Judge Dredd “The Small House” Part 3 by Rob Williams, Henry Flint, Chris Blythe and Annie Parkhouse.
After a brief Walking Dead style interlude in the Cursed Earth with former Judge Gerhart, we return to the Big Meg with Dredd. He may be on the streets but his mind is still in the small house with Smiley. Williams gives us an insight into the attitude of Dredd as he simmers on Smiley’s digs. He doesn’t see the need for complicating the situation. The law and only the law matters. Everything else is window dressing and obfuscation. What Smiley sees as naivete, Dredd sees as clarity.
Time, years and struggle have taken their toll on everyone here. Hershey and Dredd are brooding presences. Even the way in which Dredd dispatches the dune shark is like autopilot. Flint’s artwork gives everyone an aged, tortured look. Hershey’s thousand-yard stare could be many things, regret not being the least of them. Kazan’s the only one with a spring in his step, despite the wheelchair. Joe’s visibly uncomfortable. Even his mild bullying falls flat, giving us an indication of his discomfort at odds with Kazan’s glee. Normally in these types of scene he looms. Just now he seems almost like an ordinary man. It’s something we’re not used to seeing and it gives Joe a human vulnerability that really raises the stakes. Great work all round.
Brink “High Society” Part 3 by Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard and Simon Bowland
The game’s well and truly afoot in Brink. Bridget’s contact with Ludo gives us a list of potential suspects and raises the stakes too. There are moves in bigspace to unseat Mariam Junot, something which would force their long game into being a short game. For an episode focused on cleaning and conversation, Abnett packs in the tension. There’s a palpable threat in the corridors of Junot and it’s coming as much from corporate as cult activity.
For all their high security measures, the arrogance of the upper class plays against them. Bridget is thought to be deaf, dumb and blind as soon as she steps into the walls. It’s a clever touch which allows her to eavesdrop without it feeling like exposition. Culbard’s visuals give us half the conversation from Bridget’s perspective. Muted voices and indistinct figure from her side but utterly invisible and forgotten about from the other. It’s subtle but biting. Brink Book 3 is a treat.
Fiends of the Eastern Front “1812” Part 3 by Ian Edginton, Dave Taylor and Annie Parkhouse.
Edginton gets to the heart of the matter in Fiends this week. As D’Hubert and Constanta are separated from their doomed squad, we get the vampire’s true motivations. Constanta shows his indifference to humans and their affairs. It’s all very well as far as they coincide, such as in their escape. But once their interests diverge, the humans are an irrelevance. The Franco-Russian war is a sideshow to Wallachian concerns and, specifically, the vampires’ survival against Baba Yaga.
The character of Constanta is compelling. He has a moral code of a sort, demonstrated by his saving of D’Hubert. You get the feeling though that would be sacrificed for the sake of expediency. If he starts getting hungry, the human he saved may ultimately just be as a snack.
Taylor’s snowbound figures seem to radiate cold off the page. Constanta’s transformation isn’t a new thing to see, but the slow motion over several frames, each more bestial than the last, is a grim delight. His pragmatic dinner can’t really be argued against logically, but Taylor makes him look chillingly pragmatic.
Skip Tracer “Legion” Part 3 by James Peaty, Colin MacNeil, Dylan Teague and Ellie de Ville.
Unfortunately Skip Tracer lets the side down for this week’s prog.The journey into the brother’s mind is a rehash of so many Judge Anderson stories, from the hellish landscape right down to the manifest daddy issues.
Even artistically, without the glowing lights of the Cube, something’s missing. That’s not to say there aren’t some nice individual touches. The descent into his brother’s mind is a freefall of scattered memories going from innocence to damnation. It’s spoiled by the internal conversation Nolan has with himself though, feeling out of place with the images on offer.
Kingdom “Alpha and Omega” Part 3 by Dan Abnett, Richard Elson, Abigail Bulmer and Ellie de Ville.
Abnett does a good job this week of setting up a 3-way conflict in Kingdom. The Masters’ pursuit of Gene looks to run full tilt into the Riders. The Riders leader seems to be the first voice of reason in a long time, espousing a third way of living that hasn’t been available until now.Gene is naturally mistrustful but the conversation between him and Skinner gives him gradually growing doubts. Elson’s calm depiction of Skinner makes his words seem like genuine candour not manipulation.
Instead of looking played out, Kingdom is starting to look interesting again as we’re going to see what the Master are capable of on-planet. Will they be capable of dealing with the savagery of the world? We shall see next week. Expect to “Get whet”.
Sublime stuff in Brink and Dredd, but falls on its face with Skip Tracer.