What a cover by D’Israeli that has a jet screaming out of the page towards the reader, depicting the atrocity carried out by Earth forces in Scarlet Traces. We’re deep in the thick of five ongoing stories and there is plenty going on this Prog!
Judge Dredd // Sons of Booth Part 3 by T.C. Eglington, Nick Dyer, Chris Blythe & Annie Parkhouse
Part 3 races to its conclusion this Prog and the political vibes take on a more sinister and fitting message. The ‘leader’ of the Sons of Booth lays out a plan for his gang, that he himself will not actually be party to. Of course, why would you put yourself in harm’s way when your zealots can do the dirty work for you?
The “Sons of Booth” story speaks of misguided motivations, all orchestrated by a cowardly character that has recruited a vulnerable individual to further his own cause. Having brainwashed said character with propaganda and given him a purpose and value, Kelvin provides the means and the conviction to carry out the misplaced action around a set of warped ideals, yet is very much a victim in his own way.
Both Dyer’s artwork and Blythe’s colouring creates some impressive panels in this final part, depicting a series of hallucinogenic nightmares that are wacky and disturbing in equal measure consisting of abstract, garish and twisted forms with plenty of vivid colours. In contrast, there is also a great panel containing the Sons of Booth lined up in front of an American flag that fills a good third of a page, serving to explain their plan and also hammers home the misguided agenda of the Sons of Booth. This is a darker panel with a faded feel to the backdrop and a bold and imposing figure of their leader in the foreground.
The end of this story arc pays off well with an ironic ending, but does perhaps feel somewhat short-lived and shallow in places. With three parts, there was insufficient room to draw comparisons with some of the extremist US ideals demonstrated by certain political supporters.
Brink // Skeleton Life Part 10 by Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard & Simon Bowland
Brink has very much found its feet and is delivering an interesting story with plenty of intrigue and room for exploration still to come. So many pieces are fitting into place now that it’s become a real page-turner. The dialogue has always been first class, but the way the story has now opened up is a joy to read.
Culbard’s art continues to impress with some seriously moody panels full of dirty characters and those scouring eyes of Kurtis that burn through the reader as she presents herself as a strong and brutally determined character. Her ability to distance herself from immediate emotions to think of the bigger picture and to act objectively sets her apart from her ad-hoc partner. This is brought to the faces of the characters perfectly.
“Skeleton Life” is also showing itself to be grounded in current events and the themes of human rights and exploitation run at its very core. This is not something that was obvious from the outset and it has completely refreshed the story and thrown any previous pre-conceptions out the window. It’s a very enjoyable read!
Defoe // Diehards Part 7 by Pat Mills, Colin MacNeil & Ellie De Ville
The last part left us wondering what was going to happen to a side-character and we certainly find out in this part, as Defoe and Gallowgrass meet one of their suspects face-to-face.
Probably the most significant event in any story is when a character develops/changes/finds themselves and from the very first part of “Diehards” the events of Part 1 continue to ripple as the survivor of the first attack from the beginning of the story presents himself with new motivation.
Again, the artwork from MacNeil is dark and broody, with some classy use of a silhouette depicting some truly visceral violence. The close-up detail on weapons also continues with a flint-lock pistol filling the majority of a wide and short panel to great effect, just before a target get’s their head permanently altered.
Pat Mills’ dark humour interlaces the action and horror nicely, with the unlikely pairing of Gallowgrass and Defoe throwing up uncomfortable moments between the two characters as Defoe continues to suffer his company. The dialogue hits the buddy-movie tropes to deliver a great clash in personalities.
The cliffhanger ending is wonderfully presented by MacNeil and we’re left wanting more.
Scarlet Traces // Cold War: Book 2 Part 10 by Ian Edginton, D’Israeli & Annie Parkhouse
With the events that have now unfolded, there is a certain amount of reflection to take place as all the characters who have experienced the last 9 parts are somewhat thankful for their lives. However, things are not over yet and the Martian threat promises to be lurking in the shadows, while the Earth forces decide to invade.
D’Israeli’s ability and use of colouring to quickly place the reader in different environments shines once again with the clean and well-lit bridge of the Earth Forces vessels, the red of the surface of Venus and some dark, and moody blues/purples as the Prime Minister receives word of the success of the attack (from a very familiar looking face of ‘Margaret’).
For long-standing readers of Scarlet Traces, you’re going to appreciate the ending of this part and it is smattered with humour and wonderful irony as Ahron reassures Icarus that everything is ‘all right!’. The result leads us beautifully to the next part and it’s going to be interesting to find out just what is going to happen next.
Cursed: The fall of Deadworld Part 10 by Kek-W, Dave Kendall & Ellie De Ville
“What’s that, dude -? ‘We need bigger explosives’? Yes. We do.” – Another standout line that smacks of crazy as the action heats up and the pace quickens.
This series has everything: Horror, action, sci-fi, humour, drama, supernatural phenomena, and an engaging story set on a nightmare plane of existence. The struggle is real and the action is brutal as all the characters fight for their lives against Judge Fear’s attack.
The characters are so well designed both in writing and artwork. You care about them all, yet some you have only just met. Jess is such a strong hero in her own right, while Fairfax’s ride has been bumpy with plenty of revelations. Put the two of them together and the balance just feels right. Now the two of them are among other characters, it feels as though there is more at stake and as the reader you are willing them along, which feels fraught with danger as they face such an inexorable foe.
Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld seems to hit the sweet spot every single part and your guess is as good as mine as to what the hell might happen next!
This week saw the conclusion of Judge Dredd: Sons of Booth which although ended in a suitably ironic manner, did not necessarily live up to the initial political commentary that was originally hinted at. Prog 2032 continues some epic story arcs in Brink, Scarlet Traces, and Cursed: The Fall of Deadworld which have been a treat to read. The fact these are still running is a huge positive and things have been unfolding, twisting and shocking plenty in recent weeks. With Defoe hitting part 7 this week and delivering some great character development, things are heating up nicely all-round as we head deeper into these current stories.