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 4
Credits: Mike Carroll (script), Paul Marshall (art), Dylan Teague (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Lincoln: Paul Marshall’s art is solid and evocative, Mike Carroll’s ideas are compelling and complex and, somewhere in that complexity, ‘In the Event of my Untimely Demise’ has come apart in this weeks installment. The parts of this story the land solidly are due in great part to the classic comic art of Marshall; the clarity and simplicity of his designs and art play well with several moments and beats in the story. The opening scene, with the attempted dressing down delivered to Dredd and his offhand deflection, shows just how little his superiors worry him. They are beneath him and he shows it. Marshall also nails feeling and emotion with the scene portraying the drug dealer, with her surprise and the sheer terror on the mob bosses face as he pleads for help. The rest of the art is equally distinctive and well drawn, but there is simply too much story being told for it to carry it off well.
Carroll simply has too many balls in the air and dangling plot lines to follow in these few pages. Among all the action we have a few too many talking heads scenes; they are telling vital pieces of the story, but it’s far to easy to get lost in the details. The clearest story is the set up of Dredd’s off the books cabal. Beyond that, we have the set up and playing out of the internal mob tensions, the psyker keeping tabs on Dredd and several vital revelations. The Kindred apparently manipulated the dead mob leader into sending that revenge note delivered back in part one, and that is an interesting tidbit that hints at more. The problem lies in the secrets that remain; there are several events that round out the weeks story including the Jays collaring another mob leader. What it all means to the story, though, is muddied by the complexities Carroll is telling.
Void Runners: Part 2
Credits: David Hine (script), Boo Cook (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Brian Salvatore: Captain Shikari cuts an impressive and somewhat unconventional figure in “Void Runners,” but that isn’t too hard to do when you are being put up against psychic, logic-obsessed beings that are meant to be a representation of the stodgy and the predictable. Shikari has her own methods that seem strange and dangerous to her current companions, but they also seem like the kind of creatures who would be disoriented if your pizza order deviated from the norm. And so, while Shikari is supposed to be seen as revolutionary and challenging, she really comes off as simply non-robotic. David Hine seems to want us to think her more special than that, but there just hasn’t been enough yet to show us why.
Boo Cook’s art continues to be a sort of collage of sci-fi tropes, but it sort of works. Every page has another hat tip to something: Alien, Star Wars, Lovecraft. But the way they all coalesce does feel like a particularly 2000 AD style, and makes the pages feel very much like classic stories from a Prog. However, the plot and art aren’t really making this into anything that feels special or unique just yet. This is the second week in a row that feels very much like table setting for the strip. Let’s hope that changes soon.
Durham Red: Mad Dogs 10
Credits: Alec Worley (script) Ben Willsher (art) Simon Bowland (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: The tenth entry in ‘Mad Dogs’ does exactly what you would expect and has a surprise that isn’t so surprising. That is what makes this strip maybe not “great” but most definitely “really good.” Durham Red doesn’t give into the drug-induced super thirst and demonstrates her reason to keep fighting. Burt is also back, and not via magic blood! Which is, perhaps, a good surprise. Surprise is overrated; paying off the moments that you set up is a much more satisfying experience.Continued below
The creative team continues to try and tie together all of the eras of “Durham Red” with a flashback to something that I want to say is a new addition but is at least using the historical timeline of the Dreddverse to show where this newfound will come from. It’s a half-remembered memory of the mutant uprising; the words don’t matter. It’s how Red feels about the memory that drives her. She puts those feelings into the words of “No Surrender”. Ben Willsher art does more to get the feeling across than Worley’s script or Bowland’s lettering. The shock of red in the background and the simple image of a raised arm holding a shotgun. This creates a potent follow-up panel of Red smashing some glass and stuff.
I’m glad Burt is alive. Is this the creative team walking back from a shocking bleak death? Maybe a bit, but it fits the overall motif of appearances being deceiving from the last chunk of strips. When Burt made the swap with the holo suit? I have no idea.
All of these reveals help to suddenly reverse Kanaka’s fortunes and set up a showdown that will test Red’s newfound willpower. She really wants to murder him, but if the powers that be take his deal for immunity, is she going to have the chance?
Enemy Earth Book 2: Part 10
Credits: Cavan Scott (script), Luke Horsman (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Matthew Blair: The journey may have begun but the story is ending for now. With that being said, we get to close out on a massive and terrifying finale that pushes the characters to their physical and emotional limit and gives H.P Lovecraft a run for his money.
Not everyone is going to survive it.
Writer Cavan Scott certainly knows how to end a story with a bang in “Enemy Earth Book 2: Part 10”. The whole thing culminates with even more characters shifting allegiances, a ton of chaotic and epic action, and just enough of an emotional gut punch to make the reader sad that people have died but not sad enough that there isn’t some hope for the future. Scott has created a brutal and ugly world that takes courage and sacrifice to survive in, and he does a great job putting the characters through quite the ringer.
A chaotic and violent ending requires chaotic and violent artwork and Luke Horsman delivers in “Enemy Earth Book 2: Part 10”. This is probably the darkest and bloodiest art that Horseman has delivered for this story and he makes great use of blurring and motion lines to show the chaos of the action unfolding around the characters. There is a bit of a downside, the short story length means the panel count has to go up, which means that each page can look a bit too crowded and confusing at times, but it still does everything it’s supposed to do and tells a great story.
“Enemy Earth Book 2: Part 10” is a very effective ending for this part of the story that delivers action, chaos, and emotional heartbreak in a very condensed and tightly written package. The story may be on hiatus after this, but there’s still a long way to go and a lot of things left to explore.
Rogue Trooper: Blighty Valley, Part Eight
Credits: Garth Ennis (script), Patrick Goddard (art), Rob Steen (letters)
Chris Egan: This feels like false hope, or at least it’s giving the boys false hope. For the reader we see everything that’s going on, but nothing about the current situation screams that everything will turn out alright. And Rogue’s own possessed weapon believes the outlook to be grim as well. The troops think they’ve found a possible way home and Rogue is doing his best to get everyone out alive.
It’s all so bleak. Even when humor or good-natured bonding is at the forefront of the story, this series never feels like the right or good thing will happen. At this point I’m not sure what to look forward to with the plot. Nothing is turning around these feelings and it doesn’t seem like the ultimate ending will be much of a happy one. Not that has to be the case at all, but throughout this entire strip there have only been a few fleeting moments of emotional intrigue and outside of some interesting moments there has been little to connect with. The longer that’s the case, the harder it is to find enjoyment in reading subsequent entries; even with writing and artwork that is quite good.