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2000AD 1541
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Prog 1541 - 13 June 07

Judge Dredd (Wagner / Marshall)
DeFoe (Mills / Gallagher)
Detonator-x (Edginton / Yeowell)
Greysuit (Mills / Higgins)
Nikolai Dante (Morrison / Fraser)
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Synopsis by Gavin Hanly
1st opinion by Adam Crabtree
2nd opinion by Alex Frith

Summaries and reviews contain spoilers for this issue.

2000AD cover review

Cover by Vince Locke

AC: A strong and attractive effort on this week's cover... it's a smokily atmospheric piece on Defoe from A History of Violence's Vince Locke.

AF: Yup, I like this cover. It reminds me of Progs from around the time I started reading (400s/500s). Filling the page with background details of the setting, but basically focusing on some good old fashioned decapitation. Locke's anatomy is a little dodgy how puny are those arms??), but the composition is excellent, and the zombie faces are delightfully hideous. Not sure about the laboured 'captial punishment' pun headline, but the 'chomping on flesh every Wednesday' makes up for it. 

2000AD Thrill 1
2000 AD: Judge Dredd
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Electraglide in Sliver
Script: John Wagner
Art: Paul Marshall
Colours: Steve Roberts
Letters: Annie Parkhouse
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2000AD: Judge Dredd
A much sought after PAL award...

Synopsis: An explosion rocks the Annual Judge Pal awards, injuring Pal himself. Dredd discovers that the bomber used the same methods as the (now dead) triple B Bomber.

Some time ago, Goody Jackson discovered that the Pals' club was giving away a sliver electraglide to its members who amassed 16,000 Pal Points. He started informing on his friends and family, eventually framing them so that he could get more points. He used his initial points to invest in a "sonic imaging" device that would let him snoop all over the city. Finally, he saw the Triple B Bomber at work and that alone gave him enough points for the Electraglide. However, his parents suddenly realised that he was the one who had been framing them. They turned him in and Judge Pal himself sends Goody away for 3 years and takes away the electraglide.

In the present, Dredd has tracked down the now released Goody, who set up the bomb just for revenge - "he shouldna taken my electrglide".

AC: Another misadventure in the Mega City. One day they'll place all these tales one atop the other and climb the pile on a lunar expedition. This Wagner tale is a bit all over the place with the structure, beginning in the present day (as it were) and then lurching into three pages of expedition before Dredd just sort of... catches him. Hmm.

This aside, it's a typically well written episode.

AF:More retro action with this Dredd one-off. A Wagner classic, really. One of those tales of citizens gone bad, rather than an exploration of Dredd himself. All tied up in a pretty neat plot. Marshall on art does well with bad boy Goody Jackson, but his Dredd isn't my favourite. 

2000AD: Thrill 2
2000AD - Defoe
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1666 - Part 2
Script: Pat Mills
Art: Leigh Gallagher
Letters: Ellie De Ville
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2000AD: Defoe
Heads roll around Defoe...

Synopsis: Defoe takes on the remaining living dead in the house with an array of weapons, while reporter Fear-the-Lord Jones questions others outside - and is informed that Defoe is probably a Vet of the New Model Army and needs to be an elite to handle the special guns and fight the undead. Defoe himself remembers a quieter time in 1656 where he and his wife had returned to a simple life in the country.

Back in 1666, Jones questions Defoe further, asking if it's true that the Mayor is encased in glass to keep him from getting infected, and that it was claimed that Sir Isaac was "visited by angels" who told him how to combat the "pretenders" - which seem to have been caused by a comet.

At that point, Defoe is called away to fight more pretenders amassing on the streets - they've from the graveyard and led by Jack O'Bite. Defoe notices that the new attackers seem more organised and then their leader Jack tells him that they need to talk...

AC: The T-shirt ready phrases have been rather gracelessly inserted into this Civil War era zombie epic, but other than that Defoe is one of the growing number of Pat Mills scripts that are, well, almost lucid! A kind of steampunk Bill Savage, Defoe is a likeably rough and ready hero with the requisite tragic past. We don't get too bogged down with 17th century gothic and farmwives who've been an' gorn an' bought the farm however; the tabloid reporter's addition has the makings of disaster writ large all over it, but Mewes' family background is a definite highlight.

All respect to Mr Mills for putting out good work, but an ambient anxiety remains that it could go completely tits up at a moment's notice (and will just be ALLOWED to by the editor!). We can only wait and see, and hope it continues like this.

AF: OK, so we've got fast and semi-intelligent zombies here. That could be fun. Not sure about Titus Defoe, though. Looks a bit like Torquemada, acts a bit like Savage. With some Canon Fodder thrown in. His past as a Roundhead Puritan is kind of interesting, but the cliche of the perfect retirement that no doubt came to a sticky end is too dull. 'Fear-the-Lord' Jones - I guess his name is funny, but really he's just annoying. Despite these whinges, I am enjoying the series for its 17th Century London setting, moody art, and yes, its zombies. 

2000AD: Thrill 3
2000 AD: Detonator X
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Part 8
Script: Ian Edginton
Art: Steve Yeowell
Art: Chris Blythe
Letters: Ellie De Ville
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2000 AD: Detonator X
Mackay's escape route...

