Prog 1908 is a shitload of fun and you should feel bad if 2000 AD is still not on your radar every week. Judge Dredd: Block Judge, Part 9 Story: John Wagner Art: Carlos Ezquerra Letters: Annie Parkhouse
The thing that I love about Judge Dredd comics is that you can jump in on pretty much any part of any story and have a great time. The current story arc has featured some fresh meat-- Judge Corrigan-- who finally got to have a shining (albeit painful) moment, and will probably have Dredd's respect going forward.
The art is typical Dredd, with tight action sequences interspersed with light sub-plots exposing the flaws of humanity within the Mega City future. Though some people might find Dredd comics to be a one trick pony, it's not as if you come expecting to read a comic about contemporary musical theater, and the action sequences rarely disappoint.
Holy sweet Tharg: D'Israeli's art is breathtaking. Stickleback is harder to jump in on if you haven't been following the series, but 1. the art gives you a damn good idea of the kind of weird stuff this series is tackling and 2. the art is so pretty. This is the kind of comic that turns you into a student of the medium even if you have no idea what the hell is going on.
Side note: Props to Tharg (and any Terran editors involved, of course) for laying out this issue the way he did. It's kind of a nitpicky thing, but when it's done very well or very poorly, the order of issues in an anthology series really sticks out. Breaking up the tone and colors of Dredd, Greysuit, and Kingdom with Stickleback and Ichabod makes for a valuable contrast that adds to the reader's experience of the issue as a whole. I know it doesn't seem that hard to separate your colorful stories with your black-and-white stories, but you would be surprised. Other anthology editors should take notes.
Greysuit: Prince of Darkness, Part 8 Story: Pat Mills Art: John Higgins Colors: Sally Hurst Letters: Ellie de Ville
Even though Higgins' art only really shines when he gets freed from the standard six-panel spread, he's a damn good sequential artist. I feel like a lot of stuff happens in the gutters of this comic and I don't actually miss any of it. Sometimes that's hard to pull off while working with all kinds of techno-babble, but the narration does just enough work and the pictures move the story along. That's good comics.
Side Note: Okay, I don't want to harp on this too much, but I think it's really important because of the type of issue I am reviewing right now: Greysuit was really easy to jump in on and enjoy this week. Even if having more context would enhance your enjoyment of a particular character in a story, being able to jump in on or miss a week of an anthology comic is super important. Otherwise, you have to wait ten issues in order to buy back in. Of the five stories in this issue, three were very enjoyable without much context. And, even the other two were interesting reads if you're clueless as to what happened before. Though these stories are all meant to be part of a bigger picture, that's not always how you're going to read them, so it's cool that they're this accessible.
The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (And the Dead Left in his Wake): One Last Bullet, Part Eight Story: Rob Williams Art: Michael Dowling Letters: Annie Parkhouse
I have no idea what the shit is going on, but it looks great, and it seems like a meta-fictional clusterfuck. Sign me up.
Kingdom: Aux Drift, Part Nine Story: Dan Abnett Art: Richard Elson Colors: Abigail Ryder Letters: Simon Bowland
The protagonist is named Gene the Hackman. As if you should not have already thrown down some cash for this Prog, resistance is now officially futile. There are bi-planes. There are giant spider-lobster-scorpion-things. There are mini-guns. The protagonist is named Gene the Hackman.
I am always really impressed when I manage to get invested in a character or situation with only a spotty knowledge of who they are and why they matter. Whenever a short comic is able to do that to you-- be it at the beginning, middle, or end of the story-- you should be impressed too. Kingdom, despite it's silliness, doesn't disappoint on this count.
Overall Issue Quality: Shut up and take my money.
Going forward, reviews of Progs won't break down every story unless the story is new to the volume. Reviewing the same short bits each week will lead to a lot of repetition, which is no fun for anyone even if it's praise. And, for 2000 AD Progs, it probably will just be a lot of praise. This anthology prides itself on publishing only the tightest, most effective storytellers, and the art on average was out of this world. If you are new to writing/experiencing/tasting/awkwardly stroking/reading comics, then this kind of compact storytelling is setting an example for the rest of the medium.
Come back to geek out about Prog 1909 (and other Progs in the future) where I will focus on the highlights of the issue, and the lowlights if any manage to creep in.
For US readers: This is a UK book and only the digital release is simulataneous. If you want a hard copy, some local shops will get them, but at a later date, usually a few weeks in the future (2000 AD has this info on their website). What this means is that if you prefer hard copies of stuff over digital and grow to like this series, you should pester your local comic shop to order the Progs. It will be more of a wait for you, but it's your fault for being too good for a digital copy, you jabroni.
Publisher: 2000 AD Price: £1.99 (Digital) £2.45 (UK) Release date: 11/19/14