For more than 40 years, the legendary science fiction comics anthology 2000 AD has been serialising a broad range of comic book stories, starring some of the greatest British comic book creators and characters. While it can be hard to jump right into mid-way into serialised stories, from time-to-time the stars align just right and an issue (mostly referred to as a prog) will be a perfect jumping-on. Prog 2184 is one of those issues, with every story is either standalone or the first chapter in a much larger story.
Whether you’re brand-new to 2000 AD, or haven’t read it in a while, read on to find out why this is a great place to start reading.
Before I dig into the contents, I should mention the cover. With the events around George Floyd’s death and everything that has transpired from it, the above image of Judge Dredd could be seen as in bad taste. While Judge Dredd has always been a dystopian and satirical look at law enforcement, I could understand if some see it as provocative. The magazine addressed the cover on Twitter and it all comes down to unfortunate timing. It was not meant to capitalise or profit on the current events.
One other thing, don’t worry if you’re not familiar with any of the 2000 AD characters or series. The magazine is good at getting you up to speed an includes a summary of what each of the series’ deal is on the first page.
Okay, let’s talk about the comics!
Judge Dredd: End of Days Part 1
Written by Rob Williams. Art by Colin MacNeil. Colours by Chris Blythe. Letters by Simon Bowland.
Every Prog of 2000 AD kicks off with Judge Dredd. While comic series come and go in 2000 AD, the one constant is Judge Dredd kicking things off. Judge Dredd operates under a rotating creative teams structure, with each bringing their take. The classic stip becomes a thriller with Rob Williams and Colin MacNeil on board.
The pair commence their latest epic with an ominous tone. Something is coming to Mega-City One and it’s not good. MacNeil uses his high-contrast style by not showing who the mysterious rider is. It creates a sense of mystery and allows readers to make their own assessments.
It’s a tense read that leaves readers wondering what will come next.
Sinister Dexter: Bulletopia Part 1
Written by Dan Abnett. Art by Steve Yeowell. Colours by John Charles. Letters by Jim Campbell.
Next is Sinister Dexter, Dan Abnett’s long-running series about a pair of gun-sharks in the fictional city of Downlode. Readers that are unfamiliar with the comic will get a general idea of what it’s about quickly with a collage of panels (as seen above) on the opening page. While it doesn’t contribute to the story, what it does do well is set the tone of crime in the seedy underbelly of the city.
Bulletopia begins with what is meant to be a simple delivery assignment for the two gun-sharks. As you can assume, things go pear-shaped quickly. The result is a cliffhanger that comes out of nowhere and ends abruptly. If you want satisfaction on this one, you’ll have to come back next week for chapter two.
The Order: Land of the Free Part 1
Written by Kek-W. Art by John Burns. Letters by Simon Bowland.
To uninitiated, The Order looks like a regular period piece. But as you soon find out by page two, that’s far from it. Instead, we get an insane alternative history of 1774, that includes all kinds of future technology.
The future technology angle could feel jarring, and it is from a historical perspective. But from a science fiction angle, The Order leans into it hard. As a result, the comic escalates in craziness as more tech and threats are introduced into the mix.
This is all wrapped in John Burns’ painted style and sets the tone for the period. It also works well in the context of pulp science fiction, with a colour palette of dark greens, yellows, and browns.
I want to see where The Order goes and if it can top its ridiculousness.
Future Shocks: Journey to the Edge of Earth
Written and art by Chris Burnham. Colours by Len O’Grady. Letters by Simon Bowland.
2000 AD has a tradition of telling shot done-in-one stories. The most famous of them is the Future Shocks, which are science fiction stories, with a Twilight Zone surprise ending.
As you can probably assess from the title, Journey to the Edge of Earth is a satire that pokes fun at Flat Earth believers. It focuses on an expedition heading to the North Pole, in which one of the people in the group is a Flat-Earther.
Without spoiling anything, events quickly get surreal. Chris Burnham renders these moments with incredible detail as a way of escalating the absurdity with every panel. (There is also a wonderful homage to the late Terry Pratchett.) This is topped off with Len O’Grady’s vibrant colours, which add to the freakish elements, and are juxtaposed against the stark location of the beginning.
It is all capped off with an ending that is certain to make you laugh out loud. It’s as unexpected as it is ridiculous and made for a very satisfying ending.
The Diaboliks: La Vita Malvagia Part One
Written by Gordon Rennie. Art by Dom Reardon. Letters by Jim Campbell.
The Diaboliks is a brand-new series that spins out of the fan-favourite Caballistics, Inc. Luckily, this paranormal comic gives you all the information you need to know throughout to get new readers up to speed.
This story is the most visually sparse of the bunch. Rom Reardon has a unique visual style, which is a mix of Mignola’s high-contrast blocks of black and loose lines. The sparsity still allows for some great action, depicting a car chase with a supernatural bend.
As is the nature of anthologies, not ever comic is going to be a winner for every reader. But there’s enough gold in 2000 AD Prog 2184 that should have new readers coming back for more.
2000 AD Prog 2184 is available in newsagents, the 2000 AD Webshop (print/digital), 2000 AD app, eBay, and comic book stores in the UK from June 3rd. You’ll find it in US comic book stores as part of the June pack on July 15th.