2000AD PROG #1401 Review

Reviewer: Will Cooling

Editor: Matt Smith
Publisher: Rebellion

Judge Dredd
Story Title: Big Deal at Drekk City Pt. 2

Written by: John Wagner
Art by: Cam Kennedy
Coloured by: Chris Blythe
Lettered by: Tom Frame

Last week saw Dredd, accompanied by a group of Cadets, stumble upon a plot to rob a big Cursed Earth gambling game. Now they continue surveillance as the gamblers convene and the extent of the plots is revealed forcing Dredd to evaluate their position. Wagne’s writing on this is a joy to read, containing all the charm of his comedic writing at its finest. There are some nicely understated quips and quirks from the criminals and gamblers including a brilliant one from H. Bush III about undesirables and the use of napalm. Dredd is less to the fore than last issue although what we see of him is excellent. Some nice espionage work on Dredd’s part leads to a farcical gunfight and some serious characterisation of his unrelenting desire to catch lawbreakers.

Kennedy’s art is fantastic as well. His linework is bold and fully developed and it gels superbly with Blythe’s colours. In addition, the various gunfights allow him to produce action whilst the cramped and developed environment stops his backgrounds looking bland. Good fun.

Caballistics Inc.
Story Title: Creepshow: Pt. 1

Written by: Gordon Rennie
Art by: Dom Reardon
Lettered by: Ellie De Ville

In last week’s spin the bottle recap, we saw Brand, understandably, start the road to becoming (in the words of the great Al Murray) “one whose whistle can never be whetted” as Demon Jenny announced that the old Jenny’s dead so forget all that exorcism nonsense. Plus, at the very end, the escaped mental patient and former SAS soldier Nessy officially joined the team. This week, the owner of Caballistics Inc. has a problem. You see, he has acquired the former studio of British horror film company Ludgate Films and wants to redevelop it, but there appears to be something strange going on there with three workers on the site disappearing. So, naturally, he sends his own paranormal investigators to er, well, investigate (god I suck).

Er, I really didn’t like this. It just seems so”¦Oh I can’t do it, not even as a joke-this kicks all sorts of ass! Rennie drops us into the mission from the get go, missing out meeting between Nessy and the main team. This is a brilliant move that builds the suspense for how they’ll interact. He further stokes said suspense by featuring very little of Nessy apart from a hilariously dry exchange between him and Chapter. The mission is excellent, the type of Anglo-centric X-Files approach that this series specialises in. It also brings the character of Chapter to the fore with her frankly hilarious geeky love and knowledge of British Horror Movies, showing once again that this series doesn’t take itself to seriously. Add to that some cutting character interaction from a broken Brand and a triumphant Jenny (they are so going to end up back in bed together), some understated remarks from Verse and a thrilling last page and you have great writing.

The art is great too with Dom Reardon recovering the scratchy and messy nature of his art that was being, slightly, downplayed during this series’ last run in favour of an approach similar to Jock.

All in all a tremendous part of what must be one of the most consistently brilliant strips in 2000AD’s history.

Bec & Kawl
Title: Hell to Pay: Pt. 1

Written by: Si Spurrier
Art by: Steve Roberts
Lettered by: Ellie De Ville

Okay, this is crazy”¦in a good way. There are many things I expect of my favourite comic but a Sid James’ pastiche smoking weed whilst his nephew gets him lentils isn’t one of them. Nor is seeing a Charity Slave audition at Bec & Kawls’ student union where Kawl gets bought by a gorgeous women with a wonderful”¦personality. This is for some strange reason a love/hate series but I personally love it and have since its first run. As 2000AD’s editor said it’s a bit of mischievousness in what can be a slightly macho comic. Spurrier obviously has a great time writing some terrific lines such as the compee’s sales pitch for Kawl i.e. “no previous owners, and”¦heh”¦low mileage”. The Sid James pastiche is written superbly as Spurrier allows it to just to past by unmentioned and so let the humour naturally follow. Then there’s the fantastic twist at the end, which makes everything make sense”¦


Okay, not really, but its still a great cliffhanger.

Steve Roberts’s art is excellent too with a loosing up of his style allowing for some great panels especially the terrific one-page splash (?) at the end. His style is superficially simple and is perfect for getting all the gags across and capturing the feel of the strip.

A fun, unpretentious story.

ABC Warriors
Story Title: The Shadow Warriors: Book 2 ~ Pt. 2

Written by: Pat Mills
Art by: Henry Flint
Lettered by: Tom Frame

Last week we saw the ABC Warriors patrol a city near the frontline as Mills introduced what would appear to be the next Shadow Warrior, a sadistic Robo-Doctor. Now as the ABC Warriors continue their march through the city, the doctor gets acquainted with his patients.

This continues the quality and tone of the opener with nothing much happening but nothing much happening with style! Mills has created a genuine sense of dystopia and foreboding with the ABC Warriors marching through a city destroyed by human greed, triviality and the results of their experiments. In addition, he continues his referencing to the Medusa War after the slightly retro first book as the Warriors discuss their programming and the sensitivity of her. The action included is excellent with some good confrontations with the Cyboons, which are so well written that you forget how unimportant they are to the overall story. Mills is slightly struggling to involve all the ABC Warriors in the story with none of them really getting the chance to shine like Mek-Quake did last week. Yet, with the focus on the Warriors in action, you still get a thrilling read. Then there’s the doctor who most assume will be the next Shadow Warrior and his scenes are fantastic, with an extremely visceral and nasty feel as shown by the idea that to stop a patient disturbing the others they put a silencer on him to stop his screams being audible. There’s an atmosphere of horror and tension and it feels extremely modern, something that you can’t always say about Mills’ writing.

The art is fantastic, of course. Flint somehow excels past his work on Lowlife with some extremely detailed and expressive art as he crams an amazing amount of content on a page. His panel arrangements for the Doctor scenes, which are from its’ perspective are fantastic and perfectly bring out the nastiness and weirdness of the script.

Terrific stuff!

Strontium Dog
Title: The Headly Foot Job: Pt. 1

Written by: John Wagner
Art by: Carlos Ezquerra
Lettered by: Annie Parkhouse

Due to their fear that they couldn’t hold the former Strontium Dog, Headly Foot, the Judges of Feefo have sentenced him to death for a crime that doesn’t warrant such a penalty, something that raises the ire of Johnny Alpha who resolves to rescue him. Now Johnny and Wulf are in the jail and are ready to break Foot out although some others have had the same idea”¦

Another great episode of what is classic, old-school Wagner/Ezquerra fun. Wagner mixes some choice action i.e. the prison break and some excellent comedy. This comedy comes from the hilarious characterisation of not only the adorably literal Feefons (or FEEFIFOFERS as Foot calls them) but also the frayed relationship between Foot, Wulf and Alpha as Foot shows a lack of gratitude for Johnny rescuing him and a lack of respect for Alpha’s goodie-goodie methods. The highlight is the tension between Wulf and Foot, with Wulf’s gruff putdowns and Foot’s seething comebacks being an absolute hoot to read.

Then there’s the art, which is sooo gorgeous it’s beyond words. No really I can’t describe how good it is.”¦

I’m not joking, you’ll have to see for yourself if you want to know.