2000 AD: Regened (prog #2233) – Various

5 out of 5

Uh, yeah? Awesome? The whole way through? It’s maybe a little weird that one of these stories – Department K – picks up after a couple regeneds off (and since they’re quarterly, that’s quite a while), but we’re rewarded by it being again fantastic, and then by the knowledge that it’s moving right in to 2000 AD proper! Congrats!

Liam Johnson has written (to my knowledge) an okay, but solid Future Shock, and a similarly solid – but also more notably unique – Rogue Trooper spin-off in a previous Regened; they “graduate” now to a Dredd-adjacent slot with a Cadet Dredd strip, and while it has some of what I’ve seen from the writer already, in that sense that it’s tone is somewhat traditional, this is another great step forward. Joe and Rico are tasked with crowd control; they run after some perps, and Joe’s gun goes off, when cadets have been explicitly told not to use live fire. Dredd’s behavior then has to be reviewed for breaking the rules – can he remain in the cadet program? Johnson’s approach to this is interesting, as we obviously know Joe will become a Judge, and certainly we’re not going to do something to drastically change what we know of his character in a Regened, and yet the writer still manages to maintain significant “what’s going to happen next?” tension throughout. Jake Lynch’s thin, energetic style proves to be a great fit for a youth mag, and he’s brightly coloured by Jim Boswell.

A Future Shock from Colin Harvey and Tom Newell has a droid spending decades searching for sentient life on other planets. This is really a tried and true Shock, a sci-fi Twilight Zone with a humorous zing at the end, but everything about it is pitched at just the right level – it’s tone, and timely mentions of things like social media are just enough to make it accessible but it’s not overly cute or kitsch; Tom Newell’s art is clean and very expressive, but cuts shy of being too stylized, and Harvey balances out the exposition with story and its undercurrent of humor quite perfectly. (I also love when characters that look like menaces turn out to be super nice.) The final panel “!” is earned.

Cavan Scott and Paul Davidson return for more Anderson, continuing – as I’d mentioned about Department K – from a few progs back, but getting right into the swing of things, and pairing Cassandra and her cadet, Hawkins, against some invasion-intending aliens. Scott writes a great Cass, putting her right into the mix of things in a sort of haphazard fashion, but also writing her with the type of straightforward all-business confidence that makes her a good pairing for Dredd. Hawkins is also written well, not sinking in to rookie judge stereotypes, and coming across with her own personality. Davidson’s art can be a bit too “bubbly” for me sometimes, but their work here is striking – thin and lithe and really dynamically lain out. Matt Soffe gives us a world of colors, while managing to stick to mainly blue and purple palette.

Roger Langridge goes silly mode with Pandora Perfect tale of thievin’, illustrated by Brett Parson. Perfect and her robo mate Gort bluff their way in to a rare animal collector’s house, with the latter distracting the owner so the former can find some highly priced goods. Things, of course, don’t go as planned, but – appreciably – they also don’t go as expected, as Langridge’s goofball writings can sometimes sink in to predictable slapstick-y fare. The jokes roll across at a good pace – not overstuffed, something Rog is also sometimes guilty of – and Parson’s rendering of their antics hit all the right beats. It’s a good, solid laugh the whole way through.

And: Department K – multi-versal antics, with our crew of judge oddballs stuck in a particular dimension, whose rulers don’t want to help the judges get home. Thankfully, they’ve got a plan for just such a problem, and it leads to some wonderfully inventive – and funny – hijinks, rendered expertly by PJ Holden, and psychedelically colored by Len O’Grady. I am so psyched that this gets to continue next week.

Besides all of the great content, this Regened issue also adjusts the (in my opinion) off tone of the previous Regened, with each story perfectly age-appropriate geared, but certainly also great fun for us adult readers.