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: Poison, Part 8
Credits: Rob Williams (script), PJ Holden (art), (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
Greg Lincoln: In this final chapter of “Poison,” Dredd’s found the man who orchestrated Hershey’s murder and gets his time to question him. Even from the prison on Titan and from behind bars, Sinfield found a way to kill the woman who put him away. You’ve got to give that to him at least. He was clever enough and figured a way to make it happen that would trace back to him. In this chapter, he revels in explaining the particulars to Dredd, while Dredd has his hand on his Lawgiver ready to end Sinfield. Rob Williams took some awkward narrative leaps between chapters to get here; he skipped some really intriguing plot points – like all the build up in the Sov block – but he does stick the landing with this ending. It does really feel like just revenge for the death of Dredd’s friend Hershey. Justice may have been Dredd’s stated goal, but what he wanted and what he got really was revenge for the death of his friend.
PJ Hodlden’s art flip flops between being passable though disturbing to striking, if stylized. Lots of the backstory parts are alright and get the point across but don’t stand out. All of the scenes showing Sinfield and the terrors of the Titan penitentiary are unsettling, twisted, and deeply disturbing even flipping through the story. Holden can do effective body horror well. The standout panels are the ones tight on Dredd’s helmet, showing the reflection in his faceplate. Those make the story being told feel very personal. Though they lack emotion as his eyes are not visible, they are full of feeling. By the time of the final panel and Sinfield’s fate is shown, it’s clear Dredd made the more cruel choice of whether to kill him or not. It’s a satisfying conclusion to the arc and feels right as the ones responsible for Hershey’s death were ultimately truly punished.
Helium: Scorched Earth Part 8
Credits: Ian Edington (script), D’Israeli (art) Simon Bowland (letters)
Matthew Blair: The enemy is at the gates. They literally have the high ground over the main characters and are prepared to rain fire and death down upon them and the small town that decided to help them.
However, all is not lost because as it turns out, this town has literal teeth.
“Helium: Scorched Earth Part 8” is the moment where we finally see Ian Edington’s writing come into its own. While previous parts of the story felt strange and lost among a massive exposition dump and confusing timing, it all starts paying off here. Edington sets up a fascinating and original fight scene that promises to be highly entertaining, but the real highlight is his character work. We already know the townspeople are scared and angry, but Edington takes a moment to acknowledge this and his characters aren’t willing to sacrifice the town for their personal safety. It’s a nice moment that is a refreshing change of pace and allows the reader to like the characters and root for their survival.
The great writing “Helium: Scorched Earth Part 8” continues to be supported by the fantastic art of D’Israeli, only this time the art isn’t the only thing carrying the story. This part of the story is a bit more character focused, which allows D’Israeli to show off his work drawing actual people. It’s solid work, although it seems that D’Israeli isn’t having as much fun as he was having in previous stories. Still, it gets the job done and sets the stage for some really cool stuff that promises to be amazing in the future.
“Helium: Scorched Earth Part 8” is the best section of the story this comic has told so far. It has some genuinely great character moments, the emotional dilemma is well thought out, and there is a unique and interesting twist that elevates this comic into something genuinely great.Continued below
The Devil’s Railroad, Part 7
Credits: Peter Milligan (script), Rufus Dayglo (art), Jose Villarrubia (colors), Jim Campbell (letters)
Brian Salvatore: In what should not be a surprise to anyone, Constance did not die after being dropped by her suitor. However, in what is a bit of a surprise, this chapter managed to do something a little different than what we’ve recently seen since the second chapter. Palamon takes a potentially stupid chance to get to Earth, but does so with some care for a new friend, giving him his first non-cringeworthy moment in weeks. Constance, on the other hand, continues to be manhandled by the brother of the person Palamon killed/heir to the galactic empire.
Some slight movement in the script really does wonders for this entire presentation, but Rufus Dayglo’s art is given some room to stretch here. The city (planet?) of Trampoline has some of the most interesting visuals of the entire series thus far, and an added focus on a few aliens gives the issue the most vibrant art since the first chapter.
I know that these seem like faint praise, but in trying to give this strip a fair shake each week, there needs to be something to distinguish each chapter from the last. While, yes, the story is still lagging, this installment ends with each character walking into a relatively unknown situation. Not knowing what next week will bring is more than I could’ve said for any of the previous five installments.
The Fall of Deadworld: Retribution – Part Seven
Kek-W (script), Dave Kendall (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Christopher Egan: The final chapter (for now) of “The Fall of Deadworld” is a run and gun, nasty little piece of survival horror. Blood and gore fly as these dead Judges cut and blast their way through the hordes of creatures and undead coming their way. This is an extremely fun and goopy strip that serves up plenty of gleefully gross action to close out this portion of this series. As the action ramps up, so does the horror of what’s to come with Judge Death. The balance between fun action horror and true terrifying horror is blended together really well here and while things are fairly horrifying from the start of this week’s entry,
Kendall really captures the action, the terror, and the gore on every panel and page. It is glorious in its reverence for horror/action. There has been a lot of heavy scripting from Kek-W in past chapters, all necessary storytelling and lore building, but it was nice to get just enough writing here with needed information and to rely more on the artwork to help tell the story and simply give us some exciting and spooky stuff to wrap up this series.
“The Fall of Deadworld” will return next year with Judge Death lording menace over everyone and everything in his path. As it stands now, ‘ol J.D. has rarely been scarier than this. I love being creeped out by him again. Takes me back to reading random Dark Judges stories when I was way too young to be doing so.
Feral & Foe: Bad Godesberg, Part 8
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Richard Elson (art), Jim Campbell (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: In TTRPGs there is a saying “don’t split the party”. Now in a self-aware fantasy strip like “Fearl and Foe” Abnett and Elson have got to be aware of this, I want to say there might have even been a joke about it when they first went into the basement. While the saying has to do with the nature of both engaging gameplay and how power levels can be thrown out of whack, the saying also holds true for this strip as we have split plots and with the limited page budget neither of them seem to be serviced in an enjoyable manner.
Richard Elson’s art is a stand out in this strip. His depiction of the chase sequence between Wrath and Longaevi is engaging and balletic (the third and fourth pages in particular). Longaevi has an interesting design that feels closer to something Hirohiko Arraki would do in “JoJo” with how lithe and non-human this humanoid shape is. This strip is worth reading for those four pages. But as narrative or plot progression I’m just left with a bit of a blank stare. All of a sudden Longaevi appears, out of nowhere? The dialog says she slashed the jelly dice but also seems to be bursting out of it. The RKO out of nowhere quality of her introduction and sudden flight, while engaging on a visual level doesn’t have me all that intrigued. It should mean stuff to do with Wrath as a character which is much appreciated. Nothing in this chunk of the strip though gave me answers or teased questions. It just went here’s a sudden new character and left it at that.
Meanwhile in the tower Bode can’t make heads or tails of the old masters gibberish. The cut away as a “meanwhile” and it being limited to only one page is good plotting and structure, but the setup for the cliffhanger: the sudden appearance of a new monster, has been done before.
There’s nothing technically or fundamentally wrong in this episode or the past several, they just haven’t been engaging on a dramatic level as the creative team busy themselves with plot machinations instead of storytelling.