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 World According To Chimpsky
Credits: Kenneth Niemand (script), P.J. Holden (art), John Charles (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Rowan Grover: Kenneth Niemand supplies us with the best kind of “Judge Dredd” filler story here. The narrative focuses on the criminally lesser known Noam Chimpsky, and… that’s really it. We get a day in the life of Chimpsky swinging around Mega City-One, commenting on the status of Synthi-Pecan Nuts, the news, and getting pulled up by Judge Dredd himself. This is the meat of the story, and while it is entertaining, it doesn’t quite feel substantial enough that it should hold such important real estate. We get some witty interpretation of Dredd’s language and general sayings from Chimpsky, and some mild stakes when our protagonist reveals he could actually be in trouble thanks to his journal, but they’re quickly dismissed. This is definitely a filler issue, and there’s little substance to grab on to, but Niemand still manages to make it entertaining due to centering the POV on Chimpsky.
P.J. Holden is one of the big guns of 2000AD, and I’m super glad he drew this story, no matter how insignificant it may feel. Holden’s Chimpsky has something of a breezy, Mike Mignola energy to him, as he bounds from surface to surface, limbs flailing around with minimal effort. The characterization of Dredd too is great, visually warping from panel to panel as his mood and questioning changes. His helmet goes from more heavily diagonal to square-like again, and his muscular frame seems to ripple with toning. What I really appreciate, however, is Holden’s snarky comments on billboards in the backgrounds here. Including, but not limited to: “WE WILL LIE TO SEEL YOU ANYTHING” and “YOU LIVE IN A FASCIST CITY”. John Charles supplies crisp, simple cel-shaded colors, which contrast and pop well against Holden’s inks, especially in the panel of Chimpsky leaping with glee from his vantage point.
“The World According To Chimpsky” is really what the title tells you – a day in the life of Noam Chimpsky frolicking around Mega City-One. Niemand supplies a decidedly hollow but entertaining story, while Holden keeps us steady with effortless, kinetic art with clever detailing.
Scarlet Traces: Home Front Part 5
Credits Ian Edginton(scrip) D’Israel (art) Ellie De Ville (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: After a brief break, “Scarlet Traces” picks up right where it left off with Grandma and her Minder on the run from rampaging Martians. We’ve had several strips worth of breathless, horrifying, action but Edginton and D’Israel slow things down as the old woman comes through and finds the secret bolthole that was the cliffhanger of the previous strip. Once inside things calm down for a second and D’Israel gets to show some of that character acting from the first strip that adds a real sense of humanity to all the ruckus.
Once inside, the Minder begins to gruffly wonder why they (the Government) never knew about this secret hidey hole – technically it is a civil defense bolthole. Which launches into a conversation about the Government and how they cover up some of the less heroic or costlier aspects of the first war with Mars. Previous strips have been dominated shades of a single, primarily red and green. As we enter into a morally and ethically grey area, D’Israel runs everything through with shades of grey after an initial shock of green light. As it turns out our Minder has his own experience with he lost men of the first war, his father was among them.
What D’Israel does so well with this sequence is how he creates movement in this tight space. The bolt hole is a tight space, but there is some room for movement so he emphasizes Grandma moving around in the background looking over the old nick nacks, as they talk it over. As the Minder tells his story, she is placing an old dog collar on a photo and it’s this quite little moment that plays out in the background.Continued below
Things are rough out there on the surface but this strip is a nice moment to catch your breath before trying to figure out what comes next.
Max Normal: How the Max Got His Stripes, Part 7
Credits: Guy Adams (script), Dan Cornwall (art), Jim Boswell (colours), Simon Bowland (letters)
Kent Falkenberg: Guy Adams and Dan Cornwall finally round the corner on Max’s past in ‘How the Max Got His Stripes, Part 7.’ And while their work ties up this chapter of Max Normal’s backstory into a suavely taut Windsor knot, it ultimately feels a bit lacking overall.
As we all expected to happen, Max gets the upper hand on Mo Bland to complete his ascension from rags to pinstriped glory. Since that part of the story was never really in doubt, Adams even weaves a youthful looking Dredd to spruce things up a bit. “Look at you,” Max says to the judge leading Bland off to the isocubes., ” Baby smooth and with lots to prove.” There’s even a sense that this nugget has been woven in as a thread to be picked up on in the present day.
But outside of that moment though, there’s nothing much else going on. And the rhythmic swing that was once present in the dialog, doesn’t quite have the same lilt as it did before. Cornwall’s art is slick as ever – somehow he manages to keep Bland looking Sauve, even as Dredd’s leaning a boot deep into his face. However, there’s no moments in the script that give him a chance to really make his lines pop.
‘How the Max Got His Stripes, Part 7’ finds Adams and Cornwall wearing out their welcome in the past. It’s been a fun romp at times, but we already had a decent idea of how this birth of the cool would play out. Here’s hoping a jump up to the current timeline gets things swinging again.
Tharg’s 3Rillers: The Chimera, Part 1
Credits: James Peaty (script), Brian Corcoran (art), Matt Soffe (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters).
Tom Shapira: This new twisty serial science fiction short seems to be trying to combine two different stands of storytelling ideas; I’m not quite sure how these are meant to come together – but seeing as we are in part one out of three I’m willing to wait and see how it goes.
The first involves a satire of modern-day corporate tech environment in which privacy is a four letter word, all our protagonist work in date processing and seem to treat the harm obviously done by them with the same care we would when killing a fly; so bored they by this life of corporate grind they are willing to follow a co-worker’s lead as he takes to underground mad-science lab in which they will go on a…. new type of vacation.
So far, so familiar: the satire bits are, sadly, rather familiar; likewise, the twist that leads us to the actual plot is rather stale (without spoiling too much – there’s an ongoing 2000AD strip that uses the same concept extensively). Still, I’m interested to see how James Peaty is going to bring these two things together – this certainly a more fertile ground and a good chance to combine the two things that often make 2000AD so good – social critique and non-stop excitement.
Brian Corcoran and Matt Soffe don’t get a lot to do here, since the world they work in so far is drab by choice: far enough from own to be futuristic, but close enough to be recognizable. There’s some decent facial acting, but just like the story it most works by hinging on the promise of better things to come.
We’ll wait and see….
Kingmaker: Oroborous Part 8
Credits: Ian Edginton(script), Leigh Gallagher (art), Ellie De Ville (letters)
Greg Lincoln: After that curious mysterious twist that came with the end of last chapter you might have been expecting a Grant Morrison like “fourth wall” breaking after deaths experience but it’s not what Edginton gives us. We are in fact treated to an explanation of the “Kingmaker’s” world setting from the unlikely visage of, um, perhaps Kurt Vonnegut. The sweater clad human lays out what essentially happened to the race that originated on old earth and how they became the progenitors of the current setting. This is all pointless to Crixus who really just wants to know what in the bloody hell he is not dead given the massive gap in his head. Given this chapter kind of breaks the narrative we were previously reading and grants Crixus a lot of personal power the reception to this chapter I’m sure will me mixed. Edginton implies a lot of interesting things about the world he and his collaborators created for “Kingmaker.” It will be interesting where this “gods” gift allows the story to head from here.Continued below
Leigh Gallagher delivered a credibly weird surreal feel for this metaphysical story. He depicts this worlds distant past as the background to the conversation between Crixus and his “patron”. Given that this chapter is essentially an extended talking heads scene layering the worlds past into the background gives it life and motion it may not otherwise have had.