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: Simply Normal Part 5
Credits: Kenneth Niemand (script), Steven Austin (art), Chris Blythe (colours), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Christopher Egan: Daisy has Pansy back in her loving arms. Poor Pansy has been weakened by the torturous procedures at the hands of the conversion therapists and Daisy has to help carry her out. They hit some interference escaping and Daisy lights them up with a double fist of automatic pistols…without even looking. The come face to face with the Judge Dredd and a helpful Simp-athizer guides them away as he distracts Dredd. They are greeted by all the other Simps who love them and they are welcomed back in open arms as they make their grand escape via hot air balloon a la the wizard of Oz. As they hold each other, kissing in the balloon, the sun sets behind them. Except that doesn’t happen at all and this story ends with one of the darkest closings I have ever seen in a “Judge Dredd” story. It really leans into the fact that we should not be a fan of Dredd and the kind of law and order to which he and the other Judges subscribe.
Fitting in with its previous imbalanced entries, ‘Simply Normal’ part 5 throws an incredibly bleak twist of fate at us. This ending, by all accounts, works completely on its own and as part of another story. I’m all for emotional whiplash from time to time, but the writing of this strip asks too much of its readers to at first take conversion therapy as a dark joke, while attempting to blend some sort of serious relationship drama into it. Then this final chapter really mashes up what should be funny, and what should give us the bleak Twilight Zone-esque ending.
Throughout this strip the artwork has mostly been well-done and suiting the story at hand. Color work was competent, and got better as the plot expanded. That and the quality of the ending are really the only things I can praise. There aren’t too many other things worthy of discussion and I’m glad it’s over.
Visions Of Deadworld: The Good Samaritan
Credits: KEK-W (script), Dave Kendall (art), Simon Bowland (;etters)
Jacob Cordas: The apocalypse has come. It’s the end of days, or at least end of days as we know it.
In visually arresting greys and reds, Dave Kendall captures a city in its spiral down the drain. Smoke and blood clog every panel obscuring visuals and faces. All you really need to know are teeth are sharp, people are cruel and violence is around every corner. From the first panel to the very last, Kendall never lets us forget this. Hideous is the new normal. If the last story in this series was death metal, here he channels sludge metal with panels oozing their disgust at you.
KEK-W still struggles to keep with Kendall falling further behind in this leg, like a drummer just not able to go fast enough. Here especially he leans into some of the tropes 2000AD likes far too much with a twist ending for a couple that is far too on the nose. If this is supposed to work as people attempting to maintain hope in a world that has moved past that having any meaning, the ending feels less like a twist than an obvious jab in the ribs.
Simon Bowland is still the best letterer working today. Here he does effortless work highlighting characters, making everything clear and defined. Without his peerless work, the tone would have struggled far more. The bubbles are never intrusive but always thematic resonate.
But this is the apocalypse. For all the skill rendered here, it’s still the moment when everything goes wrong, when there is no escape, when London falls. It’s a day of history in the Judge Dredd canon. And I wouldn’t want it rendered by any other artist than it is here. Give me the slimes and silhouettes.Continued below
Give me my nightmares.
Dexter: Bulletopia Chapter Four: The Funt Outta Town Part Two
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Steve Yeowell (art), John Charles (colours) Simon Bowland (letters)
Ryan Pond: In some ways, ‘The Funt Outta Town’ part one was a sensory overload. But part two really took a step back, calmed things down, and does an excellent job of setting up the next story arc. I also appreciate the consumerism theme that puts a humorous filter across this crazy story.
This story picks up mid fight from the onslaught that was headed for Dexter and co. at the end of the last story. This is great scripting because it means there is some action in the story, but it ends fairly quickly and allows the rest of the story to set up the next arc. There is plenty of humor in here based around consumer culture, but even that is dripping in sarcasm as characters describe covers of songs that were recorded as covers themselves, including details about what type of instruments and sounds are being used in the cover.
It is vaguely similar to what the Tik Tok generation will become if they follow the same trajectory as the MTV generation. Dan Abnett is writing some witty, albeit dry observational humor in this series by taking on the remnants of consumer culture and capitalistic markets. Dexter is a lot of fun on its own, but the metaphors take it to the next level whether you choose to pull them out or not.
Dexter realizes that everything is predictable except the set of options that were too crazy to even follow through with, and that means things are about to heat up. The script for this issue is top-notch as Abnett progresses the story with a thick layer of sarcastic metaphors.
Future Shocks: Indistinguishable From …
Credits: Joseph Elliott-Coleman (script) Richard Elson (art) Jim Cambell(letters)
Michael Mazzacane: The long running “Future Shocks” strip can feel a bit tired at times, with their one shot and often gallows humor premise. Sometimes the biggest trick a creative team can pull is not going for the trick. Joseph Elliott-Coleman and Richard Elson, along with Jim Cambell, do not play “Future Shocks” games with ‘Indistinguishable From …’. They replace science fiction with fantasy, gallows humor and dark irony with warmth and emotion, or at least what can be conjured in the five-page format.
Just because the creative team break the routine, doesn’t mean they throw out the routine entirely. Elliott-Coleman makes strong use of internal narration, both as a means to explain to the reader the arcane science fusion at the heart of the story and developed by their unnamed protagonist who is wandering like a samurai or knight. This is a plainly well-constructed strip, Richard Elson’s page design is craftsman-like in how it puts panels together to make enjoyable and readable pages. The one panel and moment when they do break their routine stands out and makes the moment, because it diverges from the previous rhythms.
The whole strip is premised on how two things are indistinguishable from one another. That motif is supported by the strip’s formal characteristics. The comic page becomes a great equalizer in this regard leading to a delightful final page.
Fiends of the Eastern Front: Constanta Part 10
Credits: Ian Edginton(script), Tiernen Trevallion (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Lincoln: Here we are at the end and wow, the creative team pulled out yet another twist in this surprising origin tale. Though we’re still getting Constanta’s history we return once again to Lt. Tim Wilson’s story in the present at the inn with the priest. The last Knight of the Constanta was apparently truly corrupted by consuming the witches. He may have taken up the watch his family historically has but only because of his desire for war and conflict and the witches perchance for manipulation. Edginton tells a tale that is horrifying in scope as it lays the fault for the War to end all Wars in the mystical manipulative lap of the Constanta. ‘Chapter 10’ sets the stage for the next arc in this story as the “priest” sets Wilson out to kill the Constanta.
Trevallion May have been laying visual hints that the priest and the tavern patrons were much more then the seemed from the beginning. We find out their secret in this chapter. It’s one that makes me want to revisits all the previous drawing he did of them to see what hints he had put there. As he did with the rainy opening scene Trevallion gets to close this arc with a classic horror comics twist. The warm welcoming rustic tavern reveals itself to be a crumbling wreck and the people become something more then they originally appeared. Edginton took us to many unexpected places to get here and the familiar ending was actually a bit of a pleasant surprise. They have wet our appetite for the next arc with this satisfying set up.