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: An Honest Man, Part 5
Credits: Ken Neimand (script), Tom Foster (art), Chris Blythe (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Lincoln: ‘An Honest Man” was, all in all, a great take on the existence of police violence. Kyle and Dredd’s momentary face off becomes complicated and violent when more cartel stooges show up and the shooting starts again. In the conversation they do have, Kyle proves to be a very honest character. With one minor omission, the story he tells Dredd is the absolute truth. This ex-judge proves to be a less aggressive person across the arc of this story than his memories show him to have been. His incarceration changed the man the Justice Department trained. With no more chances to correct the Titan modification to his face, he gives his entire payoff to Zoola, the daughter of the man he killed.
He tells Zoola who he was and his violent connection to her father. His guilt about his actions come through in his words. They condemn him, but also condemn the Justice department’s training and culture too. It’s a solid reflection and condemnation of the violence inherent in the system today as well. Purcell’s fate, mentioned in passing, is Dredd being praised for doing what a Judge should. He’s so unlikeable, and so obviously as volatile as Asher, it is an interesting and thought provoking statement from Ken Neimand about law enforcement culture. He links it so well to the training and culture of law enforcement.
Tom Foster’s pages reflect the dark somber mood of this police story so so well. The shadows on these pages are deep. The tones of Chris Blythe’s colors are moody and just a little washed out lending to the somber tone the story ends on. From the opening fight with the cartel to the quiet final panels, the colors, shadows, and tones affect the feel of the read so much. There is so much ink on these pages that they feel heavy with the weight of Asher’s guilt. Even the explosion of the H-vehicle is cast in dark tones. The final panel, the middle ground shot of Asher awaiting his fate in silence, is a bold statement of his honest guilt. Solid allegory, well told and affective in execution.
Hope: In The Shadows – Reel One, Part Ten
Credits: Guy Davis (Script), Jimmy Broxton (Art), Jim Campbell (Letters)
Christopher Egan: This week showcases the type of old Hollywood horror tale that mixes fiction with reality, or at least rumor, and uses the lack of physical evidence, incomplete recollection, and nostalgia to make a dark and twisted past into a sensationalized version of itself. Like the fictional take on the Black Dahlia murder or Clive Barker’s “Coldheart Canyon,” it’s easy to get swept up in the blending of truth and fiction, especially in the horror genre and in an era that is long enough ago that most who are still alive weren’t old enough to have experienced this kind of life first hand, and everyone else has to completely imagine what the truth was like, so the addition of the fantasy already comes naturally.
The thought of fetish sex parties, brutal violence, and being haunted by ghosts and memories is equally abhorrent and titillating because we simply weren’t there and so much of it is here-say. So, when those things get incorporated into a horror story, we can’t help but eat it up and ask for more. This portion of the script is light enough to keep us begging for more while giving a few definitive answers from last week.
The bizarre nature of the majority of this week’s chapter makes for a fun and somewhat uncomfortable read as it moves between the horrific and the absurd. While there still seems to be an imbalance and disconnect between some of the chapters, and story direction, when this strip delivers the goods it’s easier to overlook its smaller flaws.Continued below
Skip Tracer: Valhalla Part One
Credits: James Peaty (script), Paul Marshall (art), Dylan Teague (colours), Simon Bowland(letters)
Michael Mazzacane: The latest “Skip Tracer” begins on a quiet note, until like a bolt of lightning it all goes up in flames. It’s not a lot of space but Jeames Peaty and especially Paul Marshall manages to get across the fatherly relationship between Nolan Blake and his psychic daughter. The tension between the Dad trying to protect his daughter and the kid who has a point and is also not fully aware of what is coming after them.
The opening page at the diner is just a nice piece of composition. Marshall uses a series of page wide panels to show the breadth and density of the diner space while also showing the officers coming in and finding Nolan. It’s simple yet effective, only cutting into tight close ups on Nolan when necessary and putting in a visual clue for what is haunting the family on the run.
The moment the lighting strikes is another solid overall page composition. The strong vertical lines of the opening three panels are contrasted by the violent shift to diagonal layouts as the bolt comes in. The contrasting lines just create a good sense of energy and composition to the moment of anger.
And then just like that, it’s over and everything is quiet again for now. An overall solid moody intro to this newest “Skip Tracer” strip. Maybe not the most plot heavy but it’s a good introduction to the characters.
Terror Tales: Last Days in Porpoise Palace
Credits: John Tomlinson(script), Stewart K. Moore (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Matthew Blair: The Porpoise Palace is a strange hotel filled with mystery and infamy. It’s the kind of place where people go to have a good time away from the prying eyes of the public, and wind up dead due to a suspicious drug overdose, murder, or time traveling corpse. It’s the kind of place that a writer like Luke Skelly would love to research for a book.
It’s also the kind of place where an old washed up horror actor like Stauton Whitrow to relive old memories, old regrets, and to engage in a complicated plot of time travel, and murder.
“Terror Tales: Last Days in Porpoise Palace” is written by John Tomlinson and it’s a strange one. Tomlinson seems to be trying to imitate the style of classic horror writers such as Stephen King, but it’s a difficult job since he only has a handful of pages to do it. The characters of Skelly and Whitrow are well written and evoke the respective horror movie tropes of an old professional with too many regrets and the young creative who is a bit too eager for success for his own good, and the setting is unique and entertaining enough to be interesting. The problem is that Tomlinson throws everything at the reader a bit too quickly and doesn’t let the story breathe. It’s a story that would have benefited from a longer run time and slower pacing.
The artwork for “Terror Tales: Last Days in Porpoise Palace” is drawn by Stewart K. Moore. Moore has an interesting style that evokes classic European comics where the backgrounds are realistic and detailed, but the characters have a simple, thin line look that makes them look cartoonish and iconic. It’s an acquired taste that isn’t for everyone, but it’s actually really effective when Moore wants to create atmosphere and the one panel where we see the monster of the story is really creepy and effective.
“Terror Tales: Last Days in Porpoise Palace” is a weird tale that seems to be trying to pay homage to horror writers like Stephen King, and while the art work is unique and effective, the writing feels a bit rushed and can be a bit confusing.
Brink: Mercury Retrograde Part 16
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), INJ Culbard (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Brian Salvatore: While the purpose of this week’s installment is clear – Maz may be a suspect for all of the various crimes and weirdness he reports on – this is a frustrating installment of ‘Mercury Retrograde.’ While Dan Abnett’s script has been building new mysteries atop new mysteries for the past few months, this week simply restates things in the form of an interrogation that, ultimately, leads nowhere.
While these five pages will read fine in a collected edition, as the morsel of the week, they feel unnecessary and repetitive. There’s nothing happening in these pages that will really change the story going forward, save for who Maz sees across the room at the end of the strip, which is a scene in which INJ Culbard masterfully uses perspective and distance. But aside from that revelation, Maz already knew the cops were a little suspicious of him, the reader already knew that Bardot was dead, and we also knew that the cops probably thought he was more right than wrong. All of that gets restated, but none of it really shapes the story in a new way. Let’s hope next week corrects this.