Oli Davis reviews 2000AD Prog 1942…
Rob Williams and Henry Flint continue their latest Judge Dredd run with part three of Enceladus: Old Life. After a few splashes of colour in the last issue, Flint returns to palettes dominated by a single colour. The ice-ravaged Mega City One is monochrome in whites, blacks and grey. Interiors are still bathed in red warning lights. The Titan Penal Colony – as an away team make their way to Enceladus, trying to find the cause of the mysterious ice – is covered in a blanket orange. Flint is incredible. So is Williams. His storytelling is both sublime and succint. And this week’s cliffhanger, where Dredd has to seek help from an unlikely source…Williams brings back the haggard, fan-favourite Wally Squad Judge Dirty Frank. The Enceladus trilogy thus far has been serious and downbeat, typified in Williams’ Old Man Dredd protagonist. Now here comes one of 2000AD’s great comic (as in ‘funny’, not ‘book’) characters. It’s a zig when you were expecting a zag. A hairy, one-eyed zig, maybe, but a zig nonetheless. Expect this story’s tone to change fast. 8/10.
Absalom concludes this week after a surprisingly enthralling run. Initially tedious, the story was suppressed and suffocated by its lead character. Harry Absalom’s poor jokes and awkward turns of phrase bogged reading down to a frustrating pace. But then, about a third of the way into the current run, Under a False Flag, it got…well, it became one of 2000AD’s best strips – exciting, well-structured, and complete with a suddenly bearable Absalom. This final instalment ties up all the story’s loose ends, while significantly developing Harry’s over-arching mission (to retrieve his grandkids from Hell). It’ll be missed. 8/10.
After a bit of a non-issue last week, with a load of action not really doing anything to build plot, Helium has made a fine advancement in story. Recently captured after a dog fight (see: load of action not really doing anything to build plot), Hodge garners considerable interest from the ship’s captain about her background and hair colour. It seems she might be a long-lost member of the race-beneath-the-poison-fog-sea. By that, it means she definitely is. There’s still too much steampunk level daintiness in the dialogue, but D’Israeli’s art is stunning. The top panel on the final page, where the airship descends into a purple poison fog, is spellbinding. 7/10.
A 2000AD issue is only as strong as its weakest strip. Going by the last eight weeks, and Outliers’ varying degree of quality (mainly down the end of the scale), the comic’s overall rating has suffered. This week’s Part 8, however, is terrific, with T. C. Eglington finally striking the right balance of action and meaning. Storming the Hurde ship, Caul at long last finds his parents, as Carcer does with Jess. The reunifications are genuinely touching. A large portion of credit goes to Karl Richardson’s art. Caul’s expression upon seeing his parents is exceptional. For such a closed-off, stoic character, his face crumbles into a boy’s, his eyes cast in shadow. 8/10.
2000AD Prog 1942’s Scrotnig Story of the Week
Gordon Rennie might have concluded Absalom, but he’ll still be writing Jaegir for at least a few more issues. Jaegir doesn’t have weak episodes.
The strip is unique – drawing on the backstory of Rogue Trooper (of which it’s a spin-off), it has constructed its own world entirely; operating within the same Universe, yet a million miles apart. The very concept – of a World War II-style conflict, following the Nazi side’s investigative department of war crimes – is fantastic. Coupled with Rennie’s writing and deep, colourful characterisation (Jaegir herself is extraordinarily complex, every one of her decisions being traced back through flashback), Jaegir is consistently 2000AD’s best strip. Superb. 9/10.
OVERALL RATING – 8/10.