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: End of Days, Part Ten
Credits: Rob Williams (script), Henry Flint (art), Chris Blythe (colours), Simon Bowland (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: When we last left off there was the minor issue of the very old pathogens the Judge team had released during their scuffle with Pestilence. Leaving that out there to hang would be very “Dredd” of Williams, but he does not. That thread is tied up as the team begins to figure out to deal with the next horsemen, War.
There is an efficiency to “Dredd” strips that I rather enjoy, at the same time the tenth entry in ‘End of Days’ could’ve used a bit more page space. Anderson and Patrick are dragging Dredd’s body aimlessly in the search of Pestilence workstation. They find what they’re looking for: an airtight vault to lock the virus in. The only problem is the virus needs a host after Anderson draws it in. And, well, Dredd’s name is in the title of the strip leaving only Patrick to make the decision. There is an honorable, brief, callousness, to Patrick’s decision making and Anderson’s manipulation. I wish a bit more panel time was spent on capturing Patrick’s realization and thought process. Henry Flint’s cartooned style is rather effective in capturing it over the course of about a page.
The sequence is somewhat humorous as Williams as Anderson yadayadas their ability to pull an airborne virus. It’s not the point, the point is to capture this moment of sacrifice, which overall works.
If Flint’s work on Judge Patrick accepting their death was soulful introspection, their work with Ichabod this prog is the opposite. Adding him to the mix was a smart move for the simple reason that he speaks in an entirely different manner compared to everyone else. Judge Giant jr. is helping him aboard Justice 2, giving a rundown of all the things that have gone bad and why their next move is next to impossible in a terse and straightforward delivery. Ichabod meanwhile yammers on about his bones are broken, “manifold,” and is in “agonies multitudinous.” Colorful language juxtaposed against a deadpan expression by Flint. It’s the best panel in the strip.
This adventure isn’t getting any easier and they’re dropping anonymous Judges at quite the clip. Fans of Judge Giant jr. might want to prepare for the worst.
Full Tilt Boogie #9
Credits: Alex De Campi (script), Eduardo Ocana (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Matthew Blair: The standoff on the asteroid continues between the forces of supposed good and the bounty hunters who just want to get paid and go home. Unfortunately, it looks like family drama and inter organizational conflict are the order of the day and not everybody is going to be able to go home safe.
Over the course of the last eight sections of the story we haven’t had a whole lot of character development from Prince Ifan: the current prisoner of the bounty hunters, quarry of the knights, and first born member of the royal family who was supposed to be leading the knights in the first place. Alex de Campi devotes “Full Tilt Boogie” #9 to giving Ifan proper motivation and fleshing out his personality, and it mostly works. Ifan is exposed as a desperate glory hound who wants to be loved by everyone more than anything in the world, and while it would have been nice to see a bit more of that in previous sections of the story, it does a great job of kicking off the action and allowing everyone else’s plans and motivations to be kicked into high gear.
Ocana’s artwork continues to be excellent and there isn’t much more that can be said about how the characters look, move, and emote. However, this time we get to see Ocana use the environment in interesting ways. More specifically, it’s really interesting to see how the very low gravity of the asteroid can be used to elevate the stakes and action. There’s a very good balance between close ups and wide shots in the artwork and-perhaps best of all-there’s a very clear sense of geography and clarity with where everyone is and what everyone is doing.Continued below
“Full Tilt Boogie” #9 kicks the story into high gear and allows each of the factions and sub factions that have been building since the beginning of the story. Now the real fun can begin.
The Diaboliks: Profondo Rosso Part 5
Credits: Gordon Rennie (script), Antonio Fuso (art), Jim Campbell (letters)
Greg Lincoln: Gordon Rennie may have pulled clever kind of a fast one on us this week. With so much build up to the fights between out motley group of supernatural assassins and the mob’s Red Madonna, no matter how well scripted and illustrated it is it could deliver on the promises they have made. He and Anthonio Fuso avoided that pitfall by skipping the whole thing. This week’s cold open with Damien in police custody as the only survivor/witness was both confusing and clever. He’s somehow immune to Detective Daria’s scrying ability so that battle that took 37 lives will forever be a mystery readers can only speculate on.
Fuso shows us on the pages as Rennie recounts the groups member that, yes they were there at the battle via evidence, that each had a part to play and that shown in the panels following Damien’s release that none are too worse for the wear. Jenny always steals the show, visually, with her demonic nature peeking through. She didn’t even need to peel away the Red Madonna’s face to revel herself. Readers have to wonder as to where Rennie is taking the story going forward, as the majority of crime is now in the pocket of the Malleus.
The Order: Land Of The Free, Part Ten
Credits: KEK-W (script), John Burns (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Rowan Grover: “The Order” once again shifts focus to one of the outer-lying characters, Antoine Berg. KEK-W uses a great old-school style narration to retell Berg’s origin and his thoughts to the readers in a way that complements the art style well and forces us to linger for a moment and take in all of Burns’ detail. KEK-W’s narration has a great wry feel to it, too, that complement’s Berg’s more rogue-ish nature here, especially when he’s ignoring his worm impulses in favour of glory-seeking. I also love how much KEK-W leans into Francis Bacon feeling like a very classical, dramatic villain in how he desperately asks if Izta’s love for him is genuine, as it pairs beautifully with the art and old school narration.
Burns has some fun moments with panel structure in this prog, on top of his usual fantastic display. The first page has great zig-zagged panel borders that accentuate the action of Berg prancing around on horseback nicely, especially as his character leaks across panels and makes the action even bigger. My problem with this sequence is that we don’t get enough emotional detail with the character considering how much we get inside his head with the narration. However, we do eventually get more detail, ironically when Berg starts becoming more worm-like and less humanoid. The prog builds up nicely page by page to a final splash too, with Burns using perspective and camera angles to give it a great 3D effect with the characters almost flying off the page.
“The Order” seems to be going in a hundred different directions each week, but each installment is so uniquely fun, it’s hard to critique or complain about this decision. I look forward to seeing where it goes week by week.
The Out, Part Seven
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Mark Harrison (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Brian Salvatore: Boredom can easily turn into fear, and “The Out” demonstrates just how that works in this installment. Cyd is tired of being just adjacent to war, and decides, seemingly many times, to move beyond the safety of her traveling companions in search of a good shot. With credits appearing in her bank account again, Cyd has refocused herself on her job, allowing the allure of a good photo to supersede the necessity of safety. This, of course, makes her handlers upset, and leads to yet another conversation about what her job is, and how foreign that seems to these aliens.
For the first time in a few weeks, Cyd is a somewhat frustrating character, even if her motivations are pure and she has understandable reasons for risking her neck. The nature of stories like these are to present the reader with a character they can root for, and so we are not immune to her charms or her eye for a good photo, but it is because we care for her that we are also frustrated by her actions. This chapter sees Mark Harrison have the least scenery illustration of the title thus far, giving him time to focus instead on Cyd, and he finds a number of ways to show exacerbation on her face. Harrison’s style is so fluid that Cyd never quite looks the same panel to panel, but this chapter gives her the most face time thus far, and somewhat gives us a clear picture of who she is, visually, Dan Abenett has had far more opportunity to describe who she is underneath her skin, and this week’s ennui and frustration feels apiece with what we’ve seen of Cyd before.