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 2000AD
Judge Dredd: The Small House Part 5
Credits Rob Williams (script), Henry Flint (art), Chris Blythe (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Lincoln: ‘The Small House’ Part 5 shows the first shots in Dredd’s fight against Smiley his black ops judges. Williams’ alluding to the chess games in the opening scene between the Kazan clone and Dredd is a good analogy to the battle being waged between them. In these opening moves each of them takes pieces from the other. As promised last week Dredd’s little gang dispenses some justice upon the stealth judges. Their methods though effective may have tipped their hand and alerted Chief Judge Hershey that there is a little clandestine war going on in her city.
Henry Flint and Chris Blythe clicked well artistically in this week’s chapter. Their art in the opening panels humanized the crippled Kazan clone in that narrative montage. They made him much more then just a melodramatic villain. The feeling in his eyes amd his need for company made the final panels have a much stronger impact. This week could have benefited from more pages though. Their art in the action sequence was clear and well executed, but panels came off as a bit too choppy in their quick cuts of action. They told the story but didn’t really flow well. We get no real sense of tension in those scenes beyond the narration and it’s very unclear why Giant had his back to the stealth judges. Despite Giant’s downplaying the would the through and through shot in the shoulder we see in the panel appears pretty severe. Its a sour note as out of the Judges there Williams chooses the person of color to the one to take the hit.
Brink: High Society Part 5
Credits Dan Abnett (scrip) Inj Culbard (art) Simon Bowland (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: Part five the ‘High Society’ is the first one the feels like it takes a slight misstep considering how well Culbard has been treating things. I’ve written about how Culbard has used panels to emphasize space or the lack thereof. Emphasizing the scale of space would be real handy as Sinta and meets her contact, Shirley, and they discover the store houses of the rich and powerful. These spaces are just plain old warehouses, but in a setting like ‘High Society’ it is the space that could house a 1000 people instead. At least that’s what Sinta says the space could be used for. Culbard walks them through the where house in a series of not quite 9 panel grids. While the use of perspective in one panel helps to show how high the ceiling is, the overall visual effect is minimal. There isn’t anything wrong with Abnett having Sinta comment on how large the space is, and there is enough knickknacks shown that you get an idea, but it lacks visual impact.
Culbard continuing to use the palette he setup in the previous strip helps give everything a nice sense of continuity. Something about how they mix maroons and purples with a few legitimate bright neon spots, gives everything a proper dirty cyber punk feel. Normally this strip has that pristine Star Trek futurism. He also adds some effective texturing in the background so everything isn’t totally plain solid color. Artistically he side steps some of the element he had been playing at but there is still solid craftsmanship on display.
Abnett writes a solid script here, as Sinta and Shirley work their way to the warehouse and vault. Their chat gets to be dry flirty and joking in a way this strip hasn’t gotten to be. His script certainly helps to sell the inhumane arrangement that has been made in ‘High Society.’ Their conversation and commentary is a nice change of pace compared to the tense spooks talk that normally occurs in these pages.Continued below
Fiends of the Eastern Front 1812: Part 5
Credits: Ian Edington (script), Dave Taylor (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters).
Tom Shapira: I asked for a fight a scene and I got a fight scene. And a pretty decent one as well, can’t complain too much – heads and bodies being torn to pieces is exactly the kind of thing you hope tyo see in a vampires-during-wartime story. It’s all up to Dave Taylor who gives us some magnificent scenery, seeing Baba Yaga’s army slowly approaching in shadow from the deep dark woods is soul shivering, some parts of this chapter would make fine cover for a death metal album (surely, the highest of compliments).
In terms of writing we are in well-trodden territory; the ‘shocking’ conclusion is rather obvious, as well as any implications it will have for the rest of the serial (unless I am gravely, no pun intended, mistaken). The only surprising thing is how swiftly Constanta rejects the offer for salvation (of a sort), which is down to some pop psychology of soldiers during war time, it’s not so much that is a bad idea as it is something that wasn’t truly brought up before.
Still, despite having been here before a dozen times or more I find it very hard to complain – this strip simply ticks all the right boxes for me, fun for the whole family (assuming they enjoy artistically rendered slaughter).
Skip Tracer: Legion, Part Five
Credits: James Peaty (script) Colin MacNeil (art), Dylan Teague (Colors) Ellie De Ville (letters)
Rowan Grover: Nolan finally confronts his brother and his memories in part five of “Skip Tracer: Legion”. The opening page does a great job at giving you subtle details of Nolan and Kennan’s relationship. I love that Peaty opts to step away from over narrating these moments, rather showing them to the reader as bubbles with visual aids, much how we remember significant moments in retrospect. Peaty also doesn’t treat these brothers as having a friendly relationship. In their exchange during one of the memories, Nolan brings up how he broke three of Kennan’s ribs (somehow) before running away and never seeing him again for some time. It’s clever how uncompromising this relationship, yet Peaty keeps the undercurrent of loyalty evident just from the fact that Nolan is here helping his brother.
MacNeil presents a great splash page of Nolan and Kennan’s memories on the first page. There’s a great sense of motion, as Nolan is framed and tilted in the top left corner, with the bubbles shooting forward and down the page around him. MacNeil also goes heavy on the shading in the post-funeral memory, especially on Kennan’s face. Not only does this lend a sense of gravitas to what he’s saying, but also shows that the memory is not totally remembered, as the dialogue shows in the next page. Teague mostly sticks to an off-emerald green palette here, getting to play a little less than in previous issues. There’s an everpresent luminescence to the coloring, however, that makes it feel like it’s in an ethereal setting.
Peaty leans in for a more intimate chapter of “Skip Tracer” here. The art is tone-fitting, and structured really well, and although the coloring is fairly one note, it conveys the setting superbly.
Kingdom: Alpha and Omega, Part 5
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Richard Elson (art), Abigail Bulmer (colours), Ellie de Ville (letters)
Kent Falkenberg: The rhythm of alternating one explosive chapter with a more ruminative one continues this week. Dan Abnett and Richard Elson might free Gene from the binds he’s been kept in over the past couple of weeks. But that freedom really only extends to whether or not he’ll freely accept a symbiotic relationship with a parasitic tick. So win some, lose some.
Where ‘Alpha and Omega, Part 5’ really wins though is in picking up on the idea of evolution versus genetic manipulation and those of freedom versus codependency versus servitude. As usual, Abnett is able to integrate these concepts seamlessly into the script, so that it’s never overly verbose. And it’s a testament to his skill in this regard that a concept like hyper-evolution – which could easily come across as silly – fits naturally into the context of the story.
Richard Elson continues to show his strength at painting emotion across the faces of his characters. This week, he relies quite a bit on tight closeups of Gene and the other Aux. And the fact he’s able to convey more complex expression behind grimaces and gritted teeth makes the tension this week simmer all the more.
As ‘Alpha and Omega, Part 5’ closes, Abnett and Elson force Gene to make a decision. After being bound for so long, we can all be assured, that no matter which side he lands on, some heads are going to start rolling on the other.