Judge Dredd “Elevator Pitch” Part 1 by Rob Williams, Chris Weston, Chris Blythe and Annie Parkhouse
If you’re looking for a perfect introduction to what Dredd is all about; look no further. This story covers all the madness of Mega-City 1 and it citizens. 2000ad does social commentary like no-one else and this prog neatly captures the disdain of the super rich for everyone else. It’s neatly encapsulated in the vid-commentator’s fawning sycophancy. Thankfull,y it doesn’t go full Pat Mills though. Williams manages to remain slightly tongue in cheek by making the riff raff just about as objectionable as the hoi polloi. As one of them says: “Stuff yer reasonable explanation, geek!”
As far as the man himself goes, he’s on patrol in an H Wagon in full knowledge that something is going to go horribly wrong. Throw chum into the ocean and you’re going to get sharks is his philosophy. When he’s proved right he isn’t smug, happy, irritated or anything particularly. But he is glad to finally have something to do. Picture your dad watching Love Island then having to get up and fix the telly and you’ll get the picture.
Weston creates some memorable moments with Williams’ script. Picture the difference in body language between Dredd and his partner (is it Giant?, the badge isn’t visible). One is relaxed, taking the inactivity in his stride, just chilling. The other is tense, irritable and resenting the time away from breaking heads. You can guess which is which.
Weston has worked his socks off for this one. Every panel is jammed with detail, from the wide city vista to the individual members of the raging mob. It’s exceptional stuff all round. His design for the uber rich smacks of Fifth Element fashion and his cosmonaut ape heist gang is beautifully detailed with lush Blythe colours. Brilliant stuff.
Skip Tracer “Heavy is the Head” Part 8 by James Peaty, Paul Marshall, Dylan Teague and Simon Bowland
Did we miss something? There seems to be a missing piece to Skip Tracer this week, almost as if there’s been an episode skipped in between last week and this one. Although Logan’s meant to be a competent detective, it feels like a bridge too far to conclude that his lifelong friend has kidnapped the princess and is in cahoots with Grey Division purely on the basis of last week’s “eureka” moment. An extra few pages to bridge that gap would have made his deductions seem more credible. Having Logan pick up on psychic cries for help could have been the device to lead us there along with him. As it is, the reader gets a sense of bewilderment which somewhat spoils the very well-presented incursion that should dominate this episode.
Marshall’s depiction of the firefight is a frenzied, kinetic affair, over almost before it begins. Our hero is undone by the meaty momentum of the minotaur. Teague infuses the whole debacle with electric lightning and some visceral glow in the dark blood spatter. He sprays blood to mix with movement lines in the previous panel to increase the sense of dangerous urgency as Logan reloads.
Marshall allows Logan to give a good account of himself but still ends up vulnerable enough to receive some handy confessional exposition from his erstwhile friend. It is the third time in 8 episodes that he’s ended the prog in this position so don’t worry too much.
The Order “The New World” Part 2 by Kek-W, John Burns and Annie Parkhouse
We catch our breath in The Order this week. The skirmish that Kek-W carries over neatly establishes the respective characters, their abilities, limitations and motivations. There’s a pathos about Anna and her captive. Embittered as she may be, Burns and Kek-W give her a vulnerability in her quest for her lost love.
Burns is equally adept at capturing the grotesquery of wyrm physiology. His slimy tendrils look to infiltrate everything. He even manages to make Berg look slightly pitiful in his abject hunger. Driven by insatiable bloodlust, he’s visibly cowed by the threat of Anna’s blade but even in his transformed state Burns manages to make him sheepish.
Durham Red “Born Bad” Part 7 by Alec Worley, Lee Carter and Ellie de Ville
Sometimes you’ve just got to use things to your advantage – even things you’ve been fighting against. Red’s introspection is overtaken by events this week. She uses the vampire stories about herself which she hates so much to save her own life. Worley’s theme of people doing the ugly things they must to get by has been compelling.
Red’s escape is beautifully realised by Carter. We see her as her foes do. A bloody hand in the dark, a moving shadow too fast to see. Finally a monster before her monologue cuts back in and the perspective shifts to our heroines.
Red remains conflicted but she’s resolute in her course of action. Whether it’s revenge or rescue she’s bent on, Monkey Harris should be very worried about what’s coming.
Damned: The Fall of Deadworld Part 8 by Kek-W, Dave Kendall and Ellie de Ville
Sister Psiren’s assault on the sisters is brutal and swift. Unfortunately for her, their retribution looks to be far more leisurely. She is exposed to their true selves as looming horrors. Kendall’s Phobia stretching Ezquerra’s original to bear a passing resemblance to Maximan’s true form from Zenith. Hopefully the work Kek-W has put into her character isn’t going to be snuffed out just like that. It would be anticlimactic to not give her some input to the coming finale. This is the age of Game of Thrones though, so no character should feel safe.
In other news: The plane crashes and Jess et al get out. It’ spectacular enough to warrant 2 pages but you do feel a bit cheated in terms of storytelling. Maybe we’ve just been spoiled by the quality of everything else so far. Five pages isn’t much to set up the final act so treat this as a link and prepare for the showdown.
There’s still some gorily gorgeous details in this. The zoom into the eyeball in Whisper’s hand to see the incoming jet. The acknowledgement of Jess as “The Judge Child”. Kek-W and Kendall manage to express a whole relationship in one frame of Jess helping Arthur out of the wreck. Even the weakest episode of Deadworld is still excellent.
Another great prog. Developing stories bear fruit and new Dredd looks as good as vintage.