2017 is a huge year for 2000AD. It marks 40 years of publishing weekly comics which have, barring the odd dip or six, has seen a number of consistently brilliant strips, all the while giving comic creators from the UK (on the whole) a chance to have work. In some cases this has led to change the face of comics as a whole forever. Prog 2011 is a mega 100 page end-of-year blow-out that’s giving a mainly positive end to a year,, which for many has become tiresomely bleak. It also promises much for 2017.
Rob Williams and Chris Weston kick off the issue with a Judge Dredd strip that’s owing more than a little to a certain Dickens Christmas tale, albeit doused in the spirit of good old 2000 AD’s unique cynicism. This is a little gem of a story that encapsulates everything good about Dredd and indeed, 2000 AD, which sadly I can’t say about Ian Edginton and Leigh Gallagher’s “Kingmaker” which is a fantasy strip (the sort of thing we used to call Swords and Sorcery) strip that’s trying too hard. I’ll admit to not of being a fan of the genre being due to its clichés, but there’s not enough originality here for me to be interested in it. That said, if you are a fan of the genre then it won’t disappoint you.
Eddie Robson and Nigel Dobyn’s “ACE Trucking Co.” is a nice bit of nostalgia, as well as a smart satire on capitalism. Following on from that is a great retrospective of Misty, the rather twisted 1970’s girls comic that’s been receiving some much overdue re-evaluation. “The Order” is a medieval/steampunk tale which promises much, and has some potential, while a Christmassy “Fall of Deadworld” story isn’t breaking new ground but is entertaining enough. Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton’s “Hope for the Future” is a surprisingly noir-ish gem and shows much potential as does “Aquila”, which mixes 2000 AD’s taste for adding a bit of SF and violence to history. The issue is rounded out by the first episode of a new story, “Kingdom: As it is in Heaven” which is intriguingly drawing some tone from Clint Eastwood’s film Unforgiven. It does however seem like one of those strips that’s going through the motions.
Overall for an end of year blow-out, this is quality, fun stuff. Nothing remarkable, just solid comics from good creators and, while I’d like to see 2000 AD, perhaps become riskier to try a run more adventurous strips, they’re very good at serving the audience what they want. This prog will more than give hardcore fans the satisfaction and enjoyment they crave, whilst giving potential newbies a glimpse into the quality of their output.
One last thing about this Prog. There’s a nice tribute to Steve Dillon in the letters page after his recent, and far too early, death. Dillon was, as far as I am concerned, THE Judge Dredd artist after Mick McMahon and Carlos Esquerra so it’s nice to see him acknowledged and praised in this issue, the last before 2000 AD’s 40th anniversary year as it shows just how much the comic and it’s creators, have shaped, and touched, readers over the last 39 years.