2000AD, PROG 2130 REVIEW

by Gavin Johnston on May 08, 2019

Writers: Chris Weston; Alex De Campi; Karl Stock; Alec Worley; Leah Moore; John Reppion; Cavan Scott
Artists: Chris Weston; Eduardo Ocana; Brett Parson; PJ Holden; Davide Tinto; Nick Roche
Colourists: Chris Blythe; Gary Caldwell; Pippa Mather; Abigail Bulmer
Letterers: Annie Parkhouse; Ellie De Ville; Simon Bowland 
Publisher: Rebellion

British comics for kids are in a terrible state. Go back even to the ‘80 or ‘90s and the market was dominated by household names like the Beano, the Dandy, Buster, Topper, and Cor!. These were brightly coloured comics aimed at younger readers: joyful anthologies with anarchic characters, gently battling authority.

Over time, the market changed.  Comics merged and eventually disappeared. A handful remain, but mostly their place on the news agent’s shelves has been taken by brightly coloured, plastic wrapped comics with single-use toys strapped to the front, which function mostly as adverts for other products your child might want to buy.


Rebellion have spotted a gap in the market. This week’s 2000AD is a kid-friendly issue. The usual run of stories have taken a week off, and are replaced by five original tales, with some new characters and a fresh look at some old ones. Even alien editor Tharg has handed over responsibilities to his previously unmentioned nephew, Joko-Jargo.


Don’t you just hate it when people are good at everything? Artist Chris Weston again demonstrates his skill as a writer with Cadet Dredd: Grudzilla. We go back to Judge Dredd’s teenage years, as Joe Dredd and clone brother Rico are tasked with supervising an eccentric actor shooting a disaster movie in Mega City One. Grudzilla is full of the wackiness of early 2000AD, with the brothers Dredd battling giant monsters. There are some nice call-backs for long term readers as classic characters return and are given authentic voices, building on their often lightweight origins.

It’s so good, we can even ignore the problem with Rico’s badge. As Dredd ages, there’s a goldmine of stories in younger Dredd, which Rebellion have just started to tap into.


Student Arthur is good at everything in Future Shock: That Weird Kid. In a high-tech school, the authorities have come up with a new way to keep the students in line. That Weird Kid is a fun one-off with lightweight, throwaway art that suggests a hidden darkness in its details.


New thrill Full Tilt Boogie hints the ground running, as Tee and her Grandma rescue Prince Ifan from some debt collecting bears. There’s something Saga-esque about Full Tilt Boogie, with anthropomorphised animals, planet hopping families, and even an especially talented cat. This is a great piece of world building, as background and character pour from each page.


Artist PJ Holden shows off his impressive design skills in Anderson PSI Division: Spellcraft. Judge Anderson enters the mind of a child who has played a few too many video games, and becomes a fantasy world version of herself. The story is a nice twist on the now standard tale of Anderson saving children from their abusers. 


Meera and Eliot become modern steampunk ghostbusters in Finder & Keeper, another new story. There’s a nice, if simple, set up as the two leads are transformed from slightly disobedient teens to potential paranormal detectives. There’s not much beyond the basic introduction, but it's a lovely premise that could easily be expanded to longer tales.


Rogue Trooper: Secrets of The Keep has the look and breathless action of a Saturday morning cartoon, as Genetic Infantryman Rogue and his disembodied buddies go up against a squadron of Nort soldiers looking to access an ancient military vault. It flies through any exposition...and yet it’s not simplistic. Its villains are closer to the nuanced culture seen in the Jaegir than the cannon fodder Norts of earlier Rogue Trooper stories. Secrets of the Keep strips Rogue Trooper back to basics and tells a story that’s just straightforward fun.


No doubt it will be dismissed as a marketing ploy by the usual internet suspects, unhappy that something isn’t being marketed directly to them for once...but it’s great to see Rebellion do something new in targeting younger readers with such an uncynical and upbeat issue...especially with young women and people of colour front and centre in their character line-up. There’s so much here that Prog 2130 feels like more than just another issue of 2000AD – this feels like a pitch for an entirely new comic, packed with talented creators and original stories.  


Our Score:


A Look Inside