REVIEW: 2000 AD PROG 1961

Publisher: 2000 AD Rebellion
Writers: Rob Williams, Gordon Rennie, Dan Abnett, Jonathan Green, Kek-W, Martin Feekins, John Wagner, Pat Mills
Artists: Ian Kennedy (Cover), Henry Flint, Tiernen Trevallion, Richard Elson, Tom Foster, John Burns, Jesus Redondo, Carlos Ezquerra
Letters: Annie Parkhouse, Simon Bowland, Ellie De Ville,
Release Date: UK & Digital 16 December 2015/North America 16 January 2016

Price: £4.99/$2.99

2000 AD PROG 1961 2000 AD Rebellion

2000 AD PROG 1961
2000 AD Rebellion

2000 AD Prog 1961 is worth the purchase price for the cover alone.

Ian Kennedy’s superlative, panoramic cover featuring Judge Dredd overlooking Mega-City One just needs framing and hanging up in the Tate Modern. Way, way better and more representative of art in the UK than any pickled farmyard animal or unmade bed could ever hope to be. There, I’ve said it; don’t bother reading the rest of the review that should be enough.

Okay, okay, for those of you who need more persuading. Although why you are not forming an orderly queue outside the nearest corner shop or sitting on the 2000 AD download webpage is beyond me. Anyway, for you doubting Thomas’.

2000 AD Prog 1961 is a 100-page bumper Christmas issue with contents equal to the wrap around cover. Dredd kicks of the proceedings with a suitable Christmas themed story, with a nice seasonal message of hope, despair and terminated snowmen. It’s all very heart-warming and just missing a certain something from Aled Jones. Then again, may be not.

Everybody’s favourite detective Absalom is next up. Why this is not a TV series defies me but then the glut of superheroes currently flexing their cowls, capes and arrows for nearly every myopic television studio probably accounts for that. It is a self-contained tale of duty, hipflasks and family, leaving a smile and a thought for those near and dear. Including ghosts. Writer Rennie knows the character of Absalom inside out and Trevallion’s carefully thought out black and white artwork delivers a package with a dramatic punch.

Kingdom Beast of Eden: One from Dan Abnett and Richard Elson takes a Starship Troopers rift and bounces it around to good effect. Elson’s artwork is a pleasant surprise, with a sense of attention to character detail that a lesser artist would have let slide.

Bad Company, as I have mentioned before, has that sort of Hans Christian Anderson vibe for me. Ugly, clunky, in need of restoration and then again not. There is an urge to skip through the pages of Bad Company but much like a long lost awkward friend, who has found you on Facebook, in the end, there is no fobbing Bad Company off, no polite ‘thanks but no thanks’. Bad Company becomes more pleasant to the eye with acceptance and understanding. There is a tribute to one time Brad Company artist the late and much missed Brett Ewins too, so you cannot be heartless either. Bad Company may look like it is still the mid 1980s but when you think deeply enough about it, given the current world climate, may be that’s no bad thing after all.

I do not usually mention ads in comic books but forthcoming attraction for 2016, from John Smith and Lee Carter, Indigo Prime: A Dying Art one page illustration, stopped me in my tracks while I stared into the eyes of William Boroughs and Will Eisner but just the one man sitting there, staring back. Arresting.

Miracle On 34th And Pelizer from Jonathan Green and Tom Foster is a nostalgic nod to those prose stories from British Christmas comic book annuals of yore. And begins, festively enough with: ‘It was the night before Christmas, and all through Mega-City One, the perps…’ Well, you will have to read the rest of this suitably seasonal Judge Dredd Tale.

And the high standard of 2000 AD Prog 1961 continues with Kek-W and John Burns’ opening instalment of The Order, Part One: In the Court of The Wyrmqueen, where there would be an expectation of a quality drop, new series and all that. But, alas, The Order maintains the quality 2000 AD is fast becoming renowned for. It might be set in the sixteenth century but it’s very modern tale.

ABC Warriors: Return To Ro-Busters Part 1 sits well in 2000 AD Prog 1961 bumper package. Pat Mills and Clint Langley are no let down. And it is very much, ‘Cheer, cheer, the gang’s all’, even the finically astute, Howard Quartz is on hand to be-moan the lack of a ‘political correctness patch’ not working. Black humour, as ever, is abundant and well timed.

Sinister Dexter: Blank Ammo from Dan Abnett and Simon Davis is another jewel in a crown with so many jewels that Sinister Dexter might struggle to stand out but it does not. Hitmen Sinister and Dexter are currently at the top of their professional tree, so there only one way to go!

The final pages of 2000 AD Prog 1961 round out with a further two blasts from the past, Future Shocks, where I would argue, at lest for me, Alan Moore made his name and Judge Dredd’s equal (and I would argue superior but a lot of cos-play Dredds would have a twitter frenzy over that one, so let’s keep that between you and me) Strontium Dog. Carlos Ezquerra is on point for the artwork and John Wagner weaves a none too predictable story of R&R for one Johnny Alpha not completely going to plan.

2000 AD Prog 1961 is a smorgasbord of competent, well-written, well-crafted comic book stories, all reluctant to rest on their laurels. The only remaining question: why are still reading this and not sorting out buying a copy.

 

Review: Steve Hooker

 

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