Judge Dredd “The Small House” Part 8 by Rob Williams, Henry Flint, Chris Blythe and Annie Parkhouse.
Revelations abound for Dredd this week. It takes a lot to disturb Joe but the contents of File 2103 leave him visibly shaken to his core. Flint mirrors Dredd before and after viewing the file and it’s subtly effective. The slightest shift in posture makes him sag in shock.
Williams has teased us with a great many thing over the past few weeks: What’s in File 2103? What happened with Frank in the snow and why is he hiding it from Dredd? The disclosure does not disappoint. He also leaves us with at least as many new questions. What were the defectors selling? The mention of the Apocalypse War hints at foreknowledge of the Sov attack. Bear in mind, however, that Williams has skilfully misdirected us already. The previous mention of events in the snow hinted at Enceladus, not the secret Georgian origins of Frank. Even the title has a double meaning, being both Smiley’s hideyhole and the site of the atrocity.
Each week you think it can’t get better and then they turn the screw tighter. Incredible stuff.
Skip Tracer “Legion” Part 8 by James Peaty, Colin MacNeil, Dylan Teague and Ellie de Ville.
Nolan goes back into his brother’s mind to deal with Legion at the source. The how’s and why’s of it all are a bit technobabble but it’s not important. Something about reversing the polarity of the flux capacitor or somesuch. As Nolan makes his emotional family reunion, Legion is out causing havoc in the real world.
There’s not a lot of substance this week but it does look gorgeous. Legion’s internal appearance bears more than a passing resemblance to Masterman’s Lloigor inhabitant from Zenith Book 1. His incineration of the hapless Major is similarly reminiscent of poor old Siadwell Rhys too. For a strip that had a lot of problems in the beginning, to end up feeling like Morrison/Yeowell is no bad thing.
Brink “High Society” Part 8 by Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard and Simon Bowland.
Bridget’s got herself a day off and is heading out on the town. There’s a lot of focus on how well-written Brink is and this week is no exception. Her debrief is a prickly affair with everyone at pains to remind each other how dangerous it all is. Everyone’s on edge, especially when Bridget introduces the potential for a time limit with the upcoming Junot coup. Despite being the most at risk, she’s still the coolest head in the room.
It’s the artwork that holds the gold this week though. No matter the circumstances, Bridget’s sense of relief at being out of Junot HQ is clear to see. There’s a neat paradox at her metaphorically stretching her wings out by going into a more crowded space. She’s been in an unnatural environment for too long and the first few panels are almost set to music as she struts through the ‘real’ world. Culbard then segues it gradually into a game of cat and mouse as Bridget attempts to get to her rendezvous without a tail. It’s an effective ramping up of tension with a real sense of danger. Making contact with her handlers was always going to be risky, next week we’ll see if she got away with it.
Tharg’s 3Rillers “Intestinauts are Go!” Part 2 by Arthur Wyatt and Pye Parr
Infestinauts gives us a lot to play with this week. From giant boil craters to the realisation of the larger world it’s clear that Wyatt and Parr are having a hoot.
The microscopic landscape is as disgusting as the host who argues with the company about the directions for use. Parr’s sense of the comedically unpleasant is on point here. It’s a story that would fall apart without the right sense of fun from the artwork. It would be pushing it to say there’s a serious point here about proper use of antimicrobials but this is a solid metaphor for how drug-resistant infectious illnesses develop.
Kingdom “Alpha & Omega” Part 8 by Dan Abnett, Richard Elson, Abigail Bulmer and Ellie de Ville.
As usual for an Abnett story, the talky bits are more compelling than the physical action. Gene maintains his dignity and sense of worth in the wake of his implied body cavity search. His principled stance on the rights of the auxes is an admirable show of how far the character has progressed. It’s not exactly an eloquent declaration on human rights, but it’s minimalistically elegant in its own way. It very quickly escalated into bloodshed and worse though, as Canis regroups and attacks the riders, with a bit of input from above.
Artistically, Elson and Bulmer maintain the grainy, low-lit vibe of last prog. It certainly makes the whole experience feel dirtier, in keeping with the tone of how events have turned. On the whole though, it isn’t quite as impressive as the clean crisp contrasting style of the beginning of the story. Think rough-hewn rather than polished. This may be personal taste of course, and it definitely doesn’t detract from the overall quality, particularly in the subdued lighting which is starkly contrasted in the final panel.
Another excellent prog. Infestinauts may be a bit lightweight for some but the rest are all hitting heavily.