2000 AD (progs # 2297 – 2299) – Various

4 out of 5

Cleaning up the last few thrills before a huge event in forthcoming 2300, progs 2297 – 2299 also introduce a new Dredd and 3riller.

Rob Williams returns to a thread from his recent outings with Maitland and Atlantis: the Sov war droid that’d be tasked to off Dredd along with the other assassins, now granted sentience in ‘Sentientoid’s Big Idea’. While I often find Williams’ more narratively complex (and serious) tales to be underwhelming, he can be very funny, and that’s proven out here: the Sentientoid’s attempts to work its way into a free-agent criminal career just takes the sentient robot idea and trods all over it for yuks, and Jake Lynch eats it up in his expressive, violent art. Old-school Dredd anarchy, and lots of fun.

David Barnett’s / Lee Milmore’s 3Riller, The Crawley Man, feels a bit forced at first: we have some type of paranormal investigator, who uses the powers of his talking hound Black Shuck to track down a missing girl, and its all one-liners and over-the-top attitude. But in its second part, things shape up, as there’s some demonic business going on with the girl, and a pretty great Future Shock-esque twist that I’ll fully admit to being caught out by. Milmore’s Chris Weston-lite art is a bit stiff at this point, but the artist – despite my comparison – very much has their own look, and I hope we get to see it evolve.

Elsewhere, Skip Tracer ends, and I have nothing new – positive or negative – to say about these last few thrills; my opinion on this one remains flat.

The same unfortunately is true for this Jaegir, which never really picked up. It is intriguing that Rennie seems to be driving it toward an end-state, though, and while Atalia, post-kidnapping, hasn’t really seemed like the star of her own strip, I did think these final three eps were more focused than what preceded them, and present some pretty dark turns for the character – even if, again, the comparison to Jaegir strips of the past isn’t favorable.

…Dan Abnett’s conclusion to this round of SinDex, with Steve Yeowell back on art, was a completely satisfying payoff to a long-running arc, though. This business with Finny being taken over by an AI has been interesting, but it was really feeling like Dan was backing himself into a corner. That provided for some fun asides, with Ramone and crew hiding in various strange locales for mini-arcs, but it was also really just delaying and delaying, meaning whatever deus ex machina was going to put us back to status quo was probably going to be disappointing. …But I was wrong! We’re not back to status quo, not yet, but the twist Dan pulled here (which I have to imagine was planned) totally worked, and doesn’t feel cheap – it gives Ramone an edge, but doesn’t win things for him. Can’t wait for this to return.