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.
This week brings us a new Prog, so let’s get right to it!
I. THIS WEEK IN PROG 1989
Judge Dredd: Reclamation, Part 4
Credits: Michael Carroll (script), Colin MacNeil (art), Len O’Grady (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Mike Romeo: Alright, there’s a lot that happened here this week, but first I gotta talk about this art!
Colin MacNeil is a phenomenal artist. We all know that and it’s not something that’s up for debate. I’ll hear out your ‘flat earth’ theory long before listening to you besmirch MacNeil’s comics. So, with that as the baseline, I have to say that this week’s strip was a real achievement. Silhouettes are a common occurrence in MacNeil’s work, and he uses them to great effect, and these pages are a shining example of how well he can handle them. There are a lot of characters at play here, as well as some pretty dramatic lighting, but I never lost track of who the black shapes on the pages were meant to represent. I was particularly struck by the panel when Dredd and his team were traveling in the fast-chute. Everyone is silhouetted, but there’s no ambiguity about who’s who. This is particularly worthy of praise when you take into account the fact that one of these characters is a clone of another.
Of course, I’d be a dunce if I didn’t cover Len O’Grady’s colors here, too. I love the technicolor Judge’s uniforms contrasted with all of the spot black in the ink work. It serves MacNeil’s work really well, as balances inky moodiness of his work with hyper-saturated reds and yellows. O’Grady also works to keep his colors in line with MacNeil’s minimalist approach, with subtle textures and gradations that almost read as flat. So much of what the colorist’s work feels as if he’s going for as light of a touch as possible, like he’s retooling the less-is-more mentality of a cartoonist for his own craft.
At this point, I’m going to give everyone a spoiler warning. Hop on down to Adrian’s ‘Brink’ review if you want to be spared!
I think the biggest revelation this week had to have been that Texas City Chief Judge Oswin conspired with the Brits to abduct Judge Dredd. I mean, in hindsight it seems pretty obvious, right? But up until this point I was operating under the assumption that Oswin was taking advantage of a situation, as opposed to being the one who created a situation to exploit. There’s surely going to be some massive fallout from this. I said a while back that it felt as if writer Michael Carroll was leading us towards Mega-City One fighting a war on two fronts, as disputes with Brit-Cit and Texas City simultaneously reached their natural conclusion. I still think I’m right on that one, though I can’t say that I foresaw an international conspiracy being what would get us there.
In the face of global war, and in spite of her appearance in this week’s strip, not a word from Chief Judge Hershey. Just silence and an expressionless face every time she appears on panel. Through this whole run Carroll’s been working on, this has been the most intriguing part for me. Clearly there’s something big on the horizon for her, she can’t just be a mopey sad sack for the rest of her tenure. So what could it be? Is she going to rise to the occasion and reclaim her control over the city? Will she be the one Wagner teased about killing off? Either could make sense, really, but I don’t know that it’s a binary decision for her. Suppose she makes it through whatever’s to come without regaining what it was that drove her to the highest office in Mega-City One? Well, I’d say it’d be time for her to take The Long Walk then, wouldn’t you?Continued below
Brink, Part 12
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), INJ Culbard (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Adrian Johnson: Investigator Bridget Kurtis escapes members of the Leper Heart cult and finds herself hiding out in the bowels of the orbiting habitat with Bob and Anish; a business owner and a scientist respectively. This installment was a dense read with some of Abnett’s best scripting in the story to date. Kurtis discovers that the cults are rioting throughout the habitat; while Bob and Anish detail their plan to find a new world for humanity to inhabit before its destruction. I stated in my previous review last Prog that it’s amazing how smoothly Abnett has turned the plot from a police procedural to widening the scope in concern of the entire habitat itself. He has also made Kurtis a very compelling character in her own right with her questioning and debating the motives of Bob and Anish. the conversation between the three is engaging and moves the story along. Abnett has a knack for delivering exposition in a way that does not stop the plot in its tracks.
In addition, there’s a character from earlier in the story that makes an unexpected appearance. Though surprising, I was not thrown by the appearance and if anything, it actually made sense given the current state of affairs.
Culbard takes advantage of Abnett’s scripting to bring some great pacing with his storytelling. I was also particularly impressed with his body language and facial expressions on the characters here. It can be tough for some artists to handle a lengthy scene of conversation and exposition without resorting to just ‘talking heads’. Culbard takes to the task effortlessly in combination with his usual perfect colors and his staging of the figures within the confined space.
Black Shuck: Sins of the Father, Part 7
Credits: Leah Moore & John Reppion (script), Steve Yeowell (art), Chris Blythe (colors), Ellie de Ville (letters)
Greg Matiasevich: Not a whole lot of different plot points going on this week as opposed the last, so I’m throwing a spoiler warning tag up here so I can dig a little deeper than usual without giving everyone a head’s up first.
