Archive for June, 2012


WARNING – REVIEW CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

Cover:

A strong effort from Simon Davis for this weeks cover, announcing the return of Ichabod Azrael to the Prog. Its an eyecatching cover which acts as both a wanted poster and a play on the skull and crossbones motif. The background colour and the faded print on the tagline and logo are an effective addition to the image. A pretty strong cover allround.

Judge Dredd – The Days After:

Every week Dredd just seems to get better and better, and this weeks installment is no exception. The Day of Chaos is now over and what remains of the Justice Department is left to try and pick up the pieces. The announcement that 350 million of the Megs 400 millions citizens have died is one of the most shocking moments in Dredd history, and then on the very next page we get the resignation of Chief Judge Dan Francisco. The use of Children in this weeks part is particularly noteworthy with Dredd having to put down two infected children, while rescuing a child on the next page. I have to admit that the reason for the childs survival and the image of the child hiding in the cupboard almost had me in tears. As if all this wasn’t enough we also see Rico bringing in an army of mutants to help with the clear up, while Hershey returns to become the acting Chief Judge. How is it possible to cram so much into just six pages? I really am running out of superlatives for Dredd right now. All I can say is that this latest story arc is perhaps the best comic strip I have ever read.

Durham Red – The “Nobody Wants This Job” Job – Part 5:

Despite the lack of character progression in this strip, I am still finding it a pretty enjoyable read. There are quite a few holes in the plot, but if you take it as a nostalgic read once kind of strip then theres a lot to enjoy here. Ezquerra’s art is as excellent as we’ve all come to expect, so even if you don’t like the story there is at least plenty to look at (not least Ms Red herself of course).

Tharg’s 3rillers – 1947 – Part 1:

The last run of 3rillers I found to be very disapointing, with all three of the strips being average at best. I’m pleased to say that the first part of this latest effort is already a vast improvement on the previous run. It’s a timely strip too, seeing as it includes Alan Turing who would have celebrated his 100th Birthday recently had he still been alive. The story seems an interesting one, with an alien species called The Allies having helped defeat the Nazi’s during WW2 and now preparing to send the first British man into space. Indeed there seems to be a strong enough idea here to be a full length series rather than a three part one off story. If I have one niggle its that you might not realise The Allies are aliens unless you read the contents page at the beginning of the Prog, as they don’t make an appearence and it isn’t that clear from the way they are talked about in the strip that they are aliens. Despite this both the story and the art are excellent, and I’m lookng forward to reading the rest of this.

The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael – Manhunt – Part 1:

Ichabod Azrael makes his return by popular demand this week , two years after its original run. I must confess that I haven’t read the original strip as I only started buying the prog regularly about half way through its run, so I don’t have any clear idea whats happening yet despite the catchup we’re given on the contents page. Having said that this is a promising first part and I think I could well enjoy this once the story really gets underway.

Nikolai Dante – Sympathy For The Devil – Part 4:

Could it be that we’ll soon be seeing the appearance of Dante’s child? It certainly seems to be implied that Jena may well be in that condition. I have a feeling this story is either going to end very happily or very badly for everyone involved. The writer has to be applauded for this, as there is a real sense that this strip could go either way yet. Theres a really nice touch this week with Odessa Zhirinovsky, the author of Nikolai Dante: Too Cool To Kill, making an appearance. I don’t know if she’s appeared before, but either way its nice to see the oft quoted character in the flesh so to speak. Along with Dredd, Dante is proving to be an extremly good bookend to the Prog each week.

Overall:

Now this is a Prog. All five strips are excellent this week, with the weakest (Durham Red) being good enough to be the best thing in any other Prog. I honestly can’t remember the last time I enjoyed the Prog so much, and talk over on the 2000AD forum of this being in the top 10 Progs of all time isn’t without reason. This truly is the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic.

Quote of the Week: “The Mega City we knew is gone, Hershey.” – Judge Dredd

Thrill of the Week: Judge Dredd

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Prog 1788 – Slay Per View!

Cover:

Karl Richardson provides a very realistic looking image for this weeks cover. Its not likely to be a contender for cover of the year, but its a decent effort all the same. The addition of the camera details, such as the battery symbol and the time and date, are a nice touch which add a little extra to the cover.

Judge Dredd – Chaos Day – Part 2:

This is quite simply an astonishing piece of work. After the destruction of the Academy of Law last week, things continue to get worse for Mega City One with scenes of death and destruction on a scale we’ve never previously seen in Dredd. Just take that first page for example, with the evacuees being marched past a severed head on a pole, while many more bodies can be seen hanging in the background. Then in the very next panel we get the incredibly grim image of the Judge Tree. This is six pages worth of comic strip chock full of memorable images. Perhaps most memorable of all is the image of Dredd in the final panel, seemingly broken by the events of Chaos Day. Dredd has never seemed as helpless as he does now, and it’s difficult to see anyway back for Mega City 1 after this. This is perhaps the finest run of strips we have ever seen in the Prog.

