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 Shroud Part 1
Credits: Michael Carroll(script), Paul Davidson(art), Chris Blyth(Colors), Annie Parkhouse(letters)
This new chapter of Joseph Dredd’s adventures in the Soviet sector, though interesting, was a bit jarring from the last strip. The transition from “Black Snow” to “Echoes” felt like a smooth, organic transition, though both artist and colorist changed. This new chapter didn’t pick up the story quite so easily. Michael Carroll demands a lot of these five pages, introducing Maul, the new heavy, dismissing/dispatching the scavenger Rybeck, and giving Dredd a new background cast of fellow slaves. The new players in Dredd’s life are an intriguing mixed bag, as they present him with potential allies and enemies. At the moment, they are a bit as one note as the alien looking slavemasters and Maul.
Paul Davidson designed a number of new characters for this story, and he’s given them enough individual details that you get a feel for them as people, beyond the exposition delivered as they arrived. Chris Blyth’s approach to Davidson’s finer and more realistic line-work is completely different from how he colored MacNeil’s thick inked animated figures, and shows his skill as a colirst. Blyth changed his approach to the backgrounds for “The Shroud” too, swapping out the richly colored skies for a shocking stark white.
Bad Company: Terrorists, Part 5
Credits: Peter Milligan (script), Rufus Dayglo (art), Dominic Regan (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
Hon Lee: As you can see, war is still hell with the members of the Bad Company, and their frequent backlashes with one another throughout most of this arc is a stark reminder. Peter Milligan is great at bringing these characters to life especially in the moments that reminds us of their detailed history, as well as their continued quest.
Their actions seems directionless and more of a continued mini-excursion to the next enemy like many of the previous stories. It’s all focused on about their emotional efforts to work together as band of a soldiers, rather than finding Crawley as Milligan is clearly pointing out here.
Rufus Dayglo’s art is as trippy as a technicolored raincoat in showering Skittle sweets, complimenting well with colorist Dominic Regan. This is especially so in the second page of the strip ofMac and Danny Franks with the emboldened, thick brushwork and contrasting colors. Yet, it does tone down ever slightly with the overall images appearing smaller, placed into segregated panels.
It does feel that this arc is in a transitional period between the next adventure. It all seems like psychedelic turmoil, with the only new concept of a protective authority in pursuit of stopping the chaos of Bad Company.
Brass Sun: Engine Summer, Part 5
Credits: Ian Edginton (script), INJ Culbard (art), Ellie de Ville (letters)
Kent Falkenberg: It’s always a treat whenever Ian Edginton pulls back the focus of his script enough to allow INJ Culbard a chance to draft at least a partial scale of the scope and breadth of the Orrery. Culbard’s sparse collection of sleek metal spars and luminescent bulbs never ceases to evoke a sense of wonder, but in opening ‘Engine Summer, Part 5’ with images of the clockwork universe itself it implies that none of these characters’ actions and revolutions around one another are truly independent. “Did you know that these spars use over ten thousand different kinds of nuts and bolts,” Septimus says, searching for a vent or hatch through which he can steal his way into the hall of the Holy Reverend Mother. “The collective term is a choir.”
It’s an apt definition, especially considering how Edginton and Culbard make this installment sing. Up until now, the pacing has been measured and methodical.But ‘Engine Summer, Part 5’ reaches something of a tipping point. Bors and Percival get a chance to do more than stand on the sides and look intimidating. And when Culbard lets these sentinels cut loose, his smooth line bears both a brutality and a grace conducive to their stature. The fluidity of the sequence is remarkable as every blow and resultant impact pushes the eye towards the next panel.Continued below
Edginton and Culbard have deliver a welcome shot adrenaline in ‘Engine Summer, Part 5’. Not every strip needs to be action-packed. But when it’s worked up to slowly over 4 installments, it’s just that much more impactful when it hits.
Savage: The Thousand Year Stare Book 2 Part 5
Credits: Pat Mills(script) Patrick Goodard(art) Ellie De Ville (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: Credit where credit is due, I didn’t expect them to actually go with a Voldina heel turn. For a strip and medium that is built on melodramatic cliff hangers this was, a quite effective use of that trope. Mills writing and Goodard’s art had done enough heavy lifting to get me to think she wasn’t really going to be a baddie. Whatever the term ‘baddie’ means now with this strip’s other reveals.
The reveal of the Illuminati err Complex as being the secret power structure that have used the Stare to perpetuate an endless war in the name of profit and control for both sides fits in the anarchic posturing of “2000 A.D..” It’ll be interesting to see where that goes philosophically with the strip going forward. I’ve never been one to buy nihilism as the end statement for media, but you never know.
The necessity of that reveal however is the strip is largely an info dump explaining how all of that works, and that isn’t all that bad. Goodard gets to stretch his muscles designing some crazy future tech, even if one of them is pretty much the Shagohod from Metal Gear Solid 3 and another is a Transformer. The reveal of Quartz in classic 50’s sci fi robot body is surprising considering the other sources this strip is pulling on. Goodard makes an effective pastiche of sci-fi styles that still feel unified within the aesthetic of the strip overall.
ABC Warriors: Fallout, Part Five
Credits: Pat Mills(script), Clint Langley (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Rowan Grover: The struggle between Warriors comes to a climax in this clear, well told chapter. Mills finally neatens the storylines down to one single showdown here, as if he was trimming the fat in previous chapters all along to make way for this event. And whoo boy, it’s a big deal. There’s not only physical struggles, but emotionally the two battle for the moral upper hand in a way that doesn’t feel cheesy thanks to the camaraderie built up in the series thus far. Although Steelhorn may look and talk like a big bad, Mills makes sure that underneath it all, he’s still a member of the team, and still cares for his makers. And sure, there’s a few cliches in Steelhorn only cooling off when it’s too late to stop the nukes from launching, but just the disparity of dialogue, the well-handled language and the way the script freely flows from action to debate just makes it seem original and knowing.
Clint Langley takes a big shot at this chapter, giving his already cinematic painterly style a booster shot of grandeur. From the opening shot of Z’s small stature facing off against the gigantic Steelhorn, we get a sense of how this chapter will pan out, and Langley delivers in big ways. Although the physical clashes are minimal, there’s still a sense of action through the way that Langley structures his panels, with the camera zooming in and out on dialogue scenes, and letting the few clashes pop with big, dynamic shots. Colourwise, there’s a much more polarised use of a primary palette, which really highlights which character considers themselves in the high ground. It works well at making the energy crackle and pop off the page, showing how impressive the Warriors themselves are.
“ABC Warriors” is finally stepping up its game with part five, with a clash of heroes, and a strong moral conflict between the two. The rich history of the series works well to support the narrative here without feeling alienating. Pat Mills and Clint Langley are bringing honour to the Warriors.