¦ Reviews ¦ Progs
1380 - 1385 ¦2000AD Prog 1380
2000AD 1380 - 10 March
Cover by Carlos Ezquerra
review by Gavin Hanly
2nd Opinion by John Amans
Summaries and reviews contain spoilers for this issue.
Dredds for the price of one? When it comes under analysis, this image is really
not much more than judges in "gun pointing poses". But it works extremely
well for a number of reasons. Firstly, Dredd is arguably the greatest selling
point of 2000AD, and having 3 of him in action poses on the cover certainly helps
to generate interest. Secondly, the poses actually work quite well - Dredd looks
a bit vicious, Rico more clinical, and Dolman positively restrained - matching
well with their characters as written in the strip itself. And finally Ezquerra,
unlike many artists, remembers that the logo is one of the most important parts
of the comic and frames it perfectly - all making for a superbly designed cover.
A great Carlos E cover
with all three generations of Dredd in splendid pose. The reds mix in well with
the 3 main figures. It looks like the Dredds are dishing out justice in all directions.
of the Blood – Part 3
is knocked off his bike by a scatterblast, but is unhurt, gets back on and rushes
into the fray ahead of Dredd & Rico. They gas the outlying force before heading
in to eliminate the rest. Dredd asks him if it's his first time out and what he
thinks - "It's exciting, sir."
Dredd says there
are to be no prisoners and to shoot to kill. They burst into the main citi def
stronghold and kill everyone inside - even as they try to surrender. Dolman avoids
killing two innocent citizens who point him to a remaining citi def. Using a ricochet,
he takes him down, then shoots him in the back as he reaches for his gun. Narrowly
avoiding another smart missile, he helps Dredd and Rico defeat the remaining citi
def holed out throughout the building, realising that he was made for the job
- and indeed that he now wants it. Outside, Dredd voices his approval to Rico,
telling him to keep Dolman busy for the day so that he doesn't have time to brood
about his first kill.
GH: Still shaping up to becoming one of the best Dredd stories in a very long
while - despite not actually focusing around the main character and being rather
short. All this clone business is going to have to come to a head sooner of later
though, and I can't help but feel Wagner might be laying the grounds for a larger
storyline yet to come. As for this week's episode, Dolman's first experience on
the streets is going well, and Dredd's demand "no prisoners" reminds
us of the totalitarian nature of Mega City 1 - something that hasn't really been
focused on for a while. My only gripe is that Dolman changed his mind very easily
about his decision to leave - if in fact that's how it will turn out. As has happened
many times before, Wagner can occasionally pull the rug from underneath us, and
I can't help but feel that a non-judge Dredd could prove a more interesting dynamic
than another one added to the force.
As ever, Ezquerra
proves to be a perfect match for Wagner, with the depiction of all three Dredds
never leaving us in any doubt that the three are related. But as mentioned with
regards to the cover, he manages to give the three judges a particular gait and
style - making it surprisingly easy to tell who's who. Another top job by the
top Dredd artist.
been bemoaning the lack of a good Judge Dredd story for months. We've had a few
false dawns e.g. the recent Crystal Skull story. However, this has now changed.
After a couple of warm-up episodes, Brothers of the Blood really got going. This
had everything: action, good solid Carlos E artwork and the reader wanting more!
You had a real sense of being there with Dolman. It was snappy, exciting and made
me realise why I've read this comic for 27 years.
I like the way
Rico has been merged into the Dredd storyline. It's not a rehash of the Kraken
storyline and it's not dosed up on preachy sentimentality. Dolman doubts and fears
come across as genuine. How do you fill the shoes of the great man like the original
Dredd? I feel the sense of brotherhood between Dolman and Rico and the unspoken
respect between Rico and Dredd. The way this whole theme has been introduced is
a real credit to the writers. Please don’t ruin it!
For Sale, One Previous Owner
Conflict Consortium is a business that has created a bubble universe, allowing
civilisations to go to war with each other using clone troops and without experiencing
collateral damage. Inside the universe, however, a non clone soldier is lurking
while the owner of Conflict Consortium is arguing with his chief scientist, Dr
Flarg, who he has blackmailed into using the bubble universe for the wars. As
Flarg is dismissed, he is intercepted by another alien.