Durham Red – The “Nobody Wants This Job” Job – Part 4:

This strip is a bit of welcome light relief following on from Dredd. Like the Cadet Anderson strip theres a feeling that there isn’t any real need for this to be set in Durham Red’s past. Thus far we have yet to learn anything new about the characters history, and are instead being treated to a pretty generic runaround. Having said that I’m finding this a lot more fun to read than the Anderson strip, and I’m happy to see this in the prog for the time being.

Grey Area – One of Our Own – Part 4 (Final Part):

Grey Area continues to be a pretty good read overall, but thats tempered with a real feeling of dissapointment this week. Bulliet being a plant isn’t really a huge suprise, but there is a feeling that this plot thread should have been allowed to run for a while longer yet. The idea of having the Xeno-Facists capturing one of the ETC officers was one that felt like it had genuine threat behind it, so to see it resolved so quickly is also something of a let down. I am still enjoying Grey Area on the whole, but it really needs a good shot in the arm to take it to the next level.

Future Shocks – Downloan:

I don’t have a lot to say about this Future Shock, as it really didn’t do very much for me at all. I didn’t find the story idea very interesting, and the twist ending was deffinetly lacking. Its a shame because the recent run of one offs has been of a very high standard. This wasn’t really bad by any means, just not my cup of tea. (Actually I don’t like tea either so thats probably not a very good analogy.)

Nikolai Dante – Sympathy For The Devil – Part 3:

I have a feeling this could be the last installment of Dante to have a light tone. Those final couple of panels seem very ominous indeed, and I could almost imagine the dramatic music starting up in the background. The rest of this weeks installment is tremendous fun though, particularly that splash page of Dante which is reminiscent of one of his very earliest adventures. Not a lot else to say this week, other than this is really shaping up nicely.

Overall:

Despite a rather lacklustre Future Shock this is still a very strong Prog. It’s a bit of a cliche but Dredd really is worth the cover price alone right now, while Dante isn’t too far behind. Add to that a couple of very readable strips in Durham Red and Grey Area and you have a very fine line up indeed.

Quote of the Week: “The city – his beloved city – is dying before his eyes.” – Judge Dredd

Thrill of the Week: Judge Dredd

Dredd – Movie Trailer

I’m sure most of you have seen this allready, but thought I’d share it for those who haven’t. I have to say the movie is looking like it’s going to be pretty amazing judging by the trailer. Karl Urban seems to be a perfect choice for the role of Dredd. Roll on 21st September

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PifvRiHVSCY

One of the great things about 2000AD is its relatively high turnover of new strips. Sure you have the old classics like Dredd and Strontium Dog, but 2000AD has never been a comic to rest on its laurels, continuingly bringing us brand new strips too enjoy. Sometimes they don’t work and are forgotten about pretty quickly, but other times the new strips stand head and shoulders over the rest of the prog as a classic in the making. Fortunately Absalom falls firmly into the latter category.

Around this time last year I was pretty excited about the forthcoming debut of Absalom. As a spin-off of supernatural horror strip Caballistics Inc I had high hopes for Absalom before it had even started. Cabs Inc had been one of the best strips of the 21st century so far, so anything to do with it had to be good. That has certainly proved to be the case as Absalom is perhaps well on its way to surpassing its parent strip in every way. Absalom is one of those rare strips where everything is absolutely perfect…the writing, the art, the characters, the premise…everything is firing on all cylinders.

Having a good lead character is absolutely vital to any comic strip, particularly when he lends his name to the strips title. Inspector Harry Absalom is a fascinating leading man, riddled with incurable cancer yet apparently unable to die, he remains something of a mystery despite the reader knowing quite a bit of his backstory. We know that he is in fact hundreds of years old as is revealed in the first strip in this collection, having been witness to the signing of The Accord between the British Government and Hell itself, centuries in the past. Yet he also appears to be a modern day detective in the vein of Inspector Frost, albeit one who enforces a treaty made with Demons and Monsters. What’s particularly great about Absalom is that this is just a job for him. Most supernatural investigators are portrayed as being interested in little outside their job. But for Absalom it’s very much something he has to do, rather than something he chooses to do. The supporting cast are noteworthy too, including an apparent mole and a rather unusual little man who you really have to read the strip too be able to fully understand.

The art by Tiernen Trevallion is absolutely stunning throughout. His attention to detail is particularly noteworthy, just check out some of the backgrounds on the Ghosts of London strip. That panel with the Dog running off with a severed head is particularly hilarious. But it would mean nothing if the writing didn’t back it up. With Gordon Rennie on script duties though, you know that the writing is going to be first class. All three strips included in this trade are absolutely must reads and I can’t imagine there is anyone who reads 2000AD who wouldn’t love to read Absalom. It should also be pointed out that Rennie makes sure you don’t need to have read Caballistics Inc to be able to read Absalom, no prior knowledge is necessary.

