Chris Weston’s sinister front cover, featuring SJS Judge Pin, hints at what’s in store for us and it ain’t pretty.
Judge Dredd // The Fields Part 2 by Rob Williams, Chris Weston, Dylan Teague & Annie Parkhouse
Part one ended on a sinister note and the SJS Judges always throw some added menace into the mix when they appear. In this case, Judge Pin is about as nasty as they come and she has work to do.
It’s easy to draw comparisons from the ending of Part One between Judge Pin and Judge Death. Judge Pin however, is not a Dark Judge and has not come from a different dimension. She has her own agenda and it’s a very human one at that.
Pin’s withered face created by Chris Weston might look very familiar to some UK inhabitants right now. She’s not a million miles away from a certain political leader and like this certain political leader; Pin is making a fine mess of the current law enforcement officers.
This part reveals the title subject towards the end and it’s extremely dark and sinister. Rob Williams has thrown us a psychotic villain with singular vision and a huge chip on her shoulder.
Weston and Teague have given us some gruesome and violent panels with the last page leaving a lasting impression on the reader. This could be shaping up to be a classic.
Brink // Skeleton Life Part 14 by Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard & Simon Bowland
There is a cat and mouse game at play and everything is at stake. Kurtis and Gibrani come into their own as highly capable individuals while always feeling that they are under threat. This is thanks to Abnett’s writing and Culbard’s character design. You could argue that the artwork is often simplistic at times, yet the way in which the characters come alive is extremely well done. The angle of a lip, the shape of the eyes, the shading across a panel making a certain expression come to the fore… it works really well.
The pacing keeps getting faster as well and the dialogue matches this pacing with its attitude and sassy remarks. Gibrani is really fun to read and if she isn’t making a sarcastic remark to “They’re trying to kill me!” with the response “A-Duh”, she’s yelling, “Eat this bitches!” as she unloads her side-arm.
The detective work is largely over it seems, although there are some small unanswered questions surrounding motivation. The CEO Mariam Junot was a suspect at one stage and she’s now coming across as the victim. Is there more at play here? Thankfully it continues next week and Brink is pushing all the right buttons.
Defoe // Diehards Part 11 by Pat Mills, Colin MacNeil & Ellie De Ville
You know that feeling sometimes where you kind of want the bad guy to succeed? Well, we certainly get that here as Chapman continues to reveal his level of personal rejection and just what he’s done about it. It’s satisfying seeing revenge in all its gory detail (they all had it coming) and this part really serves it up with plenty of ice and twisted irony.
MacNeil’s horrific artwork is full of organs, torn flesh, and juicy bits splattered across the panels. The reeks themselves are menacing with their rictus grins punctuating the revenge they are enacting upon Chapman’s victims, delivering further horror to the readers.
The references to 17th Century history have been liberally sprinkled throughout “Diehards” and there is an enjoyable line uttered by Defoe when he and Gallowgrass suddenly realise their weapons are next to useless: “No, it’s the powder. I told them not to make it from pigeon droppings. Should have used bat shit.” It’s perhaps a throw-away line, but it shows more commitment from Pat Mills to get the century he is writing in accurate.
“Diehards” has been an enjoyable read and a welcomed contrast to the ongoing sci-fi titles currently running. If the last panel is anything to go by, next week is going to ramp up the action.
Grey Area // Back in Black Part 2 by Dan Abnett, Mark Harrison & Annie Parkhouse
We’re introduced to Grell in this part, who is an ETC squad leader. His xenophobic remarks and hatred for anything non-human feels uncomfortable and cuts close to the bone. Racism is still rampant in 2017 and the theme of Grey Area is intrinsically set around segregation with an ‘us and them’ attitude. It’s less Men In Black and more The Wire. In recent events in the UK, it’s sad to see social media comments focus on sweeping generalisation rather than dealing with the facts at hand. In this part, we see that in full effect as Grell refuses to gain an understanding of a situation or simply cares not to.
The artwork by Mark Harrison is amazing and again delivers glorious detail in every panel. The style could almost be described as manga although the character design is westernised and not full of the cute over-sized eyes often found on manga characters (particularly female). Everything has a feeling of realism while taking on a futuristic and somewhat dirty style.
The only downside is that to some readers the detail might be a little difficult to make out in some panels. There is a scene with an ethereal species that is translucent but in some panels looks messy to the point where you can’t make out what’s going on easily. Similarly, there are two aliens fighting in the corner of one panel but the forms are not distinct and you cannot tell what they actually look like – they’re a merged shape with special effects lettering around it. Despite this, the overall effect is just plain cool and the stylised artwork stands out as truly original and compelling.
Hunted // Furies Part 3 by Gordon Rennie, PJ Holden, Len O’Grady & Ellie De Ville.
The opening to this part is brutal! The writing and art come together to introduce a new character who is certainly not wasting any time. Visually identifiable by a scar, her history is hinted at and her ruthless nature makes her a formidable match for the Traitor General.
Rennie’s plot is flowing each week at a great pace and the various parties involved feel as though they have a part to play in something much bigger. They’re also very different in terms of personality which offers enjoyable interactions and dynamic.
PJ Holden and Len O’Grady’s art stands out again as being fantastic. Whether it be set in a hospital room, a ruined landscape or outer-space, the detail is defined without detracting from the main characters’ expressions, actions and design. Backdrops are well drawn, but the focus is always on the foreground. Colouring plays a huge role in determining setting, so that the bright clinical hospital room feels totally different to the battle-scarred Nu Earth. Rennie’s plot finishes this part expertly and there’s a lot of heat heading to The Traitor General.
2000 AD Prog 2036 is yet another example of high standards being reached week after week. The stories are enjoyable and often poignant, the artwork is unique and ever-changing in style and the over-all package of 2000 AD is simply addictive.