2000AD Prog 2312 End of Year Special :ComicScene Review

Prog 2312 cover

Review by Luke Williams

2000ADs 100 page specials have become something to look forward to at the end of the year – more satisfying than the annuals or their replacement the yearbooks (if one can remember that far back). They are often an excellent jumping on point to the Prog, with some added little gems thrown in longer serving Squaxx. These can be genuine surprises or in this case, sneak previews of strips. Sadly in the year of postal strikes, and in this era of social media and digital distribution that has become almost impossible,  nevertheless, points for trying Thargy. If you haven’t already seen the spoilers on TwitFace, Instadon, or the social media channel  du jour, I won’t bother with reproducing them here, but needless to say – fair play for keeping that quiet Mighty One. Also, credit to Rebellion in their support for physical edition subscribers with free digital copies to tide them over during the postal strike. Cheers, guys.

A very striking Andy Clarke Dredd cover trails a sequel to an ages old TB Grover / Ezquerra Christmas Judge Dredd annual Dredd story by the excellent artist Lee Carter, and equally excellent Dredd scribe  Kenneth Niemand. Dredd encounters a recent escapee from iso block 666, who seemingly had not made off during “Necropolis”, “Judgement Day”, “Day of Chaos” etc. While his appearance  not as effective the second time around (and over 30 years later), it’s good fun.

Dredd prog 2312

In the first of three one off revivals of characters from the Limbo file,  “Rogue Trooper” is up next , written by Kek W and drawn by the excellent Warwick “The ‘77”  Fraser Coombe.  It’s another “Norts have developed a bio weapon that rivals the GIs”, but its’ well executed and enhanced by Fraser Coombe’s wonderful artwork, bright for a war story but weirdly effective; lurid but unsettling.

Rogue Prog 2312a

The second escapee from Limbo and arguably the most anticipated, Garth Ennis’ & Kev O’Neill’s “Bonjo from Beyond the Stars” is not as effective as their revival of “Kids Rule Okay” from this year’s Battle Action Special, but does feature some fantastic Kev O’Neill artwork and typically scatological Ennis script. For those not in the know, Bonjo was a humour strip about an intellectually challenged alien that appeared in Progs 41-50, written and drawn by O’Neill. O’Neill’s untimely passing means that this is read in a different context than that was intended, the strip and the eulogy that accompanies the strip are a great tribute to a creator who had such an influence both on the ‘Prog and the industry as a whole, a true maverick.

Bonjo Prog 2312a

Book 3 of Dan Abnett & Mark Harrison’s space drama “The Out” begins. After some meandering and world or rather universe building seems now to have an endpoint in mind. Abnett is on fire lately, between this, “Brink” and “Feral and Foe” (we’ll skip over Sinister Dexter) & “Lawless” he’s clearly bouncing off his collaborators and producing some of the best work of his career. Harrison’s art is impressive, though occasionally indistinct, too much detail and effects. A late period 2000AD classic.

The Out Prog 2312

With Mills seemingly leaving the ‘Prog for good, “Joe Pineapples : Tin Man” will be the last new work by the comic’s founder as script droid. Inspired by an idea from Simon Bisley and story credited to the two of them and has been in development for years. Despite this, Bisley has only completed some of the episodes, with Clint Langley drafted in to complete the run. No reflection on Langley, but it would have been nice to see consistent art throughout what is probably the most interesting use of the “ABC Warriors” for many years. Ro Jaws and Joe Pineapples are marooned on an asteroid, but their solitude is soon to be interrupted by parties attracted by Joe’s “reputation”. Bisley provides lovely art with, Joe rocking the bodybuilder look again and Mills using Ro Jaws more than he has done is years. Perhaps a fitting capstone to Mills’ and the “ABC Warriors” time in the Prog’ – unless someone decides to try and take over as scripter on the Meknificent Seven (please don’t) :  good luck with that one

Joe Pineapples Prog 2312

The only carry over from last Prog, the supernatural  /noir detective series “Hope : In the Shadows” continues. Things are getting weirder and weirder, beautiful greyscale art from Jimmy Broxton and Guy Adams’ script is sharp, but definitely one to be read in one sitting – not a strip you can pick up half way through and make much sense of, but it does bring  spooky to the Prog.

Hope Prog 2312

Then we have a double whammy of Alan Grant tribute strips book ending eulogies from the creators who knew and worked with him.  First is the Nick Dyer drawn Karl Stock written “Ace Trucking Company” the third refugee from Limbo, should really be left. Nick Dyer is an effective artist for characters capturing the spirit of Belardanelli without slavishly copying his style (if anyone could) and Karl Stock has the voices. It starts off as one thing and morph into a lovely tribute to Grant and an extending running joke from the Prog’s early days.  

ACE Prog 2312

The second Alan Grant tribute strip, Gordon Rennie and Robin Smith’s Dredd is warm and affectionate and acts as a response to Grant and Cam Kennedy’s salute to John Wagner from a few years ago. There’s also a one page bonus strip from Stewart K. Moore.  Is it me or is it a bit dusty in here?

Dredd 2 Prog 2312

Wrapping things up is Michael Carroll and Jake Lynch’s “Proteus Vex” – the most effective nut job alien fantasy  / science fiction space epic to appear in the ‘Prog since early “Nemesis the Warlock”. Lynch is building on the foundations that Henry Flint created in book one and making the strip his own. Like “The Out” and “Brink”, this is  2000AD genius.

Proteus Prog 2312

So:  another end of year winner. Bodes well for 2023.

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