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: Echós Part 3
Credits: Michael Carroll (script), Colin MacNeil (art), Chris Blyth (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Lincoln: If there was any doubt that Dredd’s arrival somehow caused the current haunting presence, last week’s final panel, along with this week’s part, laid it to rest this week. The crater that was East-Meg-One is quite obviously haunted and the haunting is most certainly tied to Dredd himself. Where last week the chapter felt abrupt and a little disjointed, this week, with all its space dedicated to Dredd’s fight with the walking dead scavenger Rybak, is a lot of meat to this story. Judge Dredd’s arrival has woken something that the decades of scavengers, muties, and dying survivors never triggered. Carroll takes most of the strip to get to Salada’s encounter with the spirits and her vision that tells the ominous partial tale there are plenty of hints that we don’t know the full possibly horrible end that came to East-Meg-One. I will say that the last panels, though horrible, give that 2000AD moment of British pun that brings the odd gin to the face.
The twilight fight scene with Dredd that Colin MacNeil and Chris Blyth deliver is well juxtaposed with Salada’s encounter with the (at a loss for a better word to call them) ghosts of East-Meg-One. The desperate battle between the wounded Dredd and the risen scavenger has a cinematic choreographed and animated kind of staging to it. Judge Salada’s encounter with the spirits or demons given the color choices have a horror story overtone to her part of the story. In some ways the panels in this week’s chapter could have been frames taken from an animated film given the cool cartoonish take of Colin MacNeil’s character designs. It may not appeal to everyone but it works as a treat for me.
Brass Sun: Engine Summer, Part 3
Credits: Ian Edginton (script), INJ Culbard (art), Ellie de Ville (letters)
Kent Falkenberg: The polished sheen of INJ Culbard’s artwork provides the bright spot in a particularly dark installment of “Brass Sun” this week. Ian Edginton’s script continues to creep along with all the energy of the first few pawn movements in a particularly measured chess match. However, all this positioning finally gets punctuated with a horrific act that gives the strip a visceral impact that’s been missing so far.
“There are amongst you two who don’t belong,” the Holy Reverend Mother preaches to the multitude citizens of the Subside. Culbard glazes her face with a faux-benevolent sneer. But all the while, there are hints of the malice and sadism buried beneath the lines of her furrowed brow and the forced corners of a pompous smirk. “They are a disease. They carry with them the seeds of dissent that they would sew and spread to undermine our very way of life.”
Set against coloring that exudes sickly greens and jaundiced yellows, she’s instantly distasteful. And it’s testament to just how effortless both Culbard and Edginton are in their craft that she’s made so unlikeable so quickly. ‘Engine Summer, Part 3’ culminates in a wanton act of cruelty that demonstrates just how far she’ll go to ferret out the subversives. As an exercise in building up a devilish foe for this arc, the strip is a success.
Savage: The Thousand Year Stare Book 2, Part 3
Credits: Pat Mills (script) Patrick Goodard (art) Ellie De Ville (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: After a couple of strips of high action, ‘Savage’ takes a breather. Well, not really, a “breather” since it is again an exercise in tension. Unlike prior strips that relied upon action and the threat of violence, this one is atmospheric and spooky which sees Patrick Goodard flex their environmental skills to great effect. Savage and Voldina are in search of the alien superweapon in an abandoned hospital (an already creepy place), but it isn’t just any hospital, it’s Hitler’s Hospital! That little scene box “Hitler’s Hospital” feels like all I should have to write when describing the quality of this strip.Continued below
Goodard’s use of black and perspective within the hospital gives this strip that extra little bit of creep factor beyond our natural aversion to hospitals. Mills script has Savage and Voldina talking about the smells of the environment, and it’s supposed haunted history, which is effective enough. (Sadly, digital comics still lack smell-o-vision.) But the sense of mold that Savage talks about as being the “smell” of hospitals comes through in the moldy bespeckled blacks that line and seem to be overtaking the walls and building at large. Their slow over growth would erase several excellent graffiti pieces that Goodard placed on the walls that give the environment a real lived in quality, that it’s earned a twisted place in this culture.
Goodard’s work is largely defined by the balancing of harsh blacks on top of equally harsh whites. However, this trip provides some variety with the reveal of surveillance that is going on. Goodard is able to accurately represent the hazy low quality of surveillance cameras. It’s an effective reveal that reinforces some of the core horror ideas found in enviroments such as these.
This strip had all the elements that would make for a creepy tense journey through a dank dark place, but how it is presented is what makes those elements actually feel earned and not cheap.
ABC Warriors: Fallout, Part Three
Credits: Pat Mills(script), Clint Langley (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Rowan Grover: This chapter attempts to converge the already heavily laden plot points of the first two “Fallout” parts. Mostly this follows on from last week’s prog: Mongrol is still rampaging like the wonderful robot Hulk analogue he is, and now Hammerstein is attempting to stop him. It’s your typical appeal to reason kind of story, although what was genuinely surprising was that Mongrol didn’t listen to reason, and actually fell into his rampage. Mills decides to pan back in this chapter too, revealing the big bad that’s behind both this and the Tubal Caine/Deadlock fight in the first chapter: a telepathic vampire-esque dude named Doktor Grobari. It’s somewhat cliche but still fun to see how far the ABC Warriors have come that they are now at significant odds with each other.
I’m normally a big advocate for Clint Langley’s digital painting in this series but I’m a little torn on this chapter. There’s a lot of beautiful figure work in depicting the ABC Warriors themselves. You can almost see the tragedy in Mongrol’s face as he’s driven by a force outside of him to rampage, and each punch thrown in the fight feels akin to a huge Kirby style slugfest in a way that only the Warriors can represent. Right alongside it, the clash between Caine and Deadlock feels menacing in tone and huge in scale, with three of the panels depicting the two figures running towards each other for a meeting of arms. But the colors in this chapter are all over the place, making for a pretty jarring read. In the space of three pages, the color scheme will change from harshly contrasted red, to a candy-like green, and then attempt to convey a glaring blue-and-yellow color scheme that all look like they stemmed from a default MS Paint palette. It’s left me at odds with the great linework at self, and I’m still trying to process my feelings towards it overall.
If nothing else, this addition to the “ABC Warriors” mythos has some seriously fast pacing. I feel like so much has happened in these first three chapters that it’s almost a sensory overload. It can verge on over-the-top at times, but if that’s how you like your sci-fi stories, make sure you don’t miss this one.