Welcome, citizens, to this week’s installment of Multiver-City One! Each and every Wednesday we will be examining the latest Prog from Tharg and the droids over at 2000 AD, and giving you all the pertinent information you’ll need headed into this week’s Thrill-Zine! We’ve got a new Prog this week, so let’s get right to it!
This week’s cover is by Glenn Fabry.
I. THIS WEEK IN PROG 1896
Judge Dredd: Cascade, Part 3
Last week a character tying three recent Michael Carroll-written stories together revealed himself: Gideon Dallas! But before we unpack that, let’s catch up a little with the space/time-traveling Indira Knight, who spent the last 87 Earth years traveling in deep space. Time moves differently in that situation, so to her, she’s only been gone about 12 months. But those 12 months changed the world she remembered to the one run by Mega-City Judges that we’ve come to know and love. The new world did offer her a role in it: a job in the Justice Department’s archive department. It seems the Justice Department is interested in mid-21st-century low-orbit installations, which just so happens to be something Knight knows a fair deal about.
But after experiencing Mega-City One’s dumbed-down media, she decided she’d best serve the city by declining the job with the Justice Department. It turns out a television network offered Knight her own show, giving her a platform to publicly speak out against what she sees as wrong with the brave new world she’s suddenly found herself a part of. And to the surprise of Dredd and company, it seems she’s not only not very fond of the Judges, she’s not afraid to speak her mind about it. Gideon Dallas caught one of those broadcasts and liked what he heard. If we cast our minds back, we’ll remember that Gideon has also condemned the Judges.
The above image is from Prog 1854. In the story ‘New Tricks’ (Progs 1850-1854), a Judge who had taken her Long Walk in the Under-City returned with news of the fabled Goblin King. This kicked off a fast-paced adventure with Judge Dredd leading a team of new recruits through the tangled, underground maze that was once New York City. This is where we first met Gideon Dallas who, at the time, was a slave to one of The Goblin King’s main goons. By double-crossing his masters, Dallas was able to deliver a rousing speech to his fellow slaves, actually convincing them they were all better off as slaves than under the boot of The Judges. He spoke of the oppressive nature of the Judicial System that only serves to instill fear in the people living on the lowest rungs of society. Having convinced them of the benefits to submitting to a life of servitude, Dallas now had the full support of his fellow slaves. It’s at this point he turned on The Goblin King and led a revolt playing to the benefit of the Judges.
This gift of gab will come in handy again for Dallas, but for now was enough to earn him both his freedom and heroic status in Mega-City One. As we’ve seen with Indira Knight, citizens of The Meg love building up new celebrities. Dallas is now on his way to a life of book deals and paid appearances. But as he’ll soon learn, there’s a downside to celebrity.
We next encountered Dallas at the opening of ‘Traumatown’ (Progs 1883-1887). His brief appearance kicks off this psychological tale, as Judge Dredd reports to an assault that has happened. The victim was Dallas, in the middle of a public appearance signing his new book. As far as I can tell, that’s where his involvement in the story ends, but I’ve got the sneaking suspicion there’s more than meets the eye here. Re-reading these stories makes me notice a pattern of public persuasion emerging around Dallas, and I’m really hesitant to believe that it’s all a coincidence.
This week’s strip introduces us to the new alliance Dallas and Knight seem to have formed. They’re announcing their intentions in a grand manner with a stadium full of people hanging on their every word. There are a few things to unpack here, and we’re getting into mildly spoilery territory, so be warned. Things end with a weird twist that we’ll get into next week, but for now let’s focus on this big Dallas/Knight coming-out party.Continued below
As we discussed, Dallas caught Knight on television and, liking what she had to say, contacted her and convinced her to ally with him. Dallas made a cryptic reference to a previous invitation to meet he had extended to Knight, which was declined. But now, he says, circumstances have changed. In going back over the strips so far, I can’t say I see a clear attempt Dallas made to contact Knight. If I’m missing anything let me know in the comments, but I think this is a little vague. Was it the celebrity stalker that crashed through Knight’s window and attacked her in Part 1? What circumstances have changed? Lots of curious questions here, but let’s backtrack a bit to talk about the coincidence I mentioned earlier.
