Judge Dredd “Elevator Pitch” Part 2 by Rob Williams, Chris Weston, Chris Blythe and Annie Parkhouse
The team concludes a near-perfect Dredd 2-parter with Elevator Pitch. It’s also one of those stories where the intervention of the Judges makes everything much, much worse. Every word and every panel in this is a riot of entertainment, just pick one at random for your viewing pleasure.
As the ape said last week, this isn’t a social commentary. Or at least, that’s not the story’s focus. It wouldn’t be 2000ad without a hint of it though. So Williams gets in a couple of digs through dialogue which enhance the chaos around the characters. The humour of it brings a lightness which adds complexity to what would be an uneventful day by Dredd’s standards.
Weston has not skimped on the graft for this story. There is a huge amount of detail here. His Judicial flight suit is, on reflection, a practical improvement of the traditional Judge uniform. Every character has an expression which seethes with drama, especially the snarling apes. All brightly popping off the page courtesy of Blythe’s colouring which allows the fashionistas to pop against the cosmonaut-chic gorillas.
The Order “The New World” Part 3 by Kek-W, John Burns and Annie Parkhouse
Kek-W drives poor Anna to greater depths of despair this week. The most powerful expression of her crippling grief comes from a single frame of Burns’ art as she relives tragedies past. It’s impressive work when an internal struggle can eclipse interdimensional wyrm war. That war intrudes on her grief in the form of a zombie reaching cleverly for a shoulder exposed from the previous panel. The creators maximise the impact of both with subtle change in light and making best use of the limited prog space.
Burns shows his range, his use of light as Anna enters the catacombs is impressive. Equally, the cartoonish entrance of not-Ritterstahl breaks the tension without looking absurd. Paired with Kek-W’s dialogue, it’s a potent combination.
Skip Tracer “Heavy is the Head” Part 9 by James Peaty, Paul Marshall, Dylan Teague and Simon Bowland
Nolan bows out in a supernova of neon in keeping with the atmosphere of the story as a whole. Marshall has made every page glow with holograms, lightshows and expository telescreens. All the bright lights may serve to distract you from some plot elements which don’t quite ring true. So the alien princess was a powerful psychic who only needed close proximity to Nolan’s unexplained abilities to reactivate herself? If this was a one-off it would be a real problem but Tharg seems to have plans for Skip Tracer so it could yet tie into a wider universe. Benefit of the doubt has been earned by the overall exceeding of expectations.
Love it or hate it (and it certainly has attracted some internet ire, mostly by virtue of simply being new) Skip Tracer will return in prog 2100.
Durham Red “Born Bad” Part 8 by Alec Worley, Lee Carter and Ellie de Ville
Red and company’s search for identity concludes with a twist that doesn’t feel either obvious or contrived. You can try to smooth out the edges but it seem that nature will out. Bootha believed that and made the rational choice to run. Whether or not believing your child to be evil is a self-fulfilling prophecy is unfortunately not touched upon by Worley. It’s a shame as 8 episodes would have been enough to give it some consideration.
Carter competes with Weston for the coveted Best Monkey Of The Week award. It’s a close call as his artwork has been superb in the second half of this story. As far as monkey emotions goes, he runs the full gamut. His portrayal of Red’s attack is an effective Oldboy/Matrix scene which shows her efficient lethality in grand style.
As for Red, the bloodlust overtakes her and she is in its thrall. Carter shifts the art to a red storm and it works beautifully, dragging us into Red’s uncontrollable thirst. Her blackout is almost a cop out, removing from her responsibility for the slaughter. It may have been more satisfying to have her swept along, with the idea that maybe she could have stopped if only she’d wanted to. This is 2000ad after all. Our heroes shouldn’t be too heroic and we’ve seen this before with Feral Jackson.
This way, the message ends, she has potential for peace. If her conscious deeds are moral, and she can’t be held accountable for the unconscious. Maybe she’s a better person than she gets credit for? We’re going to get the opportunity to find out as perhaps a reunion seems on the cards in the final scene.
Damned: The Fall of Deadworld Part 9 by Kek-W, Dave Kendall and Ellie de Ville
Jess struggles to hold her team together after the initial attack. They are undone not by the opposing force, which seems strangely flimsy, but the psychic propaganda of Fear.
Kek-W treads the tightrope of Jess as both messiah and pissy teenager. Her attempt to impose squad discipline fails badly and she is crestfallen at her desertion. Letterers don’t get enough credit for their influence on the tone of a conversation. Jess’ voice is made tiny and childlike with the loss of her most powerful ally.
There’s division in all the ranks. The sisters have their own agenda separate from Death. Is Jess or Destyny the third sister? Death and Mortis clearly see themselves as the senior partners in the Dark Judges. There’s a cleverly implied long road ahead of them. Kendalls grimy art has Fear and, in particular, Mortis not having reached the final ghastly forms we know and love. It’s a subtle hint that there is more and worse to come.
Another excellent edition; Dredd and Red reach high notes with their respective conclusions. Next week, get your Resting Bitch Face ready and spray on your Compelling Male Musk Odour for the return of Grey Area.