2000 AD (progs # 2029 – 3033) – Various

4 out of 5

All the non-Dredd thrills thrive past the mid-point hump; impressive.

As to the Dredds: Wags and McCrea’s robo-judge tale Harvey comes to an effective ending, Wagner pretty masterfully negotiating a balance between “Joe was right!” – a V8 malfunctioned – and Dredd being an overly cautious dinosaur, with the titular V8 working to perfection, even understanding Joe’s objections to their being put in service.  And the “malfunction” being that the robo was too sympathetic was a clever wrinkle.  Fittingly, the Chief Judge doesn’t completely scrap the program…

The interstitial Dredd was the sole bummer in this set.  Nick Dyer’s art is an awesomely enthused update of a Ian Gibson style snoopiness, but Eglington’s script wastes a callback to President Bob with the anarchist-lite Sons of Bob group (yes, yes, S.o.B.) and stalls on what initially seems like it might be some political commentary with an underwhelming tale about a particular S.o.B. member.  In 2033, Eglingtongets another shot with the start of a cursed earth-related tale (illustrated by Brendan McCarthy!).

Brink continues to please as Abnett points his ghost tale in an interesting direction, offering an explanation but hinting at complexities to come.  Culbard’s faces are occasionally, uh, horrendously stupid looking, but he’s still proving to be a good match for giving life to Brink’s environments, hos minimalist style communicating the blend of sleekness and general resource dearth that is habitat life.

Defoe finds a pleasingly perfect balance between Mills’ dry humor and its horror roots, with Colin MacNeil continuing to kick ass on his clean, black and white art.  The story is working well because Mills isn’t commentary-ing it up yet: it’s just Defoe versus reeks, trying to suss out their master, and it’s a lot of fun.

Scarlet Traces similarly succeeds due to its focus: Edginton has a habit of jumping around, but this run of progs pretty exclusively sticks to the assault on Venus and the (possible) destruction of the Martians.  The sense of forward momentum is fantastic, and D’Isareli’s red-hued art is just quirky enough to inject flexibility into the character / alien design without being so cartoony as to undermine the interesting emotional element Edginton begins to touch on: the innocents involved in any war.

The Deadworld arc somewhat hits a holding pattern while the infected judges invade the camp where Fairfax and Jess were hiding; the progs feature perfectly entertaining havoc and gore, but it’s sort of a bummer that we have to wait to see where this Judge Child mythology is going.

Hopefully all this thrills stick the landing next month.