REVIEW: 2000 AD PROG 2015

Publisher: Rebellion
Writers: Michael Carroll, Ian Edginton, Guy Adams, Kek-W
Artists: Tiernen Trevallon, Richard Elson, Leigh Gallagher (and cover), Jimmy Broxton, John Burns, Richard Elson
Letters: Annie Parkhouse, Ellie De Ville, Simon Bowland
Release Date: UK & DIGITAL: 25 January 2017 UK/25 February 2017 North America
Price: £2.65/$7.99

2000 AD PROG 2015 Rebellion

If reviews were allowed titles – and, when you think about it, why not – (wait, note to self must have a word with the editor!), the title for this review of 2000 AD PROG 2015, would be: ‘Hello darkness, my old friend.’ And hopefully the Simon and Garfunkel’s of this world are not totally litigious – I mean, I know the small one seems to be and I would have to throw myself on the mercy of the tall one and extol the virtues of his incredible and captivating film career. That aside though, if the lyrics are good enough for The Watchmen movie then those words are good enough for 2000 AD PROG 2015 too.

In truth, 2000 AD is like that, the familiar, the known; side by side with the unfamiliar and the unknown, wrapped up in decades of presenting the sinister, the uncomfortable, the horrific knowing. To hazard a guess as to why 2000 AD will shortly be celebrating forty – and let’s just look at the figure again – forty years in publication, 2000 AD PROG 2015 is a good place to start. For perspective, this writer had just entered his 15th year when 2000 AD made its debut in newsagents across the UK.

Unlike many comic books of this vintage – and many of them, sadly, no longer with us – there was no golden age when 2000 AD was in its prime, there are no Stan Lee and Jack Kirby eras, Neal Adams and Roy Thomas eras or John Byrne and Chris Claremont eras for that matter. For two-thousand and fifteen issues, 2000 AD has constantly been in a golden age. The only spectre haunting the pages of 2000 AD is the ghost of Alan Moore. A largely benign entity, possibly, fondly looking back at the time just before it disappeared up its own creative behind. But I digress….

If Judge Dredd was the only attraction, 2000 AD would be a fond memory, like Howard The Duck or IPC’s Jet comic book weekly (of which I nearly have all twenty-two issues, come on eBay!), consigned to the ramblings of old comic book fools trapped in nostalgia and perpetually suffocating comic books in Mylar comic bags like errant serial killers.

Dredd is without doubt ably handled in 2000 AD PROG 2015 by Michael Carroll and Tiernen Trevallon. There’s a feeling of how wrong could a creative team get Dredd before the character lost its popularity? Judge Dredd is too iconic, which is not a criticism, just an observation. When I open a bottle of wine (damn you New Year resolutions!), I like to know I am getting wine. Okay, there are probably a couple of scenarios where Dredd might lose readership but Carroll doesn’t go there and we get the Dredd we all know and love, along with the self-affirming suspicion, we would all like to be Dredd at least for the weekend.

Dredd may be the star of the show and he gets his undisputed star-billing, it is important to understand, for 2000 AD’s continued survival – and there is no reason why another four decades is not possible – everything, story, character, narrative and plot following Dredd must be trying harder, reaching further and delivering more whilst, at the same time, not competing with his Judgeness. Because Dredd’s shoot first ask questions later stance can put a crimp in anyone’s day.

Kingmaker Part 5 by Edginton and Gallagher fits that brief, doing something 2000 AD writers and artists have achieved since the beginning, mixing – mashing, if you will – popular fantasy visuals into new narratives and situations, which remain striking original. Gallagher gives more exceptional artwork in five pages than lesser artists give in three, four times the page count. Edginton refuses to overwrite, making the dialogue, crisp and reader-rewarding. And, if like me, you’re new to Kingmaker, you will want to get the first four installments ASAP.

Adams’ and Broxton’s Hope For The Future Part 5 is the perfectly odd one out in 2000 AD PROG 2015, not just for its semi old-school design and black and white artwork, the text is pleasingly denser but well written, the action slowed and measured. Meaning Hope For The Future has impact and style, looking simple but carrying a big narrative stick, which the reader only becomes aware of mid-way in its swing to the back of the head. The writing is a gripping combination of Jonathan Carroll and Alan Moore, although less Moore and more Carroll.

There is something akin to the usual 2000 AD house style with Kwk-W and Burns The Order Wyrm War Part 5, again, not a criticism. In The Order Wyrm War seventeenth century France has never looked better and the tale Cyrano de Bergerac has to tell in these pages engages the reader and immerses said reader in the concepts and themes The Order Wyrm War delivers.

Abnett and Elson round-out 2000 AD PROG 2015 with the intriguingly titled Kingdom As It Is In Heaven Part 5. Clean artwork and straightforward panel layout from Elson helps propel the story along at a quick pace. There is a feeling of vignette, here, one of the effects from a short page run, the tradeoff in this portmanteau publication. Although this could also be the desire to read more than is here; a sign of the quality from the creative team. I wanted more and I suspect you will too. Set in a future where humans are all but extinct and guarded from the alien rulers by genetically engineered canine humans. The lead dog- soldier is one Gene The Hackman, a knowing nod to the Hollywood actor. For what may seem like an overused concept, there is freshness and intrigue in abundance in Kingdom As It Is In Heaven Part 5, easily shaming any of the spandex and capes razzmatazz from across the Atlantic.

2000 AD PROG 2015 is very much a friend, albeit one approaching forty but as I’m slightly passed that defining age I can pleasantly report there are many, many more years left in the old dog. There is a wealth of talent and ability in this 2000 AD PROG 2015 and. And darkness? Yes, there is plenty of that too.

If you do not read 2000 AD due your life a favour and start here and now. Or not and you can live a lesser comic book life if you like. But hey – with 2000 AD PROG 2015 seconds away from your fingertips, why would you?

 

Reviewer: Steve Hooker
Editor: Ditto.

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