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 2000 AD
Judge Dredd: In the Event of my Untimely Demise: Part 3
Credits: Mike Carroll (script), Paul Marshall (art), Dylan Teague (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Lincoln: The off the books group Dredd formed takes a lot of action this week, with attacks on several mob families based on the intel received in part one. We are left wondering, like many of the Judges involved the the operations, what is really going on here. The way that Mike Carroll has written this tale makes Dredd and his cabal distant from us and therefore less the “heroes,” and their murky morality is made even muddier than usual. The information gave them a target rich environment and unlike modern law enforcement they made use of the information. The question Carroll leaves us with is just who does the information ultimately benefits?
Paul Marshall does a great job of making the story flow smoothly. The action jumps from one Judge raid action to another, spliced with talking heads scenes and Hollywood levels of explosive violence and it’s outcome. He keeps us kind of at a distance from the scenes and players mostly except for those moments that cost the “Jays” the most in this story. It succeeds in making the losses personal even if we have only just met the characters now. Marshall also brings us into the scene with Ulessa Fischer and makes us conspirators in whatever her and the kindred have cooks up. It’s both a pretty impersonal tale and one that feels very personal at the some time.
Void Runners: Part 1
Credits: David Hine (script), Boo Cook (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Brian Salvatore: One of the issues that I tend to have with 2000 AD stories is the insistence of setting a grand stage before narrowing things down into a more manageable story. This story would lose nothing at all if three and a half of the five pages were discarded, as they are giving us information that is not relevant to the story and not particularly interesting or original. We’ve seen stories like this a hundred times before, and there’s just nothing left to mine from this particular vein of storytelling.
But once the story itself ramps up a bit and we’re introduced to Captain Shikari, things start to improve a little bit. And that’s not because David Hine’s script all of a sudden gets edgy or different; it is just that the story becomes something. Sure, we’ve seen variations on this story a bunch of times before, too, but it feels less redundant than yet another interplanetary cabal full of evil folks low on a resource. The drunken/stoned captain looking for salvation materials is a trope in and of itself, but here is where Boo Cook’s art gets to shine more than just in the Man Calamari meets Georgia O’Keefe creatures we see early on. Shikari’s design is androgynous, luminous, grizzled, and playful. It’s the first image in the story that looks wholly unique and new.
There’s still not a ton to write home about here, but there’s something about Shikari that gives me hope for future installments. We’ll see if that hope is well founded or not soon enough.
Durham Red: Mad Dogs 09
Credits: Alec Worley (script) Ben Willsher (art) Simon Bowland (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: Ben Wilsher captures a sense of agony in Durham Red I wasn’t quite sure was possible. Red’s body feels like it is self-bifurcating as the drug’s effects begin to take hold and threaten a hedonistic fugue state to satiate her blood lust, meanwhile her conscious self tries to hang onto control and find something anything a “name” “location” “family relation” to stop her from sucking every one of these meat bags dry. Throughout Willsher draws the character in near profiles highlighting how one eye is glowing yellow while her other is clear eyed and horrified.Continued below
“Mad Dogs” ninth episode also continues the trend of just dropping out backgrounds and replacing them with abstract expressionist color plays that tell the reader what to feel. Overall Wilsher’s panel composition has shifted to these bolder representations of the body, it’s compositional sensibility 90s Image but without the overwrought everything quality.
Alec Worley’s scripting has a few nice moments in this episode. In particular Kanaka’s discussion of how their drug is the distillation of other people’s fear and pain. A substance the people of this sector just can’t get enough of. It’s the right kind of dark drug that fits in the Dreddverse, at once absurd and yet understandable and human.
The fact we don’t see the massacre is an actually effective tease for what is to come. It forces the question, which half of Red “won”. It sounds like we know who came out on top but maybe we’re in for a surprise.
Enemy Earth Book 2: Part 9
Credits: Cavan Scott (script), Luke Horsman (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Matthew Blair: The journey across this brave and terrifying new world to India isn’t going very well. The group has barely made it out of the British isles and they’re already shipwrecked and desperate for help. Fortunately, they seem to have stumbled across an old oil rig that has people on it that can help.
Unfortunately, these people are part of some strange cult, and to make matters worse Julius is starting to showcase strange and terrifying powers.
Writer Cavan Scott seems to really hate his characters because he is not letting them rest for a moment in “Enemy Earth Book 2: Part 9”. Between the oil rig cult and Julius’ strange new powers, Scott has given the group a bunch of new things to worry about and thrown even more obstacles in their path. To make matters worse, Scott decides that this isn’t going to be something that brings the group together. In fact, it just exacerbates an already tense situation and threatens to destroy what little trust the group has built between themselves. All of this to say, this is a very well written story with a lot of great and gripping drama.
Luke Horsman’s artwork in “Enemy Earth Book 2: Part 9” continues to take the chaos and energy of the last couple of story sections and keeps it going. While the story is a little less chaotic, there are still plenty of extreme close ups and weird angles that keep the energy high and the readers nervous. There are some moments where it feels like it could have benefitted from a smaller panel count and allowed the reader to catch their breath, but we’re dealing with a story with limited pages and time, so it does a good job with what it has.
“Enemy Earth Book 2: Part 9” keeps its foot on the proverbial gas pedal and doesn’t let up. It does a great job of keeping the tension and distrust strong among the members of the group and introduces a bunch of new variables that feel like they’re going to become important later.
Rogue Trooper: Blighty Valley, Part Seven
Credits: Garth Ennis (script), Patrick Goddard (art), Rob Steen (letters)
Chris Egan: Ennis really gets into the juxtaposition of chummy discourse and the hell of war this week. All of the mechanisms are there for a typical war story, and the confusing nature of a “Rogue Trooper” volume. The uneasy comradery between the soldiers is nice to see as they attempt to keep each other grounded with any number of dangers surrounding them.
While the boys try to relax and heal, Rogue is scouting ahead to see what’s in store for them. The chatter and warmth fades as the battle must rage on as the enemy gets ever closer, close enough to attack. What works best about Ennis’s script is that while it may be obvious on a second glance that danger and death are on the horizon, that anxiety doesn’t really play a part here until weapons fire comes whizzing past your face. You’re almost as startled as the characters when it happens. The art by Goddard is fully engaging and a really highlight of the strip
This may be the most dangerous and tragic entry so far and it leaves Rogue with questions and and a dilemma for next week.