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 3
Credits: Ian Edginton(script), Dave Taylor(art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Lincoln: Exorcist Judge Lamia’s encounter with the now twice dead, and now very burnt corpse, Doctor Sophi Morell solved a lot, if not all, of the mysteries that the crash of the Hettie brought to the world of Judge Dredd. In the spirit realm, her encounter with Escher, a very non-terrestrial ghost, offered much more then just an explanation of the deaths of Morell and her crew. Ian Edginton and Dave Taylor add a new now dead alien civilization to the universe, as well as their version of “Superman’s” Phantom Zone to house it’s dangerous life-hungry criminals. In addition to that new threat, the arrival of Escher reveals that Lamia may someday not be paralyzed by the enormity of the needy ghosts that inhabit Mega-City One.
Taylor continues to deliver his lovely shadow heavy pages, but this week he shows that he is equally apt at bright and colorful scenes. Escher’s flashback for the Judges benefit is every bit as bright and colorful as Mega-City One is shadowy. In fact, those panels are filled with plenty of little character details that they are worth a couple extra glances during Escher’s history lesson. Another thing Taylor delivers this week is some actually pleasant expressions from Lamia while Dredd is being testy, including a very fun smirk at Dredd’s unknowing expense.
It’s not a perfect week though, as Part 3 of the story managed to release most all of the tension Edginton, Taylor and Annie Parkhouse built since in the beginning. Though the world is not out of danger by any means, the emotional core of the story, Lamia, has kind of had her characters stakes met and could possibly have a brighter future because of this story.
Savage: The Thousand Year Stare Book 2 Part 10
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.
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.Continued below
Brass Sun: Engine Summer, Part 11
Credits: Ian Edginton (script), INJ Culbard (art), Ellie de Ville (letters)
Kent Falkenberg: A weary confessional and a brief moment to rest her head against a friend’s shoulder are all the reprieve Wren gets, before the hellfires of conflict flare up to meet her once again. ‘Engine Summer, Part 11’ opens on a quiet scene bathed in the lush greens of a fertile sanctuary. But of course, it’s not to last. “Something’s coming. Can you smell it?” Wren’s confidant asks.
That tight-cropped panel is immediately followed up by a sprawling one. And INJ Culbard cuts through the dense foliage with three sets of sinister crimson eyes. “Metal.. Gear oil,” someone answers, before a cadre of Enginemen appear in full battle regalia
From then on, Ian Edginton scripts a hellacious clash. And it’s made all the more evocative by Culbard’s contrasting palettes – the cool, flowing greens of Wren’s adopted home and the searing amber and red of her assailants. With a giant tortoise and the native, tree-like wraiths, the Anaru, getting the opportunity to dispatch these interlopers, there is a distinct sense that “Engine Summer, Part 11” is setting a thematic juxtaposition between living in harmony with the natural world and the invasive scourge of the fires of industry.
But regardless of how you want to read it, Edginton and Culbard serve up a searing, action-packed installment of “Brass Sun.” These two creators have proven time and again they can build to particularly rousing climaxes – feels like they’re setting up once again for nothing less.
ABC Warriors: Fallout, Part Eleven
Credits: Pat Mills(script), Clint Langley (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Rowan Grover: And like the best of big-time villains in comic book history, Mills brings back Blackblood in a Final Form resurrection display to torment the Warriors one more time. What’s good here is that Mills is presenting a more dire take on Blackblood, one that isn’t just a cackling villain, but one that seeks to highlight the true nature of the robot population of Mars, and the irony of the ABC Warriors being peace-keeping soldiers. It’s the best villains that manage to give solid, somewhat valid reasoning behind their actions, and Mills makes Blackblood into someone to remember by doing so. Plus, we get to see the driving brains of the Mars Government acting as biting satire for modern social media consumption.
Langley has had plenty of opportunity to draw big, countless robot filled action scenes with bombast and grandeur the last few progs, and this chapter doesn’t disappoint. Having the mirroring scenes of the Warriors standing over Blackblood and the Marsokhods being possessed by Blackblood the following page makes for a great cinematic shot and gets to show off all of Langley’s digital painting skills. Be it the high-fidelity brushing of each bot’s armour, the super-realistic dancing of the flames or the beautiful, grieving palette of muted browns that fill the scene, Langley goes all out. I do love the contrast between the first part and the ending half: the humans of the Mars government in the ending half are eerily real and give a psuedo gothic feel when matched up against the more cartoony, even somewhat Tim Burton-esque robots.
Mills and Langley are in the midst of storytelling war, and the pacing doesn’t slow for a second here. If you like your comics pumped with content and action, don’t miss the “ABC Warriors”.
Bad Company: Terrorists, Part 11
Credits: Peter Milligan (script), Rufus Dayglo (art), Dominic Regan and Pippa Mather (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
Tom Shapira: We’re back to the random encounters plot, the de-facto state of this serial, as the squad runs into a group of monsters that kill people by reciting old poetry while new team member Voss gets to test out his theory that he’s death-proof. This plays both to the strengths of 2000AD storytelling, it’s a non-stop thrill ride that never rests, and its weaknesses, ideas pass by so fast they hardly have time to be properly developed.
This is the kind of story in which the art team should really get a chance to cut loose as the protagonists’ very sense of time and space is being distorted. While Rufus Dayglo and Dominic Regan give their typically strong showing, balancing out colorful fun with war grime, there’s no sense of something truly mind-blowing. I suspect that this is another pacing problem – this script is so dense we don’t get a proper chance to experience the impact and weirdness of this living psycho-weapon.Continued below
It’s hard to know whether the repetitive nature of one weird event after another is meant in a self-aware manner, one character even notes that that they just had a similar experience with the war zombies, and I suspect the eventual judgment of this serial will depend on how much the creative team are willing to grapple with the idea that Bad Company are basically stuck in a repeat because they have nothing better to do. The supposedly main point of the story, that the group are now terrorists, is brought up every once in a while but never really dug into. We never really get to see them interact with the public, or even get a solid view of the public’s idea of former state heroes gone rogue. It’s just more monsters and mayhem – which is fun but lacks certain depth.