The Weekly 2000 AD Prog #2221 – That’s The Way That Cookies Crumbled

The Weekly 2000 AD, giving you a weekly glimpse inside the thrill-powered pages of the UK’s finest sci-fi comic. No matter how bad it might be out in the real world, 2000 AD keeps delivering the thrills…

Cover by PJ Holden, after Carlos Ezquerra

Prog 2221 sees the start of a brand-new multi-part Judge Dredd tale investigating the death of Captain Cookies, the start of series two of the truly chilling Thistlebone, and more from Sláine, Proteus Vex, and Durham Red.

2000 AD Prog 2221 is out on 3 March. If you can, send your business the way of your local comic shop – pick up your comics if you can, get them by mail order if you can’t. The comics shops are the lifeblood of the comics industry – let’s stick up for them now in their time of need.

JUDGE DREDD: WHO KILLED CAPTAIN COOKIES – PART 1 – Ken Niemand, PJ Holden, colours by Quinton Winter, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Kenneth Niemand really is rather dominating Dredd this year, with a couple of done-in-one tales and now we have this new multi-parter about the death of local do-gooder Captain Cookies whose schtick is to give out cookies to the local juves up to no-good.

When the Judges aren’t seen to be doing enough to solve the death, the other local nut-jobs in costumes get together and a small voice pipes up…

So, without giving away who that little voice is… we’re in for another fun Niemand and Holden joint here.

And it’s Holden I really want to talk about here, who’s doing great, great things here, perfectly shown by just the first three panels of the strip on page one, absolutely nailing the tone of the thing, getting Dredd just right (oh, Holden does do a perfect Dredd jaw).

You get a beautiful Dredd on the Lawmaster shot, followed by a great Dredd in motion, lovely use of those speed lines to set the scene.

But it’s the third panel I just love, the switch to the aerial view as Dredd roars into shot, the abstraction of the crowd figures, the isolation of Captain Cookies, lit perfectly from the lights of Dredd’s ride.

I’ve long held the view that any Dredd with Holden on art is automatically elevated way beyond just another Dredd tale, and here it’s Holden’s art that delivers a wonderful episode, carrying all the comedy of the story along with some marvellous figure work yet still giving us a few of those iconic Dredd poses. Wonderful stuff.

And knowing who’s going to feature heavily in the next few episodes makes it a series I know I’m going to be enjoying.

 

SLÁINE: DRAGONTAMER – PART 9 – Pat Mills, Leonardo Manco, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Well, the cat – or rather Emporeor Brutus’ ‘serpent son’ Alban – is out of the bag, turning the people against Brutus, and giving Mills chance to vent against the high-born academics at the same time. Cross another one off Mills’ shit list.

Next up, Slaine against Albus. Quick checklist time… gorgeous shot of Sláine being all Sláine by page three, Sláine delivering one of his Bruce Forsyth style catchphrases…

…Sláine twisting and turning in battle, and finally, Sláine coming up against the enemy that just can’t be beaten… until Sláine happens to find the one way it can…

Check, check, check, and check.

And that’s another episode of Dragontamer over and done with. But damn, it’s a wonderful strip to look at, isn’t it?

THISTLEBONE: POISONED ROOTS – PART 1 – TC Eglington, Simon Davis, letters by Simon Bowland

Well, I recently had the chance to catch up with the first volume of Thistlebone in collected form – it’s out in April – and I’m so glad I did, as it’s a simply near perfect short slice of folk horror to put a shiver down the spine.

I must admit though, after the finale of the first series wrapped things up so well, I was wondering which way Eglington and Davis would go for a second series. I shouldn’t have been concerned though, as they hit the ground running right from this first episode.

Quick recap – Avril was victim of the cult of Thistlebone, a pagan thing led by one madman, convincing the group that they should use human sacrifices to their God. Avril only just got away, the cult went to jail, and ten years passed.

Then Avril began getting sigils delivered, sigils that she believed were from the cult. So, with journalist Seema, Avril headed back to the village of Harrowvale where it all went so wrong for her.

Any more than that and I’ll ruin the end to the first series. Suffice it to say that Avril was broken and damaged, her memories flawed, her judgment fatally flawed.

And now… series two, opening with such style, such beauty in Davis’ artwork, immediately drawing us back to the world of Thistlebone with that fox walking the urban streets, and then the first perfectly done jump scare on the turn of the page…

From this…

To this…

Oh yes, beautifully done by writer and artist.

It turns out Seema’s Thistlebone book is floundering, unwritten, and that her agent is checking up on her. Because after the events of the weekend… interest has renewed.

Why has interest renewed you ask?

Well, let’s just say they’ve found something in the woods and the story is suddenly far from over.

Oh yes, they’ve set this one up just perfectly, bringing us right back into the deep, dark woods with the scares and the beasts and the madmen. Can’t wait to see where this one goes from here.

PROTEUS VEX: THE SHADOW CHANCELLOR – PART 8 – Michael Carroll, Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland

We’re getting deeper and deeper into things in Proteus Vex, with Vex finding out there’s far more to the Silent than simply another alien race for the Alliance to wipe of the face of the galaxy.

And now it’s something of an escape tale, a redemption tale, a small band of rebels against the might of the Empire thing, secrets uncovered, truths revealed. Which is why you have Vex (and his flesh-pilot), the Silent (Expano), and Midnight Indicating Shame all doing what they can to get away from the Alliance and the Citheronian delegation here to take possession of Midnight.

Yep, it’s high-fallutin’ space opera at its finest here, with Carroll spinning out an epic and Lynch’s wonderfully angular artwork giving the whole thing a perfectly alien look.

DURHAM RED: SERVED COLD – PART 9 – Alec Worley, Ben Willsher, letters by Jim Campbell

So, at long last, after a fun bit of siege stuff, we finally get to why the suit, Warren Hardladder (oh, what a name!), wants Durham Red.

And just as Red figures out… it’s always about someone close that she took away, the thirst overpowering her.

So we’ve had the siege bit, we’ve had the reveal, I’m guessing we’ll either get a twist in the next couple of episodes or a good old fashioned Western-style showdown ending. In some ways, it’s immaterial, as Worley and Willsher have simply given us a very good, very simple, good old-fashioned Western, just with a little bit of Vamp thrown in. And simple works well in 2000 AD every so often, something light perhaps compared to the series attempting the BIG things… but it’s good that there’s more than enough space in here to have a place for light, fun, satisfyingly well-done action-adventure tales as well.

 

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