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: Echoes Part 4
Credits: Michael Carroll(script), Colin MacNeil(art), Chris Blyth(Colors), Annie Parkhouse(letters)
Greg Lincoln: ‘Echoes’ is hitting at a very disturbing time as the tense world situation has brought the ever-present threat of a nuclear exchange between nations back as a regular worry again. Michael Carroll did an apt job of leaving questions about the ‘Apocalypse War’ up to readers to decide. The real punch of this week’s concluding chapter came with the reveal of the device keeping the spirits trapped and what that meant for Judge Salada. Though lightly hinted at across ‘Echoes,’ the truth about how Salada had changed was not something the reader could really have guessed at, even having seen M Night Shamalan movies. Her moment of realization was an effective story beat both dialogue through both the dialogue and the art.
Colin MacNeil as ever did a great job of with the storytelling choreography as Dredd and Salada meet back up and hunt down the source of the Apocalypse War. The moment of emotional impact came as Salada removed her visor; it humanizes that moment and reminds me why I don’t ever want to see Dredd without his helmet. Chris Blyth delivered some marvelous colors again, with the open backgrounds occasionally playing with oil-slick like swirls that created a otherworldly mood. All in all a solidly satisfying ending that leaves me questioning Dredd’s past choices as much as Salada had done weeks ago.
Bad Company: Terrorists, Part 4
Credits: Peter Milligan (script), Rufus Dayglo (art), Dominic Regan (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
Hon Lee: The installment is a distraction from the Bad Company’s journey in finding Crawley but all for good sense.The coloring is certainly a highlight, depicting all of the crazed frenzy of the action, in particular the amount of detail put on the new character as the centrepoint of the stripe. The usage of strong bright purples, red and turquoise link well with slick shading, bold outlines and colourful streaky backgrounds.
Much like a cosmic fever dream, this installment is all about the crazy action, yet the story remains in the background. It’s an issue spiraling out on an empirical journey on banter, struggles, and overtly whimsy conflict between the Bad Company; but I do hope they can somehow meander to a meaningful conclusion to the story.
Brass Sun: Engine Summer, Part 4
Credits: Ian Edginton (script), INJ Culbard (art), Ellie de Ville (letters)
Kent Falkenberg: The focal point of Ian Edginton and INJ Culbard’s ‘Engine Summer, Part 4’ is the societal collapse and panic that the Holy Reverend Mother’s mass murder has thrust upon the world. Wren, Septimus and Arthur face a difficult decision in the face of an ultimatum that threatens more of these heinous acts (and invites even worse ones from the panicked masses).
“You’re talking about saving lives tomorrow,” Wren says fatalistically to Septimus, as she broaches the topic of turning herself over – something he’s vehemently opposed to. “I want to save them today.”
Culbard punctuates the moment by capturing only half of Wren’s face in the accompanying panel. Septimus’s face is not even shown. There’s a feeling as though she’s turning away from her companion. And the cumulative effect is one that implies a growing rift between the two. It’s even reinforced a bit later on with Septimus completely turning his back on Wren and Arthur as he walks away from what he perceives to be their folly. It’s a timely choice by Edginton to break up his team in this way, as the overall goal of the Holy Reverend Mother’s tactic was to sew disloyalty.
As ‘Engine Summer, Part 4’ ticks and tocks, Edginton and Culbard ratchet the tension and raise the stakes. It may be moving at a measured, methodical pace. But that doesn’t make the story any less intriguing.Continued below
Savage: The Thousand Year Stare Book 2 Part 4
Credits: Pat Mills(script) Patrick Goodard(art) Ellie De Ville (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: Well, we finally learn what the titular Stare is, and it wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought it’d be some pun, and it would be a real long set of stairs. Nope just super duper psychotropics akin to Slo-Mo from Dredd. With that level of focus weapons developers are able to endlessly work on creation but at a steep price. There is perhaps something interesting to say out of that arrangement, but that’ll be left to future strips.
Overall this is perhaps the least interesting strip of the series. Not because I didn’t like the reveals, but because what goes on at the character level feels overdone. Another strip another ‘will-they-won’t-they’ trust each other routine, but without any of the presentation to mask that song and dance. Savage is unsure of who to trust, including himself. Voldina is being played a little to obviously in a direction that we’re meant not to trust her … which makes me actually trust her. These are all just routines we’ve had for the past several strips.
Goodard gets in a couple of good panels, such as one that represents Savage’s killer rage. There’s more background art that adds a real sense of place to the creepy hospital. He does a good job showing ineffective weaponry against the robotic Chuds. The art overall isn’t bad but nothing about it stands out compared to previous strips.
This reads as a very transitory strip, it’s setting things up for the next set. That dosen’t make it wholly entertaining on its own though.
ABC Warriors: Fallout, Part Four
Credits: Pat Mills(script), Clint Langley (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Rowan Grover: “ABC Warriors” changes pace and POV this chapter, stepping back and taking a look at the construction based city as a whole and the citizens within it. It’s a relieving break from the confusion of last chapter, with a much more linear sense of storytelling and focused idea to convey – Mekana is being taken over, and the ABC Warriors aren’t unified to save it. Mills goes in two directions that both work well for this chapter. One is worldbuilding: the opening pages give newer readers a sense of scope and place for the story by showing its setting on Mars and throwing a few interesting natives like Redwolves into the mix. The other is a hail to what Mills does best, and that’s good old fashioned satire. The only people around to save the days are the Amazons, and the Amazons seemingly control the advertising in the populace. So when they have to stop Steelhorn from telepathically broadcasting fear, they choose to flush it out with ‘Game-Show Level Dumb-Down’ being broadcast telepathically.
The art also is much more consistent in this chapter. I love that the first few pages actually focus on negative space to convey tension and fear, something Clint Langley is not typically one to use with his lush digital paintings. The grainy textures used are great for environment and tone, and do an especially good job at making the Redwolves look super sinister. The coloring here is bright again, but unlike last issue, actually seems to flow coherently due to the palette changing its primary color in loosely the same order as a color wheel, which is both a neat touch and makes for a smoother reading experience. And I can’t go without mentioning how good the final page splash is at highlighting Z in all his robotic magnificence.
I’m glad to say “ABC Warriors” is back on the horse, and Mills and Langley do a good job to remind everyone of their synergy. The sci-fi worldbuilding is huge, the plot is more coherent, and the threat is in clear view, so make sure you check this one out.