This week sees the debut of the 2021 2000AD Sci-Fi Special, on sale now in newsagents and comic shops, alongside the regular weekly Prog (issue 2239, with a terrific cover by Stewart K. Moore and a smashing episode of “Aquila” from Gordon Rennie, Patrick Goddard et al), and the recently-released special, Black Beth and The Devils of Al-Kadesh.
Warning: Parts of this review might be interpreted by some as spoilers, no matters how vague I’ve tried to be!
Inside, characters from different ‘Dreddworld’ series all crossover into one epic adventure, plotted by two of 2000AD’s best writers, Michael Carroll and Maura McHugh.
As you can imagine, given both writers familiarity with Judge Dredd’s world there are quite a lot of continuity nods, and if you’re expecting a standalone story introducing the curious to the world of the lawman of the future, this is not, I’d advise, the place to start.
That caeveat aside, longtime Dredd fans are rewarded with a loosely linked set of stories, each chapter providing a build up to a climactic battle, that, without wanting to give too much away, hints at a dangerous time to come.
It all seems to start innocuously enough, as Judge Dredd meets up with Cursed Earth Koburn in “Biohazard”, but a case of corporate murder, by Carroll and Ben Willsher, soon takes a nasty turn, as a possessed man gives Dredd a nasty surprise.
Meanwhile, over in Oz legendary skysurfer Chopper is a wanted man in “Dreamgazer”, by David Baillie and Tom Foster. Once again, there’s a supernatural edge to his adversary.
In Brit-Cit, detective Armitage seeks out vampire exorcist Devlin Waugh in Brit-Cit in “Natural Fern Killer” by Liam Johnson and Robin Smith, which, to be honest, seems the weakest link in the linked stories, serving no major purpose in building the overall story, and while there’s some great dialogue, it doesn’t really pull the story along much.
Then we’re treated to a simply stunning chapter, “Daughters of Uranium” as Hondo-Cit Judge Inaba finds trouble on her turf, courtesy of Karl Stock and Neil Googe. The art on this is, frankly, jaw dropping, complemented by great colouring from Dylan Teague.
These early chapters build to the two final segments, the first, “All Will Be Judged”, involving Judge Anderson investigating the paranormal takeover of rich Mega City children, by Maura McHugh and the hugely talented Anna Morozova.
There are some creepy moments to this segment, and a definite nod to contemporary concerns about our world’s future, laying trails for things to come.
This in turn leads quickly to a dramatic conclusion, “Apotheosis”, by Carroll and McHugh, drawn in style by Thought Bubble 2000AD art competition winner, James Newell, set almost immediately after “Biohazard”, bringing the story threads together, Dredd battling an unexpected foe.
Overall, it’s a fast-paced story, but in places some chapters could have benefited from a longer page count, to better develop some key characters. Im not entirely convinced, either, that multiple artists, for all their considerable talents, benefitted this project.
As a teaser for things to come for Dredd and company in coming months, presumably into 2022 and the 45th anniversary of 2000AD however, this latest 2000AD Sci-Fi Special has set up some intriguing plot threads. It’s quite clearly the starting point for some major developments, so I’d say it’s best to grab a copy.
