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: Buratino Must Die, Part 3
Credits: Rob Williams (script), Flint Henry (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Lincoln: Long running comics series do this every so often. The creators will introduce us to a new character and they become a sacrifice for the sake of the story. It may be hasty to say that the interesting, “precocious” new Psi Judge, Huang, got fridged for the sake of the story but it certainly look like it. Rob Williams gives us enough of an introduction to the green haired judge that it’s hard not to invest in her, but it’s also not hard to see where this chapter is going. He also gives us some creepy Dredd memories from the Sov invasion maybe to remind us ho far he will go to punish the guilty for sad owing what may be coming for Izaaks and Buratino or maybe it’s something else entirely. What Williams make clear in this story is that something powerful, more powerful possibly than Buratino or Anderson has come to Mega-city one. It has a name that Huang somehow knows but will likely never tell anyone about Vascila.
Henry Flint is very adept as instilling life in his characters. The opening Psi test introduces a curious cast of characters that all feel like they have life and it’s likely the only time we will see them. He did the same for Huang, she easy to invest in and it’s shocking when it goes all awry. He is also skilled at rain scenes. His characters look wet, uncomfortable and mostly unhappy, well that’s likely just Dredd. His design for Vasily is intimidating and though largely monotone visually interesting. Coming off of last weeks darkLy humorous chapter this one feels bright and hopeful as it opens then drenched in grim darkness as it’s sacrifice occurs.
Chimpskey’s Law: A Terrifically Disturbing Adventure, Part 5
Credits: Ken Niemand (script), PJ Holden (art), Chris Blythe (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
Matthew Blair: Chimpsky is falling to his death, although he doesn’t seem to be too fazed about it. Since he is a super smart chimp, he knows how to process information and formulate and enact a plan quickly with a minimum of fuss, which is a very useful skill when you’re about to die.
Now all he needs to do is figure out how to take on two monsters who are infinitely more powerful than him before they rip him to shreds.
Despite the frantic action that takes place in “Chimpksy’s Law Part 5”, there is a surprising amount of space for writer Ken Niemand to expand the lore and story of his little corner of Mega City One. There’s a nice bit of exposition where Chimpsky talks about some of the people in his block that he’s helped which goes a long way towards endearing the location and characters to the audience and makes the reader want to root for the good guys. The story is also a great showcase in escalation, taking Chimpsky out of the proverbial frying pan and into a raging inferno of telekinetic puppetry that threatens to rip him to bits.
“Chimpsky’s Law Part 5” is probably the best showcase of PJ Holden’s artwork to date with the characters and environments blending together seamlessly and smoothly. With a large number of ariel shots and action set pieces, Holden gets to do some great visual world building and shows off a part of Mega City One that readers don’t normally get to see in Dredd stories: the nice parts that don’t get too much crime. There’s still plenty of room for Mega City One craziness though, and Holden does a great job of showing just how powerful the Twins are and how it must feel to be their mental slaves.
“Chimpsky’s Law Part 5” continues to ratchet up the tension and toss Chimpsky from one bad situation to the next. He appears to be slowly figuring things out, the question is…can he think it through in time?Continued below
Hope: In the Shadows Reel Two, Part Four
Credits: Guy Adams (script), Jimmy Broxton (art), Jim Campbell (letters)
Christopher Egan: Vampires! Ghosts! Hell Beings! This chapter start to connect things back around to Reel One. As enjoyable as this run has been without the need to make callbacks, now feels to be the right time to start heading back to the beginning to get the story moving towards its endgame, whenever that might be. The action and gore are well placed without being over done.
This chapter returns to the Old Hollywood meets Clive Barker tone that serves it really well. Rather than feeling dream-like, yet accessible like the previous three chapters, this one let’s you in with a seemingly simple vampire movie intro and then turns into something that feels forbidden and dark. This series continues to be horrifying and upsetting in the best way possible – in ways that feel typical, but end up being bizarre and surreal. “Hope: In The Shadows” continues to be a must read for horror fans.
Enemy Earth: Book One: Part Five
Credits: Cavan Scott (script), Luke Horsman (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: “Enemy Earth” bursts forth from the bunker and it’s a strange new world for the comic. Well maybe more just strange than “new” for the comic as the fact it is populated with all manner of things that wants to kill them is well established. Artist Luke Horsman takes this shift to change their page structure into something more open and less grid based. A fitting macro design choice for a strip that is essentially a series of one page gags of survival strung together.
In a rare moment for me I actually understood a reference to British culture before the comic revealed it as Zoe and Jules race through the abandoned and decrepit streets of London past White Hall and into Trafalgar Square. For once watching Disney pays off as I started humming “Feed the Birds” just in time to see the image of giant mutant pigeons come to try and eat our protagonists. This strip being essentially one long “yes and” series of gags means some of the transitions are a bit rougher than others, but the revelation that to combat the pigeon feces they’d electrified the statue of Winston Churchill is hilariously dystopian. The timing of this revelation with the image of the nanny bot unleashing their own electrical charge to fry the birds made it even better.
Luke Horsman’s art does fall short in one moment though as Zoe knocks over a series of pillars and one would guess historical architecture. I guess because the events described are in a series of rather small panels, discerning the supposed massive impact knocking them over is hard to imagine. It is undone because these beats are separated by a page break turning the whole thing into two half pages compared to one single page.
By the end of it though the group has their heading, they’re driving to Scotland or die trying. This was an overall fun energetic boost from a series of claustrophobic tense strips at the start of the series.
Hershey: The Cold in the Bones: Book One, Part Five
Credits: Rob Williams (script), Simon Fraser (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Brian Salvatore: One step forward, two steps back. ‘The Cold in the Bones’ reveals a little more about the source of the Joy drug, but also takes precautions that mean that the information, though valuable, is mostly useless unless the crew is willing to risk their lives in a very, very dangerous way. They are, because this is comics, and the plan goes afoul due to a dog. The sequence is nicely handled by Simon Fraser, who is able to make the scene both clear as day and somewhat obfuscate the reason for the dog’s reaction in a way that is very satisfying. It’s rare that a sequence can feel both as easy to follow and mysterious.
We also get a little peak inside of Hershey’s fears/subconscious, which reveals that Hershey fears she is dying due to an aline pathogen. Again, whether this is true or not is more or less immaterial, because the important thing is that this is how Hershey feels, and so that’s the reality that the character is dealing with, and therefore the reality that we are dealing with. It adds a little interesting wrinkle to the character’s motivations for wanting to come to the end of the Earth for this job, and gives the story a little more urgency and stakes.