2000 AD (progs #1979 – 1982) – Various

4 out of 5

Phew, maybe it’s because I had a long delay before I could get my hands on these progs, but this batch of thrills just read so good.

First up is the JD-crossin’ over Lion’s Den, with PJ Holden offering his awesome jagged-drawin’ hands to be used to add to Mike Carroll’s Joyce corner of the Dreddverse.  Dredd: Currently presumed dead.  Joyce: A presumed prison escape after his transport for his sacrificial surrender to Brit-Cit was hijacked.  Now, I was in the majority of suspecting that Joe was still alive and kicking, but these four thrills – which are pretty much just Joyce on the run – were wonderfully exciting, Carroll cutting up the action with just enough plot development so we don’t feel manipulated or like we’re just chasing red herrings.  The “tightening” of plots between the Meg and 2000 AD seems like a another suspicious attempt to make the mags’ appeal more widespread – including more frequent letters pages and a US-sized FCBD this year – but as long as editor Matt Smith maintains the flavor and quality he’s brought to the mag, so be it.

Survival Geeks tongue in cheeks it through another boatload of references.  This runaround tale with Kev faking his way into the group was choppy, but Rennie knows the point of the strip is to nudge nudge the reader, and he, Emma Beeby and artist Neil Googe keep that factor hilariously high.

Slaine remains a black mark for me, even when trying to view it through a Pat Mills adjusted lens.  The kids love Simon Davis’ painted art, and while I agree that battle sequence snapshots are bloody Biseley-esque, the flow of the action – and this is all one big fight – between Slaine and Gort – is static, and sometimes, besides the red splashes telling you where blood is, the look is too “mushy” to even tell what’s going on.  The “Primordial” storyline hasn’t been bad by Slaine standards – bad guy Lord Weird is a very Mills creation – but whether it’s the art or plot diversions, I’ve just never found the appeal.

Abnett’s Brink really picks up; our lead detectives become more fleshed out, the world is starting to grow and the culty-themed mystery more interesting.  And, as suspected, when INJ Culbard can focus on characters, on simpler scenes, his minimalist style works well.

Kek-W and Dave Kendall’s Deadworld exploration concludes its chapter, allowing the dead virus to kick into full Dark Judge mode, and whittle our surviving cast down to a key few, who will pick up the fight whenever the story continues.  As this took shape, it got better – and these last bits were all payoff, which was good – but Kek-W still has a really assumptive way of writing; I never felt like we got to witness the actual transition point from a live world to a dead one, it just sort of happens.  But that disappointment takes place prior to this arc.  Dave Kendall’s art – though still maybe too dark for my tastes – finds its place between painterly horrors and comic momentum; the pages are easily readable, and actually move pretty well.

Double does of Abnett as Grey Area returns 1982 to finish its God-Star story.

So many thrills.  Elaine prevents me from going into overload, but such is the mag: You don’t like this one, we’ve got another one a few pages later you WILL like.