Judge Dredd “Trial by Fire” by Rory McConville, PJ Holden, Jim Boswell and Annie Parkhouse.
After the traumatic events of The Small House let’s take a moment to reflect. And what better way of doing that with a wacky wee tale of MC1 and its inhabitants? McConville gives a neat one-off about hapless citizen Smokey and his research related woes. Not every story needs to be The Apocalypse War. Sometimes you just want to see Joe belting a plasticene gremlin right out the panel with his daystick.
Holden’s dredd is the grumpiest of grumpy old men. He’s craggy, wrinkled and huge. All the better to flatten poor Smokey’s surprisingly cute wee monsters. Boswell’s colours make for a fun trip too. It’s all larger, brighter and weirder than life, like the classic Wagner single shot stories of yesteryear. Particularly the blackly humorous endiing. After all the suffering Smokey’s had at the hands of Justice Department do you think they’ll give him compo? Where there’s a blame there’s a claim doesn’t apply to Mega City 1.
Brink “High Society” Part 11 by Dan Abnett, INJ Culbard and Simon Bowland.
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate how good a character Bridget Kurtis is. Most comic characters would have high-kicked their way out in a stoical heroic way. Not Bridget. She is, in her own words, fucking terrified. Selling out Blasco may have kept the op alive but that was just a happy side-effect of Bridget’s priority of keeping Bridget alive. Once she’s in the cell and the immediate physical danger has passed she mentally hitches up her skirts, puts her game face on and gets back to work. She even manages to make the subsequent interrogation not look like an interrogation. It’s fantastic writing by Abnett. He’s not created a character here. He’s created a strong, relatable human.
As much credit for this must go to Culbard. She’s businesslike and serious with no wasted motion.A punch to the face leaves a bruise, heightening the feeling of real physical danger. She doesn’t smile, flirt or flatter. She’s not an Anderson, Durham Red or Tyranny Rex. She’s Bridget Kurtis. She’s Davia Sinta. She’s fucking terrified. And she’s got a job to do. Best female character in 2000ad history? She may well be.
Kingdom “Alpha and Omega” Part 11 by Dan Abnett, Richard Elson, Abigail Bulmer and Ellie de Ville.
Alpha and Omega Part 11 is an epilogue. Abnett’s narrator signs us off in almost mournful tones. None of the loose ends are tied up. Gene and his mini-pack are in the wind. Numan and his riders are still battling Them but the arms race continues and they look like they may have fallen one step behind. The masters are still sitting in safety above. They may think they’re playing the long game but there’s a feeling that they’ve lost and they just don’t know it yet.
11 episodes ago it looked like Kingdom was drawing to a close. That still looks the case, but the endgame feels much mor dangerous now.
Elson’s art shows a neat contrast in settings. Gene et al slipping away into the woods has an almost fairytale quality whereas the cut to the masters is cold, clinical sci-fi. Meanwhile the riders are gritty and organic with Bulmer providing muted natural tones of animal skins, wood and bone. The penultimate splash image is hellish as befits Numan’s plight in the face of hyperevolution. A great team effort.
Sinister Dexter “The Sea Beneath the City” Part 2 by Dan Abnett, Steve Yeowell, John Charles and Ellie de Ville.
Sinister Dexter concludes with another double-length episode. Parts 3 & 4 of the story if you will. This time Abnett casts his net wide for humourous references, channelling Shakespeare’s rude artisans filtered through Terry Pratchett and Monty Python. The running gag of what Wharfinger likes to do with his eels hits the mark without being overplayed. It’s a well-written piece with plenty to enjoy even if you’re not a fan of SinDex. The audible monologue joke for Dexter just isn’t happening though. Please just let that one die.
Yeowell adds to the general charm with his designs. An underwater base filled with retro-style robots feels chunky and clunky enough in a Man From UNCLE way. Charles’ splashes of colour make our heroes pop out from the rest of the crowd. His use of the enormous green sea serpent as background breaks up all that grey very effectively while keeoping it in our minds as a narrative threat.
A very enjoyable prog. Fun in general with Brink showing how good it can get.