and not quite as mind-numbingly sprawling as the last arc, which is for the best. I’ve been loving how weird and wide Carroll’s world-building is, but this jailbreak of Flesh Pilots and further exposure of past crimes gave us clear goals and payoffs; the character and their universe just comes across as very solid. I can’t wait for the upcoming trade of this stuff.

The Order also surprised me with staying on target as well, perhaps because it was one long battle sequence, and not a lot of time- / body-hopping stuff that generally just confuses me. This allowed me to really enjoy the storytelling – art, characters – a lot more than I have previously, when I think the complexity of the strip often overburdens how it’s represented (like the visuals and narrative can’t actually keep up with the ideas).

Kingmaker, on the other hand, went entirely too cosmic for my tastes, though some moments that sold the power squabble that’s happening in the strip were of interest, and no, I’m not sure if I can offer more specifics than that, which tells how much I’m immersed in the story… I suppose this just (in general) grew beyond what I was expecting, and Leigh Gallagher’s art hasn’t always seemed the best fit. But within these weeks, the story slowed down some such that events didn’t feel as random as before, and that worked for me, even if I can’t tell you character names without looking back to peek at the summary.

A closer-to-modern-day Fiends of the Eastern Front started up. Wonderful Tiernan Trevallion art, and Edginton – another writer who tends to wander too much for me – has been really dialed in on this strip, and that continues. Perhaps it’s “grounded” historical nature requires that; it did, indeed, feel less reigned in when we went exploring some of the more fantastical background in the previous arc. Here, though, its the 60s, and Constanta is working as a secret agent, running afoul of double-crossing ghosts and, uh, Baba Yaga. It’s supernatural goofiness, but still grisly and noir-flecked in its storytelling and art. Lots of fun.

Brink. This has been a somewhat clunky arc thus far, introducing us to a disgraced reporter who’s coming at the Sect business from an outside perspective. Told from their POV, Dan gets very wordy – narration, interviews – and it’s to the extent that it feels like we’re playing catch-up via exposition on a lot of things. But a payoff does come late in the story when Dan introduces a fascinating twist on how to perceive the Sect… and I feel like the overall shift in storytelling will work great when reading the trades back to back, as it will be a purposeful break from Bridget’s often more action-oriented arcs. So definitely interesting, just not as immediate as previous Brink entries.

Also inserted here was a very fun Intestinauts adventure – Kek-W and Pye Parr rightfully love these characters, and telling isolated, smaller stories featuring them has been smart. Here, they traverse a fatberg, and fight some intense other stomach bots.

Hope also starts up again. I’ll hold off opinion on this, though my bias of not being impressed by Guy Adams’ cliched writing style, and not much digging Jimmy Broxton’s photo-reference art, has not been dissuaded / changed by the first few entries.