Welcome, Earthlets, to Multiver-City One, our “2000 AD” weekly review column! Every Wednesday we examine the latest offerings from Tharg and the droids over at Rebellion/2000 AD, the galaxy’s leading producers of Thrill-Power entertainment. Let’s get right to it!
Tharg’s 3rillers: Mechastopheles, Part 3
Credits: Gordon Rennie & Lawrence Rennie (script), Karl Richardson (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Rowan Grover: The Rennie brothers waste no time throwing you right into the midst of supernatural-tinged, Pacific Rim style action. The kaiju Vonitzia battles it out with Mechastopheles in a slow, lumbering brawl while the kaiju’s demon hordes seek to stop the people on the ground. The pacing is tense, but I feel there’s a few wasted opportunities with the titans battling – not a lot happens. There’s a three panel sequence in the middle of the story that has Mechastopheles approach the kaiju, tenderly rip off its arm, and then they both quite calmly inspect it. Regardless, the Rennie brothers introduce pilots of Mechastopheles at the end of the story, seeding it with potential for a sequel with fertile storytelling ground, which is great work on their part.
Thank god for Karl Richardson. The man has a blast here drawing crumbling buildings, falling debris, and flying demons with terrifying visages that sprout from the walls themselves. There’s a few good instances of using the environment to set tone, especially whenever the titans clash. The air fogs up with stylistic, Mignola-esque clouds, spreading tension as we prepare for these two giants to brawl. Similarly, whenever the demon horde close in on the humans, there’s a lot of religious iconography beaten down and broken in the background – something that says a lot about the titans’ fight, and the futility of praying in the midst of it.
This was an incredibly fun comic short story and I’ll be sad to see it go. Here’s to the guys behind it, and may you return with more about my favourite satanic mechanical homebody.
THIS WEEK IN 2000 AD
Judge Dredd: War Buds, Part 3
Credits: John Wagner (script), Dan Cornwell (art), Abigail Bulmer (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Matiasevich: Mice and men aren’t the only ones whose plans often go awry, as the Apocalypse Squad found out last week. Their mercy mission to rescue one of their own from the euthanasia order endorsed by their former squad leader (one Joseph Dredd) went pair-shaped when Morant decided one of the orderlies was a little too suspicious and gave him the butt-end of his rifle. Now these ex-Judges are trying to get to Texas City before Dredd and the Justice Department get wise to their scheme.
Wagner and Cornwell continue to ratchet up the tension this week. If the war buds don’t make it to freedom, their comrade Costa is looking at a literal death sentence . . . for the good of himself and society, of course. But what about the other three? And for those Judges who don’t turn to kidnapping (even justifiable kidnapping), what does the end of a Judicial career look like?
Although the Long Walk is one of the most dramatic possible ends to a street Judge’s career (other than being killed in action, obviously), there is the option to either be transferred to administration duty and push paper, teaching duty and mold new cadets, or simply retire to civilian life. If none of those options seem appealing, there is the choice of the Long Walk, where the retired Judge journeys out into the Cursed Earth to bring the Law to the lawless as basically a roaming vigilante for the rest of their days. Given that this choice means (in almost every case) exile from Mega-City One, choosing the Long Walk is seen as an honorable choice. So if you’re a Judge who finishes their career in good standing (and still standing), you can look forward to civilian life, a desk job, or serving the Law to your last breath.
But if you get caught breaking the Law, there’s only one end for you: Titan.
The penal colony on the largest of Jupiter’s moons is where convicted Judges are sent to serve their sentences; the idea being that housing that large a population with that particular skillset on Earth would be too great a risk. Adding insult to injury is the fact Titan convicts are surgically modified to survive Titan’s atmosphere, a process leaving the Judge noticably scarred. Doing time on Titan isn’t just hard time, it’s the hardest time you can do in the Dredd universe. Don’t believe me? Check out the aptly named ‘Titan’ arc by Rob Williams and Henry Flint to see why the ex-Apocalypse Squadders might have extra incentive to avoid being caught by Dredd and company. Also because it’s damn fine comic booking.
