Five tales from the future of mankind as Judge Dredd gets some UK action, Damien Dellamore decides he can’t do without his libido, five kids suit up against an alien menace, reality collapses and the far corners of the galaxy aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Who lives and who dies? You’ll have to read this Major Spoilers review to find out!
2000 AD PROG 2189
Writer: Rob Williams, Alex De Campi, Gordon Rennie, Kek-W, Dan Abnett
Artist: Colin MacNeil, Eduardo Ocana, Antonio Fusi, John Burns, Mark Harrison
Colorist: Chris Blythe
Letterer: Annie Parkhouse, Simon Bowland, Jim Campbell
Editor: Tharg the Mighty
Release Date: July 8th, 2020
Previously in 2000 AD PROG 2189: 40 years of craziness as the UK comic scene has left an indelible mark on the genre, and spawned a host of talented creatives to spread across the globe like an endless plague of story-telling locusts! Judge Dredd is in the UK hunting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, a photojournalist plumbs the extreme edges of known space, kids suit up to take on the Anubites and reality fractures as the Order attempts to reknit creation.
ALL THE STORIES
The beauty of 2000 AD is the sheer endless variety of stories on offer. Sure, the anchor character of Judge Dredd is there to provide continuity for long term readers, but that is almost an entree these days to the expansive repast available for the connoisseur. Let’s get the Big Chin out of the way first. Dredd is in the UK, chasing down the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, starting first with Famine. Almost taken out by the creature’s psychic powers, Dredd just prevails, with the help of a robot and gun toting farmer. There’s not much to this story, though the stark artwork nicely mirrors the story line. Not the standout story in the issue, but a decent start.
The next story in 2000 AD PROG 2189 is Full Tilt Boogie, which sees five teenagers essentially kidnapped by the Order of the Lucine Knights, to help fight the renewed (if nebulous) threat of the Anubite Horde. Not everything is as it seems, as evidenced by the crazed apparition of the Luxine Knight AI that appears to order them about. That, coupled with the fascist leanings of one of the five, the obedience torcs each is forced to wear (the key word there is ‘obedience’) and the fact they are all tasked with killing the brother of one of the new knights, indicates that all isn’t as it seems. The brisk storytelling on offer is nicely utilized to convey the scale of their task, as well as the menacing aspects of the Lucine Knights.
My favorite story of 2000 AD PROG 2189 is next. The Diaboliks sees occult investigator Damien Dellamore unwillingly sign on to help defeat the Coven of the Five Sisters, supernatural entities with their fingers in every illicit human activity you could imagine. Rendered in black and white, and all the more powerful for it, there is a wicked sense of humor on display as Dellamore’s patrons force his hand by mystically removing his libido. For such a driven man, the absence of a sex life is too much, and he comes back to them to reclaim his sex drive and tell them a story about one of the Coven Sisters. The rest of the story is a re-skinned version of a tale I’ve hard before, about mafia families going to war, and the sacrifice one of the Dons is willing to make to achieve victory. The story is fun, the occult elements intriguing, and the fact it is set in Italy is a plus for me.
Less successful, though not without merits, are the last two stories in 2000 AD PROG 2189. The Order features the collapse of reality into itself, enabling different timelines to co-exist as a dictatorial Francis Bacon attempts to assert control over reality itself. One of the things about a 2000 AD story is the tricky balancing act the writer has to achieve to get the pacing of right. There are too many elements here to make the story a coherent success, though the painterly art style and coloring are definite pluses. Remember, though, just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean you will too.
2000 AD PROG 2189 wraps up with The Out, a more intriguing but less interesting story. Cyd Finlea is a photojournalist skirting the edges of the galaxy. Forced to work in a bar, she has to deal with a multiplicity of different creatures and cultures. A language gap puts her into dire danger, but there’s not enough going on here to really engage me as a reader. A pity, as the artwork has a real Blade Runner feel to it that makes the story a visual, if not reader, treat.
BOTTOM LINE: MORE THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS
2000 AD PROG 2189 is the definition of the curate’s egg – lots of great things mushed into a tiny space, meaning not all of it is great, but not all of it is terrible. The artwork in each of the stories is very well done, especially in the black and white piece, which added immeasurably to the atmosphere.
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2000 AD PROG 2189
Another startling example of how British writers and artists match it toe to toe with their American counterparts in the comic’s genre. Each of the stories has its own unique voice and while not all of them met my somewhat exacting standards, each of them have very appealing elements.