The front cover blows the lid off of Brink and we have the conclusion to Defoe “Diehards” this week. Things get messy, weird, and more than a little violent.
Judge Dredd // “Box-Office Bomb” by Rory McConville, Ben Willsher, Chris Blythe, and Annie Parkhouse
Stand-alone procedural tales are practically a mainstay of Judge Dredd as a title. It can’t be denied that an epic is welcome now and again, but having a weekly case for Dredd to crack provides plenty of fresh ideas from various writers. In this case, Rory McConville has taken an ambitious plot for a standalone and somehow crammed everything in at a reasonable pace. There is even a humorous exchange between Dredd and Control, where a cinephile Judge at the other end is surprised he’d never watched “Revenge Of The Beasts That Ate Mars” (if it isn’t, that should be a Futureshock!). This exchange is funny, but also relevant to the plot, giving the story perfect context.
The art by Ben Willsher and Chris Blythe is sleek and stylish with plenty of detail on apparel and machinery alike (including Dredd’s Lawmaster). The penciling is great but the colouring is also beautiful; be it the sky and landscape of Mega-City One or the shine of gold on the Judge’s uniforms (plus a lavishly colourful finale). The panels themselves are also often interesting angles and shapes, making the strip compelling to read.
“Box-Office Bomb” is a good distraction piece and stand-alone. In future, it’d be good to see where McConville might take us if he had the chance at a larger multi-part series of Dredd. With both “Parental Guidance” and “Box-Office Bomb”, fresh ideas seem plentiful so who knows what kind of journey we’d end up on?
Defoe // “Diehards” Part 14 by Pat Mills, Colin MacNeil, and Ellie De Ville
“Diehards” is a pretty large story and it has twisted and turned featuring plenty of investigation, intrigue, action, and horror. The finale of the series was certainly last prog, but Part 14 wraps up everything nicely. There is a satisfying ending to the tale and plenty of room for Colin MacNeil to produce some truly impressive panels. There is a full-page spread of reeks being disemboweled, destroyed, or otherwise dismembered with a long shot looking down Grub Street – the architecture is detailed and the buildings loom up above which creates a sort of visual tunnel to the action that hits closest to the reader. I would share it, but it would be a spoiler. I’d recommend getting hands on with the prog and seeing for yourself because the art is visceral and gloriously detailed.
As stories go, there has been an underlying distaste for bad writing/writers. One of the suspects in the story is a writer and a fraud, using ghost writers to pen everything in his name. There is a nice conclusion to this sub-plot and an irony to the character of Daniel which fits in wonderfully at the end.
Defoe “Diehards” is a great yarn that pays off at the very end, making the story well worth investing yourself in. It started in Prog 2026 and you’ll find them all digitally. I would, however, be surprised if this isn’t turned into a trade paperback/hardback at some point.
Brink // “Skeleton Life” Part 17 by Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard, and Simon Bowland
Things are getting weird for Kurtis as the plot thickens further and the scale of the story becomes even larger than we may have suspected.
This part begins mid-action, picking up exactly where the last part left us. The first page is an impressive 9 panels long, which must have left INJ Culbard uttering at least one curse-word while working on it. There is a lot going on thanks to Dan Abnett’s sense of fast pacing, but it is created beautifully. The warped nature of the action as it unfolds is presented with a very clear beginning, middle and end (keep in mind this is just one page) urging the reader to turn that page and explore what is happening next. Brink “Skeleton Life” is a page turner and any potentially slower parts in previous progs have been completely forgiven by some jaw-dropping moments, particularly found this week.
While the events are crazed at the beginning of this part, Brink has been and continues to be an investigative title. As such, a clever and very important interrogation occurs, helping to explain events and open the plot further. It then leaves us wanting to turn that page again but we’re left waiting for next week’s concluding part.
Hunted // “Furies” Part 6 by Gordon Rennie, PJ Holden, Len O’Grady, and Ellie de Ville
With the stranger revealed to be none other than Venus Bluegenes, the plot of ‘Furies’ has got very interesting. To bring you up to speed, Venus is a strong character in her own right be featured first of all within Rogue Trooper. She’s a G.I. just like Rogue and is deadly in every way.
This part is a tense stand-off and is played very well thanks to Gordon Rennie’s dialogue and the facial expressions created by PJ Holden. With colouring by Len O’Grady, the finished article is engaging. It would be wrong to depict the Traitor General with a shocked or surprised expression and yet somehow his facial expressions in some panels depict a sort of calm concern none-the-less. Venus has the upper-hand, but the General is doing what he does best, talking and twisting. Holden’s art works wonders to make sure everyone stays in character while very clearly conveying emotion through them.
This is a very simple part, but very significant in terms of plot. The previous part mentioned information warfare and propaganda and this is brought up again with more power than previously. The interesting thing about the Traitor General is whether the end justifies his means and considering his treacherous nature, just what are his true motives?
We’re left with a lot of scope at the end of this part and a want for more. “Furies” is becoming a highlight each week.
Grey Area // “Life On Earth” by Dan Abnett, Mark Harrison, and Annie Parkhouse
“Life On Earth” is a great piece of commentary on the human condition. It shows us in all our weird and wonderful habits, yet also tells of our (at times) ignorant and intolerant nature.
Resting Bitch Face has been living on Earth for 6 months now and this story takes us through her impression of humanity and Earth. It’s an eye opener and cuts close to the bone in so many ways. The absurdities we live to and the bigotry and hatred we are susceptible to is laid bare in only 5 pages, yet it sums everything up perfectly.
When Bitch and Musk get together for a conversation and “compare notes” things begin lightheartedly, but rapidly become darker. The way this story is told is nothing short of perfect and if you need one reason to pick up this prog it will be for these 5 pages. It needs to be read to be understood so you’ll need to take a leap of faith on this one if you’re uncertain. It is fantastic. Mark Harrison’s art is beautifully complex and stylish, Dan Abnett’s dialogue is funny yet poignant and the story itself will make you look inward and around you.
Prog 2039 is simply great. If you’re not up-together with the current titles some of the stories will fall short for you as this isn’t a jumping-on point. For those who have been following the current stories you’ll be wanting to read it, but for those who are merely curious about 2000 AD, Grey Area alone is worth your change as is the standalone Judge Dredd story “Box-Office Bomb”. Skip that “double half-caff flat mocha latte, no fat” coffee you might want and pick this up instead.
2000 AD prog 2039 is out now in stores, online and digitally via www.2000adonline.com.