Judge Dredd “Integration” by Rory McConville, Dave Taylor and Annie Parkhouse
Dredd goes police procedural again this week in a tightly wound one-off. McConville shows the Judges as a machine in how they manage the ransom demand. Every one of them is devoid of emotion, even the nameless Judge. After all, it’s just another day at the office for them. In the face of Dark Judges, invasions, incursions and everything else is no big deal. The script is largely dialogue driven, but there’s a narrator that is similar to some of the late-80’s Wagner narration. It gives us the impression of the passage of time as the judges work methodically through the problem and is a clever way of making full use of the 6 allocated pages.
There’s a neat skewering of techie arrogance too which manages to be both a smart joke and a set-up for the central premise of the story. The hacked devices can’t be removed because they thought “it would be counterproductive to assume people would want to stop using it”. The tech-Judge implanting himself is a nice echo of the early Dredd Mushroom story too.
The artwork is heavily detailed in every panel. Even the shot of the judges gathering outside the warehouse is packed. There’s dirt and graffiti front and centre on the door but zoom right back and you’ll see distant traffic and the overhanging roadways. Taylor is becoming the master of depicting MC-1 and its teeming masses, giving it a crowded sense of place.
Skip Tracer “Heavy is the Head” Part 7 by James Peaty, Paul Marshall, Dylan Teague and Simon Bowland
We’re thrown straight into the action in this week’s Skip Tracer. The first 3 pages are a breathless ride, ably sped along by Paul Marshalls hectic panel layouts, explosive bursts of light from Teague and Paety’s high octane pacing. In all the activity there are the facial expressions which give emotion and impact to the characters. Nolan’s as discombobulated by his personal deus ex machina as the reader, helping to make both his escape and the taste of his food ring true.
Nolan’s trudge home is straight out of Bladerunner. The noodle bar, neon lights and expository news screens give the surroundings a depth which hints at teeming masses living their lives independent of the story. IT does end in a manner that stretches credulity slightly. Would a Cube dweller not recognise the crest of the royal family? Would he not have investigated that a bit further last week when everyone in the market had the same necklace courtesy of Zyn? Still, now we know what the aforementioned crown is, the question remains “What’s he going to do about it?”
The Order “The New World” Part 1 by Kek-W, John Burns and Annie Parkhouse
It’s “Liberté, égalité, fraternité ou la mort” as Kek-W jumps The Order straight into revolutionary France. As with all stories set during the reign of terror, the first character we meet must be Madame Guillotine. This time things do not go the way of the executioners. Kek-W plays with the scarlet pimpernel tropes of the last minute rescue, adding his own distinct flavour. It’s confused and confusing as we begin to see the factions which The Order has split into. Kek-W makes the enmities personal as well as ideological, instilling venom into the verbal exchanges.
As always, Burns’ artwork is a treat. His depiction of the wyrm physiology is stomach-churningly good. Blood-stained tendrils and inhuman movements are captured throughout the mangled execution. He also zooms in tight on the anguish Anna Kohl must feel to see the shell of her beloved Ritterstahl used by her enemies.
At times, it’s difficult to remember exactly who’s who in this series. Helpfully Tharg has provided a brief catch-up at the start of the prog. This is essential reading for anyone who is not an ardent Order fan (mostly everyone).
Vive la France! Vive l’Order!
Durham Red “Born Bad” Part 6 by Alec Worley, Lee Carter and Ellie de Ville
A timely betrayal by her simian employer gets Red out of a sticky Van Helsing moment. Once she’s free she gets to vent her fury on all around her. Worley slips through her enemies like a hot knife through butter. Her reputation looks well-deserved as she makes her escape. When she turns back it’s for complex reasons that she’s been ruminating on for the past 5 episodes. This layered setup makes her response understandable. She’s got a point to prove as much to herself as to the world in the person of Bootha.
Carter’s second week on Red is well- claustrophobic cabin bursts out onto a gloriously coloured and textured. The open landscape makes the hunters look even more exposed to the wrath of Red.
Red’s inner voice is charm in the face of adversity and subtly different from her public face. Her humour is there for sure but it’s more self-deprecating than wisecracking. A monkey spanking joke is always welcome, regardless of context.
Damned: The Fall of Deadworld Part 7 by Kek-W, Dave Kendall and Ellie de Ville
Kek-W introduces a third story arc to Deadworld. Remember when McGruder swept back to Necropolis in a whirl of facial hair and dissociative personalities? Judge Eastwood channels that fire with great style, managing to rescue, charm and irritate the surviving judges in a matter of minutes.
Kendall’s art shows everyone is suffering on Deadworld. They’re all dirty and emaciated with ragged uniforms. Eastwood’s coping abilities are reflected in her almost tidy appearance. Everyone else is hunched, while she stands upright. Her uniform looks intact, she has food and ammunition, coupled with discipline, belief in the law and a willingness to take the fight to the enemy. Remind you of anyone from another dimension?
As we see the flaming jet come down, all roads seem to lead to Sector House 13 where the parties should converge before too long. Brace yourselves for nothing good happening. Cannae wait…
All stories are on song this week. The quality output of the prog continues with impressive consistency.