Judge Dredd “Flaws” Part 3 TC Eglington, Staz Johnson, Abigail Bulmer, and Annie Parkhouse.
Eglington et al wrap up “Flaws” this week with a finale that tidily cleans up the strands laid out in previous episodes. The Sons of Booth manage to score a rare and nearly flawless victory against Justice Department. The sole consolation for the Judges is discovering the identity and heritage of the ringleader. This could set up some interesting developments as Linus has shown himself to be a capable and ruthless general who understands how to manipulate the populace as his pawns.
Eglington makes the Judges look pretty toothless as they struggle to cope with the riot and jailbreak. Even Dredd is a day late and a dollar short in his investigation and response. It’s not the first time in recent progs that he’s been just behind the pace. Maybe age is catching up with the old man after all?
Johnson and Bulmer contrasts the greyness of the city with bold colours in the action. The Judges’ golden eagles stamp their presence into every panel. Not that the grey stuff doesn’t have it’s appeal too. A rioter beating someone about the head with a “Respect the badge” sign is classic 2000AD humour.
Johnson gives some speed to Eglington’s pacy jailbreak. Directing the gunfire straight out of the pages at the reader, giving a palpable sense of danger to the exchanges. Dredd dodging gunfire to come up with a quality punchline is a near-cinematic treat. Beautifully captured movement almost lost in the surrounding chaos.
Jaegir “In the Realm of Pyrrhus” Part 6 by Gordon Rennie, Simon Coleby, Len O’Grady, and Ellie de Ville.
Jaegir also concludes this prog, but it’s almost an anti climax after all that has gone before. There’s never any sense of doubt this week that they will get to the rendezvous unscathed. Atalia stopping for a chat drains the urgency from the scene rather than adding to it. And the outcome of that conversation that somehow couldn’t wait? As far as revelations go, this one about Jaegir senior felt pretty weak. “Warmonger prolongs war” somehow isn’t a shock headline.
Coleby and O’Grady’s artwork remains the strength of this tale. Nu-earth has never looked so hauntingly good. Everything and everyone is partially obscured by poison fog. It’s strangely silent too; the absence of sound effects lending an eerie quality to the battles. Even the cthono-ship bursts silently out of the ground straight into the previous panel. The noise is in the mind of the reader with no bangs or suchlike to distract the reader from the most impactful moment this week.
The addition of a captive Milli-Com strategist and the continuing presence of facilitator Choi bodes well for the Jaegir-verse. Nu-earth looks to be in goodhands with Rennie despite the slightly flat ending.
Sinister Dexter “The Devil Don’t Care” Part 4 by Dan Abnett, Steve Yeowell, John Charles, and Annie Parkhouse.
SinDex shows that you don’t need to make a lot of sense to have a lot of fun. There’s an irresistibly madcap element this script that makes its flaws forgivable. “Congo Prime delivery”? “Aggravated Avians”? These details almost make the idea of the Devil getting his abilities from a magic tattoo seem tolerable.
Sinister Dexter has always been about fun and puns so if you’re looking for something that makes sense you should probably keep walking. That said, magic in Downlode feels like it’s stretching suspension of disbelief a bit far. It’ll need to be explained at some point and, in the words of Terry Pratchett, “It’s probably quantum”.
Yeowell makes the Devil look like he really enjoys his work. He strolls, grinning out of the fire like the wrath of God. Charles’ colours and the movement of Ramon give the scene a dynamism that is enhanced by the quietness of the first page. There’s a genuine sense of anxiety as Finnegan waits for his moment. When that moment comes the artistic duo doesn’t disappoint. Yeowell reduces the Devil to an abstract figure and Charles drenches him in colour.
Anderson Psi-Division “Undertow” Part 6 by Emma Beeby, Mike Collins, Cliff Robinson, Jose Villarubia, and Simon Bowland.
Karyn and the vampires look like they have taken control of pretty much everything in Anderson Psi-Division. It’s not entirely clear why they’ve kept Anderson alive at this point though, unless it’s for a good old-fashioned gloat. She’s in a bad state regardless and Robinson emphasises this disorientation with Ilsa and Karyn looming and distorted over her. They’re all fangs and claws and Vallarubia contrasts the desolation of the city with Karyn’s burning hair and eyes. It’s good to see Ilsa had time to put her lipstick on, even if it does make her look like a certain Prime Minister.
Beeby continues the current theme that’s running through both the Dredd and Anderson stories. Justice Department are a shadow of their former selves. Struggling to deal with threats from within and without. Running on what looks like skeleton staff. Even the city looks unrecognisable from the futuristic one of older progs. The vertigo-inducing panel of Cass suspended above the undercity gives the reader a foreshadowing of what will happen if the vampire king’s plan succeeds.
Beeby wisely doesn’t pull the team back together just yet but it would be good to get more of a feel for who Kazuo is. It’s good to not show everything too soon and, with the arrival now of Hondo-Cit Judges, it would have been too much exposition in too little space. All the pieces are nearly in place for a big finale and maybe even resolution of the rivalry between Cassandra and Karyn.
Strontium Dog “The Son” Part 6 by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, and Ellie de Ville.
Wagner gives us an episode of Strontium Dog that is essentially two guys walking. Even in this he manages to show that these are dangerous guys. Johnny barely breaks stride to deal with an ambush. The two use different methods to get to their destination. Kenton follows his nose but Johnny uses the benefit of his bounty hunter experience to track his quarry. Kenton stalks the Glazers as Johnny stalks Kenton
Ezquerra nails the respective characters body language perfectly. Kenton is radiating anger in every pose. Johnny is much more cool and measured but no less dangerous. Wagner builds the tension right up to the final page. Kenton’s inherited a Viking temper that looks like it’s going to get him into trouble (again). The strangely familiar fire axe is a neat little Wagner/Ezquerra tribute to Wulf. Hopefully Kenton will live long enough to use it.
Oddly though, the artwork looks distorted in places. The cover picture has Alpha’s face strangely fleshy, making him jowly and old; almost like a middle-aged fat man cosplaying Strontium Dog. Similarly on the first page, Johnny’s nose looks like it’s been broken a few times. In fairness it probably has, but it doesn’t usually look like it.
Next week its the showdown: Bring it on!
In summary: 2000AD doesn’t disappoint with stories that are enhancing the worlds they inhabit. Alpha and Anderson have a fight on their hands coming up in Prog 2079.