Looking from the outside in, 2000 AD, the legendary weekly anthology, can appear to be impenetrable to new readers. With up to a dozen stories concurrently running at any given time, it can be hard to jump on in and figure out what’s going on. But a few times a year, the editorial stars align and we get a jumping-on issue that’s jam-packed full of brand-new stories. Luckily, this week sees the release of 2000 AD Prog 2200, which just happens to be one of those issues.
Judge Dredd: Carry The Nine Part 1
Written by Rob Williams and Arthur Wyatt. Art by Boo Cook. Lettered by Annie Parkhouse.
As is customary, 2000 AD always opens with Judge Dredd. In Carry the Nine readers pick-up in the aftermath of the previous epic (as told in Prog 2184-2199) where it’s up to the government to find a way to do all the necessary repairs to the ravaged Mega-City One.
While this isn’t the first time that the city has been in ruins, Williams and Wyatt find something new to say about it through the budgeting required to make the repairs. By doing so, they explore how governments allocate a disproportionate amount of money to law and order when compared to health or education.
With Boo Cook on art, Mega-City One has never looked better. He populates the city with weird and wonderful characters – such as punks, robots, mutants, cavemen, and more – who all have their own expressiveness and energy behind them. As a result, there’s never a dull scene as we see them go about their day or, as often is the case in Judge Dredd, getting up to no good.
Future Shocks: Omnidetectorists
Written by Rory McConville. Art by Joel Carpenter. Lettered Annie Parkhouse.
Future Shocks are done-in-one stories with an unexpected twist at the end. In Omnidetectorists, a single representative from each planet has been allowed to visit the home of an extinct civilisation to see what treasures they can uncover. Without spoiling anything, readers follow a down on his luck treasure hunter and his attempt to find his share of riches.
Joel Carpenter employs a high-contrast black and white style, that combines blocks of black with fine line work, with animated expressiveness. These elements are used to great effect to tell the story, framing the panels to showcase how the characters are feeling.
The only downside to it, which could simply be the low-res review copy I read instead of the art, but there were one or two panels that I struggled to make out what was going on in. The blacks blended in too well, something that a colourist might’ve solved. But overall, I enjoyed his art and storytelling and look forward to seeing more of his work.
Hook Jaw Part 1
Written by Alec Worley. Art by Leigh Gallagher. Lettered by Simon Bowland.
The ultra-violent Jaws cash-in from the 70s is back and ready to take a bite out of 2020. The opens chapter of this reboot gives readers the blood-thirsty shark’s background and ends with a puzzling question that I’m sure will be answered in future instalments.
While it is mostly subdued, this new incarnation carries on the spirit of the original with flashes of gory action. These moments are not for the faint of heart, but wild shark violence is your jam then you’ll get a kick out of this new version.
Sinister Dexter: Ghostlands Part 3
Written by Dan Abnett. Art by Nicolo Assirelli. Coloured by John Charles. Lettered by Simon Bowland.
While the cover promises that all-new stories start in this issue, that’s not specifically the case. The Sinister Dexter chapter included in Prog 2200 is actually the third and final one of a previously run story.
Readers are dropped into an action-packed sequence that moves at a rip-roaring pace. Pages are broken up into small panels that show readers every blow, which are then accompanied by larger ones for the moments of greater impact. These are accompanied by sound effects that are built around the art, which amplify every blow.
Without spoiling anything, it ends with a big revelation. If this is your first time reading Sinister Dexter then this might be lost on you but long-time fans will be very curious to see what happens next.
Skip Tracer: Hyperballad Part 1
Written by James Peaty. Art by Paul Marshall. Coloured by Dylan Teague. Lettered by Simon Bowland.
If you’ve never read Skip Tracer before, then this is an excellent place to jump on. Even though this chapter is only a handful of pages, it packs a lot in. Peaty introduces readers to the characters and concepts of the comic series effortlessly, while also setting up the Hyperballad’s premise.
The action is fast and kinetic. Artist Paul Marshall implements overlapping panels and asymmetric shapes. This gives it a sense of chaos and raises the stakes.
Stickleback: New Jerusalem Part 1
Written by Ian Edginton. Art by D’Israeli. Lettered by Jim Campbell.
Stickleback is set in a weird alternate nineteenth-century London that mashes up steampunk, the occult, and literary fiction. The title character is a master-criminal who pulls the strings of this fictionalised version of the city.
After taking a six-year hiatus, the strip is back and it picks up the wild reveal of Stickleback’ true identity. (Prog 2200 is quite up-front with who it is but I won’t spoil it for anyone who plans on reading the earlier stories first.) The majority of it explores his origins and how he became the master-criminal. Towards the end, this extended chapter gears up for the next story, which promises cosmic horrors and other frightening things.
This series has a unique visual style, with D’Israeli opting for a high-contrast style, with a stencil-like quality, that’s washed in textured whites and greys. The shapes are intentionally askew to give an unnatural feel. Combined with the washed-out pallet, it almost feels like you’re stuck in some kind of surreal dream.
This is a bonzer entry point for anyone who has wanted to start reading 2000 AD but had no idea where to start. It’s also an excellent showcase for what the long-running anthology can be, with plenty of different types of stories, genres, visual styles, and voices on offer.
2000 AD Prog 2200 is available in newsagents, the 2000 AD Webshop (print/digital), 2000 AD app, eBay, and comic book stores in the UK from September 23rd. You’ll find it in US comic book stores as part of the October pack on November 11th.