2000 AD: Regened (prog #2220) – Various

4 out of 5

This was a great prog! I just don’t know if it was a great Regened!

The Regened 2000 ADs have been a seemingly successful bid at bringing in younger (and thus new) readers by pitching the content a little more all-ages. That hasn’t meant Strawberry Shortcake, certainly, but it’s generally meant kid protagonists, and certainly less / nil graphic language and violence. However, with some strips having made successful crossovers into the main mag, it’s apparent that Tharg – or rather Regened’s host, Joko-Jargo – is willing to use these quarterly issues as tests for new content. And it kinda sorta seems like that’s more what issue 2220 is about, as only a couple of these strips veer toward all-ages content; the other ones, while maintaining the required content filters, feel a little too frantic or complex for what I imagine to be the demographic. It’s surely possible I’m underestimating the general reader, these thrills – a Future Shock from Karl Stock; a couple new entries from Michael Carroll – just felt like they’d be more at home in the weekly. In which they’d be welcomed, because they’re great premises… again, I’m just acknowledging they might misfire in terms of the Regened readers. But I’m happy to be proven wrong.

We start out with Arthur Wyatt and Davide Tinto giving us our best Cadet Dredd strip yet (sorry, Cavan Scott), as lil’ Joe and a Tek trainee track a missing kid to an abandoned mall. There are some fun pokes at consumerism, but Wyatt doesn’t get obnoxious with that, instead just keeping both the comedy and action pepped up throughout, held steady by fantastically dynamic artwork and colors from Tinto and colorist Gary Caldwell.

Next is the first of Carroll’s strips: Action Pact. While I think Luke Horsman’s busy pages and loose style are probably a lot of fun for younger readers, there’s a lot of sci-fi lingo flung around here and fair amount of plotting for newbies to sift through, to the extent that I fear they might tune out. That’d be a shame, since the setup of time-displaced prisoners being tasked on various missions by some ubra-powerful overlords has so, so much promise, especially from Carroll, who’s proven great at juggling big storylines of this nature. I hope we get to see more in some way or another.

David Baillie and artist Anna Morozova introduce social media-savvy thief Viva Forever. Morozova struggles a bit with some of the more complex layouts, but the art has a distinct poppiness to it that works, and Baillie executes some quick-footed twists while setting up Viva, and her heist from stuffy rich dude Comstock. This is – to me – a great example of a Regened strip, as it nips at Dredd lore while giving itself a platform to exist separate from the grown-up version of The Meg, with enough room to have fully defined characters. Baillie is, admittedly, not my favorite 2000 AD writer, but I’d also be happy to see this return, if he maintains the same breezy tone.

Karl Stock’s / Silvia Califano’s Future Shocks is inspired – as Stock’s last few Shocks have been – positing a new form of social media that allows users to “feel” what their chosen influencer is feeling. It is, appropriately, obnoxiously named: Allthefeels. Califano’s framing and loose, but controlled style look great, and the story has the typical Future Shocks zing, but also is actually interesting throughout – not just based on its punchline. Unfortunately, this is another “maybe not for Regened?” entry, as it seems like it’s more commenting on youth than written for them.

Lastly: a Rogue Trooper bit for the young’uns, also from Carroll, with Simon Coleby on art. Coleby’s an interesting choice for an all ages strip – he’s normally pretty dark and dreary – but he does a good job of lightening his style, and Dylan Teague keeps the color palette bright. “The Mayflies” are a new breed of Souther G.I., faster recovering, and all children. The strip covers a breakout of these Mayflies from a lab, and their first interaction with Northers. As with Action Pact, this is a great start, and I’d love to see more, but despite meeting the “kid protagonists” requirement, the tone, again, feels a bit too complex and adult for the book.

Overall, this is probably the most I’ve enjoyed a Regened, front-to-back, I’m just hedging the rating due to my old man judgments. However, I’ll be hitting up the forums to see what others think, and also looking forward to see what returns in the next Regened.