Oli Davis reviews 2000AD Prog 1944…
Helium still feels like it’s treading water. Actually, scrap that expression. Helium still feels like it’s treading an ocean of poison gas. That works better.
After last week’s exposition episode (Hodge was revealed to be the last surviving member of an overthrown royal family) and shocking cliffhanger (Captain Suicide), Ian Edginton flips into ‘action’ setting . It makes for an exciting change of pace after being imprisoned in a cell last issue, but the switch is too complete. Helium episodes are either ‘action’ or ‘exposition’, never an effective blend of the two. Although these ‘action’ instalments are entertaining, it feels like no story is developed. 6/10.
2000AD issues the last few months have mostly been at least 40% Gordon Rennie. With his masterpiece Jaegir wrapping this week, and Absalom only recently having concluded, the writer begins his latest strip – The Alienist, a horror about a group of paranormal experts gathered in Victorian England’s most haunted house to prove the existence of an afterlife. What could go wrong?
Many things, obviously. You can tell most, if not all, of the characters introduced (the cast is sizeable) are just death scene fodder. Nothing much happens besides the set-up, but, Jaegir-aside, most of Rennie’s work takes a few issues to get going. Once they do, though, they become mighty fine. 6/10.
Speaking of Jaegir, it’s most recent arc reaches its end this week. This story has probably been the weakest of Kaitlen’s three outings thus far, but that’s still vastly more enjoyable than the majority of 2000AD strips. Last week’s episode was the climax of action, this issue functioning more as an epilogue and setting up the next arc. The much-flashbacked-to Kaitlen’s dad appears to not be as dead as previously thought. 7/10.
From one tremendous series concluding to one not-so-tremendous coming to an end – Outliers is finally over after a disappointing arc. The story never really made sense of its own concept, and the final issue missed a potentially redeeming character beat. T.C. Eglington had two options: the safe, cliffhanger one, where Caul survives to become a renegade; or the more daring, but far more satisfying route, where he sacrifices himself to conserve the escape ship’s supplies in space. Unfortunately Eglington opted for the former, maintaining Caul’s Hurde-enhanced arm’s length from readers empathy. The lacklustre plot is frustrating, but poor characters are unforgivable. 3/10.
2000AD Prog 1944’s Scrotnig Story of the Week – Judge Dredd
“A nightmare. A phantasm from another world. Dirty Frank’s blue-cheese dreams come home to roost.” So Dirty Frank describes the ice arachnid attack on Mega City One. Henry Flint’s monster design of them is oddly endearing. They have big, cartoony eyes; but sharp, jagged body. They’re kind of cute before they start impaling Judges on their limbs. Their appearance jars slightly with their serious threat.
What doesn’t jar, though, is Dirty Frank’s frequent, crazed asides. His mutterings neatly balance out Dredd and Hershey’s grim resiliance. For every ‘Save the City’ line, Dirty Frank has a gag. The City’s defences have been napalmed to stop the frozen beasts. Tune in next week to see if it worked. 8/10.
OVERALL RATING – 6/10.