5 out of 5
Not every comic need some massive, inter-connected storyline – there’s a reason one-shot anthology-style formats continue to exist – but it’s undeniably super exciting to see this 2000 AD Regened experiment have, firstly, turned in to an ongoing event, and then seeded some of its stories to the main prog, and now, with this newest entry, start to reference previous tales within its own thrills, suggesting some continuing threads…
It’s cool to see it in motion. But yes: I’m also perfectly content with keeping it isolated. And all the pairings here are absolutely top notch.
Mike Carroll’s Cadet Dredd gives us an interesting inter-mutie scuffle in the Cursed Earth; I like that this indirectly gave Rico the lead, and it was the first time artist Nicolo Assirelli worked for me – their previous outings in the prog have always seemed rather rough, and without identity. While there’s still a lack of characterization here (I know it’s tough making judges-in-the-same-outfits distinct, but it’s a skill many 2000 ADers learn in time), the panel to panel flow and eye direction of the pages began to feel distinct, and I was never taken out of the adventure, tightly and excitingly scripted by Carroll.
Abelard Snazz! Fun to see this Moore character return. Paul Cornell’s micro-universe explorin’ story feels a little too forced at trying to mimic Moore’s wittiness, but what can ya’ do? Overall, though, Cornell keeps the story moving forward, making the hurried sci-fi blabber acceptable, and landing the final joke. Plus, newcomer Anna Readman’s detailed, expressive art (with Pippa Bowland’s classic sense of coloring) is amazing – someone truly mining the 70s / 80s era of prog artists for influence, while also coming across as a true original.
Liam Johnson / Aneke’s G.I. Doll story is perhaps the most “standard” here – it doesn’t feel like it breaks with convention of a Rogue Trooper tale, necessarily – but it’s also not just a gender-swapped Rogue tale, by any means. Johnson uses his character in a way that really felt natural, and Aneke very slickly establishes the setting for this Southers-rising-up scenario, which is kinda like the trick of good lettering – you notice when a story doesn’t establish a sense of place very well, but it just gets absorbed in the storytelling when it’s especially well-engrained, which is the case here.
Karl Stock’s Future Shock entry is – and this shouldn’t be taken lightly – one of the first original time travel tales I’ve read in forever. I dunno how he managed to crack that story-telling nut, since looping timey-wimey stuff has been a sci-fi fallback for decades, but For the Man Who Lives Everywhen is the kind of story that surprises right away, and then keeps one-upping itself with fun new concepts, helped along by Tom Newell’s awesomely kooky character designs and super fluid paneling.
Lastly, an Anderson tale from Cavan Scott. This is also kind of standard – Anderson senses a threat, she and her accompanying cadet go to check it out, and it’s different from what they thought. However: this is the best Paul Davidson art I think I’ve ever seen, incredibly buoyant, and just awesomely colored by Len O’Grady. These are pages to pore over. And the story is fun!, standardness be derned, plus, there’s that reference to a previous Regened issue to leave us on a great cliffhanger…