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: Clanker, Part 1
Credits: Ken Niemand (script), Nick Dyer (art), John Charles (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Lincoln: The extra dimensional entity that has been a problem for Dredd twice now returns for a third go round. This time, it’s not a one and done and, despite a slight bit of humor, this time it’s not for laughs. The era of the new flesh has arrived, and this time it can walk and is an honest threat to Mega City One. Its new body is an old Justice department robot and it’s clanking its way into the world terrorizing the citizens um evolution criminals it meets. Ken Neimand’s dialogue for the new iteration of the entity is pretty hilarious in the way it mixed its hunting instincts with the remnants of Justice programming. That programming is the only thing that actually saved Dredd from it, as the entity had Dredd dead to rights at one point. The situation necessitates a Psi Judge and, apparently, Anderson is not available, so Dredd has to make due and it’s apparently someone Dredd does not like working with. This continuing story will likely be a lot of fun given the narration and dynamics of part one.
Nick Dyer’s art captures that feeling of odd amusement that comes with the narration. It’s just cartoonish enough and stylized enough that the horror of the situations the story presents come off as more than farce. When the newly animated Robo corpse kills his prey and the street game both before facing Dredd, the violence doesn’t play as funny and rather gory as another art style might have made it seem. Dyer’s approach to character leans more into caricature and tells us more about the cast surrounding Dredd in this story than a lengthy bio would.
Helium: Scorched Earth Part 9
Credits: Ian Edington (script), D’Israeli (art) Simon Bowland (letters)
Matthew Blair: It’s the showdown you never knew you wanted, but you’re glad they decided to show. It’s the soldiers of the Empire of Ris vs. a literal city in the kind of titanic clash that would make Godzilla shed a single tear of pride.
Once again, our heroes are stuck in the middle of this awesome showdown, and while they have the ability to escape once and for all, they decide to throw caution and safety to the wind and actually do the right thing.
Ian Ediginton’s writing continues to be excellent in “Helium: Scorched Earth Part 9” and there is quite the subversion of expectations in the story. Edington does a great job of showing the characters grappling with the choice of either falling into enemy hands and presumably getting tortured, or watching thousands of people die. All of this is neatly set against the backdrop of a massive struggle between the Ris airship that has been hunting them and the living creature of the city that protects and defends the townspeople. The choices and rationale behind the character’s decisions make sense and lay the foundation for a much more interesting story.
It’s getting difficult coming up with new ways to say how great D’Israeli’s artwork is in “Helium: Scorched Earth Part 9”, but in this part of the story the struggle between the city monster and the ship looks properly epic and feels massive and heavy. The monster design is original and fun and there’s a great callback to Frank Herbert’s Dune in the design of some of the ships. On top of that, the action is easy to understand and the blacklight poster color scheme and use of color to separate the panels and easily show the reader what’s going on is a fantastic way to elevate the comic.
“Helium: Scorched Earth Part 9” is a great blend of epic, massive action and personal storytelling and character work that combines tough moral choices with world ending action. It’s a great addition to the story that lays the foundation for future awesomeness.Continued below
The Devil’s Railroad, Part 8
Credits: Peter Milligan (script), Rufus Dayglo (art), Jose Villarrubia (colors), Jim Campbell (letters)
Brian Salvatore: One step forward, two steps back with “The Devil’s Railroad” yet again this week. While it is nice to see Constance separated from her would-be-beau, with her diary in his possession, it means that this plot device is not over, but just delayed a few weeks. Most of this week’s chapter is dedicated to this half of the story, with Constance’s fear of Isaac and Sister White finding out about Palamon. Peter Milligan’s script does some nice bobbing and weaving around that fact, but with the aforementioned diary, the creative approach around that revelation is just punted.
The best Rufus Dayglo art in the issue is on the bookending pages, where Palamon donates 10% of his soul to gain safe passage to Earth. Dayglo gets cut loose a little in the more static panels which, typically, are not where his work shines the most. But here, he is able to draw Isaac as even larger and grosser than earlier in the story, as well as do some fun, borderline abstract work during the soul removal. Shots of cricket, a glowing skull, and a tearful visage all pop off the page.
As has been my constant refrain for this entire strip so far, the pacing is what is holding this back from feeling like anything other than an overly decompressed work. While the last few chapters have represented some improvement, there’s still a long way to go.
Enemy Earth – Book Three: Part One
Credits: Cavan Scott (script), Luke Horsman (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Chris Egan: Book Three is picking up with fun and daring action. Focusing solely on a plane crash sequence putting our main characters in grave danger, this week’s newest chapter is wall to wall frenetic energy that is all action movie and swashbuckler style. Mostly writing within the head of our protagonist, Scott gives a slightly wordy, yet fast paced script that gives us plenty of information while still keeping in pace with the action drawn to wild and cartoony perfection by Luke Horsman. This story looks like a Pixar movie made for young adults. Plenty of violence and weirdness fills the panels making for such a bizarre creation that you can’t take your eyes off of it.
This really is a weird mutant action sequence that is both picking up where Book Two left off and building off that to literally dive head first into this new insanity. If you are new to this series, you may be lost, but you won’t be bored by this chapter. I loved this bizarre new chapter of mutant humans, crashing planes, and jungles below. Horsman does the illustrations which are zany, weird, and in its own way, cute, as well as the colors, all of which are flashy and wholly bright and varied. This is where the almost Pixar like vibe really comes from. Recommended, especially if you are familiar with this series, but even if you aren’t this could be the right place to hop on.
Feral & Foe: Bad Godesberg, Part 9
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Richard Elson (art), Jim Campbell (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: If there is one upside to the slapped together cliffhanger from the last episode it is that the creative team takes care of the rovin eye as fast as it appeared thanks to Barbary Ann and her scatter gun. Richard Elson does a wonderful job capturing both the numb shock of being transfixed by the eye and the attempt at comprehending what-where-when-why-how!?! it suddenly disappeared and is now covering them with vicera. It’s a nice reminder that this strip can get into the goretastic realms when it wants to and is a moment that lands with the amount of comedic weight because of how excessively gooey the whole thing is. With that taken care of and the rest of the party sans Wraithchild reunited things appear to be heading back on the rails. Well, as on rails as this strip can get.
The reason to read this strip is the third page as Wraithchild fight-flirts with Poor Celine. The two share barbs and complements in sequence that feels like an extended duel but is only two pages in length. The third page in particular by Elson has them dashing around the page like it is “Dragon Ball” where the environment sort of fades away with some highlights to give the page some structure. What could be a chaotic mess is in fact an easy read, you just need to follow the sword clangs that map on to Jim Campbell’s letter placement. It’s like a 90s image page but with all that youthful energy channeled into something readable.
As it turns out both of them are at this cursed place for the same reason, so it’s time to team up. Hopefully this means the party will be fully reunited next week and the final act can begin properly.