2000AD PROG #1403 Review

Reviewer: Will Cooling

Editor: Matt Smith
Publisher: Rebellion

Judge Dredd
Story Title: Big Deal at Drekk City: Pt. 4

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

Last week the bad guys stormed the casino and killed the players and in a bid to prevent a blood bath amongst the rival gangs have agreed to play for the loot. However, Dredd with Vance in support have a plan to bring these drokkers to justice, which is to be brutally honest as cerebral as a HHH plan. Now we see Dredd stall the gangsters as Vance struggles to get into position”¦

This is another fun episode even if Wagner fails to deliver the obvious comic moment of Dredd playing cards (sorry Chris) instead settling on having Dredd ab lib a monologue with a pack of cards as his muse. It’s naturally ridiculous but funny in the understated, ironic manner that Wagner always adopts with old Joe. It also allows for some great physical comedy as several of the gang members pluck up the courage to take on Dredd only to full foul to a lethal stanza. There are some nice character moments with Vance and the cavalry that further confirm this is an action romp with a light, comedic touch. What with Cam Kennedy’s art being better than ever with kinetic action sequences, fully developed linework and vibrant colouring courtesy of Chris Blythe you have an excellent read that also looks excellent.

Caballistics Inc.
Story Title: Creepshow: Pt. 4

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

Last week, the Caballistics Inc. shockingly betrayed Demon Jenny by trapping her in some anti-demonic possession thingy and zapping her only for it to bite them in the ass by disturbing reality and throwing Hannah Chapter into one of Ludgate’s films set in 19th Century Paris and able to speak French. Now she must find her way out and back to the real world”¦

This is back to top form with the rhythm and cohesion that last week’s part lacked. Chapter takes the stage in an engaging horror-fantasy romp”¦even if she rips off an idea from an old Simpsons’ (my computer spellchecker doesn’t recognise Simpsons!?! Microsoft suck!!!) Halloween special. The plot is a bit bare for Caballistics Inc. focusing on Chapte’s efforts to get out of 19th Century Paris (and who can blame her hurry?) but what’s there is done well with some excellent scenes. Dom Reardon’s artwork is ever excellent and so you have a welcome return to form after a one-week lapse.

Bec & Kawl
Story Title: Hell To Pay: Pt. 3

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

Last issue, we saw it be revealed that Kawl was being used by Margaret Thatcher to bring Hell grinding to a halt so she could privatise it. Now ignoring the fact that with Hell passing to Satan’s heir it’s been portrayed as private property of the er Morningstar family and so cannot be privatised this was a perfectly funny twist although they really should have gone all out and had Thatche’s demons be the likes of Nicholas Ridley, John Moore, Lord Wakeham, Norman Tebbit and Willie Whitelaw. Now Kawl must escape Thatche’s minions before they do to him what they did to Arthur Scargil, the Argies and Brussels (ah the good old days) whilst Bec does a favour to the Bible bashers who had kidnapped her as hellspawn.

This carries in much the same vein as the previous two episodes with a frantic pace as Spurrier delivers this the pop-culture references hard and fast with more of “Etrigan” and “Thatcher” both of which are crude caricatures of the source material a fact that doesn’t stop them being entertaining. There’s also some neat characterisation of Bec’s outrageous Goth ways and of course Steve Roberts’ art remains completely and utterly perfect for this series. A fun read that adds some mischievousness to a somewhat macho issue.

A.B.C Warriors
Story Title: Shadow Warriors ~ Book 2: Pt. 4

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

So the fifth Shadow Warrior has been revealed as Doc Maniacus, the still unseen robot that murdered all the patients at the local hospital. As the Warriors split, with Joe Pineapple, Mek-Quake and Blackblood looking after the hospital the others go after Doc Maniacus only to be shocked to their core.

A slightly trippy part this week as the Warriors feel the effects of the Doc’s unique weaponry and so inspiring some bizarre, warped effects from Henry Flint. Whilst a break from the rugged and detailed linework we’re used to from him, it’s still, of course, excellent.

What this part confirms is that Mills is taking what you might call the scenic route when it comes to telling the story of the Shadow Warriors vs A.B.C Warriors with plenty of meta-material about the state of mars and its human inhabitants being included i.e. the maternal relationship between Blossom and the nurse in addition to some damn nifty sci-fi ideas. Some are of course moaning about being made to wait for the big fight scenes but to hell with them I’m enjoying this! Mills’ writing is on top form with some great scenes and concepts contained whilst his characterisation of the various Warriors is terrific with Deadlock in particular finally being allowed to shine during this run. With Flint producing the best work of his career this marks to the true return to form of the A.B.C Warriors after their previous two, flawed runs.

Strontium Dog
Story Title: The Headly Foot Job: Pt. 4

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

Possible spoiler if you’re really, really stupid

Last week, Johnny and Wulf managed to turn an irritate Headly Foot against his old gang by convincing him that they were out to get him leading to a motorway fire fight between them. Now Johnny and co near the border with Bootsy still unaware that every man has his price”¦

So surprise, surprise it was a setup all along as Johnny and Wulf hand Bootsy over for a cool 50K. Now some have dismissed this story out of hand for being so predictable and whilst you can see where their coming from, Wagner by making Bootsy so objectionable made it obvious that Alpha wouldn’t save him for any reason other than money.

However, to dismiss the story would be to dismiss a lot of good stuff that was contained within. Firstly, the hilariously literal Feefons who make their return this week with a slightly confused border guard who is given Boosty by Alpha and Wulf. The sight of the little guy thanking the Stronts for delivering him, seemingly unaware that they had broken him out of Feefon jail in the first place is a hoot”¦and that’s nothing compared to the looks on their faces when they see Wulf’s handiwork. Then there’s the interaction between Boosty and Wulf with the two lard-belly behemoths going out like two school girls with some incredibly bitchy put downs with an expertly delivered pay off. Third is the gorgeous art of Carlos Ezquerra, whose lush colouring and vibrant, messy linework is a joy to behold. So predictable yes but in no way boring!