2000 AD: Regened (Prog #2306) – Various

2 out of 5

This is ranked in comparison to other Regeneds, and as a 2000 AD entry; as a standalone comic, it’s definitely fine, but on those terms, it takes some knocks.

Cadet Dredd: This has proven to be a tricky character to nail, as some writers just take the ‘Cadet’ part and write Dredd like something of a typical youth. Yes, as a youngster, he’d be more off-brand, but he still needs to feel like Dredd. Unfortunately, Paul Starkey’s ‘Undertow’ – in which Joe and Rico suss out some bad news pirate types – doesn’t do that, nor does Rico display any characteristic attributes. They’re just two youngsters, disobeying their instructor but saving the day, to be swapped in and out with any other similar tale. As above: totally fine, but not a notable Cadet Dredd story.

Bladers: a new thrill, and, dang, one without much character. I want to say this is a youth version of Harlem Heroes, or Rollerball or somesuch, but it’s less specific than that – it’s just, like, a kids’ sports comic, underlining again how there’s not much that makes me feel like this is especially 2000 AD-ish. And Leigh Gallagher’s simplified style for the Regeneds is also underwhelming, unfortunately, but perhaps a more dynamic script would give Leigh more room to play around. This reads very predictably: an underperforming rollerblade team is purchased by some big-wig, who uses her know-how to get them back in the game. Mighty Duck, etc.

Ulysses Sweet is turned into several two-page Beano-esque gag strips by Guy Adams and Paul Marshall. These are kinda cool in that the don’t short on Sweet’s violence, and appreciably stray from the more scatological humor favored by Beano style comics, but they’re also maybe not very funny? (I know that’s subjective, but I feel like you can figure out where humor beats are supposed to be, and at least respect that others might laugh at those beats, and – to me – such moments were lacking here.) The odd (for 2000 AD) layout – horizontal across two-pages – and pacing, in which each line of panels is sort of self-contained, and each page is sort of self-contained, but then it all connects anyway, perhaps just didn’t land well with me.

Karl Stock’s Future Shock, Planet Breakers, was an interesting one. Stock has been very reliable with these, and paired with Karl Richardson’s moody character work, the strip is well-balanced such that it plays fine in a youth book, but could also totally work in mainline 2000 AD. The concept here is also complex enough that it could’ve been easily expanded (for a 3riller, say), but Stock does an excellent job of streamlining it.

Lastly, David Barnett returns to Chopper, with G. Welsch on art, and has proven to be a really great fit for this take on the character. Some outings, the fourth wall stuff has been a bit rough, but it’s balanced perfectly here, and the “stand by your friends” moral is very well-handled: not overwrought; fitting for the story and character. I dig the way this slides into continuity well.

As you can see from the above, several misses this time around, though primarily because it just doesn’t feel like 2000 AD most of the time.