Back inside the
universe, the rogue soldier throws a quantum warpbomb which only works with the
correct frequencies - which his associate just got from Flarg. The bubble universe
rips apart and spills out into the real world. The customers demand refunds and
bankrupt conflict consortium. Flarg returns with the rogue soldier who kills the
owner. The rogue soldier takes over the business, upping the prices and relaxes
in his new found wealth...
GH: This looked
very familiar - and I couldn't work out why. Until I suddenly realised that a
page of artwork here accompanied the Simon
Coleby interview last year. The art is very good indeed, and Coleby seems
to be getting better every time we see him, now using greyscale to make his black
& white artwork far more easy to digest. As for the story - it's OK, and certainly
features a decent premise. However, the pay-off is somewhat confusing - what does
"a thousand a day plus unsociable hours" actually mean? Is that directed
at the people buying wars or the clones? Therefore a limp ending unfortunately
closes an otherwise ingenious tale.
JA: I like the way 2000AD can cut close to the bone sometimes. Occasionally
we get a Future Shock that is more than "prog padding". I read this
story twice and the well crafted message that it contains is certainly relevant
to today's messed up world. I liked the artwork, the snappy dialogue and the inevitable
The over-all health
of 2000AD is sometimes judged on its one episode stories like these. Sometimes
these stories don't work, but this one does.
Ellie De Ville
Business - Part 1
makes a new friend...
Sinister, Dexter and apprentice Kal Kutter are heading out to meet a new client,
but they tell Kal to wait outside while they make contact. Kal waits near the
dancefloor of Rave Gauche, where a dancer catches his eye. They meet at the bar
and start talking...
& Dexter are meeting "Senor Apelledo" a chalk-white skinned man
new in town. He has some work for the gunsharks but wants to set up a trial hit
first to see how they do - and hands them the details.
is kissing his new acquaintance as his totem goes off. He reaches for it and sees
that the target is the woman he just met. He urgently drags her away, telling
her they have to leave...
appears to be the most recurring story in 2000AD outside of Dredd returns for
more. At last we're delving into the story of Kal Kutter, which showed promise
so many moons ago but got sidelined for the "wedding" series. This also
lays down potential threads for future storylines with the introduction of the
sinister Apelledo - someone who has an air of becoming a particular nuisance.
However, despite the potential here, the main thrust of the story, Kal meets someone
who he then has to kill, seems very familiar. Has this been done before in Sinister
Dexter, as I have a strong feeling of déja vu? Perhaps someone will be
able to enlighten me in the forum.
Andy Clarke's art,
much like in the last SD story he drew, matches the world of Sinister Dexter particularly
well, adding a gritty feel that has been missing from the tales for some time
now. A few less lines on the faces too, although he does stick them in occasionally,
making his characters seem pock marked.
Abnett wisely introduced a new character into his "becoming stale" gunshark
saga in the form of Kal Cutter. Though not a major fan of the series I was glad
to see them back with Andy Clarke's great artwork. I loved his art on "13"
and "Snow Tiger" (Nice art shame about the story).
Though rather predictable,
this installment of S&D at least shows a little promise. I loved the series
of panels where Kal is looking on the dance floor and spots the usual female interest.
I like the way it conveyed Kal's feelings and emotions at that very second. Who
among us hasn’t stood at a club or disco and has zeroed in on that one person
and just said "wow" like young Kal?
Abnett throws in
the usual bad guy, who looks like some escaped crash test dummy and the inevitable,
"oh no, the horny girl I’ve just met at the club is next on the hit
list". Just another day at the office for our gunsharks!
plot will not descend into cop-out mode as we have seen previously. Mr Abnett,
please don’t take the easy way out. If Kal has to waste fair Isobel then
so be it. Gunsharks with romantic consciences? No thanks!
This is one of
those stories that could go either way.
