Welcome, Earthlets, to Multiver-City One! Every Wednesday we examine the latest offerings from Tharg and the droids over at 2000 AD, the galaxy’s leading producers of Thrill-Power entertainment! Between the weekly British sci-fi comic “2000 AD” itself, the monthly “Judge Dredd Megazine”, an extensive library of graphic novel collections, and new US-format one-shots and mini-series, they have decades worth of zarjaz comics waiting for you to discover and enjoy.
I. THIS WEEK IN PROG 1974
Judge Dredd: The Grindstone Cowboys, Part 2
Credits: Michael Carroll (script), Colin MacNeil (art), Len O’Grady (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Mike Romeo: Well, it looks like some of the narrative potholes from last week have carried over to part two of this strip. Mild spoilers ahead!
In last week’s review I debated over who the Lawman we were following out in the Cursed Earth was, exactly. Was it Dredd? Rico? Well, after reading this week’s installment, it appears that it’s both of them out there. Remember when I couldn’t reason why the Cadet had called him both ‘Dredd’ and ‘Rico’? That’s why.
Now, I’m of the thought that you should engage readers by making them think a little. Being spoon fed information is something that I find to be boring (personally) and insulting (generally.) But, that said, the reader needs something to get a foothold on. Yes, two weeks in I’ve pieced together that it’s (probably?) both Dredd and Rico on the case. But that means that I read a chapter of a story, and sat with it for a week, only to find out that I was wrong about a lot of what I thought had happened. And not in a ‘narrative-twist that I didn’t see coming’ sort of way, but in a ‘didn’t have all of the necessary pieces’ way. There was no narrative pay off to having the readers cobble together who’s who.
As I said last week, this is the sort of thing Carroll does. He packs a lot into his strips, which can be beneficial in the right scenarios. But that sort of writing can be a gamble, and it’s one that I don’t think has paid off so far. Which is a drokking shame, because I really, really want to like this story. It’s got everything I’m a sucker for in a Dredd strip: continuity, Cadet training, black humor and geopolitics. It’s just that, so far, it’s too jumbled for me to settle into.
But Colin MacNeil, right? Holy cow this is a great looking comic. His line work, lighting and layouts are superb, as is his approach to designing these characters. This week, though, I was particularly taken by Len O’Grady’s colors. He walks a line between flat, almost cel-shaded coloring and something that’s almost painterly in it’s execution. What seems simple actually has subtle graduation to it, as well as something of a brushed look. This type of work is so unintrusive that, like good lettering, just fades into the background and informs the reader on a secondary, auto-intuitive level. He’s the perfect match for MacNeil’s art.
All in all, this strip’s got as many hits as it does misses. Hopefully all of the bad marks I’ve given are behind us, as we move past the set up and into the real meat of the story.
Tharg’s 3rillers: Repossession Orders, Part 2
Credits: Eddie Robson (script), Jake Lynch (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
This installment continues a haunted council estate under construction suddenly evicting squatters — permanently.
While my suspicions of this story of having familiar elements of ‘Poltergeist’ are definitely founded, Eddie Robson’s scripting a decent mystery here. A couple turns of plot were intriguing and I’m waiting to see them pay off in the next Prog. Jake Lynch’s art is a good match for this script. He gives a definite cast of dread in the dark corridors and staircases of the council estate. I particularly enjoyed a sequence in this installment where one of the characters evades the ‘ghosts’ in the hallways and discovers a clue. Lynch’s rendering is moody, but very clear which helps when the background could run the risk of looking the same in every panel.Continued below
Survival Geeks: Geeks Fatales, Part 2
Credits: Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby (script), Neil Googe (art), Gary Caldwell (colors), Ellie de Ville (letters)
Greg Matiasevich: After starting off at a breakneck pace last week, this installment of ‘Survival Geeks’ sees things slow down enough for both teams of geeks to catch their collective breath.
You knew this week’s beat was coming as soon as you saw the Rule 63 trope in play, but that doesn’t mean Rennie & Beeby didn’t make it fun anyway. As a continuation of the gender-swapping theme, we get to see all manner of posters and evidence of universal geek constants (regardless of gender) in the Tardis house for Part 2, and I don’t think there’s going to be a reader out there with even the slightest geek cred that’s not going to see something that makes them smile. Firefly season 3, anyone? I personally thought the mention of the 40-watt plasma range problem was a particular highlight and a more subtle tip of the geek cap. Beeby & Rennie keep the kids focusing on the geek-positive aspects of dimension-hopping & zombie avoidance, so the strip doesn’t get bogged down in too much angst or gnashing of teeth.
Although it would be tough to go ‘grim&gritty’ with Neil Googe & Gary Caldwell on art & colors.
Tainted: The Fall of Deadworld, Part 2
Credits: Kek-W (script), Dave Kendall (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
MR: Last week gave us a glimpse of what ‘Deadworld’ was like before all the dead stuff happened. Now we’re being shown a little bit about what the state the law is, which seems to be terrible!
I’m gathering that there’s some type of takeover happening with the Judges. Either they’re looking to overthrow the government, or maybe there’s a corrupt faction of the force looking to seize power. Either way, we’re shown some inter-Judicial interrogation, with the Chief Judge at the center of the questions. It seems that they want to find him. Bad.
Where the last Deadworld series we got had a strong current of self reflection and examination, this go around is shaping up to be a bit more of an action romp. It’s neat to see this alternate-world vision of Judges, particularly since there are a bunch of familiar faces out there waiting to emerge.
Aquila: Charon’s Mercy, Part 2
Credits: Gordon Rennie (script), Paul Davidson (art), Len O’Grady (colors), Ellie de Ville (letters)
I honestly was not expecting the outcome of the confrontation between Aquila/Felix and Mercury/Charon. It turned the story in a direction I had not counted on and I love it! Writer Gordon Rennie is scripting quite the enjoyable yarn. Also, I enjoy how Rennie writes euphemisms for the characters to espouse off-hand that work within the historical context while for modern sensibilities. Felix referring to another character as an ‘offal bag’ or complaining that “[the] goddess Fortuna is a contrary b***h” gave me a chuckle.
The art by Paul Davidson and colors by Len O’Grady are dark and bloody. They continue to pack a lot within eight pages in terms of storytelling, facial expressions and action choreography. The fight between Aquila and Charon is absolutely clear and matched by the countenances of Felix and Charon elsewhere in the same panel. Davidson’s art, in particular, seems a mix between artists Richard Corben and Philip Bond. I’m really digging his work immensely seeing it for the first time in this story. O’Grady’s colors are rich, while complementing the artwork rather than obfuscating it. There’s a panel that I admired where O’Grady tones the background with a beautiful pink tone at dusk that underscores the sanguine action within.
I highly recommend this story as a great jumping-on point. Looking forward to next week’s Prog!
GM: We understand trying to figure out to start with a selection of almost 40 years worth of comics can be daunting. What do they publish? Where can I get it? What’s up with Judge Dredd? Can I still read “2000 AD” if I don’t like Judge Dredd?Continued below
To help all you new & potential readers, we’ve put together something we call An Earthlet’s Guide to 2000 AD. This FAQ collects everything you need to make your initial foray into the 2000 AD Thrill-verse as easy and simple as possible.
That’s gonna do it for us this week! “2000 AD” Prog 1974 is on sale this week and available from:
- The 2000 AD Newsstand app for iPad and iPhone,
- The 2000 AD app for Android devices,
- 2000ADonline.com in print or DRM-free PDF and CBZ formats, and
- Finer comic shops everywhere
So as Tharg the Mighty himself would say, “Splundig vur thrigg!”