4 out of 5
This month’s batch of progs are still an amazing example of the kind of story opportunities head editor Matt Smith (“Tharg”) has brought to the magazine… While things lean mostly toward sci-fi or tales in a future setting, 2000 AD somehow gets away with period settings – like Aquila, or the new Black Shuck – without things feeling uneven. I honestly can’t tell you why it works here and not so much in, for example, the 7.99 incarnation of Dark Horse Presents; perhaps it’s the way people graduate through the ranks of 2000 that makes sure that, while our settings and tones may vary, we’re getting creators who understand the serialized medium. Whatever. And I’m being judgmental here, but I’m only knocking off a star because I’m not a big ‘Brass Sun’ fan and though I love seeing Steve Yeowell on anything art, Leah Moore / John Reppion’s ‘Shuck’ – starting in prog 1891 – hasn’t really made any kind of mark with me yet.
Elsewhere: Sensitive Klegg stars in a hilarious Dredd 2-parter, Klegg on the run from some hunters because… uh, everyone hates him. Writer Rob Williams picks on Kleggy, but he swings it around so we can get to the end smiling. And lordy, art and an awesome cover by Chris Weston. Wagner and artist Boo Cook step in for a mutant kidnap mystery for a couple issues, and I say this in each 2000 AD review, but the bit is a great example of how the mag has these characters who’ve been around forever to tell these little snapshot stories while also building moment-by-moment on the history. Prog 1892 kicks off the first part of some Walter the Wobot hijinx, again by Wagner with interestingly cartoony art by Colin Macneil.
I mentioned Brass Sun; I continue to feel like the story is just too hodge-podge to work, despite an interesting premise of a clockwork world, but I suspect if you’ve enjoyed previous installments you’ll dig these.
A Tharg’s 3rillers, better than I’ve seen in recent months, and the first time I’m actually realizing that these are just three part stories. I kept misreading the description of 3rillers in the intros, thinking it meant each episode was supposed to be self-contained. But, no, the idea is much simpler: these are just one-off stories, split into three parts. Besides my misinterpretation, though, the ones I’ve seen haven’t felt like they’ve been perfect for 3 progs, not really getting the time to establish anything. But Guy Adams and P.J. Holden give us the oddball ‘Voodoo Planet,’ a glimpse of a prison planet run by a madman who keeps the locals docile with a seemingly planet-wide gas, and though the flashback / flashforward setup is super fast paced, it really works this time to condense a lot of information into as little space as possible, and Adams uses this compressed story-telling style to up the momentum of a chase sequence that’s going on the entire time. It works. I approve.
The recent Grey Area arc ends in prog 1888 and god damn it makes you want more… Thankfully a pretty wonderful Sinister Dexter arc by Mr. Abnett happens in the remaining progs, and it’s as funny and exciting as that strip’s standard. (…Meaning it’s funny and exciting.)
We also get the start of an Aquila arc, with the title character continuing on his rampage to help establish Nero as a new god… by offing the heads of various peops. I haven’t read enough Aquila to know fully where we are in the story, but I’ve loved everything I’ve read from Gordon Rennie so far, and the first part of this tale does not disappoint; the guy just knows how to pace a comic book.
So ignoring my Brass Sun bias, we’ll still knock a bit off for Black Shuck. Hopefully next month’s batch will take the story down a bit more defined of a path.