Prog 2130 of the mighty 2000 AD is a special “regened” issue, with all of the strips designed to be all-ages friendly. I’ve been reading the weekly title since I was a schoolboy, right from the first Prog (the free Space Spinner was soon lost, of course), and as those original readers often stuck with 2000 AD, it essentially grew up with them. Which, for me, is good – it was aimed at my age group when I was a kid and it had evolved to now be aimed at adults, so I am still reading it decades on.
Of course this does present a problem – aiming at an adult readership means not all of the regular weekly strips are suitable for younger readers. Which is a shame – my generation of kids had 2000 AD, but not today’s youngsters. So giving over a whole Prog to all-ages strips is a very nice idea, I think, a chance for younger readers to dip their toes into the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic.
As with a regular Prog we have half a dozen strips presented in the normal anthology tradition of 2000 AD, and naturally Judge Dredd is top of the bill. Although with Chris Weston (on script as well as art duties), Chris Blythe and Annie Parkhouse‘s story it is Cadet Dredd, still with his white helmet and half-eagle badge that marks him as not yet qualified as a full street Judge, and still in tow with his clone-brother, Rico.
The strip manages to combine good, all-ages adventure but still include some of that Dredd inventiveness and satire – Mega City One is playing host to a new Grudzilla film shooting, but the monster is no CGI effect, he’s an actual giant monster, with a seriously ego-driven actor within, a man so Method he had his brain removed from his body and transplanted into a mutant lizard that was then tweaked to grow to gigantic monster proportions.
There are some nice touches here – the reckless Rico’s behaviour hints at an approach which will much later see him go bad, and Weston even brings in a nod to a very early Dredd, with the huge Krong ape-bot starring in the film shoot, and references to Japanese Kaijū films. Plus poo jokes, and we all know younger readers love those (not like we sophisticated, older readers, ahem!). I was grinning throughout this and I am fairly certain Weston had a big smile on his face when creating this strip.
Elsewhere in Prog 2130 we have Alex de Campi, Eduardo Ocana and Ellie De Ville‘s “Full Tilt Boogie“, which, pleasingly, features a predominantly female cast of characters in a story which combines elements of fantasy and science fiction with a nice streak of satirical twist on the Fairy Tale Princesses and rampant spending and consumerism.
Karl Stock, Brett Parson and Simon Bowland give us a fun “Future Shocks” entry (for those not familiar with it, the Future Shocks are short tales, usually one-offs, and have been used throughout 2000 AD’s history, often as a proving ground for new talent). “That Weird Kid” nicely riffs on an age-old Brit comics classic, the unruly classroom, with, naturally enough, a science fiction twist.
Alec Worley, PJ Holden, Gary Cadwell and Ellie de Ville bring us an all-ages friendly take on one of 2000 AD’s most beloved long-time characters, Judge Anderson of Psi-Division (the section of the Judges who deal with psychic phenomena).
A teen girl’s mind is lost within an online, immersive fantasy game, and Cass has to try to enter her thoughts and the game to find her and why she is reluctant to return to her body. It’s a story about the traumas of growing up, of the warm comfort of our fantasies compared to the hard, often brutal nature of the real world, and tips its hat a little to the classic Red Dwarf story “Better Than Life” in a way younger readers in particular are likely to empathise with.
Real-life and writing partners Leah Moore and John Reppion, with Davide Tinto, Pippa Mather and Annie Parkhouse offer up “Finder and Keeper“, a young sister and brother, bickering as they head to the classic, creepy Old Dark House. They’ve been sent to do community work in penance for bad behaviour at school, and it takes the form of helping clear items from the spooky, old house.
This being a proper old haunted house, of course they have to split up and go to the worst parts – the cellar and the attic, and you just know they are going to disturb something best left alone.
Cavan Scott, Nick Roche, Abigail Bulmer and Simon Bowland have a take on another long-cherished character, Rogue Trooper. Rogue isn’t the most obvious choice for a contemporary all-ages read, being a future war series.
My generation grew up on seemingly endless war stories (Warlord, Victor, Commando and more), with plenty of death (“Aargh!” if you were British or American, “Ach!” if German and “Aieee!” if Japanese). Understandably, showing killing and violent death is not really seen as suitable for young readers these days, but the creators manage to convey the dangerous world of Nu Earth and include plenty of action, but without resorting to overt violence, which is quite a feat for a Rogue story.
We’ve suffered from a lack of really good quality comics for younger readers for a while – the Beano is still doing its thing, and the Phoenix Comic has been terrific, but 2000 AD started as one of the legion of comics for kids in the 1970s, and it is nice to see Rebellion reaching out to try and let today’s younger generation enjoy those characters we’ve grown up with.
Of course the question is, if this is successful will there be more 2000 AD material aimed at youngsters? Let’s hope so, all ages need Thrill Power. Prog 2130 is in comics stores and newsagents from today.
• Check out the The 2000 AD Thrill-Cast: 2000 AD Regened with Alex De Campi & Matt Smith
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