OK, how many readers actually think that Shuck is the Scuccur terrorizing the countryside? Moore & Reppion have shown the scenes of wolf attacks cutting to Shuck waking up a few times, but given the number of times we’ve seen similar cuts in film and comics used as a fake-out, can they every be used as anything but at this point? I will admit that the general lack of lycanthropes in medieval society makes the list of possible suspects relatively small, but I really don’t see the writers making it that easy. I’ll have to go back to earlier Progs and double-check this to be certain, but I feel very confident (and have for at least the past few weeks) that there’s another werebeast roaming around.
Is it the same one that bit Shuck earlier to infect him? I don’t think so (again, will have to double-check the first series to verify) and I don’t think it needs to be. If he was bitten and then taken from the land, what’s to stop someone also being bitten in Dunwich…and staying? My gut reaction says that it’s Coenwulf. I have zero inside info on that, but having the usurper king also carry the same mark and abilities as the protagonist makes him all that much more of an antagonist dramatically.
I guess this could all be a double-fakeout, where we think it’s really Coenwulf instead of Shuck but it turns out to actually be Shuck and that’s somehow worse, but sticking THAT kind of narrative and dramatic landing would be a real challenge. I think we’ll get our answer soon, as this doesn’t feel like a reveal left to the last episode of the series. Here’s hoping I’m right!
Future Shocks: Meat
Credits: Martin Feekins (script), Jon Davis-Hunt (art), Ellie de Ville (letters)
AJ: In a future galactic version of the Wild West, bounty hunter Cactus Thorn and his accomplice Buck seek to collect a reward on a outlaw rancher slaughtering their clients’ herd for illicit profit. I’m a fan of Westerns to a degree, so the plot off-the-bat had promise. Feekins tosses out a couple of good ideas in his script that would have been cool to perhaps explore further such as the manufacture and processing of the herd of ‘kine’ — which appear to be cloned sheep-like creatures. The ending twist seemed too tidy between Cactus Thorn and Buck. I doubt Thorn would have fallen for that if he were the experienced bounty hunter that the script expounds. Hunt’s art is pretty good with some great storytelling. His action scene with Thorn and Buck facing off with Muldoon and his goons was also good; with a touch of Geof Darrow by way of ‘Hard Boiled’ in one of the panels.Continued below
Scarlet Traces: Cold War, Part 2
Credits: Ian Edginton (script), D’Israeli (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
GM: Before we get into this week’s happenings, let me call your attention to something Tharg made available last week that you might have missed: a process post for the cover to Prog 1988 by artist D’Israeli!
I think it would come to the shock of exactly zero Earthlets that I am (and we here at Multiversity in general) are big fans of process pieces and looks into the creative process, be it writing or artwork. And any of them are worth your time to see how this women and men bring the things we enjoy to life. But with someone like D’Israeli, who uses such a multimedia approach for not only the execution of his art, but also the planning and preparation in the case of this cover, it really is an eye-opening and informative piece. One bit that particularly stuck with me was the testing of the starfield in the cover background; the fact that working digitally lets him quickly undo something taking the piece down the road better left untravelled has to be just as important to his work as an artist as what the computer does let him do. But I digress…
Last Prog’s new arrival might not be psychic, but he’s certainly got a whole lot else going for him. Engineered by the “Martians”, the captive above is better, stronger, and healthier than the people who put him in that cage. Healthier as in don’t-try-and-knock-me-out-with-the-common-cold-THIS-time kind of healthy. Which shouldn’t be an issue since he makes mention several times to the fact he has come in peace against a greater foe. But how trustworthy is he? He is a fan of “Coronation Street”, after all…
(Being an American, I’m not entirely sure if that last bit worked the way I wanted to or not, but I’m going with it anyway! UK readers can feel free to tell me how wrong I am at the address below.)
This week has Edginton laying a lot of groundwork for ‘Cold War’, and it has to be comforting to know that he can do that without worry of boring the reader because D’Israeli will sell whatever he wants sold. Which isn’t to say Edginton is just shoveling it out this week; he plays the newcomer against that British resolve to great effect. But it is a talking heads week this week. Thankfully, though, the conversations push the story forward a lot, leaving more room for explosions next week.
GM: At Multiver-City One, 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?
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 1989 is on sale today and available digitally worldwide on:
- The 2000 AD Newsstand app for iPad and iPhone,
- The 2000 AD app for Android devices,
- 2000ADonline.com in DRM-free PDF and CBZ formats.
They are available in print today from:
It is also available in print in North America next month from your local comic shop.
So as Tharg the Mighty himself would say, “Splundig vur thrigg!”