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: Control: Part 4
Credits: Rob Williams (script), Chris Weston (art), Chris Blythe (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Matthew Blair: This part of the story isn’t the best. It isn’t the most technical, or the most symbolic, or the most awe inspiring in terms of story or artwork. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still good, but the purpose of part 4 of the “Control” story line is to move the plot forwards and make life even more miserable for Dredd.
“Control: Part 4” finds Dredd all alone in an abandoned pit in the city, buried up to his neck, incapable of getting help, and the rats are starting to get brave and hungry. Meanwhile, the rest of Mega City One’s Judges aren’t just sitting idly by, they’ve mobilized almost every resource they have in a desperate search for their colleague and greatest living symbol.
Writer Rob Williams continues to demonstrate a keen sense of storytelling, a fantastic understanding of Judge Dredd as a character, and a great sensitivity to the world around Dredd. The plot moves forward in a way that makes sense, but avoids the pitfalls of obvious cliché. Meanwhile, Dredd continues to be as stubborn and as determined to survive as usual and while his fellow judges might hate his guts, they still understand how important Dredd is to maintaining social order.
Chris Weston continues his run of fantastic art. While “Control: Part 4” doesn’t have the symbolism of the last part of the story, it’s still technically sound and properly grimy. The highlight of this issue is a short fight scene between an incapacitated Dredd and a massive, irradiated rat that is brutal, bloody, and frantic. There are some places in the art where the faces look a bit weird and might have been rushed. However, that’s just a very tiny nitpick observed by a lousy critic who is desperate to say anything other than ‘the artwork is amazing!’.
“Control: Part 4” continues to be an amazing story that showcases everything that makes Judge Dredd great. While part 4 doesn’t have any epic or awe inspiring moments, it moves the plot forward in a sensible and interesting way which moves all the pieces of story into position for a stunning conclusion.
Indigo Prime: Fall of the House of Vista Part Six
Credits Kek-W(script) Lee Carter (art) Ellie De Ville (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: With its constant quantum weirdness, you’d be forgiven if you forgot about something that happened in the first strip. The event being Benway Cotton entering the skin of the universe and pulling William Burroughs along with him. That’s still going on and we return to it for several pages of the sixth part of ‘Fall of the House of Vista.’ Returning to Burroughs gives Lee Carter a chance to just go surreal and cosmic as our pair of intrepid explores float through the nothingness and everythingness of space. Carter gets to play around with perspective a lot as floating pills or a finger become planetoid in scale compared to the bodies, which similarity vacillate between tiny and infinitely large.
The return to this thread also means a shift in writing style for Kek-W, as they return again to quasi-omniscient narration boxes that can be read as classic comic book narrator speak or the monologue of an even smaller being angry with the universe. The use of these boxes does make things a tad confusing at times, Kek-W’s scripting tends to line up with the overall art of Lee Carter but they lack the direct synchronicity that powers comic storytelling. On a second read things line up a bit better, but on first blush it sounds like a bunch of dollar sized words assembled together to sound insightful – which makes the odds of a reader wanting to re-read this strip slim.Continued below
Are time with the dilaudid sages is overall effective. Their existential crisis, that the universe is both the creation of someone else and the infinite size is a good vehicle for cosmic dread and the overall consumerist satire “Indigo Prime” is playing at.
Meanwhile across time and space, in the last strip things weren’t looking to good for Major Arcana who was left deep behind enemy lines. But he’s a silver lining kind of guy and that just means there are plenty of British Nazis to blow up. The shift to this thread is a bit rough given the complete change in tonality, but it is an overall more readable and understood comic compared to the previous three pages. Carter provides solid action and a take on classic surveillance imagery while Kek-W reveals the origin of the Christhulu project.
Anderson PSI Division: Martyrs part 7
Emma Beeby (script), Aneke (art), Barbara Nosenzo (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
Greg Lincoln: This week’s finale of ‘Martyrs’ takes some interesting twists and turns to get to a pretty satisfying ending. After the initial decisions Karyn had made for herself for most of this story seemed to be a passive observer in this tale and a pawn in someone else’s story. Her encounters with Theo informed us about her character and the “monster” possessing her, but till now it hasn’t seemed to be her tale. She comes to her own over the course of this week, seeing the invading Judges “kill” a projection of her Theo put up to shock her into following his plan. The way things don’t play out his way anyone expects makes this sometimes confusing story a solid Anderson Psi Division story.