Dear reader, reviews are an opinion, not fact. Other opinions are available – including yours
ALSO ON SALE THIS WEEK FROM REBELLION
2000AD Prog 2239
Cover: Stewart K. Moore
Judge Dredd: Removal Man
by John Wagner (Writer) Colin MacNeil (Artist) Chris Blythe (Colourist) Annie Parkhouse (Letterer)
Mega-City One, 2143 AD. Home to over 160 million citizens, this urban hell is situated along the east coast of post-apocalyptic North America. Unemployment is rife, boredom universal and crime is rampant. Tensions rest on a knife-edge and only the zero-tolerance Judges can stop total anarchy. Toughest of them all is JUDGE DREDD — he is the Law! Now, the future cop is on the trail of hitman Bick Bickford…
TOP THRILL Aquila: The Rivers of Hades, Book One
by Gordon Rennie (Writer) Patrick Goddard (Artist) Dylan Teague (Colourist) Annie Parkhouse (Letterer)
Following Spartacus’s failed revolt against his Roman masters, his rebel army was crucified. Amongst these was the slave-turned-gladiator AQUILA, who cried out to the gods for vengeance — and was answered by Ammit the Devourer, a deity that gifted him with immortality in return for keeping her fed with evil men’s souls. Now, Aquila has travelled into Hades to seek out the spirit of Nero, who knows Ammit’s location…
Department K: Cosmic Chaos
by Rory McConville (Writer) Dan Cornwell (Artist) Len O’Grady (Colourist) Simon Bowland (Letterer)
Mega-City One, 2143 AD. Justice Dept has many divisions tasked with dealing with the threats that face the metropolis, and DEPARTMENT K is a branch of Tek-Div, whose brief is to tackle interdimensional enemies. Headed by Judge Kirby, and comprising of intern Afua, Mechanismo droid Estabon and the alien Blackcurrant, they’re now helping a neighbouring reality. But a dead Locust is raising even more questions…
Skip Tracer: Eden
by James Peaty (Writer) Paul Marshall (Artist) Dylan Teague (Colourist) Jim Campbell (Letterer)
The Cube, the 27th century. This vast city floating in the depths of space was once a monitoring station, but has been refitted by the Earth-led Consociation as a solution to a universal housing problem. It’s now home to every kind of undesirable and wanted criminal. That’s where SKIP TRACER Nolan Blake comes in, a former soldier turned tracker with powerful psi-abilities. Now, he’s been contacted by old flame Hastings…
Chimpsky’s Law: The Talented Mr Chimpsky
by Kenneth Niemand (Writer) PJ Holden (Artist) Chris Blythe (Colourist) Simon Bowland (Letterer)
Mega-City One, 2143 AD. Late 21st-century science gave primates the ability to speak and socialise with humans, and there’s an enclave within the metropolis, Apetown, where simian citizens can live and work. Noam Chimpsky is a super-intelligent ape, who has chosen to look after the human civilians in his local sector. But now, on the orbiting
mansion of the Jepperson clan, he’s come face to face with his nemesis..
by Matt Smith, Mike Carroll, John Reppion, Cavan Scott, Roger Langridge, Rory McConville, Liam Johnson, Paul Cornell, Laura Bailey, Karl Stock (w), Nicolo Assirelli, Luke Horsman, Davide Tinto, Paul Davidson, Brett Parson, Nick Brokenshire, P.J. Holden, Aneke, Anna Readman, Andrea Mutti and Tom Newell.
2000AD Regened is a thrill-powered collection for earthlets of all ages, featuring your favourite 2000AD characters! Reimagined versions of classic characters like Dredd, Judge Anderson and Johnny Alpha star in action packed adventures alongside brand new characters, specially created for a younger audience.
It’s a race against time as Cadet Dredd and his clone brother Rico have to defuse a hostage situation in “Bad Seeds”. When Judge Anderson encounters a malevolent force trying to turn the kids of Mega-City One into swots she has to RESTORE mayhem to the streets. Other characters include Pandora Perfect: futuristic criminal, terrible babysitter and all round bad ‘un, teenage mutant bounty hunter Johnny Alpha and the return of ghostbusting duo Finder and Keeper. All this and more in the second volume of 2000AD’s celebrated series of all-ages science fiction stories!
Aquila Volume II: The Burning Fields
by Gordon Rennie Paul Davidson & Patrick Goddard
In this stunning historical fantasy story, we travel back to Ancient Rome to find slave-turned-gladiator Aquila. Having cried out to the gods for vengeance during his slow and painful death, and was answered by Ammit the Devourer, a deity that gifted him with immortality in return for keeping her fed with evil men’s souls. But Aquila has discovered he is by no means alone in serving Ammit’s thirst for souls, and wants to be released from her hold…