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 6
Credits: Rob Williams (script), Flint Henry (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Lincoln: The end of ‘Buratino Must Die’ is suitably apocalyptic, taking some very unexpected turns and does not deliver in quite the way you might expect. Yes, there very much is a “gun” used in this chapter to end the threat to Mega-City One. It’s not the one we were led to expect, but it is literally “Dredd” who pulls the trigger. Rob Williams put some very unexpected and surprising elements as this story ended. A lot of the elements that came together here were classified from Dredd and (a little unfairly) hidden from us. Buratino’s project was planned specifically to fight the threat that arrived and nearly destroyed Mega-City One. Seeing the Sentientoid pivotal in saving the city felt like worthy built to moment of heroism. Sure it slugged Dredd out cold, but it’s really was a solidly enjoyable moment. The ending was largely unexpected and it’s likely Buratino used Dredd to get there but we’ll never really know. We do know what Izaaks was sneaking out for and it’s something that Dredd has a pointed pithy comeback for as you might expect.
Henry Flint’s art fells a little loose in the opening panels. It may have been a nod to it being a flashback scene, but the remainder is more solid comics art. The fight between Buratino and his spiritual children feels like a battle of titans. The perspective Flint uses, the way he exaggerates faces and bodies, builds that effect. His use of pastel colors colors and swirling backgrounds make the finale a otherworldly psychedelic experience. It’s hard to feel sorry for Vasilisa. but his art makes you feels something in the moment she died. So much of the art and design in ‘Buratino Must Die’ makes you wish that this arc was just a bit longer, but we’ll have to be happy with a slightly abbreviated finale.
Chimpsky’s Law: A Terrifically Disturbing Adventure, Part 8
Credits: Ken Niemand (script), PJ Holden (art), Chris Blythe (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
Matthew Blair: Well, we’ve come to the end of Chimpsky’s little dust up with a telepathic troublemaker and the results are certainly…interesting. Again, I don’t want to spoil what happens here but it’s safe to say that the ending isn’t what anyone was really expecting.
What’s interesting about “Chimpsky’s Law Part 8” is that writer Ken Neimand seems to understand how readers will probably think this story ends and then takes a lot of steps to either subvert them or polish the details to the point where the ending shines. What’s really fascinating is just how much of an emotional gut punch this ending really is. Sure, the good guys may have won and the villains certainly deserve what’s coming to them, but it doesn’t stop Chimpsky (or the readers) from feeling bad about the fact that violence has been committed against a child. On top of that, Neimand does a great job of leaving the story just open-ended enough for future progs.
PJ Holden’s art feels like it regresses a little bit in “Chimpsky’s Law Part 8”, but only in a handful of places. Mega City One still looks great and there is some really effective use of shadows and light that make some key scenes look properly menacing and creepy. It’s just that in a few panels some of the anatomy of the characters feels a bit weird, a face looks a little too rushed and a couple of arms feel a bit out of proportion. It doesn’t do much to impact the story, but it is noticeable enough to bring up.
“Chimpsky’s Law Part 8” is a satisfying conclusion to this story and does a great job of creating emotional depth and a broader mystery. It will be a shame to see this story go, but it will be a treat to see what happens next.Continued below
Enemy Earth: Book One: Part Eight
Credits: Cavan Scott (script), Luke Horsman (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: There’s only so much you can do in an individual strip in “2000 AD”, the page budget of each episode is one of the things that makes writing a serial narrative challenging and interesting. Writer Cavan Scott juggles multiple emotions at once in this strip largely centered around Zoe and the grief she feels for the death of her family and the trauma of those experiences as well as the recent loss of her arm. Any one of those emotions could’ve been their own 5 page strip, this was pretty much the case two episodes ago as we learned about what happened to Gran. To make matters even more complex, Scott throws in a sudden narrative and tonal shift at the end, which actually works as it functions as the strip’s cliffhanger. While part eight of “Enemy Earth ” may not be the individual best, Scott’s writing and Luke Horsman’s art and pacing execute a high degree of difficulty in a fashion that appears easy.
Zoe is a bundle of raw nerves and binaristic thinking, requirements for her to survive on this titular Earth. The molding of Zoe into the person she is today is structured in some part by the toxic and antagonistic environment around her. It is also a byproduct of her own inner thoughts and the feeling of responsibility and grief over the deaths of Bobby and Gran, two events she blames herself for. That emotional foundation is also why she lashes out at Jules for being the cause of her present troubles because without him she wouldn’t have been touched and so on.
If there is one moment where the structure of “2000 AD” gets in the way of things, it would’ve been nice to sit in that emotional state a little longer. Perhaps it would’ve made the reconciliation between Jules and Zoe, the forging of a newfound family, a bit stronger. As it stands that moment is effective.
That structure and tight page budget is also what allows the shocking, or well not so shocking in retrospect, cliff hanger to land so well. THEY ARE STAYING WITH CANNIBALS WHO WANT TO EAT THEM! Horsman’s reveal of the kitchen and just any old bone hanging out of the pot mixed with the POV shot of Jules realizing the gravity of the situation was an excellent outro to this strip. It’s at once horrifying and visually pleasing. This is the kind of moment that makes “2000 AD” work.
Hershey: The Cold in the Bones: Book One, Part Eight
Credits: Rob Williams (script), Simon Fraser (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Brian Salvatore: As Book One of ‘The Cold in the Bones’ comes to a close, a few things come to the surface, or at least confirm the suspicions that have been around since the start of the story. The origins of ‘Joy’ are made clear, both from a biological standpoint and a financial one. The involvement of the Judges into the initial creation of Joy was an unexpected element that deepens the mystery considerably and gives Hershey’s already precarious position even more danger and intrigue.
Simon Fraser’s art does a lot of the heavy lifting in this installment. His art is able to cut through some of the heavy plot elements and present the story in a straightforward and simple way. Despite the Joy’s origins, Fraser’s stark and bold coloring and horrifyingly detailed rendering of the Joy creatures bring forth a palpable sense of fear and danger in a way that the script can’t really compete with. His art also allows Rob Williams to take the strip in directions that are more nuanced or experimental, because the visceral reactions to the art keep the strip somewhat grounded.
Williams doesn’t give the reader – or Hershey – a really straightforward explanation for anything, instead relying on everyone picking up the pieces and shaping them in a way that feels organic and understandable to each person. What is clear by the end of this chapter is that Antarctic-City is fucked; the Joy creatures are going to find hosts, and the addictive nature of the drug will make that process even easier. And while, yes, there is a way to see this as ‘evolution’ and repopulating a dead continent, it is also incredibly bleak. When this strip returns, somehow it will be even darker than it already is.