The Alienist: Inhuman Natures, Part 6
Credits: Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby (script), Eoin Coveney (art), Ellie de Ville (letters)
Alice W. Castle: This chapter of “The Alienist” finally gives us some insight to the nature of the Hollow Men, the dimension-hopping girl and the Sick-Changers following her and finally gives us some stakes to the story that’s been sorely lacking. While the mystery of the dead man in the field was quickly resolved, the story of portals and dimension destroying bugs that’s revealed itself was waning without proper context to the girl or Praetorius’s story.
This week’s chapter, then, is largely given over to exposition on what this story is actually about after all and while that may sound tedious, it does give Eoin Coveney a chance to stretch the artistic style of the story. The stark monochromatic inks and woodcut style linework has been fairly staunch in its rigidity of storytelling thus far, but with the introduction of Eldritch bedbugs from beyond time and space, Coveney has a chance to play with panel layouts.
It injects the story with a bit of weirdness, a bit of unconventionality that the artistic storytelling needed to match Rennie and Beeby’s off-kilter writing. However, this chapter also fell into the same trap as last week where it spends a good amount of time on the meat of the story, only to cram too much into the last page for a cliffhanger. Without any hint of foreshadowing, it is suddenly revealed that Vespertine had sent Reggie and the girl a psychic message who just as suddenly appear from off panel even though their scene beforehand felt entirely disconnected from what was going on with Vespertine and Praetorius.
I cant get what the intended effect of this last page was, but the execution just came off as clumsy in trying to fit it all in at the end.
Greysuit: Foul Play, Part 8
Credits: Pat Mills (script), John Higgins (art), Ellie de Ville (letters)
Ryan Perry: The narrative of this installment, like many of the last issues, is disjointed in parts. Unlike past issues though Pat Mills does pull these disparate parts into a cohesive narrative by the end. Mills dialogue throughout the book is genuinely hot and cold here. There’s a section that reads like his usual weird technology rants and conversely there’s a set of really engaging dialogue a page or two later. I’ll say the ending does not make much sense at all though. There’s a secret that we learn about that should affect the way we view the ending but it’s written like we don’t know that secret so it simply comes off as confusing.
John Higgins art here is pretty standard. Most of the issue is people simply talking and he pulls that off well enough. There isn’t any action to judge him on this week and based on his past track record maybe that’s for the best. Many of the characters do emote very well, and in this way the art really is telling as much story as the dialogue. Some character models are slightly off though which can take the reader out of the story. The color in this issue is another highlight. It sets the proper mood throughout the book and is properly subtle compared to the heavy-handedness of last week’s issue.
Hope: . . . For The Future, Part 10
Credits: Guy Adams (script), Jimmy Broxton (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Greg Lincoln: Private Eye Mallory Hope may not be a violent person, but everyone has a breaking point and the final panel of vice last week was apparently his. This week, Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton unleash both Hope and his occult shadow Cade against the armed muscle of The Whispers Gentlemen’s Club and its proprietor Fats. The scenes are handled without dialogue or sound effects, for the most part. The lack of words allows the art to fill your imagination with the appropriate background noises and makes Broxton’s storytelling skills all the more evident. His panels drew me into those pages and even lacking words I spent some time with them.
A couple surprising things happen this week. The silent presence of Cade is broken as the nun speaks one word, the ‘Yes’ presented in white lettering on black by Simon Bowland delivers a bit of chill. We also get a taste of Cade’s terrifying presence though the horrified look of a victim who saw her without the gas mask. After a couple rounds of killing and intimidating Mallory finally pieces together the clues leading him both mentally and by chance physically who made Joey disappear.
It’s that one panel that handles a lot of the storytelling weight for this week. Jimmy Broxton mixes the image of Mallory in the club with snippets inset one over another from previous chapters where the previous clues were dropped. That mixed with the voice over text from Simon Bowland reminding us of Fats’ words from last two week where Adams kind of gives us the full reveal. The look on Hope’s face reads a bit like horror and shock in that moment. It’s a good noir scene where the detective realizes he was thinking about the case all wrong and the motive he though to follow was the incorrect.
For me, the final page took a while to digest as I needed to go back to previous chapters. The clues were all there. Guy Adams, Jimmy Broxton, and Simon Bowland never lied to us as readers. That marks good mystery, where you can be fooled by the clues the first time but can see they were always there to right. It will be interesting to see where Hope takes the case from here.
That’s gonna do it for us this week! “2000 AD” Prog 2047 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!”