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: Future Crimes Unit Part 2
Credits Rory McConville (script) Jake Lynch(art) Jim Boswell(colours)Annie Parkhouse(letters)
Michael Mazzacane: The humor the creative team employed last week is back once again as they lean into the abusrd density of what is possible in Mega City One. That said for the most part McConville, Lynch, and Boswell show off how to execute a police procedural in four pages.
The follow out from Cuthbert’s tampering continues as the future of FCU is put into doubt, odd they couldn’t see that coming. Something is nagging at Dredd though and he has a suspicion that needs to be prodded a bit. That suspicion is elaborated on in the span of two pages. There isn’t anything super fancy about them, they’re walk and talks down non-descript hallways. Lynch does a real good job of establishing a sense of forward motion while also making the reader very aware of the staging. The page when Dredd’s suspicion is confirmed has this a wonderful reading line to it where everything flows from one panel into the next panel, raising the tension or exploding it like discharge of a lawgiver.
The remaining pages aren’t as workman like and efficient, they have to cover a lot of ground as part of a wild chase sequence. If they had more pages to work with, they would’ve been better but for the amount they had it largely works.
And then there is the ending, which I doubt you’ll see coming. It’s sudden and jarring but in a good way.
Brink: Hate Box, Part Nineteen
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Inj Culbard (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Rowan Grover: We’re finally starting to see “Hate Box” come to a close, and Abnett is making sure we see every part of the difficult process that this is for Bridget. The opening of the comic sees Adriene taken out by Weyowa, but true to form, Weyowa throws up and collapses almost immediately after. I love that Abnett has taken the time to build these characters so that actions like these totally pass as valid. Much of the rest of the comic consists of the HSD Case Reviewer Holly Cutwell having a discussion about the events of the series with Bridget, which can get a little too talky at times but has a sinister undercurrent the whole time to keep it interesting. The final shot and deconstruction from Holly is a great way to show suspense and manages to keep us hooked for one more prog to come.
Culbard does a great job with the opening scene, conveying Bridget’s desperation and struggle vividly, especially when Adriene steps on her hand. There’s also a great fizzle out as even when Bridget is out of her immediate problem, she starts to see how much has gone wrong all around her and is still going wrong. Culbard showing her gradual drop over three panels conveys this excellently on the second page. There’s some great character acting done on the newcomer Holly, too. Culbard paints her in a way that makes her seem like she’s trying to be accommodating and friendly but in an eerily comfortable way. It also makes whenever she’s upset super noticeable and a drastic change that she comes off as a threat to Bridget. Bowland also does some great lettering here, especially with the recurring noise of the Hate Box on the first page. When Adriene swears, the “One Dollar Fine” box appears just behind her pant leg, making it seem like white noise more than ever and I love that it has become such a part of the environment.
“Hate Box” is starting to wind down but with all the nuance and intricacy it has kept up consistently since the start of the series.
The Zaucer of Zilk: Part 7 – A Zaucerful of Zecrets
Peter Hogan (Script), Brendan McCarthy (Art, Colors, & Story), Len O’Grady (Colors), Jim Campbell (Letters)
Christopher Egan: This week we get a quick blast of action with part 7 in this Zaucer of Zilk saga. Opening up in Curtaindown we see that Spantalex is still frozen/dazed/comatose from this, as yet-to-be-named woman. It is a nice, dark, quiet opening that leads you to believe this is going to be a less action oriented chapter that focuses on expanding the story. However, as soon as you hit page two, it’s obvious that this is going to be a ‘war all the time’ chapter.
The Zaucer and Craggaknock are battling the T’tooth and Smarty Pants and their battalion of evil trousers. The action is fun and while most of the chapters move quickly with their exposition and dramatic moments, it is great to see some fighting and something more than just grandstanding dialogue. T’tooth and Smarty Pants know they are beaten and begin to spill the evil plans behind the scenes. T’tooth is clearly under a trance and it seems that his villainous acts may have been completely out of his control. It is a nice spin on what readers have been led to believe this whole time.
The issue ends moving back to the Tailor of Tales shop and we see that he is in fact still narrating the story, but the Fancy Pants are on their way, but for ill or good we do not know. Until next time, we can only speculate on who some of these characters are and what the motivations of nearly every person could be. Where is this going? If nothing else, this series has made me anxious to find out.
McCarthy gets to try some new things here. With a different style of fighting and action shown throughout, it’s nice to see some variation. His and O’Grady’s colorwork continues to be beautiful and consistent throughout. While the illustrations of part 7 get to dabble in some new territory, it would be splendid if we got to see another particle of existence so the palette could change in some capacity. Outside of the direct portion of the story, each chapter looks nearly identical. I don’t see this changing up any time soon, but I can dream.
Proteus Vex: Another Dawn Part 7
Michael Carroll (script), Henry Flint(art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Greg Lincoln: Michael Carrol added more twists and intrigue with this week’s installment in Proteus Vex. We go back to the history lesson narration as Former Chancellor Baryon let’s others give Midnight reasons why he as a “hero” of the alliance sees this genocide as the only course of action. Carroll sets up here a moral question for our heroes, or hero actually if Vex is not playing some very semantic games. Baryon created this particular situation to destroy a possible future threat with a pretty obscene act of genocide that will only be blames on him. Our feelings are reflected by Midnight’s surprise when he states his intent. It should not be a shocking turn really as it’s a common Social Science Fiction turn, but it’s one that complicates this story making it hard to really predict where we’re headed.
Henry Flint takes up back to the muted colors of his flashbacks this week for a large amount of the strip. Unlike early in the story when the exposition was dry, now that we’re engaged with the characters and tale all these images are compelling. He JSU’s a lot of tight shots fit the talking heads scenes making them intimate and longer larger scenes for the flashbacks separating the two threads of the story. The two tightest panels, one on Baryon and the other on Vex and Midnight both express veiled threats, the first open the other slyly hidden in the wording, making us curious about where the narrative turns will take us.
Feral & Foe: Part Seven
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Richard Ellson (art), Richard & Joe Ellson (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Christa Harader: This week sees Wrath live up to her name, gain a cool sword, lose some former friends and go on her merry way. Bode in tow, after he’s been cut down from the ceiling.
Abnett & Ellson balance the seriousness and humor in this bit of story pretty well. There’s some catharsis for Wrath and, ultimately, a point to some of the previous navel-gazing that makes the murky plot so far matter a bit more. Ellson’s art breaks down a little in action but remains expressive and interesting. Character faces are weirdly elongated and some of the anatomy is questionable – but the sword path and resulting splatter and splaying body parts are fun to see, and appropriate given the story’s grim overtones. The Ellsons’ colors feature that grimy, sick outdoor palette as a nice balance to Wrath and her foes’ skin tones, and setting the action during daylight means we get to see a bit more detail. Parkhouse gets some more real estate to play with, but there’s a challenge in placing too many small balloons with Wrath’s styling. The white outlines can dominate the page if not done properly, but Parkhouse solves this with her usual level of skill.
Overall, this installment picks up the page and gives us an action break that we desperately need after the previous week’s serious conversations. Bode’s back in action by the end here, too, and that means we’ll get a bit more banter as the plot speeds along.