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 3”
Credits: Michael Carroll(script), Paul Davidson(art), Chris Blythe(Colors), Annie Parkhouse(letters)
Greg Lincoln: Even though ‘The Shroud’ is still coming off a bit flat and may be only serve to get us out of the Soviet story arc back to Mega City One, it does have some pretty good moments. Most of those are driven by one or more of the artistic team working in tandem with the dialogue. Paul Davidson sells a lot of the interactions between the Sov criminal Shirokov and Dredd with his command of facial expressions and his use of detailed close-ups. His panels are the reason that the antagonistic bromance between the two plays pretty well coming out of this week. Annie Parkhouse worked well with the dialogue she had and added gravity of to one of Dredd’s lines with some clever balloon placement. At least several days passed during this weeks montage of scenes and that was really driven home by the great background colors Chris Blythe brought to the strip again.
The only things really lacking was a real sense of manage from Maul, Karas and the rest of the slavers. From the opening panel Maul is present but in some ways he seems a fixture of the place feather then an actor in the story. Michael Carroll spent several panels building up how tough Maul but even as Dredd’s plan starts to be put into action towards the end of this chapter there is a lack of real tension. The villains are there in the scene but only just as he’s created little interest or investment in them. The same goes for Nuala who we get to see Dredd show compassion for in one panel but who for the most part st this pint seems set dressing. It’s a pretty chapter to look at is it’s lacking in a complete feeling of depth.
Bad Company: Terrorists, Part 7
Credits: Peter Milligan (script), Rufus Dayglo (art), Dominic Regan (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
Tom Shapira: it’s another action extravaganza chapter as Bad company take on, once more, the forces of the government. After the colorful combat with the psychedelic veterans and the Ghost Division this gives the art team little less room to make things interesting, as the enemies are normal guys in your standard futuristic suites of power armor. Still, Rufus Dayglo and Dominic Regan make the best of the script, particularly with a nice shot of Danny Franks getting a grenade right in his face. Storywise there’s not much to it, another distracting rumble from the main quest, but more and more it becomes clear that “Terrorists” is exactly about that sense of directionless – about people who try and grasp at straws to make some meaning of life that never had any.
Of course that’s not the kind of thing one can pull off for a long time, and after five straight chapters of jumping from one random fight scene to another the creative team should start aiming for a sense of resolution; for reader if not for the characters.
Savage: The Thousand Year Stare Book 2 Part 7
Credits: Pat Mills(script) Patrick Goodard(art) Ellie De Ville (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: And the strip continues in an interesting place, our hero defeated … or is he? Bad guy monologues are a bit rote but as this one goes it works. Mills didn’t over write, it had the right mixture of bad guy zingers and refrains about the larger philosophical reasoning behind their actions. Goodard makes an interesting choice keeping a mostly realist space when picturing Savage and Quartz in a space, this is a marked shift from prior Quartz monologues that show and tell at the same time. Also, of interest in this space is the use of shadows to make implied panels separating the two from one another, fitting given the state of Savage. It creates a pattern by having Savage always shoved to the left in a docile position. Until suddenly he’s not on the left of the page, but the right, and got a mad look in his eye claiming he’s been lying this whole time. That formal tic sells the sudden shift and craziness that ensues.Continued below
Now, there is the possibility that ‘Savage’ has taken a turn towards ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’ a short story by Ambrose Bierce. With his daring escape, it presents a fantasy dream narrative where might and will can overcome evil. In contrast to ‘Creek Bridge’ and other stories like it, this isn’t first person narration although it is from the perspective of Quartz which makes it seem like this is reality. This would also be the latest turn of Voldana, creating yet another twist in the tangled web of deceit and truth Mills and Goodard have spun. The tangled web of twists could easily have come off as tiresome by this point, or the above wouldn’t be a possibility, if the creative team hadn’t done a good enough job building in those dramatic twists (and earning most of them). But since they have, everything has an air of unpredictability to it.
Brass Sun: Engine Summer, Part 5
Credits: Ian Edginton (script), INJ Culbard (art), Ellie de Ville (letters)
Kent Falkenberg: Well, it’s been back-to-back-to-back outstanding strips from Ian Edginton and INJ Culbard. Proving themselves to be masterful at pacing over the course of multiple strips, they deliver an explosive climax to a fight that’s been doled out over three weeks. If the first of those could be classified as the face-off and the next as the fray, then ‘Engine Summer, Part 5’ is most definitely the fallout.
“I am an ancient echo of the consciousness of the blind watchmaker. The ghost in the machine,” Arthur announces as he drives a staff through his brother’s breastplate. But as Arthur makes this pronouncement, Culbard frames him so that a crack shows running down the side of his face. It’s almost as if a single blue tear is breaking through the golden facade, as Edginton’s dialog illuminates just how deeply Arthur has accepted his role as the key cog in the great machine and just how much weight that responsibility carries. “I am the prodigal sun.”
Meanwhile, Septimus helps a gravely injured Wren back to safety. Culbard squeezes them together in many panels. Of course, this is partly due to the cramped confines of the bulkheads they move through and the escape pod they finally end up in. But in keeping their faces so tightly drawn to one another, it reintroduces an intimacy between the two that was broken when their paths diverged several weeks ago.
‘Engine Summer, Part 5’ keeps building to an explosive close. Culbrad’s art is as pristine as ever. After a smoldering start to this arc, Edginton’s script has hit an ignition point that should light up the entire clockwork.
ABC Warriors: Fallout, Part Seven
Credits: Pat Mills(script), Clint Langley (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Rowan Grover: Mills brings the interlude to a satisfying denouement scene in this latest part of “ABC Warriors”. This chapter’s tone is definitely lighter than usual, and gives us a chance to poke fun at the maniacal, monologuing classical villains of the world. Blackblood, Volkhan, Mek-Quake, everyone gets their chance to sit upon the ‘Throne of Guns’ and explain their importance to the fall of the city and the Warriors themselves. Though ultimately nothing happens here action-wise, it is certainly interesting to see how each villain connects themselves to one of the loose plot points that have occurred so far in ‘Fallout’. It does a good job at finally giving meaning to the whole story thus far, though I feel that this could’ve been done in a less satirical manner.
Langley gets a solid turn at rendering all the baddies he possibly can here looking their baddest. The best part about this is that at the start of each character’s monologue, Langley has them sitting in a Big Brother-esque position atop the Throne of Guns, all looking both sinister and serene. It works well as a character facial study, working best with Volkhan who has the most human looking face. However, Langley still impressively manages to pull a range of emotions from even the most robotic and static characters, like Mek-Quake, using his limited facial range of an already-frowning eyeline to dramatically convey pride, anger, and even regret. The only other standout here is how vivid and powerful Langley’s red color palette is. Langley seems to saturate the screen with red when the tension and anger is super palpable, like in some of Volkhan’s scenes, showing his versatility with even a limited palette.Continued below
This may not be the most substantial of chapters, but Mills and Langley do serve to connect the story dots pretty well here. There’s a lot of poking-fun and some serious dramatics to entertain the reader, but unfortunately I have to say this feels somewhat unnecessary and could’ve been worked into action or a face-off scene with the hero. If you don’t mind a bit of light relief mid-longform, however, this chapter is most definitely for you.