In my opinion Absalom is the finest strip to debut in the prog since Stickleback’s debut about five years ago now. As I said everything comes together to form a perfect supernatural horror strip, and one which looks to be even better than Caballistics Inc ever was. I sincerely hope that Absalom gets a good long run in the prog and that we will see many more trade collections in the future. Ghosts of London is an absolute must buy for any fan of 2000AD.

10/10

Prog 1787 – A medical review

Special guest reviewer- Eamonn Clarke

Spoiler alert! Mild spoilers for 2000AD prog 1787 follow. You have been warned.

There are some more medical details about the chaos bug in the latest 2000AD. Chaos Day has arrived and the deadly micro-organism is sweeping through Mega-City one. According to the caption in the second panel there are now millions of victims which suggests we are on the third day of Professor Wyant’s projections.

Dredd is working with a small team of Judges and members of the Citi-Def citizens’ militia as they try to regain control of a single city block. After Dredd deals with an infected victim in characteristic, uncompromising  fashion we get another snippet of information about the infectious nature of the Chaos organism. Respirators are apparently essential to prevent airborne transmission, but the Judges have also covered their exposed skin with a barrier gel. This suggests that either the organism can penetrate human skin, or more likely the airborne organism can settle on human skin and then be transferred internally later by the usual hand to mouth touching that we all do throughout the day. This is how we normally pick up the common cold virus and manage to infect ourselves. It would be nice if we had a barrier gel that we could wear during flu and cold season.

Having established that the chaos illness can be caught through breathing or skin contact we then get a standard scene for any Zombie type infection story – a human bite. Clearly the bite of a Chaos victim will transmit the bug to the unfortunate Citi-Def member and Dredd prepares to take drastic action with a laser. But this is a bit strange because it seems fairly clear that the Citi-Def are not wearing any form of masks. Having established that respirators are mandatory it would appear that the militia members are already at risk of airborne infection. Could the Judges have made a deliberate decision to sacrifice the Citi-Def members? And if so why does Dredd bother with the laser surgery he is planning at the end of this page. It does seem like a strange omission, unless their lack of respirators has been explained somewhere else? Please email me if I have missed this.

Having said all that the story of Chaos Day is completely engrossing and this minor detail does not detract from John Wagner’s masterpiece. The full scale of the disaster is becoming clear and strangely Dredd seems to be on the periphery of the action as the Mega-City falls. Presumably his moment is coming but it is difficult to see how the Judges are going to save the day.

My nit-picking point about the respirators means this issue only gets 3 out of 5 medic-droids for medical accuracy, but it gets a full 10 points on the Zarjaz scale. Watch this space for more soon.

Cover:

John Burns may have finished his work on Dante inside the prog, but its fitting that he gets to provide a cover for Dante’s final adventure. Its a very nice cover too, reminding me of a movie poster, which I presume is the point. Burn’s painted art hasn’t always been a favourite of mine for a strip, but theres no doubting that the man is an incredibly talented artist. I can just see this cover image being sold as a poster or even framed on someones wall. Just like Ezquerra’s effort last week, this is likely to pull in lapsed readers and for me thats one of the hallmarks of a great cover.

Judge Dredd – Day of Chaos: Wot I Did During The Worst Dissaster In Mega-City History:

In case you hadn’t realised from that grammatically incorrect title, P.J. Maybe makes his return this week. (And as an English teacher in training I really did not enjoy writing that title I can tell you.) It’s not just Maybe who’s back though, as the Dark Judges aren’t far behind. It’s something of a comedic interlude for Dredd this week, which suprised me considering Wagner’s intention was to remove the more silly aspects from the Dark Judges. They appear to be hopelessly inept since their escape a few weeks ago, being recaptured fairly easily by Maybe. I’m still confident that Wagner knows full well what he’s doing so I won’t criticise this turn of events. This weeks installment is another fantastic interlude, and next week…Chaos Day!

Durham Red – The “Nobody Wants This Job” Job – Part 2:

It’s very much a point A to point B installment for Durham Red this week, as she makes her way to the planet Rann on her very first bounty mission. There’s not a tremendous amount of dialogue this week, though fortunatly the mutant called Jones has tagged along to at least give Red someone to talk too. Everythings still ticking along nicely here and I’m really enjoying this flashback to Durham Red’s past. More of the same next week please.

Grey Area – One of Our Own – Part 2:

One of the criticisms I had with Grey Area’s previous run in the prog was the lack of a really meaningful story. The short stories we got seemed very inconsequential with little real substance to them. Only two parts into Grey Area’s return and it seems like we are at last getting a story which will have an impact on the characters in the future. I don’t have a lot more to say than that this week, but Grey Area is certainly heading in the right direction with this latest story.