Synopsis: Mackay is brought to Chueng's body and Colonel Holt tells him that he is to return home with his body. Mackay says he'll stay and complete the job, but Holt insists that he has to leave. An alarm sounds and Holt is called away and orders the guards to shoot Mackay if he tries to leave. However, the Detonator X arrives - now powered by Chueng who had downloaded his personality engrams into the robot in case something happened. Mackay gets back into the Detonator and they head down to attack the blastula which now appears to have hatched...

AC: I'm not sure Steve Yeowell is really the right guy for this one... the faces look a bit similar and the colours a bit washed out, and it's just not particularly stimulating for the eyes. On the scripting front, Edginton has crafted a tale with some cool moments (the Nguni stick fighting being the major highlight) but it's just not as much FUN as it should be! We got giant monsters, we got robots, we got a pound shop Nikolai Dante...
definitely readable stuff, but a lot of untapped potential.

AF: Nope, I am just bored by this series. Did I read somewhere that the name 'Detonator X' and concept of giant robots was suggested by Tharg to Edginton? If so, I feel it's been wasted. This is more intelligent than Maniac 5, but it's not fun enough. And once again, what's with the cliche here? Have I been reading 2000 AD for too many years now to be utterly, utterly unsurprised to see that the Prof has downloaded his consciousness into the Detonator? And I agree with Mackay's opinion last week that Yeowell just isn't trying hard enough to make his characters look different. 

2000AD: Thrill 4
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Project Monarch - Part 2
Script: Pat Mills
Art: John Higgins
Colours: JH & SJ Hurst
Letters: Ellie De Ville
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2000AD: Greysuit
Blake goes a tad nuts...

Synopsis: Blake takes out the attackers with brute force - seemingly imbued with some sort of super power. He goes into psychosis as he attacks and there also appears to be a blocked memory somewhere in his mind.

Back in London, he is debriefed by his superiors who tell him that he should remain undercover in future - although he tells them that he only attacked because the police were about to arrest The Fox. After he leaves, his main contact says that he doesn't believe Blake and looks into his past case. He was assigned to a case with another agent, Zil, to track down and kill some back robbers who had incriminating pictures of a minister and some children. However, Blake is listening in....

AC: Another part of the Pat Mills renaissance that may or may not be happening, the second part builds on the promise of the first. Blake himself is a complete cipher, but I rather think that's artist John Higgin's fault for servicing Mills ' turbulent script with a colourless, flinty bore. It's not all bad news for Higgins though, who takes an intense approach to the destruction and mayhem wrought by the lead.

AF: Like Defoe, Greysuit is giving me conflicting emotions. I love John's rages, and Higgins' artful hyperviolence and bullet-time effects. But again, too much unoriginality with the whole 'shady government dept is blackmailing the Prime Minister' thing. But, I am intrigued to see what John's agenda is in all this. I like the idea of a secret agent who does the government's dirty work but takes time out each mission to deliver some hard justice to small scale evil. It's an interesting comparison between governmental attempts to right major world wrongs versus the human need to sort out local and immediate injustice.

2000AD: Thrill 5
2000AD - Nikolai Dante
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Thieves' World - Part 4
Script: Robbie Morrison
Art: Simon Fraser
Colours: Gary Caldwell
Letters: Annie Parkhouse
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2000AD: Nikolai Dante
Sleeping with the enemy...

Synopsis: The Countessa successfully seduces Dante even though he hates himself afterwards. Arcady is watching the whole thing with his bugging devices.

Afterwards, the Countessa reveals that she had to offload the Romanov Jewels as they were too hot to handle and she had to return to her father in the Thieves World. However, she thinks her Papa has lost it and the other clan leaders believe that he is leading them into a war with the Imperials. The Countessa has been maneuvering Renko Solonkin into a position to take over the guilds - which will give her access to the millions in the guilds' war chest. However, she now thinks that Dante would make a better leader.

Later, Dante and Elena are in the casino when there's a rocket attack on them...

AC: You know it's bawdy, but you don't expect to see this level of raunch from the Russian Rogue! Enticed into a honey trap with the Countessa De Winter... and taped as well! Jena will not be best pleased. This level of human drama, as ever, sits right along side the boundless invention and vitality or Robbie Morrison's finest (with Simon Fraser working little miracles every week).

AF:Dante - a reliable end to the Prog. An interesting test of Dante's internal motivations. Is he happy to help the Tsar restore order which probably would be for the greater good, or is he going to surprise all of us by running of with all that theives' money?

Thrill 8

AC: A real good spell for the weekly at the moment, with Nikolai Dante reaching for the stars, Pat Mills knocking out some potential smashers with Detonator X and Dredd pottering on nicely (Mutants in Mega City One next week! Let's hope it's better than Origins...).

Best Story: Nikolai Dante

AF: With that cover, a double helping of Mills and a classic-style Dredd, this felt like a return to 2000 AD of my youth. And I'm left with mixed feelings as a result. It looks and feels right, but there's something lacking - some kind of proper sucker punch that I want from my Prog. Mills is usually the expert at that kind of thing, but his two new strips need to find their legs a little more, I think. 

Best Story: The cover. (OK, so Dredd was the best story this week)

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Original content (c) 2002 Gavin Hanly (contact 2000AD Review).