It seems that every time we’ve encountered Dallas, some sort of large-scale public persuasion has never been far behind. In ‘New Tricks’ he convinced the slaves to follow him, despite their committing to a life of slavery. In ‘Traumatown’, horrific visions plagued an entire sector, causing mass chaos and confusion. Now in ‘Cascade’, Knight and an entire stadium of people are buying into Dallas’ talk of a new brand type of law. Granted, it seemed pretty cut-and-dried in ‘Traumatown’ that Dallas was merely a bystander and of no real significance to the story. But if his role is insignificant, why use him? Why not some parody of a modern-day celebrity? Why bring him back for a role of seemingly little consequence?
Another curious point here is the contradiction in Dallas’ words. Dallas spoke against the Judges and their oppressive nature back in ‘New Tricks’. He used the fear and distrust people feel towards Judges to build his support. Now in this week’s Prog, Dallas rallies for something bigger than Judges. He claimed that Judges are not to be feared. That they are ‘guiding and resolute’ and not oppressive. These words are the exact opposite of what he said back in the Under-City. Dallas is obviously a good public speaker who has the ability to manipulate people with his speech. But is it because he’s a wordsmith, or is it because of some type of Psi power? It’s entirely possible that Dallas is using more than just talk to rally support when he needs it. And if this is the case, then it could mean that his appearance in ‘Traumatown’ is much more important than it seemed at first.
And how about that reveal at the end? Gideon Dallas has pretty quickly gone from Under-City slave to global threat, and it’s going to be quite interesting to see where things go from here!
Credits: Michael Carroll (script), Paul Marshall (art), Gary Caldwell (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Brass Sun: Floating Worlds, Part 9
Killing her will be a WHAT?!!?!?!
The Sweet Sisters have been, as we’ve seen many times over the past 9 weeks, anything but. So the fact we see sky pirate and all-around badass Ariel O’Connor finally get to dish out some payback this Prog is satisfying, to say the least. Tricky balancing act that Edgington has to play up to this point: holding off enough for us to build up a powerful dislike for those … witches, while at the same time not waiting too long that we get so frustrated we ultimately don’t care.
And as you can see, revenge might be best served cold, but ladling out a steaming cupful every once in a while can certainly be satisfying. But a captain torching their own ship just to get back at an enemy? That’s some “Search For Spock”-level bird-flipping right there.
If that’s what happens…
Credits: Ian Edgington (script), INJ Culbard (art), Ellie de Ville (letters)
Aquila: Carnifex, Part 7
Hubris. If you’re looking for a silver lining in this strip, I think the closest thing you can grab on to is hubris.
Certainly it’s not that something is going to stop Nero in his plan to ascend to godhood. Between the weekly reminders of his tightening authoritative grip on Rome, to his accumulation of the heads of divine servants (through Aquila’s help or other means), there has barely been so much as a speed bump on his road to victory. Yes, Aquila himself might be gunning for Nero at this point, but I think it’s safe to say that the mad emperor has built up enough of a lead to be almost untouchable.Continued below
I think Rennie would agree with the ‘almost’ part of that. Because as civilized as things look, these characters are still pretty close to the laws of nature, and in nature, there’s always something larger than you on the food chain. Nero might be almost at the top of it, but his actions, particularly in the killing of the Wolf Mother of Rome, might have been too much for the city to take. And I’m not talking about the citizenry; based on a line or two from this week’s strip, I mean the actual city itself might be thinking enough is enough with this man-who-would-be-god. Hubris on this level, like aggression, cannot stand, man.
Luckily for us we’ve got Leigh Gallagher to draw whatever that eventual confrontation is because, as anyone reading this strip knows, he pulls not a single punch. It’s gonna be a smackdown of epic proportions, and I can’t wait.
Credits: Gordon Rennie (script), Leigh Gallagher (art), Dylan Teague (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Black Shuck, Part 6
Again we have parallel story movement in this week’s strip. Past Shuck finds himself and his companion-of-convenience facing off against Grendel’s mother, while Present Shuck gets his pick of the King’s treasures, both of gold and golden hair.
