A great cover from Cliff Robinson leads us to the concluding part to Judge Dredd ‘Parental Guidance’, a standalone story of Grey Area, and reveals and developments in the ongoing stories.
Judge Dredd // “Parental Guidance” Part 2 by Rory McConville, Leigh Gallagher, Quinton Winter, and Annie Parkhouse
You can expect a touch of insanity in this part as a rift between the digital world and reality has formed. Out of this spills “data clusters given physical form” and the form they’re given by Leigh Gallagher is absolutely crazy. Expect monsters, demons, tentacles, fairy-like creatures, and more. The highlight though is without a doubt the physical manifestation (and personification) of a social media/blog account. This white spectral character is covered in blog entries and pictures which haunt each panel it appears in.
Individuals can spend a lot of time on social media, yet they aren’t necessarily an accurate portrayal of who that individual is. Rory McConville seems to tap into this and in “Parental Guidance”, the personification mentioned above is a shadow of an individual; merely a strung together thread of posts that never quite gives full meaning to this personification.
The art is full of abstract creations from Gallagher and the colouring by Quinton Winter presents this depiction of a rift with bright almost ‘blinding’ whites and yellows. The detail explodes across the panels and captures the insanity of the events (and creatures) in very inventive ways.
“Parental Guidance” is a unique story with topical themes and the dry ending feels like classic Dredd.
Brink // “Skeleton Life” Part 16 by Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, and Simon Bowland
Culbard’s art in the opening panels captures the aftermath of the last part. This incorporates detailed explosions as well as some cleverly shaded lighting on Fil’s transport vessel. As has been the style of “Skeleton Life”, the interior of an air lock is rendered completely differently in terms of colour than the rest of the ship or indeed space. It makes transitioning between areas in the story joyful to read and lends a style to Brink that is very unique.
Simon Bowland has lettered not only dialogue and captions, but also computerised announcements and heads-up displays. These have been a feature from the outset of the story and it is worth noting how well they fit in. They add an extra dimension to the panels and are a great touch to the already sci-fi environments and art.
Kurtis confronts Styles and Otis head on. There is still more that needs explaining and Dan Abnett gives us just enough plot to keep us interested each week. Part 16 is no exception as we are dangled on the edge of a cliff with ‘something’ awaiting us next week. Make no mistake Abnett gives nothing away, but those last panels will leave you guessing.
Defoe // “Diehards” Part 13 by Pat Mills, Colin MacNeil, and Ellie De Ville
Part 13 is a short one in terms of plot development, but serves up some action-packed undead carnage. It also presents a finale in some respects with Defoe taking decisive action, resulting in a truly impressive panel by MacNeil.
Pat Mills’ action throws all the blood spatter and brain matter the reader can digest while pacing it all in a desperate way. A scramble to save Daniel from a fate worse than death gives a sense of urgency to the action which is backed up by MacNeil’s gritty artwork. Silhouetted figures in one panel are balanced against gratuitously detailed violence in another. These peaks and troughs of detail vary the artwork enough to never overload our senses. Instead, when something horrific happens, it leaves a lasting impression thanks to this balance.
“Diehards” has been a nasty yet often humorous title with a touch of social commentary to make things truly interesting. The last page of this part leaves Defoe and Gallowgrass in a spot of bother, suggesting there is plenty more work to be done next week.
Grey Area // “Man Flu” by Dan Abnett, Mark Harrison, and Annie Parkhouse
Stand-alone stories have a great home in 2000 AD, which can offer readers long epics, engaging two-parters or tiny one-off situational strips. Grey Area has given a few examples of one-off stories lately and with “Man Flu”, Dan Abnett gives us a very funny episode.
The story progresses over a series of days as a “xeno-viral pandemic” takes hold of Grey Area. Each ‘day’ is presented as two or three panels long to begin with and gradually builds to a final day over two pages long. This fast pace at the beginning sets the tone as well as a running joke, enabling the relatively short one-off story to appear longer than it is.
The virus itself is like the worst cold you can imagine with strings of snot and contents of sneezes detailed by Mark Harrison’s stylized and elaborate artwork. The subject matter, dialogue and this fabulous art makes the disgusting nature of the story somehow funnier than it should be.
Another great read from Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison, Grey Area is a welcome addition to our weekly prog.
Hunted // “Furies” Part 5 by Gordon Rennie, PJ Holden, Len O’Grady, Ellie De Ville
The power of propaganda and information warfare is explored in this part, as chaos is sown throughout both the North and South forces of Nu-Earth. The Traitor General’s anti-alien stance is ever-clear and his plan to rally humanity against “inhuman” elements knows no bounds.
Holden and O’Grady’s art is solid, greeting us with a large opening panel packed full of detail. Throughout the rest of the part, shadows play off the faces of characters accentuating different features and facial expressions. The General himself has a ghastly visage from his reconstructed face and his menacing facial expressions come through as truly villainous making him a character you love to hate.
While Gordon Rennie’s plot expands in some ways, it splits its attention between a potentially very large plot point and the private meeting between the General and anonymous character from part 4. The result is mixed because it feels a little ‘busy’. What should we be caring about the most: The info warfare or the recent arrival? These plot events may have been better as two separate parts because they don’t feel entirely coherent. It’s still enjoyable, but it feels cramped.
2000 AD Prog 2038 is another excellent slice of weekly sci-fi mayhem and socio-political commentary. Thank Tharg for the high standards we continue to enjoy.
2000 AD Prog 2038 is out on 5th July 2017 in stores, online and in digital via www.2000adonline.com.