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: Live Evil Part 2
Credits: Ian Edginton(script), Dave Taylor(art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Lincoln: In ‘Live Evil’ part 2, the creators reveal little of the plot, but do show a lot about the women central to this Judge Dredd story. They created a solid impression of Judge Lola as a very apt person; she is smart, quick witted, capable, and in no need of anyone else to save her. She’s also dryly comic in a very British manner. Lamia opens the chapter as she armors herself to face the outside world and the mass of ghosts she knows await her. We get a glimpse of her origin as she shaves her head, saving us the need to Google her history and revealing a possibly dark turn coming in the future.
Speaking of dark, Dave Taylor makes use of shadows so deep that at points it takes careful attention to notice that his panels are no actually full on black. Those near black panels set a tone as Dredd arrives to get the Exorcist Judge, Lamia, and reinforces that sympathy for her as she is drug back into the light. The light in the world and in Taylor’s panels is what she fears, the scores and scores of the dead from the “Day of Chaos.” The dialogue, the sound effects, and Lamia’s actions to calm her discomfort all ramp up the feelings. Dredd’s dialogue does nothing to change his overall impression from last chapter.
‘Live Evil’ part 2 is a real visual treat. Taylor hits us with some lovely vistas in his widescreen panels, sure some have corpses in the foreground, but the images are no less stunning. This is the kind of comic that on a cursory flip through a floppy will visually grab you and make you buy it. Not to discount Annie Parkhouse’s lettering and sound effects that enhance the read or the script by Ian Edginton, but comics are first a visual medium.
Bad Company: Terrorists, Part 10
Credits: Peter Milligan (script), Rufus Dayglo (art), Dominic Regan (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
Tom Shapira: This is a fun one – the crazier this strip gets, the better it is. Last week’s “Schrodinger’s Dog” device seemed a bit unexplored, but in this chapter we get some great result with an enemy soldier who’s convinced that he can’t be killed because he came close death so many times but walked away scot free. The strip leaves it up in the air whether he is crazy or if there’s something to it.
The heart of this chapter is Danny’s place within the squad, even after all these years of warfare he’s still hesitant about killing in cold blood – which sets him apart from all the other hardened killers. Mac’s not dying might be seen as a cop-out, and there’s been too many cliff-hangers of someone being fatally shot only to end up perfectly fine, but his survival does give us the visually wild on-the-spot brain surgery scene which makes it all worthwhile. Besides, this story was never about whether our heroes will live or die, it’s about how far down their personal rabbit hole they’ll go and what they’ll find there.
Savage: The Thousand Year Stare Book 2 Part 10
Credits: Pat Mills(script) Patrick Goodard(art) Ellie De Ville (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: The time between strips can be a bit nebulous at times, which often allows for if not a tight narrative a tonally varied one. The latest entry in ‘The Thousand Year Stare’ picks up right where the prior one left off, even repurposing the final panels and bit of dialog from that last strip. The tight connection between these two strips is in the narratives favor, it gives this recent grouping of them a real sense of tension and chase as Savage and company escape from Howard Quartz. Much like A New Hope the action is in the boarding of the ship not so much taking off.Continued below
The closeness in this strip also means Pat Mills gets to take even more swings at unhinged Quartz as he emotionlessly blasts his way through the zombie like scientists. In this case Patrick Goodard gets to be more of an author in portraying the mustache twirling villainy of this robotic hound. Goodard use of perspective to juxtapose how clumsily outsized his robotic body is compared to the masses makes for some surprisingly effective moments of humor.
Writer and artist come together though for the strips best moment, “As a boy, I loved guns. Then as a man, I manufactured them. Now, I am one!” That dialog is spread across 3 panels with Goodard slowly showing Howard firing a missile from just about his mid-section, in all of it’s symbolic phallic glory. With the production of these things, no one could’ve intended to time this strip with the current iteration of America’s gun debate (although given the frequency of mass shootings it was bound to happen.) But if there isn’t a better encapsulation with one section of my countries sophomoric desire for guns, it’s those panels and the life story found in them.
This emphasis on Savage and Co. escaping also allows the strip to more effectively just drop the sky chase – which is a hard thing to map out – and setup an effective cliffhanger and next chapter to this strip.
Brass Sun: Engine Summer, Part 10
Credits: Ian Edginton (script), INJ Culbard (art), Ellie de Ville (letters)
Kent Falkenberg: Ian Edginton might stuff this week’s strip full of backstory and past tragedy, but INJ Culbard’s evocative choice of imagery makes sure we feel every gutpunch. ‘Engine Summer, Part 10’ reveals what went on between Wren and Septimus during the unseen years, and why he’s no longer around. But instead of feeling unnecessarily expository, the reveal feels much more like Wren finally having a chance to exhale, after holding a resigned breath for far too long.
There’s an elegiac sense to Culbard’s framing as Wren tells her story. Edginton tells us out about the infant she lost, while the art focuses on the cracked and weathered cog that acts as a grave marker, sitting half-submerged in a swamp. We see the freshly shorn locks of Septimus’s hair falling to his feet, as Wren recounts his inability to deal with the grief sending him in a retreat back to the faith of the Prime Numbers. A panel of proud new parents cradling a newborn are instantly juxtaposed with the moment they encounter the unthinkable. It’s heavy stuff, but never overly sentimental.
Edginton and Culbard both capture a resigned, matter-of-factness to how Wren speaks and carries herself in ‘Engine Summer, Part 10.’ It makes the story feel all the more tragic for how tired and unfeeling she’s become. It’s a bold character beat, with an ending that’s just waiting to shake the character to her core once more.
ABC Warriors: Fallout, Part Ten
Credits: Pat Mills(script), Clint Langley (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Rowan Grover: Pat Mills picks up the pace here right towards the endgame quicker than I’d thought. That’s definitely not a bad thing, however. Essentially we see more of Mongrol and the Blackblood possessed Volkong’s brawling and tormenting, until the rest of the Warriors trap Blackblood and close in on him. Mills gives Mongrol a good redeeming arc whilst battling the villain, justifying his actions and giving him a fair fight to punch the built up aggression out. The rest of the chapter, however, when the Warriors arrive, slows right down and seems to be built around executing a punchline. Sure, it’s funny and relevant when we hear Blackblood screaming accusations that the reveal of his evil actions was just ‘fake news’, but then the rest is a three-page sequence of him essentially grovelling for mercy with the Warriors not giving an inch. In a short, seven-pager, that’s a lot of real estate and makes the scene feel way too long.
Langley’s art here is super kinetic. The Mongrol/Volkong fight is still as high-octane as ever, with Langley channeling a bit of Kevin O’Neill and Simon Bisley when having the two smackdown on a one page spread with Volkong’s terrifying, tetanus-laced grin staring Mongrol down. Like last issue, we get some good profiling of the Warriors in the latter half too, with each character’s rage progressed into more of a satisfaction and devil-may-care look of dismissal. What I do love, however, is the contrast between the green hologram of Blackblood with the high-saturation oranges of the Warriors. The result is a vibrant, triumphant and actually quite clean palette, and blends well with the tone of the story.
Mills is taking Fallout in directions that feel like they should be predictable, yet they’re getting there in absurdly interesting ways. With the ending of this chapter, I’m left genuinely curious as to what will come next. Doesn’t hurt that Langley is delivering superb art as usual, either.