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 Relic Part 1
Credits Kenneth Niemand(script) Jake Lynch(art) Jim Boswell(colours)Annie Parkhouse(letters)
Michael Mazzacane: The start to ‘Relic’ takes a different approach to other recent stories within “Dredd.” Our titular character is barely anywhere to be found, at least in the corporeal sense. From a more metaphoric standpoint, you the titular Dredd is felt on nearly every page as Oggl experiences the horrors of Mega City One. The Scrolls of Woe did not prepare him for this place.
Oggl acts as the point of view character, in that regard it actually isn’t a terrible strip to show someone who has little idea of what “Dredd” or his series of comics is about. “Dredd” can be just about anything at this point, but at its core is a lawful evil satire. Lynch’s page design and figure work do a wonderful job of emphasizing Oggl’s naïve point of view. Naïve in the sense that he is unprepared for the xenophobia and general neglect afforded to residents of Mega City One. The second page in particular is entirely focused around this perspective in 9 panels, that do not make a grid. It is a smart play of scale; the entirety of the left page is dedicated to a single large image the emphasizes his smallness against the enormity of everything else. The left side of the page is split into an 8-panel traveling montage that doesn’t show us what he is doing, only the anger and fear that greats him. Lynch’s work with Oggl’s large eyes is quite effective, with their size and Boswell’s coloring they could have veered into kawaii-puppy dog eye territory. That sort of melodramatic display of emotion is what Lynch and Boswell but it never gets too cute.
The general disregard is one thing, contending with the bureaucracy is another thing entirely. The layers upon layers of imperialist justification is funniest section of the strip. It is on one hand fantastical, but has enough gritty realism to it.
The nature of the Oggl’s “rampage” and their capture is a bit spatially nebulous, but in a comic strip way. Like the second page, the purpose of this sequence is to represent the feelings in the character. On that level the final page that sets up this strip for more episodes is effective as Mega City One unknowingly creates yet another villain for them to incarcerate or vaporize.
Proteus Vex: Another Dawn Part 9
Credits: Michael Carroll (script), Henry Flint(art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Greg Lincoln: Part 9 brings our initial outing with Proteus Vex and Midnight to, what feels like, a little bit of an abrupt ending. Michael Carroll’s script maintains a sense of complexity and moral ambiguity that has marked the series from the beginning as he delivers on the promise made across the last few chapters. Threats and pleading come from the heavies in this story as the tide turns against them and it’s satisfying to see our dynamic duo succeed butL it’s is a bit too quickly wrapped up for my personal tastes. Vex’s possession of Baryons body and mind and the nightmarish memories he acquired maybe imply further stories connected to the one time chancellor but the lead out as they fly off and hid the problematic colony gives us hope for more from this story.
Flint Henry’s art lends a sense of humor and interest to what might be a bit of a dry ending. Midnight’s dismissive reaction to the threats to her (un their) people the progression of panels as Vex takes out Baryon and the image of the pilgrim like obdurate colonist particularly stick out. As ever with Flint’s art, the panels are full of incidental interesting images even if it’s just the interesting tech or cosmic backgrounds. The nine chapters of this visual feast very much make me hope for more just to see his art and colors again.Continued below
Skip Tracer: Nimrod, Part 1
Credits: James Peaty (script), Paul Marshall (art), Dylan Teague (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
Brian Salvatore: It can be tricky to pick up a strip like “Skip Tracer” when a new story begins, because no matter how effective the first chapter is, there’s knowledge that you’re entering the story mid-stream. This isn’t all that different from how most comics work, but because of the shorter nature of these installments, it is more important than in those other books to get engaging off the bat.
‘Nimrod’ does that with a combination of action and information. Peaty’s script introduces us to a band of soldiers, but specifically Nolan, who we see after his dream/flashback of combat. We know that Nolan is in a bad way, as he’s sharing a couch with a vertical pizza box and has a bottle of booze on the table. It appears that Nolan is haunted by his past, which is a pretty common trope for soldiers in fiction and, unfortunately, pretty common in real life, too.
The scenes of ‘war,’ or whatever it is called here, are not shown to be particularly disturbing, at least not by what we’ve seen before, but there is also a sense that we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. Marshall’s art balances the clean, technological surroundings with the grimy and gritty realities of war, both of which come together in Nolan’s modern, but far from pristine, apartment. The strip ends with a reunion that will clearly inform the rest of ‘Nimrod,’ but for now, this introductory chapter did its job, even if it wasn’t exactly thrilling.
The Zaucer of Zilk: Part 9 – A Zaucerful of Zecrets
Peter Hogan (Script), Brendan McCarthy (Art, Colors, & Story), Len O’Grady (Colors), Jim Campbell (Letters)
Christopher Egan: Big reveals! Ultimate showdowns! Six pages! Part 9 gives us two major plot points, we finally have the Criminaut and the Zaucer come face to face in a battle of power and emotion, and it is revealed who the Criminaut actually is.
As the Zaucer returns to Curtaindown he finds his allies still dazed from their encounter with the Criminaut. Using his wand to bring them around, he tries to get some answers as to what has happened. Crissymouth only remembers the attack, but nothing after. As they were left to keep Tutu safe, their thoughts immediately jump to the young girl’s safety. The Zaucer rushes upstairs hoping nothing has happened to his daughter, and giving his friends a stern warning should something be wrong.
As soon as the Zaucer sees that Tutu is in fact missing, he comes face to face with the Criminaut herself, holding the young girl and brandishing power that rivals his own. Unable to talk down the Criminaut and get his daughter safely back in his arms, he decides he must fight and hope that is skill will allow him to keep his daughter out harm’s way. He and the Criminaut have a swift fight, and the Zaucer is immediately beaten and thrown into a hole of the villain’s making. Knowing he must do what he can to win, he attacks once more and is quickly disarmed. He is no match for her. The villainous Criminaut levitates down into the hole with him keeping Tutu at her side. With disdain and unrelenting power in her voice, the Criminaut reveals herself to be…Tutu from the future. And with this, the chapter ends.
As exciting and important as any chapter has been in this new Zaucer of Zilk series. part 9’s biggest weakness is that it is so short. It feels like the best chapters are kept to a shorter page count, and that is unfortunate. Or I could be completely wrong and my enjoyment has me just flying through them at a quicker pace. This probably the most intrigued I’ve been for the next chapter in the entire run of this strip. Tune in next week for the next big reveal.
Feral & Foe: Part Eight
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Richard Ellson (art), Richard & Joe Ellson (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Christa Harader: Wrath’s relationship with her sword appears to be going downhill, and Bode’s in a tight spot with a tank intent on avenging her tank brother’s death. Fortunately, she’s none too bright, and the sword clearly isn’t, either. It doesn’t really go well for either of them. C’est la vie.Continued below
We’re back in full humor mode, which is when this story works best. The juxtaposition of wryness and the deep sword and sorcery seriousness is what makes “Feral & Foe” pop in relation to its peers, and Wrath and Bode need that edge to stand out. Abnett and Ellson subvert several tropes in this strip alone, to good effect. The Ellsons do well with a brighter daytime background and cheerier palette, and Parkhouse’s stylings on the sword’s dialogue stand out and are easier to read against a blue sky. Bonus points for Bode and Wrath looking particularly absurd against a summer backdrop, too.
Overall, “Feral & Foe” is a very enjoyable serial when it’s not taking itself too seriously, and right now we’re hitting the perfect tone. The strip overstays its welcome when it’s too dire, but the hijinks keep us afloat week after week as we wind toward some sort of conclusion.