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: Guatamala Part 7
John Wagner(script), Colin McNeil(art), Chris Blythe(colors), Annie Parkhouse(letters)
Greg Lincoln: The intrigue and build up of the last couple weeks, particularly Dredd’s trip to the Humanista rebels camp, hinted at a different, more subtle solution, then the steep escalation to violence in this week’s ‘Guatemala.’ Mega-City 1’s deployment of much more then 6 member Mechanismo Judges is played momentarily for a laugh. Their strike to take out the “nuclear deterrent” comes as a bit of a surprise with El Presidente still holding Hershey’s family hostage. John Wagner clearly established through the mentions of organ legging, human trafficking, baby factories and other urban horror stories why the robot lead state needs to be taken down. But if they have much care for the descendants of their last Chief Judge this strategy is a bit reckless. As this story has been running a while you have to wonder if this is a bit of plot acceleration to wrap things up as somethings happens with more complex, longer Dredd stories.
The art team did a lot of the heavy lifting with the storytelling this week. Though there was ample text that Anne Parkhouse had to manage to place, it was primarily as action oriented story this week after all the talking head build up. Colin McNiel and Chris Blythe do an excellent job or creating the impression of tension and motion with their pages. Their art of the attack on the nuclear transport and base give a sense of flow and movement as the Mechanismo Judges plummet from the sky. They heavy use of shadow adds impact to the dialogue much as a dramatic soundtrack can in a great action film. They maintain the tension in the story with they quickly switching scenes as the attack progresses. Here’s hoping we get a satisfying finish to the hostage tale and another visit with the rebels before it’s all done and dusted.
Defoe: The Divisor Part 7
Credits Pat Mills(script) S.K. Moore(art) Ellie De Ville(letters)
Michael Mazzacane: S.K. Moore’s art achieves an enjoyable and surprising sense of verticality in the opening pages of ‘The Divisor’ part 7. Treating the page in a more vertical orientation is the right call when the subject matter is dealing with tall tentacle alien Angels. The use of vertical space lets Moore play with foreground and background a bit too, creating for some enjoyable pseudo panels as Defoe struggles against his would be saviors. With the inclusion of a few insert panels to show the prepping of another shot, Moore makes for a supremely enjoyable comic page that does a lot without being muddled or too hard to read. Unlike previous strips white space is predominantly featured.
That use of white space makes for an effective counter balance and page turn as Defoe travels down and through the river. It’s only a panel but the way hatch marks are used on the waves to create a sense of motion creates this energetic sense of a river, in contrast to the earlier panels that have this pristine stillness to them.
With that business taken care of, there is the matter of the latest attempt by the Dutch to land on the moon to deal with. I’m not normally one for zombie media, they just aren’t my jam, but there was something perversely satisfying about these pompous individuals being torn to bits as they imagine what their interstellar colonial expedition to the moon will be like. The initial zombie attack page is a bit tonally dissonant. Moore puts in a beautifully grotesque zombie face right at the top, with an insert panel to show them moving through the ship. While the next set of panels are a slow reveal of the zombies. The first third of the page gives away the game, making the second third rote and ineffective in context. Out of context it’s an effective sequence that is hindered by the big splashy reveal.Continued below
For now it seems this moon plot has been put to bed, but there is still the matter of Irdonozur to deal with.
Brink: Hate Box, Part Seven
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Inj Culbard (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Rowan Grover: We get to see the nitty-gritty underbelly of “Brink” in this installment of ‘Hate Box’. Abnett uses his chance to flesh out the supporting cast of this story here, giving the previously unlikeable Adrienne a more complex history as we learn about her connections to the Big Lebowski-esque gang boss Albino. Abnett gives us something to respect about her with this but also shows her as much more human through her fear of him, as she’s always careful not to anger him. In this short dialogue alone, we learn more about the “Brink” underworld through what is unsaid than what is directly told us, and a lot of that is through Adrienne’s body language. Plus, now Abnett has given Bridget a reason to act, by finding out her own connection to Albino.
Culbard does great character work in this prog. As I talked about, Adrienne becomes a much more fleshed out character due to her dialogue and interjections, but Culbard also makes sure she visually looks the part. She’s always going out of her way to prevent a potentially hairy situation or putting on a false show of bravado at the start of the prog. I also love the use of coloring to convey tone during the Albino scene. The shot opens with a hazy gradient of purples and oranges, the latter being feeling like the only sign of safety. It’s eventually lost though through a plot decision, and it makes the overall mood much more unsettling with the saturated purples.
It may have taken a while to find it’s footing, but Abnett and Culbard are layering ‘Hate Box’ with more complexities with each chapter, and the latest is a great example of that. There are some great character building and visual storytelling in this chapter, making it worth checking out on its own.
Hope, Under Fire Part 7
Credits: Guy Adams (script), Jimmy Broxton (art), Ellie De Ville (letters)
Gustavo S. Lodi: For the last three or four progs, “Hope” has been struggling a bit on sustaining a balanced pace with the story that it set out to tell. It is clear that this is the build-up to a significant reveal, but with just winks and nods as to what that reveal may be, it feels that the ‘Under Fire’ arc is meandering rather that pushing forward.
Focusing on the positive first: the art remains superb. For the last chapters, where nothing truly is what it seems, the intentionally dissipated art style, the increasingly more transparent shades of grey add to the sense of unreal, which becomes more unsettling on the backdrop of what the story is gradually revealing.
In terms of plot, the story seems to be going for a major role reversal, where heroes and villains start to be painted as more complex roles. It surely is interesting to witness it, and astute readers might start to figure out where all of it is heading, and yet… there is so little in terms of actual reveals, of actual explanation that this entry comes up short.
Similar to last week’s offering, the chapter ends of a cliffhanger, hinting at strong revelations for the subsequent chapter. Once again, hopes are up the ‘Under Fire’ will bring the storyline to a satisfactory crescendo and closing, and be just as strong as the visual package is.
The Fall of Deadworld: Doomed Part 7
Credits: Kek-W (script), Dave Kendall(art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Matthew Blair: So this little detour into the alternate world of one of Judge Dredd’s greatest enemies has been going on for a while now and we’re at the point where the readers is treated to two things. First, we get our first recap page and second, we get quite a bit of interesting emotional development.
While the artwork has been the star of the show for most of the Deadworld saga, “The Fall of Deadworld: Doomed Part 7” is writer Kek-W’s time to shine. At the beginning of this section of the story we get a fairly comprehensive recap page showing the true villains of the series talking about how their plan is going perfectly. After that, we get more great action coupled with some genuinely touching—and even heartbreaking—character development. In this case, the stars of the show are Judge Psiren and Judge Anderson, two regular humans who have been turned into monsters thanks to tragic misunderstandings and powers beyond their control. It’s nice to see that, in a world filled with death, rot, and monsters, there is still room for some very human moments.
While the story takes precedence in “The Fall of Deadworld: Doomed Part 7” that doesn’t mean the artwork has been slacking off. Artist Dave Kendall continues to showcase his prestigious talents in drawing gross and disturbing imagery, combining it with a fantastic sense of action and color that turns this part of the story into one of the best segments yet. It’s kind of a shame that he hasn’t done more work on any bigger titles, because more people deserve to see his incredible artwork.
“The Fall of Deadworld: Doomed Part 7” shows what happens when you combine solid writing with fantastic art, and for a comic set in a world that is rapidly being overrun by the undead it’s nice to see that there is still plenty of room for some very human moments.