2000 AD: Regened (prog #2296) – Various

4 out of 5

Whew – there were some troubling trends in previous Regeneds with the design and feel of the stories that started to get far away from 2000 AD and closer to Beano stuff; this issue is back on point, and hopefully signals a shift back to similar material. 

James Peaty and Luke Horseman take Cadet Dredd out into the Cursed Earth, where Dredd gets to – as ever – prove his eternal badassery by rescuing his instructor from some muties. While Peaty falls into the camp of writers who forget that Dredd maybe isn’t supposed to be ultimate hero guy – this almost has an upbeat ending – I can’t deny the approach works for Joe as a cadet, and the focus here is more on momentum, which Horseman is fantastic at keeping going, even if some of his action panels are a bit confusing. Horseman had previously been mismatched as far as tone – he’s very cartoony – but the pairing here makes for a very fun, bombastic tale and is a success. 

Paul Starkey and Anna Readman take up a new story spot with Renk, about a one-armed, dwarf detective in fantasy land Crepuscularia. Readman’s art is great for this – a chunky, rough line and compressed figures that are really unique amongst 2000 AD, but there’s a grittiness to it (assisted by Matt Soffe’s colors) that makes it a match, although they also struggle with clear action depiction. Starkey’s story is actually a really engaging mystery – a princess’ parents are missing – and Renk, our lead, comes across with an actual personality, far away from snarky PI one-liners with fantasy puns that would’ve been the easy out. I hope this returns. 

A Future Shock from David Barnett and Steve Roberts is one of the most Future Shock-y Future Shocks I’ve recently read. It’s great – it’s straight forward, but with a quality, gut-punch twist. Roberts’ art is very Saturday Morning cartoon; it works very well here, but I’m curious how else he can be applied in the mag. 

Department K – McConville, with Nick Dyer on art. They’re both having a lot of fun here, causing hijinks with multiverse-Estabons, and, thankfully, that fun fully comes through. It’s really just an excuse to dream up variarions on that character – there’s none of the brain-busting weirdness of the former Dept K strips – but I dug the one-shot simplicity of it. 

And Rennie / Beebe / Googe return for another post-Survival Geeks ‘Splorers. This one really doesn’t feature the kids at all – it’s an Innerspace riff, featuring the whole family, and inside Howard – but it’s as lively and goofy as ever, Rennie / Beebe fulfilling the gross-out quota of any given kids book.