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 5
Credits: Rob Williams (script), Flint Henry (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Lincoln: This week ‘Buratino Must Die’ opens with a very blatant, though not literal, reference to Chekov’s Gun in the form of Azrael’s pistol. Buratino reminds the talking horse of the providence of the powerful psychic weapon that was Ichabod Azrael’s pistol. Rob Williams reminds us, too, of where we started this story, Dredd holding a lawgiver to Buratino’s back and the Sov “Psi” speculating on wether Dredd would kill him then. It seems the answer was no, as Buratino goes on to face the Sov forces, his “children” that came to apparently bring him back for trial. The effects of the psychic bomb they brought upon Mega-City One make Dredd muse that he is out of his depth more he’s used to: “…a world you could daystick and bludgeon and bullet your way through.” We are pretty much at a point of a standoff as Buratino saves (?) Anderson from the Proletariat and says Mega-City One is his home now. We are left with a question as to how this will wrap up as the Sentientoid appears and Dredd struggles to find something to shoot.
The art is a tour de force of great lineart, storytelling and design work from Henry Flint. No one colors or inks like Flint. The variety of textures that he creates with the thin lined inks and crosshatching are amazing to see and you can nearly feel the horse hair, the scored metal, the craggy faces, and the shattering glass to name just a few. We have up until now seen a few of the Sov crew that appear in full this chapter and it’s hard not to want to know more about the interesting Zersetzung. You could almost see them as the stars of their own stories. There are very few actual sound effects on the page but you can still hear Dredd vomit in that silent panel. When there are sound effects, they are such a part of the art you don’t really see them among all the action and weird on the page.
Chimpsky’s Law: A Terrifically Disturbing Adventure, Part 7
Credits: Ken Niemand (script), PJ Holden (art), Chris Blythe (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
Matthew Blair: The battle to retake the block from the clutches of the terrible telepathic twins is now underway and Chimpsky and his Austrian friend have their work cut out for them. Fortunately for them, they have some help from the Justice Department in the form of a law enforcement robot who’s programming has been tweaked by Chimpsky to be a little bit kinder and a lot less lethal.
It is so weird seeing a Mega City One story where law enforcement doesn’t massively overreact to a situation, especially when said overreaction could actually be justified.
Writer Ken Neimand continues to make effective use of his dry wit in “Chimpsky’s Law Part 7” and manages to craft a surprisingly refreshing story where everyone winds up okay and only appropriate and non lethal force is utilized. It’s a fascinating story that doesn’t just have great action and fun characters, it actually makes the reader wish they could see more of this in other places across the setting. However, while the beginning and middle of the story show solid, by the numbers storytelling, there is a great twist at the end that won’t be spoiled here, but does an amazing job of elevating the story and making it even better.
PJ Holden’s art keeps getting better and better as the story progresses and “Chimpsky’s Law Part 7” combines his use of great dynamic action and solid background work. There’s a great sense of energy in Holden’s artwork and each frantic movement and non lethal impact is felt as Chimpsky and his small band of resistance fighters take on the residents of their home in a battle for survival. Also, the artwork has everything that makes the setting of Mega City One great on full display, high technology mixed with everyday people and elements with a dash of absurd humor thrown in for good measure. It doesn’t get more classic Judge Dredd than this, and Dredd isn’t even in this one!Continued below
“Chimpsky’s Law Part 7” is the conclusion of a great action set piece and sets up the final confrontation between an intelligent chimpanzee and his Austrian loving friend and the telepathic terrors who have been fighting him this entire story. What will happen next? No idea, but it will be great to find out.
Hope: In the Shadows Reel Two, Part Six
Credits: Guy Adams (script), Jimmy Broxton (art), Jim Campbell (letters)
Christopher Egan: Ambiguity can be terrifying and the chapters of “Hope” that have been some of the scariest are the ones that give little explanation as to what is happening outside of the horrific imagery and bizarre dialogue. This week’s entry is beautiful, disgusting, and filled with equal parts terror and dark humor
This is a particularly wild chapter that returns to this Clive Barker-esque gross out body horror that includes particular sexual details and gore. It also gets into some of the mind shattering metaphysical horror that was explored in the beginning of this Reel. It’s gorgeous in its own nasty and biting ways. It makes sense in the context of the strip and is also equally confusing and will take readers on a trip whether they have been following along this whole time, or not.
Broxton’s art is, as ever, the star of the piece and the nitty, gritty, gory masterwork is a must for fans spanning decades as it calls out to various sub-genres and styles covering the breadth of horror.
Enemy Earth: Book One: Part Seven
Credits: Cavan Scott (script), Luke Horsman (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: Previously I have described this series as a mixture of various genres, and that continues to hold true. What changes in this entry of “Enemy Earth” is writer Cavan Scott using this generic familiarity to subvert audiences’ expectations and reveal just what kind of a wound up and raw nerve Zoe is. That revelation isn’t a condemnation of her character, it is recognition that she wasn’t always that way. That she was made to perform this way by the world around her going to shit. Transformed into someone who can’t trust and for whom violence and distrust is the first and only response to every situation. In the end she is eternally stuck being that scared kid whose last image of her Gran was that of a hideous plant monster.
That pure fight response is partially responsible for the loss of her arm, which has some interesting echoes of a similar sequence in The Last of Us Part 2 but thankfully lacks the sheer brutality of that sequence.
Luke Horsman’s use of color in this strip is what shines through the most. They desaturate everything down to grey for several pages as Zoe wakes up, saving bursts of color for moments of shocking revelation. It’s only when she bursts through the door into a world she can no longer imagine, one of happiness and relative peace, that the full color spectrum shines through. This use of color is contrasted with her nightmarish memories of how her Gran passed, transformed into a plant monster. The page is bisected into grey and the monstrous pinup of Gran whose figure has had the saturation turned up just a bit above normal for the strip.
Cavan Scott and Luke Horsman’s character work in this strip has given it an energy I didn’t expect. What could’ve been a solid, if generic, post-apocalyptic darker YA strip has engaging characters and reasons to care.
Hershey: The Cold in the Bones: Book One, Part Seven
Credits: Rob Williams (script), Simon Fraser (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Brian Salvatore: The pace continues to slow down in ‘The Cold in the Bones,’ but this chapter reveals a few things that clarify the overarching picture of this story. First, we get a clear answer to the ‘is Hershey dying?’ question: yes, she is. And she’s dying because she’s cutting a drug out of her life, a drug that can extend it. This may seem masochistic or unnecessary, but it also sounds very human. Hershey is no kid, and Rob Williams is trying to tell us that she’s tired of the slog. This seems like a way for her to go out on her terms, which can be very important to people who have felt in their lives like their terms were never at the top of the priority list.
There is also some clarity on what exactly is being used for synthesize the Joy drug. Simon Fraser pulls off a neat trick where it appears to be taken from a plant or a flower, but the issue ends with the revelation that, no, it is from a giant spider. Fraser’s art continues to do things like this; he’s almost magician-like in helping to both misdirect and obscure details to allow maximum impact at the right moments.
Although this issue is packed with information, and is a nice antithesis to last week’s ‘one big scene’ type of story, the pacing still feels a little bit off here, and a big part of that is due to the shorter, episodic nature of 2000 AD. But beyond that, this feels like the first of a few pause points in ‘The Cold in the Bones,’ which will allow for the story to set itself up for the next major movement.