2000AD #2218 review

by Gavin Johnston on February 10, 2021

Writers: Rob Williams; Alec Worley; Mike Carroll; Pat Mills
Artists: Simon Coleby; Ben Willsher; Jake Lynch; Leonardo Manco; Simon Fraser
Colours: Len O'Grady; Jim Boswell
Letters: Annie Parkhouse; Jim Campbell; Simon Bowland
Publisher: Rebellion

This week, I’d like to speak to you all about pacing and the important role it plays in comic books; how the individual facets of the medium can be utilised to determine the pace at which the reader moves through the story.


In Judge Dredd: Health and Happiness, citizen Harry Dump gets robotic legs after an accident, but finds he can’t outrun the system. It’s a story told over the course of several months, with Harry falling from annoyingly happy highs to miserable lows after an insurance company ruins his life.

It’s a nice tale, well told, satirising the cut-throat nature of health insurers and the impact on ordinary people when capitalism becomes the defining factor in health care provision.

This could easily have been stretched out to two or three progs, maybe giving more of a role to Dredd, or ever delivering a happy ending for Harry. Instead though, it arrives and gets down to business quickly. It doesn’t outstay its welcome, leaving us guessing about the finer detail.



New York cop John McLane and airport janitor Marvin have made it through the blizzard to the runway in a desperate bid to prevent the terrorists from delivering death from above…

Wait...that’s Die Hard 2.

Bounty Hunter Durham Red and small time crook Roswell have made it through the blizzard to the runway in a desperate bid to prevent the mercenaries from delivering death from above.

Durham Red: Served Cold is a big budget action movie, with an action movie’s pacing. Following the reassuringly slow paced set up of the first episode, the action has barely let up over six weeks. That’s not to say that this is just explosions and shouting. An intricate plot has been weaved, with characters gradually built without any slow down for exposition. Ever character is in conflict with everyone else, and there’s an urgency to everything. Character and background has all been in the small detail of dialogue and design, helped no end by Ben Willsher's incredibly clean artwork.

This week, there are stampeding alien elephants, more mercenaries, and a double cross to deal with. This continues to rocket along, throwing out twists as it goes.




Proteus Vex: The Shadow Chancellor gets extra special weird, as Vex’s true nature as a flesh-pilot is revealed.

If a story is going to reveal that a character is actually a tiny character living inside a bigger character and moving them around like a big fleshy car, that would probably be enough plot for a five page episode. Instead, we also get a potted history of The Silent race, a mediation on the ever shifting nature of reality, as well as upping the tension as the Citheronian fleet approaches.

The strange design of Vex and his world, and the poetry of the pseudoscientific dialogue, means that even when delivering exposition about other-worldly events, Proteus Vex is still compelling. Its slower moments draw us in with details, then erupt into unexpected and often beautiful violence.




Hershey: The Brutal has deliberately taken its time. Details have been eked out. Character motivations have been hinted at before the story shifts its attention elsewhere.

Dirty Frank has clearly had enough of this nonsense, and this episode he takes control of the situation. It is gloriously Frank, and as a fan who has had concerns about the character’s resurrection it’s genuinely nice to have him back.

...but he’s not entirely back. Frank’s comedy shtick of narrating his actions and having conversations with himself is stripped back.  It takes the more distressing form of a broken man having half a conversation. The story has always had fairly simple line art with blocks of colour, but the frequently interrupted dialogue, jaunty panels and ever shifting angles show a marked change in pace as we rush to a final face-off.



Slaine: Dragontamer looks gorgeous; there’s a lovely bit of Celtic-detailed panelling, Ukko returns, Slaine spends a bit of time getting drunk, and the villain does dastardly stuff. The whole thing feels like a big callback to a more comforting era.

Plotwise, there’s a massive jump forward despite much of the page count being taken up with world building. In theory this is the shot in the arm that the story needs – but it’s achieved through some wobbly character motivation.

Over the past couple of weeks, Slaine has gained the support of the people and immediately lost the support of those people. Here, he loses all motivation to save a people who don’t want to be saved, then regains said motivation and has broken into an impenetrable fortress within a couple of pages.

After spending so long luxuriating in Leonardo Manco’s art, this feels rushed. Even during this episode, the pages where Slaine gets drunk and bullies Ukko are packed with detail and beautiful physicality, encouraging the reader to take their time and soaking it all in...whilst the pages of Slaine’s sneaking into a fortress are darker, lacking details, largely wordless, and so the story comparatively moves too fast during the creeping bits.



Thank you for coming to my Ted talk

Our Score:


A Look Inside