2000ad Prog 2120
Judge Dredd “Machine Law” Part 6 by John Wagner, Colin MacNeill, Chris Blythe and Annie Parkhouse.
Well, that escalated quickly. Wagner ramps up the tension in a rapid-fire set of scenes, taking in the Human League and Judges in open rebellion. Meanwhile, Harvey is doing exactly what Dredd normally does in these circumstances. He’s out on the streets busting perps and enforcing the law. Wagner has intelligently made them near-flawless. Almost more Dredd than Dredd. His objections are less tangible than might be expected, adding a level of ambiguity to the whole debate.
Dredd himself is being as touchy-feely as he gets. He’s at Hershey’s bedside, past differences seemingly forgiven if not forgotten. It’s genuinely moving to watch a man ill at ease with expressing his feelings doing just that. In fact doing it extremely well. It’s not just Hershey who has a tear in her eye as Joe strikes just the right tone of tough love. MacNeil has a single frame of beauty with a close-up of Hershey which shows just how weary she is with the fight. The follow-up as she lies there looking frail and vulnerable is touching as old stoney face manages to wring a smile out of her. A smile and maybe a glimmer of hope?
In other news, the schism in the city looks to be fulminating into a full-blown coup. No good can come of this whatever way you slice it. If the rebels are put sdown by Logan and his robot Judges, expect to see a city in flames before too long. Wagner has painted everybody into a corner here, it’s just going to be a matter of seeing who fires the first shot.
Skip Tracer “Louder Than Bombs” Part 10by James Peaty, Paul Marshall, Quinton Winter and Ellie De Ville.
In Skip Tracer this week Nolan makes his escape from the world’s (Cube’s?) least effective government death squad. They considerately wait for everyone to recover from their concussion grenade before moving in, giving our heroes time to make their escape. Quite why the cell leader couldn’t hotfoot it along with Nolan and isn’t certain but it allows him to make a heroic sacrifice. If only we had got more than a handful of pages with him, we might even have cared.
By close of play, Nolan’s got everything sussed. Although, up to this point it would have been better if he hadn’t got involved at all. At least then he wouldn’t have led the Consociation to the Children of Fury’s door, getting them all wiped out in the process. Thankfully he has the chance to avert a catastrophe next week at Cube Live Aid.
Marshall and Winter have another artistically strong week. Their characteristic use of shadow making the death squad suitably faceless and implacable. The destruction of the Children of Fury is ruthlessly portrayed. It’s as much a slaughter as the footage they’re after, cementing them as a force to be reckoned with despite their slow start.
Grey Area “Hunted” by Dan Abnett, Mark Harrison and Ellie De Ville
There’s a lull in Grey Area this week as Abnett sets us up for a big reunion. As Kymn et al catch their breath and phone a friend, the antagonists suss out their possibly hiding places. For any other script it would be filler but Abnett disguises it well with a comedy clairvoyant and RBF’s take on appropriate interactions when coming back from the dead. (“Say hello from me”).
Harrison doesn’t have to make it quite so frenetic as usual so the panels are pretty regular for a Grey Area episode. It’s still packed with detail though. A particular pleasure is the Stan Lee lookalike but really every dribbling weirdo is a joy in itself.
Tharg’s 3Rillers “Tooth and Nail” by Andi Ewington, Staz Johnson, Abigail Bulmer and Simon Bowland.
Andi Ewington’s take on the 3Riller format looks to be something pretty interesting. A contemporary mob tale with a twist, it has just enough 2000ad weirdness to keep the reader off balance and interested. As act 1 of a 3 act play, it suitably asks more questions than it answers. Our protagonist clearly has some special quality, but that’s seemingly opaque to all but our assassin friend.
Johnson and Bulmer’s art has a dirty, washed-out grey to all the proceedings, lending them a grubby, urban tone in keeping with its subject. The change in wash between then and now makes flitting between scenes smoother and almost cinematic. It starts with a punch to the face that sets out the story’s stall perfectly. This is a world where a punch rattles your teeth loose and makes your head sing. This isn’t a story with a hero. This is a story where bad things happen.
Jaegir “Bonegrinder” Part 4 by Gordon Rennie, Simon Coleby, Len O’Grady and Annie Parkhouse.
There’s a lighthearted, almost playful feel to Jaegir this week. Atalia negotiates her surrender to the Southers while simultaneously kicking their ass. Her struggle to survive long enough to actually surrender is neatly contrasted with her counterparts ease. Atalia struggles in the muck while Mwangi sits in a sterile control room. Even if Atalia was in Bonegrinder’s control room, she’d still look like she was struggling. While the Southers may look like they hold all the cards, you still trust Atalia’s instincts and guile to prevail. Rennie makes the Souther general look like she’s holding all the cards with implacable confidence and a hint of smugness. Armchair general versus warrior? Be assured the Kapitan-Inspector has something up her sleeve.
It’s an artistic feast for the eyes too. Coleby’s scratchy indistinct foregrounds force your own mind to fill in the blanks as the bodies almost merge with the landscape. O’Grady’s colours are kaleidoscopic with energy, giving a fury to the battle that is pure Nu Earth. It’s gripping in every department, future war has never felt so fresh.
Solid and compelling, the Prog has developed some excellent storylines.