Moore & Reppion keep Shuck as a bit of a mystery to the reader. Every time I think I know what he’s going to do of how he’s going to react in a given situation, I get a new wrinkle added. He’s cool under fire but impulsive at times. Respectful of forces greater than him unless they get between him and what he wants. I know I like reading about him but I can’t quite get a bead on him. One probably enables the other in that regard.
Credits: Leah Moore & John Reppion (script), Steve Yeowell (art), Chris Blythe (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Jaegir: Circe, Part 4
Atalia Jaegir reacted to a situation without thinking and might paying a big price for her carelessness.
This week’s strip serves to explore Jaegir’s personal history, both as a child and as a solider on Nu-Earth. Readers are shown Jaegir’s first experience seeing a dead Souther as a little girl and another Rogue Trooper flashback from her days at war, all while her present-day reality looks more dire with every page turn. This whole story seems to have been building to the cliffhanger we’re left with.
It goes without saying that Coleby’s art is as fantastic as ever, but special attention should be called this week to Len O’Grady’s colors. He’s created four different palettes for this strip (present day interior, present day exterior, childhood sequence, and hallucination sequence), which helps readers understand where and when we are in the narrative in a completely unobtrusive way. Without O’Grady’s work, Coleby’s storytelling wouldn’t be nearly as clear or easy to follow. These two artists’ combined talent is a huge part of why I’m enjoying the story so much.
Credits: Gordon Rennie (script), Simon Coleby (art), Len O’Grady (colors), Ellie de Ville (letters)
II. ARTIST AUGUST: 2000 AD EDITION
Multiversity is currently running Artist August, a showcase of the graphics side of comics and the men & women who bring life to the writer’s words and their own ideas through pencil, ink, color, pixel, or any combination of those elements. I thought that was a fantastic idea and wanted to play along, so without further ado, let the showcasing begin!
Mick McMahon is the Super-Adaptoid if 2000 AD; he has three or four different identities of other artists at his disposal. But instead of copying other artists, McMahon usually ends up being the influencer and not the influenced.
One quick little bit of Dredd trivia is that neither co-creators of that character, John Wagner or Carlos Ezquerra, were involved in the first appearance of Judge Dredd. That first published story was written by Pat Mills and drawn by a young Mick McMahon.
Mick would go on to do a lot more Dredd, enough to warrant his own collection. In case you can’t tell, that Dredd cover is still McMahon, but done in his later period. More on that later.Continued below
Following his main Dredd run, McMahon then slid over to Slaine and absolutely cut loose once he was free of the science fiction restrictions of that earlier strip. His Slaine work is considered to be among the best in that characters nearly 30-year history.
That work was eventually followed by the miniseries “The Last American” for Epic Comics.
Like everyone else who’s picked up a pencil, McMahon got to scratch a little Bat itch:
As well as some Tank Girl:
And most recently, some Hellboy.
When I see McMahon’s work, I can spot glimpses of Cam Kennedy, Kevin O’Neill, Mike Mignola, Ian Gibson, Carlos Ezquerra, and others. But those influences those can be as much coming from McMahon and picked up by those other artists as the other way around. Mignola in particular cites McMahon’s work as an inspiration for the latter-half direction his art has taken, to a. Ore abstract rending style.
Check out more of McMahon’s work and see what other things YOU can find in it.
III. FUTURE PERP FILES
ATTN: ALL CITIZENS OF THE MEG! Be aware that there is always a Judge watching you. Each sector is equipped with millions of HD-CCTV and bioID units. They are there for your protection. If your intent is upright citizenry, then you have no qualm with our surveillance. And remember: if you see something, you are now an accessory to a crime. That’s six months in an Iso-Cube, creep! Random CPU algorithms has selected this citizen for immediate surveillance and assessment…
That’s gonna do it for us this week! 2000 AD Prog 1896 ison sale today and available from finer comic shops everywhere, from 2000ADonline.com, and via the 2000 AD Newsstand app for iPad and iPhone. So as Tharg the Mighty himself would say, “Splundig vur thrigg!”