Wow. This is a tough choice. Cook gives us a magnificent image full of movement and action and a lovely interpretation of the 2012 uniform, but look at that Greg Staples image. It's a stunner. I could quite easily choose a top five Prog covers of the year with just Dredd images alone. This one gets the win for the Prog.
Result 1-0 to the Prog
Block Judge by Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra and Annie Parkhouse versus Dead Zone by John Wagner, Henry Flint and Annie Parkhouse.
In the Prog John and Carlos continue to ramp up the action in the ongoing Block Judge story which features the slowly evolving police procedural investigation that Wagner is so fond of at the moment, and so good at. It's lovely to look at, the action is great, and the ongoing development of Beeny and Corrigan is fascinating. Top stuff all round.
The Megazine story takes a strange turn with the activation of a sleeper time agent from the future, which is what I think is happening. As Dredd closes in on his target this other rogue element threatens to derail the subject at the same time as explaining the magic bracelet. Henry Flint continues to produce the only Dredd artwork that can rival King Carlos. I was lucky enough to see him working at Thought Bubble and the range of improvised techniques he uses to produce his inked sketches was just fascinating to behold. This is the cracking Judge Death he did for me, and it was free!
Result: Impossible to divide the two creative teams but the future cop thread in the Meg has thrown me slightly so it's a narrow win for the Prog
2-0 to the Prog
Stickleback by Ian Edgington, D'Israeli and Ellie de Ville versus Lawless by Dan Abnett, Phil Winslade and Ellie de Ville.
The two black and white stories go head to head. In Stickleback the stakes are raised as the three furies (or whoever they are) take out the dragon leaving D'Israeli's artwork to rule the airways. There are some charming background details like George Formby playing his ukulele outside Mr Wu's laundry and an appearance of the fish paste in-joke for regular readers of the Edgington and D'Israeli universe.
In Lawless Abnett and Winslade continue to build an impressive Deadwood like world as Marshal Lawson treads a fine line between the different cultures in the community. Her hair still looks ridiculous but the amount of detail in the background is staggering. The suggestion that Lawson may not be able to use her Lawgiver is intriguing and I wonder if this is going to come back in later episodes.
Result: this one is a tie so it's 3-1
Greysuit by Pat Mills, John Higgins, Sally Hurst and Ellie de Ville versus Tales from Megacity One: Wendell Says by T.C.Eglington, Darren Douglas and Simon Bowland.
I confess that the current Grey Suit story is not catching my attention in the same way that the first trade paperback collection did. I'm all for Pat Mills' attacks on the establishment but I'm skipping much of this, and I don't like John Higgins' colour palate plus I'm getting bored by the punching someone's jaw off.
The Tales from the Megacity story is a also a puzzler which I've read twice and it's still not made much of an impression on me.
Two stories that missed me this month, another tie.
Result 4-1 to the Prog
Uprise by Arthur Wyatt, Paul Davidson, Chris Blythe and Simon Bowland versus Ichabod Azrael by Rob Williams, Michael Dowling and Annie Parkhouse
Ichabod Azrael is an immense story spread across a battlefield in hell, or purgatory, or somewhere. The artwork is stark and striking and it's had a couple of great covers, but I confess I am lost and will have to promise one of my usually unfilled rereads from the start.
The Uprise tale comes to a satisfying conclusion and although some of it is wrapped up a bit quickly it does show Dredd and his rookie working effectively and doing the smart things. These are well trained and well organised law enforcers so it's nice to see them acting that way. Much better than the Underbelly story. Well done to all. And it's a win for the Megazine.
Result 4-2 to the prog
Kingdom by Dan Abnett, Richard Elson, Abigail Ryder and Simon Bowland versus the Megazine bonus material
I am beginning to have my doubts about Kingdom when every instalment ends with Gene exhorting his pack to "Get whet!". However it is beautifully illustrated and wins over the Meg interviews, a text story, and the free floppy which I haven't read and don't really plan to unless someone tells me it's a cream cracker.
Final result 5-2 to the Prog.
A runaway victory for 2000AD which just reflects how good it has all been since prog 1900 and we've got Dark Justice on the horizon. Mr Tharg is spoiling us at the moment and long may it continue.