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 – Black Snow, Part 6
Credits: Michael Carroll (script), PJ Holden (art), Quinton Winter (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Alice W. Castle: So we come, at last, to the final chapter of “Black Snow.” This is a weird one because, despite having six weeks to set up a finale, this chapter felt a little rushed. Not only did Dredd’s method of bringing down the insurgents feel like it was made up on the spot, the writing seemed to pivot away from them as if they weren’t all that important after all. They’re dispatched the same as any creeps, with whatever it is they even wanted by the end of it paid no mind to, and instead the writing focuses on the interplay between Dredd and the East-Meg Two Judge and the revelation that she was courted there away from Mega City One.
It’s a bit of a weird pivot because, outside of one or two mentions at her having a hint of a Mega City One accent underneath, this doesn’t feel adequately set up as the emotional payoff for the story. The opening chapters spent so much time on these rebels and insurgents taking over the mining facility that the East-Meg Two Justice Society was played like a comedy sketch. To have them then take the centre stage in this final chapter doesn’t just feel unearned, but I can’t seem to find the point of it all.
What’s more disappointing is how good this story had been up to this point. I will continue to gush over PJ Holden and Quinton Winter’s artwork (even if this chapter doesn’t have Dredd surfing down molten meteorite ore on a dog), but it’s undercut by such a weak ending. With the promise of “White Heat” starting next week, I can only hope it builds on this in a more satisfying way.
Slaine – The Brutannia Chronicles: Archon, Part Eleven
Credits: Pat Mills(script), Simon Davis (art), Ellie De Ville (letters)
Rowan Grover: Part Eleven is interestingly quite unlike any before it in the current “Slaine” story. What Mills gives us here is essentially an ethical battle between two god figures, at its core representing Nature vs. Man. Slaine brings the Earth Goddess to fight Yaldabaoth’s stone and industrial army, as both have at each other with reasons why they are more suitable and fit to rule Earth. It’s quite interesting as it’s more of a philosophical battle rather than that straight up butchery that usually occurs in “Slaine” – and to be honest, it’s pretty refreshing. Of course, Pat Mills makes sure you get some of that classic savagery when he caps off the chapter – with Slaine sending a crude slander to Empreror Brutus via multi-person messenger. It’s perfectly in character and feels like a good capstone to this chapter of the story, all the while setting up conflicts to come and worldbuilding like crazy.
Davis finishes up here with a very balanced display of work. Bursting onto the first page, Davis breaks out from the usual stoic anatomy work, rendering the Earth Goddess via Sinead’s body being possessed by flowing, flowery flora and vegetation. We see this almost psychedelic display combat the stiff, angular stone army of Yaldabaoth, and it creates a great artistic contrast that is visually a conflict within itself. For the last part of the story, however, Davis appropriately strips the content back. We get a depiction of Slaine and Sinead parting ways like old friends, and the emperor’s messages passing on Slaine’s message via proud calls over great stretches of land. It’s almost hilarious how Davis renders each messenger so proudly and dramatically calling across the land, yet immediately places you within the distinct and interesting world of “Slaine”. It’s these little aesthetic details that Davis includes that really bring the piece together.Continued below
Overall, Mills and Davis land on their feet concluding the current “Slaine” arc. While not every plot thread was tied, it felt like a good capstone whilst hailing in a new status quo for our protagonist and for bigger, better things to come. The creative team show no signs of slowing down for our boy Slaine, and I couldn’t be happier.
Tharg’s 3Rillers Presents: The House Of Gilded Park, Part 3
Credits: Eddie Robson(script), Steven Austin(art), Gary Caldwell(Colors), Annie Parkhouse(letters)
Greg Lincoln: The end of “The House of Gilded Park” certainly delivered the “Tales from the Crypt”, Twilight Zone or Black Mirror kind of messed-up twist ending I was expecting. The twist ending here was kind of satisfying but like some looks at humanity and it’s foibles this smack real hard of capitalistic cynicism and is, when I think of it, a real hard ending to take. Tris’s crew didn’t fail they just had a false assumption as to what the Gilded House was hiding. Dorota’s mother, the matriarch of the family turns out to be a cold and calculating capitalist woman willing to put her daughter through the hell of the hybrid pregnancy and to make a living goldmine out of her grand-child such as it is. The fact that Tris’s group tried to rob them using Sir Aranchet to enter the secret home and became a part of the story was largely immaterial. It was shocking and kind of off-putting to me.
Steven Austin and Gary Caldwell created a real mood with this final chapter. They establish as the crew try to escape that the sun is setting. The following pages are cast in differing shadows, there is a fight scene all in violets and reds, the delivery of the half-golem is in purples and pinks and the final chilling scene of the matriarch is all in oh so appropriate cold blues. Austin also revealed something left unsaid in all the creepy dialogue, the actions and expressions on Aranchet’s face conveyed concern so perhaps at least he cared about Dorota where her mother only saw her as a means to riches. Even if that is true it’s little comfort in this cynical story…one I really wish had ended better fo so many of the characters.
Absalom: Terminal Diagnosis – Book One Part Eight
Credits: Gordon Rennie (script) Tiernen Trevallion (art) Ellie De Ville (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: I don’t think Harry Absalom would be the type to reference Downtown Abbey, maybe The Avengers, but using it to name the stooge guarding the door to the council’s home aka the Winter Palace, encapsulates the anarchic, gleeful, disdain towards the upper-class Gordon Rennie and Tiernen Trevallion put in this strip as Book One comes to an end. This is Harry’s resignation letter.
That sense of anarchy runs through Trevallion’s page design as nothing is square, panels are off kilter and interfere with one another as everything goes up (down?) in flames. What would be a nice grid layout showing Harry’s gang ransacking the place is made all the better by the jagged fissure running through the center of the page. Everything is in some state of being smashed. People are flying through windows. The amount of action makes this a quick, but well-constructed, strip to read.
The final pages should read a lot better in physical form. Trevallion stages each page as the mirror opposite of one another. Harry address his troops surrounded by blank space wondering who wants to go all Guns of Navarone on some demons (a reference that makes sense in the twisted nationalism of “Absalom.”) Meanwhile the opposite holds true for his demonic enemies who are jammed together in positively ghoulish space. It’s a potent finale to this segment of the story.