Judge Dredd, “Technophobes” by Rory McConville, Inaki Miranda, Eva De La Cruz and Annie Parkhouse.
Dredd this week is another of those one-off stories that capture the madness of the big Meg and all its lunatic fringes. Technophobes come up against technophiles with Dredd and Robo-Judge Andy not so much caught in the middle but left to mop up the mess.
McConville handles the whole thing with a lightness of touch and mild humour that it requires. The clown whose boyfriend has been “acting funny” and Dredd’s general impatience with human interactions definitely tickle the funny bones. Ao too does the discomfited reaction of the unnamed judge who puts her foot in it with Andy. Props there to Miranda for her body language switch from confidence to cringe. Miranda hits all the right notes throughout with a light, cartoon style that really plays to the comic strengths of the script.
Although it ties in to the ongoing Mechanismo affair, it’s really just another facet of Mega-City ennui given direction. If the robots weren’t there, these concerned citizens would have found another issue to be concerned about. And if these guys hadn’t got themselves into hot water, some other idiot would have. It’s just another moment in the day for the Judges, even if it does look like Dredd’s coming round to the idea of the robot Judges. Or maybe he just doesn’t like to show dissent in front of the citizens, only time will tell.
Scarlet Traces “Home Front” Part 9 by Ian Edginton, D’Israeli and Ellie De Ville.
Has Traces stalled a little? Well, no not at all. It’s a strip that certainly takes its time, but Edginton can make a compelling story out of anything. Much like our nameless young agent can make the most mid-20th century English dinner out of emergency stores. Foodies avert your eyes…
He also fills in the gaps in the Venusians oral tradition about the non-Martian origin of the Martians. The significance of this is yet to be seen but it illustrates their martial (sorry) need for conquest. Also the idea of non-human humans may be setting us up for a twist, but to what end? It’s an intriguing pot of stew to continue the unappetising food theme.
D’Israeli continues to turn out some gorgeous work. His use of colour to pick out individual themes within scenes and places is beautiful. Just sitting back and letting your eye drift across the pages tells a story in itself. He’s as equally adept at cloning tubes as at formica tables, creating a believable canvas for Edginton’s story. Wonderful immersion.
Thistlebone Part 1 by TC Eglington, Simon Davis and Annie Parkhouse.
The much-touted Thistlebone starts this week. For a brand new thrill it feels reassuringly familiar and is very firmly in the British horror vein that 2000ad does so well. The rural cult is evocatively played out by the deliciously bosky artwork of Simon Davis whose talent for contemporary horror has been a mainstay of the prog for several years.
Between them, Davis and Eglinton bring to life a tale of cult worship and sacrifice, narrated post-fact by their erstwhile sacrifice. Avril, the resourceful damsel in distress, survives the cult but is confronted by something far stranger and ancient.
As a starting point it hits all the right buttons. Davis’ pagan nutters wouldn’t look out of place at any country pub or harvest festival. They’re perfectly observed; all waistcoats, bad beards and floaty dresses. Eglington pitches the tone to stop them being caricatures. The combination of nonsense speech merging into English is enough to make the narrator doubt her hold on reality. It’s similar to the R’lyeh tongue from Lovecraft that was used so effectively in Brink. More please.
Kingmaker “Ouroboros” Part 12 by Ian Edginton, Leigh Gallagher and Ellie De Ville.
Kingmaker concludes this week to make room for the return of old Harry Absalom and it doesn’t disappoint.
Edginton has set up the board nicely in the last two installments. The Thorn and our heroes are on a collision course with treachery lurking in every corner. Just as Crixus showed his trump card, Edginton throws a curve ball that leaves the tale on a compelling cliffhanger.
It’s an episode that shows the changing relationship between the characters. Not least as Crixus’ leadership grows to command the company, not to everyone’s liking. Ablard seems unhappy with the shift in the power dynamic. Edginton appears to be hinting at one resolution to this before drop-kicking us in a completely new direction and leaving us hanging.
Gallagher works just as well in the calm moments as in the fighting. His use of the various sources of light in this episode is something special, as is the body language of the party now mostly at ease with one another. If it wasn’t being replaced by one of the prog’s best modern strips, you’d really be sad to see it go.
Overall a solid prog. Thistlebone in particular appears to live up to its promotion.