Judge Dredd “The Paradigm Shift” Part 2 by Michael Carroll, Jake Lynch, John Charles and Annie Parkhouse
In the flashback part of this story, Carroll raises some interesting points. We see the transition of power from an apparent democracy to a dictatorship. Corrado didn’t get the memo about this and there’s a downshifting about her that indicates she’s realising she’s in the middle of something beyond her. Watch her newly-submissive body language as she starts to cooperate. Lynch shrinks her down and surrounds her with shadowy Judges to emphasise her new vulnerability. It’s the cold hand of the police state and it generates a chill.
Meanwhile, in the future, Dredd and Joyce continue their investigation into the missing not-an-iPad. It’s a scene Dredd’s performed a million times before and well-performed; switching the perspective from perp to Judges. Joyce’s cover isn’t the most effective. He should be careful; Dredd’s partners have a limited shelf-life. We run out of pages before we get the full story so tune in for more exposition from Lugo and (presumably) Agent Sager next prog. She looks cool as a cucumber with Deacon’s gun in her face so she may pose a few more problems for the nascent Jage force than poor Corrado…
Skip Tracer “Heavy is the Head” Part 3 by James Peaty, Paul Marshall, Dylan teague and Simon Bowland
Has there ever been a comic character who’s walked into a bar and not immediately got into a fight? Hero outnumbered by generic antagonists? Check. Swift disarming of unsporting weapons? Check. Swift resolution without consequence? Check. Once we’ve got that clichéd encounter out of the way we get an introduction to Nolan’s old friend. Introducing herself in the third person to someone she already knows feels clunky though. There must have been an easier way to do that, surely? And that’s about that for this prog. We find out that Armand sold artefacts and that Selby knew him. It’s a small Cube after all.
Skip tracer’s stalled a bit this week. 5 pages with 2 of them wasted on an unnecessary fight. It’s just as well the neonartwork is a feast for the eyes. Introductions aside, Selby Hix has a world-weariness drawn across her face that gives potential depth to the character. She’s clearly seen a lot and you want to know more. Hopefully next week we’ll get it.
Survival Geeks “Geek-Con” Part 2 by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby, Neil Googe, Gary Caldwell and Annie Parkhouse
You can’t help but let Survival Geeks grow on you. The Googe’s artwork’s nails a full cast of caricatures. Caldwell’s colours pop out with garish style to snag the eye all over every page. You can spend a happy 10 minutes playing “spot the cameo” in most of the panels and on the wraparound cover.
As well as being awesome to look at, there’s some well-crafted writing too. Never mind the evil Doctor Who plot. That’s just there to give everything else something to hang on but it does do a fine job skewering the pomposity of Whovians. Rennie/Beeby’s characterisation of Si and Sam is perfect. Their relationship and interactions ring true. Everybody has known a pair like them who just need a wee push to realise it.
Reservations well and truly squashed. The geeks have it!
Damned: The Fall of Deadworld Part 3 by Kek-W, Dave Kendall and Ellie de Ville
Chaos erupts in a down-and -dirty Mad Max fight this week. Dave Kendall makes us practically taste the dust and deisel smoke as Jess squares up against El Cadaver.
Once again Jess’ ability to forge bonds with common enemies wins out (after a timely intervention from Byke who now may be Horse). Kek has given a slow burn to her ability but even the supporting cast is starting to realise that there may be more to her special magic than just good manners. Is it a psi-gift (Judge Child)? Kew-W has been wonderfully ambivalent up to now. If Owen Krysler had had good morals, he just might have been Jess Childs.
Kendall’s gory grime is the perfect counterpoint to the humanity of this story. The characters may be ugly as sin but they have real heart and it’s that, rather than the ultraviolence that elevates this to an instant classic.
Durham Red “Born Bad” Part 2 by Alec Worley, Ben Willsher and Ellie de Ville
Red has a meeting with her new employer this week. It’s a quick stop-off before beginning the story proper. We get the tale of Monkey Harris and his old ma interspersed with Red’s detective work. Worley clearly doesn’t want to waste too much time on this part. Her monologue cuts to the chase efficiently and we get an insight into the intelligence and ruthlessness that have made Red such an enduring character. It’s been 31 years, for anyone who’s counting. At least they finally got to use Chelsea Blue.
Red cuts a sinister figure throughout. In contrast to her true self last week, this episode we see her as others see her. It’s an arguable necessity in her line of work to look intimidating. Here she’s on the clock so she plays the bounty-hunting vampire card to a tee. Willsher brings the undead vibe with the hair and makeup. Her silver complexion, blood-red bob, black claws are all classic vamp. The new outfit seems much more suited to kicking ass across the galaxy too. The kick she throws out the page halfway through this episode would have been a bit draughty in the old kit. It’s a good throwback to keep the tabard-style thing as a nod to the old Ezquerra design.
The artwork’s interesting this prog. Red’s face has few lines, just subtle differences in shading to give expression. The supporting cast are well-detailed, giving a real sense of solidity. Particularly the muties on the first page and the almost photographic Harris.
Pedant’s Corner: There’s no such thing as plasma cells. Plasma is the fluid in which the cells are held. Maybe Monkey Harris is dying because his doctor doesn’t know this…
A great prog all in all. Skip Tracer may have missed the mark but everything else hits it perfectly!