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: Special Relationship: 05
Credits: Rob Williams (script), Patric Goddard (art), Quinton Winter (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Lincoln: Rob Williams is clever in his storytelling this week. The way he leads up to revealing how we got to the this “twenty three days after hack” standoff between Mega City 1 and Britt-Cit forces has added to the level of tension again. The brief flashback to Sir Bernard in the parking structure and the abbreviated conversation between him and Mordic implied a lot but really said nothing before the gunplay happened and Domino appeared again. This all leaves us readers with a confused feeling. We know enough to make guesses, but not enough to feel confident with them. That feeling plays well with the tension of the standoff between Dredd and his Britt-Cit counterpart on the colony base.
Adding to that stress are the four hundred civilians and the base staff that are placed in jeopardy by Mega-City one’s actions. There are so many holes in our knowledge as readers here that we have little chance of knowing who’s words to trust or doubt other than those of the injured agents who just need help. Help that they are not getting. Williams sure knows how to write a thriller story to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Somehow, none of these moments seems manipulative, even though they totally are.
Patric Goddard keeps so many of the panels tight on the characters. Closeups jump from character to character make the story feel very quick, urgent, and punchy in delivery. The pallet they use is dark and seems drenched in reds, even though not much of is blood, Quinton Winter’s color does up the level of tension. The shift in color in a brighter panel, when Dredd delivers his surprise, turns up the volume somehow, and his statement seems more like a shout than it seem from the line art alone.
Brink: Mercury Retrograde Part 22
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), INJ Culbard (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Brian Salvatore: After last week’s bombshell chapter, this week slips back into a more deliberate pace, with Maz spending the first half of the chapter dictating a note to his wife, along with giving her access to all of his files. She has become the ‘Diane’ from Twin Peaks in the back half of this strip, where she exists solely to give Maz someone to speak exposition to without any pushback. INJ Culbard tries to find ways to make these scenes interesting, and succeeds more than not, but I can’t keep wondering what would happen with a script that is less monologue-y.
The second half of the chapter does two things: one, it gives a little more credence to Leeden’s story, as that is the name that other union members call him. The other is that it allows Culbard to do some fun stuff with the vents, where there is an ability to make this book which, ostensibly, takes place in outer space finally look spacey. Instead of planets and stars, it’s lint and dust, but when filtered through the right light, they appear celestial.
The story has been feeling like it is slowly heading towards a finale, but we’re 22 chapters in and new wrinkles keep being added. On one hand, the story is getting richer and richer, but on the other, the drag continues. With Maz going into the ventilation tunnels, it seems like something big is about to happen; let’s hope that it happens swiftly, and isn’t another 4 weeks before a major moment.
Skip Tracer: Valhalla Part Five
Credits: James Peaty (script), Paul Marshall (art), Dylan Teague (colours), Simon Bowland (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: After last week’s plot moving episode “Skip Tracer” gets back to its usual form with an episode that offers some dramatic irony and new genre twists. It’s enough to make up for the obvious, and admittedly well done, Star Wars joke of a literalized bad feeling Eden is having about all of this.Continued below
Last week I wasn’t sure how to read the apparent death of Abe in the context of him waking up in Valhalla. Abe is gone in this strip so that’ll be a question for another time. What it does afford the creative team, however, is some interesting dramatic irony. We as readers know Abe is not fully “dead” he’s only mostly dead … in some way, most likely. But our cast don’t know this which adds a nice bit of tension to the pointless aggression that is being worked through on the second page. Paul Marshall and Dylan Teague make the mostly hollow actions of Nolan really work. It’s hollow-ish because of the dramatic irony but the art team sells the emotional reaction behind it. The art also literalizes the hollow feeling just by looking at all the negative space that is being covered by Teague’s coloring of various explosions/gunfire in those panels. Nolan is adrift in a sea of his own rage.
“Skip Tracer” is finally getting into the heist side of things as the remaining team make it to the strategy core. All they need to do is put the macguffin into the mcgriddle and it’s home free. That’s easy, almost too easy. There is the slight complication of their central panel designs not being quite to scale, it’s the size of a large safe door. But their rod looks like it’ll still fit. Even that is just a little too straightforward.
Ending on the cliffhanger of a tripwire going off and a massive explosion works in the moment but is not the most dramatic punchline. Like their experience getting too the central node, it’s too simple. Now could Nolan’s teammate die in the explosion, sure but the story isn’t about them. It’s about Eden and Nolan and the creative team isn’t going to kill off their protagonists in a cliffhanger explosion. So I guess we’ll see how this explosive finale plays out, hopefully someone at least gets a cool scar out of it.
Dexter Bulletopia Chapter 10: Malice in Plunderland Part 5
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Tazio Bettin (art), Matt Soffe (colors) Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Matthew Blair While this story could have easily lasted another five installments, it’s time for it to end and for the gang to move on in their quest to flee the AI that has been hunting them all this time. But how do they avoid getting caught in the middle of a massive gang war once and for all? By going all in on the scam they started and lying like their lives depended on it.
Unfortunately, they may have just made things worse for themselves.
While it is admirable that writer Dan Abnett decides to not resolve this problem with incredible violence, there are some moments that make “Dexter Bulletopia Chapter 10 Part 5” the shakiest part of the story. Granted, the dialogue is well written, the story is fun to read, and Abnett does a great job of giving the setup of the gangster’s narration a reason to exist, but there are some revelations concerning the technology in Dexter’s head and the group dynamics that weren’t given a whole lot of set up, but are integral to the conclusion of the plot. It’s not distractingly bad, but it is a hiccup from a writer who is normally better than this.
Tazio Bettin’s art continues to do its job very well in “Dexter Bulletopia Chapter 10 Part 5” and this time the highlight of the issue is how he shows the posture and attitude of the characters. A particular bright spot is the way he draws the group’s android Klink, who is decked out in full fight mode and looks incredibly menacing and intimidating. The posture and attitude of each character creates a fantastic visual shorthand that plays to the greatest strength of comics as a medium: using a single image to tell a story in a way that would normally take half a page in a prose story. It’s the right art for this kind of story, and it’s always nice to see when a certain style fits a story so well.
“Dexter Bulletopia Chapter 10 Part 5” may not be a gunslinging, action packed, bloody and violent finale to this story that some readers may have been expecting and it may introduce new information a bit too quickly, but it has its charms and is still pretty satisfying to read.Continued below
Jaegir: Ferox Part Three
Credits: Gordon Rennie (Script), Simon Coleby (Art), Len O’Grady (Colors), Jim Campbell (Letters)
Christopher Egan: If last week’s entry was down in the dirt and had a controlled look at loss of control, this week gives us an all-out brutal, yet smoothly operating battle. In world, Coleby creates new tech, new fighting styles, and new character designs. We also get new style and page design. O’Grady also brings a new palette for some hand to ha – face combat. Blood and teeth fly. Futuristic swords slash the air and bodies. It’s exciting and engaging straight through.
The balance of high concept sci-fi, warfare, and deeper ideologies is what Jaegir: Ferox really has going for it. There are some deeper concepts to dig at if you so choose, or you can simply read some kickass future war material.
That’s some of the stuff that works best with 2000 AD and it’s all here. Mixed with that James Cameron style I mentioned at the start of this strip.