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!
THIS WEEK IN 2000 AD
Judge Dredd: War Buds, Part 4
Credits: John Wagner (script), Dan Cornwell (art), Abigail Bulmer (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Matiasevich: Having cleared the last exit for Mega-City One, there’s nothing between the Apocalypse Squad and the finish line of their mercy run in Texas City except open road . . . and Judge Dredd! But will the man who recuited them to stop a war thirty years ago be the one to take them down, or offer a helping hand?
While this week doesn’t see a large amount of physical or plot ground covered, Wagner takes this installment to shed some light on Dredd’s reaction to the Apocalypse Squad’s mercy mutiny. Longtime readers will already have a good idea what part of Dredd’s history his memories would call back to, but for newer fans (and me as well) it was a bit of a treat to see our hard-assed protagonist in a situation none too dissimilar from Macdonald, Hamble, Kwan, and Morant. In these flashbacks, the part of Costa is played by former Chief Judge Magruder. Magruder was not only both the first female Chief Justice and the first to hold the office twice, but also one of the VERY few Judges to return from the Long Walk (with the other being Dredd himself).
It was that time bringing law to the lawless in the Cursed Earth that probably doomed Magruder. Before taking that final tour of duty, Magruder served with excellence, leading the Mega-City One resistence movement during the Apocalypse War and only resigning after taking personal responsibility for a scandal others felt she was not at fault for. But upon her return, her second stint as Chief Judge was marred with insecurity, paranoia, and faulty judgements, most likely caused by brain damage sustained during the Long Walk and the onset of Alzheimer’s. Her handling of the Mechanismo program (seen most recently back in the ‘Harvey’ story from Progs 2030-2034) started a chain of events that led to her near assassination and eventual resignation from the Council. Dredd could not bear to see his former commander undergo the compulsory euthanasia scheduled for her (the same fate Costa is being spared from), and took action. You’ll have to read this week’s Prog (or track down a copy of 1996’s Prog 1009), but I think you’ll find the similarities quite . . . interesting.
As a quick art mention, Cornwell and Bulmer continue to do a bang-up job this week. The past/present intercutting is on display again this week, and properly executed with the roman/italic font distinctions. Cornwell makes a nice visual callback to another iconic Dredd moment from a different story involving Judge Rico and a line of dialogue taken from a popular song of the day. Not sure if that image was also homaged in the Magruder story being referenced, but its use here is at least a nice nod on one level, if not two.
The Alienist: Inhuman Natures, Part 7
Credits: Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby (script), Eoin Coveney (art), Ellie de Ville (letters)
Alice W. Castle: The last few chapters of “The Alienist: Inhuman Natures” have been especially frustrating. While the potential of the series, both in terms of Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby’s writing as well as Eoin Coveney’s artwork, was established early on, the structure of the interim chapters have left a lot to be desired. All of the content in the chapters have been squashed to the first and last pages while the middle felt like so much fluff. This chapter, thankfully, turns that on its head for a much more balanced and engaging installment.
A massive improvement came in the form of having all of the pieces in once place. There wasn’t nearly as much jumping from location to location meaning there was no need for characters to suddenly appear as if from nowhere in the final page of the chapter. Things felt more levelled out, more confident in how the chapter was structured which allowed the story being told to flow more evenly. Harkening back to Vespertine’s origins and her first appearance on Earth, brings together Vespertine, Reggie and the mysterious “Little Bird” as they face off against Praetorius.Continued below
This allows Beeby, Rennie, and Coveney to bring all the pieces together in one place for a dynamic chapter that ends on a fairly surprising note that should set things up for the next chapter to continue in interesting fashion. This is definitely the chapter that these creators needed to pull together to get the story back on track and, thankfully, they’ve done it in grand fashion.
Hope: . . . For The Future, Part 11
Credits: Guy Adams (script), Jimmy Broxton (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Greg Lincoln: Last week, Mallory discovered who was behind the disappearance of Joey Fabrizzi and this week we get from the mouth of the perp the whys. Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton return to the more illustrated novel form of storytelling as Tommy Byrd tells the story of of why he did it and where Joey wound up. The surprising and chilling aspects of his tale is the mundane nature of his motivations and his crime in this noir occult fantasy Hollywood. Tommy used to be in the spotlight and lost it not because someone else – in this case, Joey Fabrizzi – was better or more talented, but simple because time had made Tommy just a bit too old for the role. He was tossed aside for the new shiny thing and though his actions are monstrous, his motivation is one you don’t have to suspend belief for. Mallory didn’t see it earlier because the motive of jealousy and hatred from essentially another child actor simple didn’t course to him. He could not see a kid motivated to kill.
Jimmy Broxton frames the pages in this chapter pretty creatively and moves from theme to theme across the progression of the story. Traditional comic panels richly illustrated, filled with realistic details and lit beautifully through partially shut blinds to open the chapter and set a real mood for Terry’s interrogation by Mallory. The next pages play in the story of Byrds displayed as images on film as the panel of the two page spread were bordered by film sprocket holes. The double-page spread shows flashes of his movie scene posters from his short career and moments of interrogation. The final two pages very much strike me as candid snapshots dropped on a dark background, showing the events leading up to Terry’s final moments with Joey, the murder and the disposal of the body. Mallory could never have saved the child, it was too late when he was hired. Joey was, as Fats said, beyond saving, truly gone.
All that is left now for Adams, Broxton, and Bowland to deliver is a resolution to this true to form noir tale. What does Mallory do with Tommy Byrd given his actions? In light of all the damage done around the case, nothing is really better then before. There are multiple ruined lives and bodies in the wake of the case and Hope is no closer to saving his family or anyone else.
Future Shocks: Terminal
Credits: Rory McConville (script), Tilen Javornik (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Rowan Grover: I get that Rory McConville is going for a real old style, cheesy sci-fi here with the setup and omniscient narration. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of over-telling like this in modern comics, but considering the context it’s trying to emulate, it does sort of work. However, there’s some moments that feel a little on the nose – ‘THE UNIVERSE HAD OTHER PLANS, UNFORTUNATELY’ specifically feels like a step too far, and the art could clearly convey that. This book is still a lot of fun, regardless. Tonally, it’s perfect – an unassuming, ordinary man on his deathbed manages to trick the conman in a final act of revenge, and McConville makes sure it’s satisfying, even considering the page length.
Tilen Javornik has a very classical looking sci-fi style that fits this prog perfectly. The protagonist, Edgar looks like the 40-pound weakling of that era, but clearly thrust into poor circumstances, and Grino is the encapsulation of umm-ing and ahh-ing ’50s scientists. The action on the second page is great too – feels like a vibrant, silent film with excellent prop work. I love how much we get visually from the Delkerites that conveys what Edgar later reveals about them, and how they are simply protective of their crop. To top it off, no “Future Shock” would be good without a perfect twist ending, and Javornik milks it to the utmost – Edgar’s visage twists into a sadistic, yet well-earned grin as his ‘doctor’ succumbs to the balloon disease that he once did.Continued below
McConville and Javornik deliver a fun, pulpy sci-fi tale in “Terminal”, that pays homage to classics of the genre while also showing how the genre excels in this medium too.
That’s gonna do it for us this week! “2000 AD” Prog 2048 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!”