The visuals hit true in some lane,s and not in others. It may be that there was a disconnect between the art by Aneke and Barbara Nosenzo’s colors but whatever the reason some of the panels got a little muddy and the line work in places gets a little lost in the depth of the color in the page. Some of the facial expressions in this final chapter of ‘Martyrs’ are pretty priceless. The look of shock on Karyn’s face to seeing herself murdered by the invading Judges is brilliantly simple and so affective. In obvious I the art that both Anderson and Karyn go through a rename of emotion in these few pages, the moments of shock, confusion, deliberation and pride play rather well as the story progressed. Despite a few low points both in writing and art this is a pretty solid story Land brought change to both its main players, Anderson and Karyn.
Thistlebone, part 10
Credits: T.C. Eglington (script), Simon Davis (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Gustavo S. Lodi: This is it! With this chapter, “Thistlebone” reaches its conclusion, in a daring, haunting, and disturbing way. There won’t be spoilers on this review, but some hints and nods will be given to how the story wraps thematically.
“Thistlebone” since the beginning has been about trauma, the barriers between reality versus insanity, and pagan rituals walking the line between these dimensions.
It is only fitting that at it’s end, “Thistlebone” denies a concrete resolution to what is going on. Much like the real-world, there is little in terms of a full exposition, bringing to light everything that happened. Instead – and fortunately – “Thitlebone” leaves a lot to the imagination and interpretation of what is being visually displayed. Each reader’s mileage may vary given this approach, but this reviewer found it a special way to finish it, and fully aligned with what came before.
Talking about visuals, chapter ten of “Thistlebone” is gorgeous, in a jarring, afflicting way. There are some truly disturbing imagery contained on this chapter, but it doesn’t feel imposed. Quite the opposite, it reads as something earned, and consequential to all that came before.
Clever, daring, beautifully rendered. “Thistlebone” is surely a victory for it’s creative team.
Jaegir: Valkyrie, Part One
Credits: Gordon Rennie (script), Simon Coleby (art), Gary Caldwell (colors), Ellie De Ville (letters)
Christa Harader: When we last left Atalia, she’d just brokered a precarious peace agreement with Souther forces to halt their relentless attack on the Bonegrinder. Her people are safe, but she’s been intercepted by the ruthless Colonel Raksha for “interrogation.” Fortunately, Klaur and company are hard at work on an infiltration plan, and one of Atalia’s treacherous relatives has just bitten the dust.Continued below
Rennie plays with some nice symmetry between Atalia’s possible fate if she succumbs to the virus inside of her and the external grotesqueness of Raksha – two victims of Josef Jaegir, together at last. Raksha’s a bit of a cartoon villain at this point, but he’s living up to his potential as a psychopath so far. Coleby’s art relies pretty heavily on partially obscured shots of faces and expressions. We’re usually seeing Atalia from behind, head bowed in defeat or body prostrated on the floor, and Raksha’s scarred visage is often shadowed or seen from a distance. This choice to situate characters in claustrophobic panels or slightly further away from our view has us straining for clarity, just as someone would in this kind of situation. Caldwell’s colors are muted earth tones, antiseptic blues and deceptively cheerful greens. Gone are the giant explosions of the previous story, and this internal grimness suits Atalia’s current situation. There are plenty of light sources, so nothing’s unclear without design. De Ville’s lettering features a font with just a hint of unsteadiness. Balloons are butted pretty aggressively in Coleby’s smaller panels, necessitated by the large amounts of dialogue Rennie includes, but everything reads fluidly.
After the events of Atalia’s last story, it’s necessary to take a bit of a big action break and amp up the covert ops again. Rennie wisely ratchets up tension with some good moments of violence and the hopeful reminder that Klaur hasn’t given up on Atalia, and that there’s more going on behind the scenes – political and otherwise – than we can grasp just yet.