Future Shocks – A Guide For Prisoners Arriving From The Year 2149:

These four page one off strips can all to often feel like little more than filler material, but this latest offering crams an impressive amount of story into such a short amount of space. Theres an incredibly clever and complex idea behind this story, involving time travel and a very big paradox. I actually had to reread this one to fully understand it, but once I did I was able to fully appreciate what a great piece of work this was.

Nikolai Dante – Sympathy For The Devil – Part 1:

And so it begins, the very last Nikolai Dante story. It’s a rather quiet and poignant start to this story with a final goodbye between Nikolai and Viktor. It’s a really nice way to start this final adventure, a calm character moment which I presume will precede the carnage which I’m sure is on its way. Far too early to form an opinion on the Russian Rogue’s swansong yet, but I’m confident that this will turn out to be a spectacular send off. He deserves no less.

Overall:

A much stronger prog than we’ve had in quite a while. All five strips were very good this week, and have given me far more confidence in the line up than I’ve had since Flesh began its twelve week run. A prog firing on all cylinders.

Quote of the Week: “Too many ghosts here, Viktor.” – Nikolai Dante

Thrill of the Week: Judge Dredd

Prog 1785 – Red Star

Cover:

This cover really does what it says on the tin, announcing the return of Durham Red to the prog. It’s by Carlos Ezquerra so it goes without saying that this is an excellent effort. It’s a bit cheesy perhaps, but Durham Red is a cheesy character anyway so thats unavoidable really. The starscape in the background is a nice touch, making the cover a bit more eyecatching than it would have been otherwise (although you could never accuse Durham Red of being anything less than eyecatching.) This is exactly the sort of cover which will pull in any lapsed readers, and so can only be viewed as a success.

Judge Dredd – Day of Chaos: Tea for Two:

The Day of Chaos takes an interlude this week as Dredd goes to pay his niece Vienna a vist. Any long term Dredd reader can’t help to have wondered what had happpened to Dredd’s “family” during the current story arc, so it was good that Wagner chose to address this. Edmund Bagwell isn’t perhaps an automatic choice for Dredd artist, but he does a fantastic job here. That subtle image on the first page of a citizen having hanged himself in the street effectively gets across just how desperate a situation Mega City One finds itself in. Judge Dredd continues to be nothing short of perfection.

Flesh – Midnight Cowboys – Part 12 (Final Part):

Finally, finally, this dire strip comes to an end. For that reason alone this is the single best installment of Flesh yet. That final page however seems to be setting up yet another series which is the worst 2000AD news I’ve heard for a long time. Claw Carver’s returning? I really couldn’t care less.

Durham Red – The “Nobody Wants This Job” Job – Part 1:

Its a Strontium Dog Universe strip with art by Carlos Ezquerra…of course I’m going to love this. Unlike the Cadet Anderson strip this actually seems to have a point in revisiting the characters past, as we get to see Durham Red’s very first day as a Search/Destroy agent. I could probably read pages and pages of strips set entirely aboard the Doghouse, as Ezquerra always draws brilliant and varied mutants. Whatever direction this strip goes in I’m sure i’m going to thoroughly enjoy it and after just a single installment I’m allready hoping that we’ll get more Durham Red strips in the future.

Grey Area – One of  Our Own – Part 1:

Grey Area returns this week after a couple of months absence from the Prog. I’m still not quite 100% behind this strip yet, but I’m still willing to give it a chance. The setup is certainly an interesting one, and I can tell each character apart now which is vital in an ensemble piece such as this. I think Lee Carter has to be the artist of choice for Grey Area now as he continues to show just how good his art can look when in colour. Despite my uncertainty towards the strip there is still plenty to enjoy here, and I’m confident that Grey Area will win me over soon.

Cadet Anderson – Algol – Part 6 (Final Part):

Thus ends a fairly disapointing story. Its not really done anything particularly wrong but the whole story has felt pretty insignificant, with no real reason for being set during Anderson’s cadet days. As I’ve said previously this strip has screamed of filler, and if we see another Cadet Anderson story I hope we get some sort of character development for what is undoubtedly one of 2000AD’s most important characters.

Overall:

The addition of Durham Red and Grey Area to the line up this week give the Prog a much needed boost, after what had been a few weeks of being fairly stale. Flesh coming to an end can only be a good thing, as it means the overall quality of the prog will continue to improve next week, particularly with Nikolai Dante beginning his final story. With many promising strips in the near future its a good time to be reading 2000AD.

Quote of the Week: “How sudden that fall had been. Not over centuries, or years – but in a matter of days.” – Judge Dredd

Thrill of the Week: Durham Red

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