Judge Dredd “Commuter Pain” by Rory McConville, Lee Carter and Annie Parkhouse
The soullessness of the big city is captured by McConville in a poignant tale this week. Mostly these tales of “futsies” are played for laughs, horror, ultraviolence or a combination of the three. This time around it’s sad and all too understandable.
Marge Bostock is a woman gradually ground down by the pressure of trying to be one of the very few in MC1 to have a job. Her wordless despair is caught by Carter’s flat, grey depiction of her flat, grey life. The bags under her eyes and grimace of misery are testament to her truly depressing life.
There are deeper themes woven into these 6 pages; the pressure on workers to meet uncaring employers’ demands in an oversubscribed labour market; the use of prescription drugs to get through the demands of the day; the impact of the failure of government to maintain infrastructure, worsened further by the disruption it causes. As Marge reflects; time in a cube is better than this life. She may not be wrong.
Dredd is here but even he is powerless in the face of these forces, only really recognising them peripherally before patching up the immediate problems with the futsies. Some things can’t be fixed with a Lawgiver and daystick.
The Order “The New World” Part 4 by Kek-W, John Burns and Annie Parkhouse
Anna finds an apparent ally in The Order this week as she is reunited with Daniel Calhoun. This may seem to some readers like an unlikely coincidence. Another interpretation is that the common goal of wyrm hunting makes it inevitable that their paths will cross. Along with this also coincides the path of the other Order.
The shift in focus provides Kek-W with some rich new seams of history and literature to mine. The mention of Miskatonic university teases Lovecraftian elements which should fit in very nicely. Bonus points for the Jedi mind trick, too.
Burns’ Boston is pleasingly dirty. He alternates between lush painting and scrappy line drawings. The colours are consistently well-selected. He inks the main characters so as to stand out from the crowd in the drawn segments. His painted segments give the characters a lush ugly expressiveness.
Terror Tales “The Ticket” by Paul Tobin, Dan Cornwell and Simon Bowland
Terror tales sets you up to be disappointed with just another “and the driver was…Death!” type of tale. But this is 2000ad, not some lesser publication. Instead we get a bait and switch played straight for 3 pages then turning into a proper 2000ad tale of horror and dark humour. Tobin’s dialogue in the second half is top notch and marries perfectly with Cornwell’s art. He creates a believable contemporary protagonist and throws in some Ditko-esque backgrounds.
This isn’t a story that takes itself too seriously. It isn’t a deep commentary on the nature of mortality. It’s a story where you get to see an exasperated, panicking skeleton with a cool punchline.
Damned: The Fall of Deadworld Part 10 by Kek-W, Dave Kendall and Ellie de Ville
Team Jess force their way through psi-attacks but are depleted. Last week the lost Byke. This week Destyny splinters off to pursue her vendetta against Sidney while Patti and Roman are drawn away from the group by Fear. The personal connections between antagonist and protagonist give an added chill to the group experience. Any less and it would run into danger of being a run of the mill horror story. Somehow Kendall’s portrayal of Fear as nothing more than a red line is more spine-chilling than a whole host of deadheads.
Death himself lurks like a spider at the centre of his web. Kek-W has wisely kept him in the shadows. We’re uncertain as to his true power or even how much influence he has over his own forces. This uncertainty is reinforced through Kendalls art; only showing extreme close-up glimpses of uniform, teeth and claws. He clearly sees himself as master of all he surveys. The reader knows that he wins in the end, there’s just the hope that Jess can do some damage before it all end.
Grey Area “K.I.A” Part 1 by Dan Abnett, Mark Harrison and Ellie de Ville
Bulliet and team return to the prog in a new thrill which will hit you right in the feels.
The Grey Area is sci-fi as timely social comment done right. Xenophobes in the purest sense of the word are angling after harsher controls over not just immigration but contact of all sorts, citing concerns over loss of cultural identity. The Alt-right inveigling their way into mainstream consciousness? Sounds familiar…
Bulliet’s breakfasting idyll is soon broken by an inexplicably huge and threatening alien threat. The frantic scrambled response is portrayed effectively with broken panels and characters thrown onto the page without boundaries to constrain them. Ellie de Ville’s speech bubbles give an impression of breathless bursts of speech snatched on the run. The characteristic lighthearted dialogue prevents it from being just run-and-gun.
The art is a blur of colour, organic hues blending with blinding plasma. Only slightly distracting from the tension by resembling the attack of the giant space-vagina.
It’s all gung-ho fun and games until someone loses an eye. The final play is a punch in the gut after all the comic action. If it is what it seems then it’s a ballsy move. Either way it’s a great hook to end the prog on.
Art and writing of the highest quality with the perfect blend of new and old, epics and one-offs. Roll on next week!