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 Citadel 10
Credits: John Wagner (script) Dan Cornwall (art) Dylan Teague (colors) Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Matthew Blair: While this whole story had been entertaining and filled with plenty of intrigue and potential, the fact that this story took place in the past is a pretty big clue that everything winds up alright in the end. Dredd saves the day, Mega City One is still standing (albeit smaller), and things would remain relatively stable until the Day of Chaos event.
So how does the story of Dredd facing off against his clone as told through the eyes of an insane former Judge? Let’s find out.
“Judge Dredd: The Citadel 10” is a well written ending by writer John Wagner that answers a lot of questions, but the final truth is honestly a bit lacking. On the plus side, we actually get an idea of how everything played out after the Apocalypse War and we learn how Winterton went insane while Judge Chopra recovered from her injuries and became the warden of the prison that is housing Winterton. On the other hand, Wagner slips up a bit and choses to deliver all this information in a wall of text instead of showing the reader. While it’s safe to assume that this was done in an effort to save time and space, this ending could have been a lot more interesting if it had been allowed to develop a bit more.
Dan Cornwalls art in “Judge Dredd: the Citadel 10” continues to be lovely, and there is almost nothing left to say about it. Cornwall’s art and Dylan Teague’s colors combine to create a very lifelike atmosphere and allow the harsh mechanical world of Mega City One’s iso cubes to develop a character of their own. Special mention goes to the artwork for Judge Chopra, who has extensive scarring across most of her body that must have been a massive pain to draw, but looks painful and beautiful at the same time. This is some of the best Mega City One artwork out there, and it would be great to see these two do more.
While “Judge Dredd: The Citadel 10” may be a disappointing end to such an interesting and engaging story, it’s an ending that makes a lot of sense and doesn’t leave anything unanswered. The bad guys lost, the good guys survived, and life just…goes on.
Hope: In The Shadows – Reel One, Part Four
Credits: Guy Davis (Script), Jimmy Broxton (Art), Jim Campbell (Letters)
Christopher Egan: Séances, voodoo, and secrets (oh my) fill the pages of this entry. Probably the quietest and least consequential chapter so far, Adams feels like he’s throwing a bunch of new information at us, and nothing at all, at the same time. The flow is odd and the whole thing almost feels out of place based on how part 3 ended.
Hope is given a supernatural revelation, as the actors discuss secrets over teatime on the film set. It’s revealed that they know who killed Billy Simms, and most likely why.
The uneven tone of this chapter leaves a lot to be desired, but it isn’t terribly executed, it just feels clipped and too short, even for a Prog strip. The artwork is top notch straight through per usual, this time having the first half feel quite dreamlike and the second returning to form. It definitely leaves us wanting more, but we’ll have to wait two weeks to get any answers.
Brink: Mercury Retrograde Part 10
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), INJ Culbard (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Brian Salvatore: It seemed like only a matter of time before Bardot got slapped on the wrist for speaking to an outsider about union business, and I’m not sure why I ever thought it would just be a slap on the wrist. Just a week after Bardot made Maz, and the reader, feel better about all the union weirdness, he is violently attacked and kidnapped for speaking about the ‘whispers’ to an outsider. In addition to this adding some drama to the story, it also sets up the intersection of Maz’s story and the union activities. INJ Culbard does a really effective job showing violence without being gratuitous about it, and allowing the tone set for the story continue, even when something so out of character for the strip is introduced.Continued below
Speaking of Maz, it is still a little unclear why he has a sudden interest in ‘clean’ food, but we get the follow up from last week’s final scene with Maz entering ‘Macrobio.’ The scene may feel a little superfluous, but it helps to add a little added color and flair to the world of “Brink,” and gives us another glimpse outside of the two conflicts that we have been following in this story. Culbard, again, does tension very well, and takes a relatively spare scene by Dan Abnett and adds a lot of doubt and suspicion into it.
The strip ends with a cliffhanger of sorts, with Maz being called in by Habitat security for reasons that are unknown, but not good, lest Kurad wouldn’t have apologized for the setup. This seems to divert Maz slightly off of the union collision, which it seemed, just a page turn earlier, was what was being set up. “Brink: Mercury Retrograde” continues to play with timing and expectation. After next week’s “Regened” break, I expect the story to kick into high(er) gear.
Future Shocks: Relict
Credits: Honor Vincent (script), Lee Milmore (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Greg Lincoln: Sometimes it’s fun and refreshing to be reminded that, from an objective point of view, humanity is mostly awful. ‘Relict’ tells a wonderfully heroic tale of a mouse who survived a nuclear apocalypse somehow. They recall, in brief, their thousands of years of life and a warm fondness for its creators. Lee Milfore clearly shows us in the art that the creators must have been us and, throughout the narration, we are treated to the mouse using and interacting with the relics of our technological world.
Stories like this are a reminder that for the most part humankind is a detestable species. The mouse has a kind of helmet on that is just suspicious enough that you know that they were a lab animal and that its past was a horror show. The details in Milmore’s art don’t disappoint and Hope Vincent’s story is as grim as you might expect. It’s easy to feel the deep betrayal of the warmth that the mouse felt from the creators in the opening. Sure, the human scientists we see seems to be malicious, but to the mice it may not seem that way. The end of the story is all too fitting and feels right that the hero will have company this time around. ‘Relict’ is a darkly satisfying tale with art that is amazingly layered and detailed.
Fiends of the Eastern Front: 1963, Part 7
Credits: Ian Edginton (script), Tiernen Trevallion (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: “Fiend of the Eastern” front slows things down after about a month’s worth of sprinting from one explosion to the next. A sprint that would be captured in Major Doleman’s phrase “a busy day.” This little interlude is another exercise in spy fiction, the slower more le Carré style of speaking slowly at gunpoint and putting it all together. Constanta wants to know why he was in Berlin and who gave him the orders!
Tiernen Trevallion gets to show a different dimension to his art in this strip with its slower shot-reverse-shot styled pace. Pages tend to be built in very symmetrical but not quite mirrored styles with everyone getting at least one side of them captured in pitch black hard shadow. Does this match any sort of coherent style of lighting for the setting? No, but it looks darn cool and effectively sets the tense tone for this investigation/narrative catch up for new readers.
Why would the Russians want Constanta though? Maybe it is his magical origins but the English already have another vampire that was created that way. So why? Readers from last week know that it’s all part of Rasputin’s great scheme – what that is actually is to be revealed. But it is an effective lure for the characters to search for. They do manage to uncover who appears to be the mole in their office and why Constanta was already in Berlin.
This being 2000 AD you can’t just have an entirely talkie or straightforward strip. It just so happens the mole is listening to them as they come to this conclusion, are they the reader? And they have a bazooka nearby just in case! It wouldn’t fit the style of the strip but a “Sin City” like highlight of color would have been very effective as flames consume the apartment. For his part Trevallion does a good job of using grey tones to develop a sense of voluminous smoke seeping out of everything.