Prog 1900 ReviewSeptember 23, 2014
After 37 years of weekly issues, a whole galaxy of characters and a evolving line up of stories, there can be a lot of confusion as to where new readers can jump on, without being lost with ongoing storylines. 2000 AD has the answer to that problem in Prog 1900 which features three brand new strips and some of the biggest creators contributing as well as sporting a flashy new logo and cover from their lead designer Pye Parr. Today we are taking a close look at that very comic that is being dubbed the ‘perfect jumping on point’ for three of 2000 AD’s biggest continuing stories.
Inside is Judge Dredd: Block Judge which brings Dredd co-creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra back to their hero and takes Mega-City One’s toughest lawman to one single block as he takes on the challenge of community policing. Following that story is Stickleback: The Thru’Penny Opera from Ian Edginton and D’Israeli, which sets up in 19th century London following the master criminal Stickleback who pulls the strings of the denizens of the capitals underworld and leads a gang of freaks, oddballs and semi-supernatural beings, as well as challenges us with what Stickleback’s greatest secret is and if he is capable of keeping it that way. The third and final story in this issue is Kingdom: Aux Drift from Guardians of the Galaxy writer Dan Abnett and Richard Elson, which is set in the far future where mankind has been all but wiped out and genetically modified dogs fight giant insects over the remains of post apocalyptic Earth; this is the ballad of Gene the Hackman.
So now that you know what you are getting yourself into with the Prog, the real question rises what did we think of it, and did it live up to its moniker of being the perfect jumping on point for new readers?
For me having only read Judge Dredd in small doses such as the wonderful Mega City Two graphic novel, I definitely fall into the category of readers the company is trying to target. On that note, Wagner and Ezquerra hit the perfect tone of the story where it isn’t something you needed to read prior stories to understand what is going on. Wagner drops Dredd into his first day as Block Judge for Gramercy Heights with his team. The team members get these great little highlight moments in the panels to show off their skill sets. A new reader would be able to latch on easily with the story since it’s not overly complicated; it’s less of the Mega City One politics and more Dredd mowing down perps and scowling his way through a day. For it only being six pages, it accomplishes quite a bit to draw in the reader. The artwork from Ezquerra is great as he is only given a few pages to work with and uses his panels brilliantly, capturing as much as possible in a short amount of time.
The second story in this Prog is Stickleback; an entirely new story for me, so again much like Dredd this comic and its mission is directly targeting readers like myself. The story is done all in black and white, which sometimes can be hit and miss as details can be lost occasionally due to the lack of colour, but artist D’Israeli makes perfect use of the panel space and uses a uncanny amount of detail, including the shading and use of negative space. The story following Stickleback is a little bit more complicated than that of Dredd, but not by much. This ten page mini story shows us enough of Stickleback’s world and involved enough that it left me immediately wanting more. The story revolves around Stickleback eliminating minor Gods of London for three mystery women who want to reshape London in their own way. Ian Edginton crafts a great mini story that with only ten pages to work with is a credit to 2000 AD’s writers skill.
In between the second and third stories, there’s a great little article talking about the history of 2000 AD and this comic series from where the Prog series has come and talks a little bit about the future. Definitely give it a read for a little history lesson.
The third story from another big name in comics comes from Dan Abnett who has brought us so many brilliant stories to comics over the years, having worked on some of 2000 AD’s biggest titles and even the modern look of the Guardians of the Galaxy. This time it’s the ten page mini story Kingdom: Aux Drift. The reason I mention Guardians of the Galaxy is because the main character (in Kingdom), Gene the Hackman in his ‘kicking ass and taking names’ fashion reminded me of another character that Abnett brought back to relevance and that was Drax the Destroyer. Gene is another truly badass character in 2000 AD‘s lineup. After ten pages I wanted to know more about Gene the Hackman and his story. Everything about Kingdom perfectly matched to Abnett’s style that I’m familiar with and more importantly Richard Elson’s artwork is excellent. New readers will definitely be wanting more of Gene the Hackman and his quest in the Drift.
This book accomplishes everything it set out to do; it works well using as much of the page space as possible to give the reader a big story in a short amount of time, and enough to engage those readers who may have been lost over the years or those who are new to the book or even the 2000 AD lineup. Pick up this Prog when it hits shelves September 24th you won’t be disappointed; it’ll have you coming back for more.