Ellie De Ville
confronts his son
Kara tells Hjordis to surrender to the Trez as they head towards them. But just
as they reach the ship, they go to hyper - narrowly escaping. It's a clever move
that reminds Hjordis of Ragnarsson. They go back to where they entered hyper and
see that half the Trez ship was pulled into hyper, destroying it - and they head
out to check out the damaged Bifrost ship. Onboard, the shockwaves have killed
almost everyone. Lily tries to probe the remaining survivor, but kills him in
the process - although she does manage to discover their base - a darkworld called
Hel, founded by Ragnarsson. Kara heads back to the ship to rest and "talk"
He tells her he
started "Odin's Men" to counterbalance female rule, eventually turing
to protest and then terror. He was given 7 years suspended animation, during which
his son, Baldur, took control of Odin's Men. Egil found out about the deal with
the Trez and tried to stop it, but failed. He narrowly escaped, losing an eye
in the process. He says an alliance of men and women is needed to stop Baldur.
rest have got the Biforst ship operational, and find the darkworld in the navigation
logs. Kara and Squeaks take the Bifrost ship as the rest return to the other ship
- and they all head to Hel...
up until now, I've been fairly easy on the adult content of this strip - given
that there's been a fairy well conceived story behind the scenes. However, despite
the fact that the main storyline remains intriguing, and the revelations surrounding
Egil Ragnarsson are well handled - it's quite hard to ignore some of the gratuitous
nudity in this strip. At least in issue one the nudity had been faintly connected
with the plot - but what was the excuse this time? Some eye candy for the admittedly
heavily male biased readership? It's a shame, because this is a good strip and
much better than we could have hoped for. It's just being dragged down by the
debate of what should and shouldn't appear in 2000AD. One thing's for sure - the
comic doesn't belong in the children's section of WH Smith any more...
is the latest "love it or hate it" story. I'm afraid I'm a newly converted
"hate it" member. I have given this a chance. I have nothing against
the artwork. John Lucas does an adequate job on the material he is asked to draw.
But, as per most things, if the story is poor then the rest of it will be poor
as well. I didn’t go a bundle on the initial premise in the first place.
I don’t like "pander to a certain group" stories and this is beginning
to whiff a little of a contrived effort to be trendy. No real character grabs
you; you don’t give a monkey if they all get killed horribly. Kara has turned
into some "leader of the crew" when she started off as a total bimbo.
She gets some crusty old scientist in her head and all of a sudden she's dishing
out orders and winning the battles against a bunch of men that I would kill given
half the chance.
Put this one to
sleep ASAP …please!
Ellie De Ville
- Part 1
working for the other side?
As the War Marshall unleashes an all-out assault (started
back in prog 1349) vast swathes of Nu Earth are completely destroyed.
The Nort general are shocked at this approach, with the Nort casualties mounting,
and wondering what the point was in capturing crucial objective points only to
have them wiped off the map. They are also concerned that reinforcements are being
dragged from all parts of the galaxy to Nu Earth, leaving them weak in other areas.
An assassination of the War Marshall is mooted - but they would need to avoid
suspicion of their actions. They only way would be to use a trained Souther killer
- which is just what they happen to have.
Rogue Trooper has
been captured by the Norts and is testing one of the nort guns in the shooting
range "Are you going to tell me about this mission of yours...?"
GH: Rennie's first series of Rogue Trooper came in for some flak - certainly
from me - and was one of the poorer attempts at a relaunched character, with the
single issue stories never really gelling together. However, each successive series
has been an improvement, and he really feels like he's getting into his stride
here. There's been enough time for him to give a clearer picture of the war, lay
some foreshadowing and broaden things past Nu Earth - something which really opens
the scope for the series. There was some initial concern that once Rogue found
the traitor general, where could he go? But as long as that old storyline is swept
under the carpet, there's plenty of potential in the character - especially with
his becoming a different kind of Rogue from this episode. A very promising start
to a series which perhaps deserves a longer run than the 6 episodes planned.
But the most impressive
thing about this series is the art. While getting the recent interview with Paul
J Holden online, I looked through some of his past artwork in the comic, and he
has clearly improved in leaps and bounds. The greyscale effects work wonders making
the strip stick out from the others this week and a wonderful thing to look at.
Holden's characters are well realised as are his layouts. What could have been
a dull round table discussion is made much more dynamic, with some well considered
lighting effects and inventive angles. A mighty start for his first multi part
not a big fan the blue guy. I've found his many adventures and guises over the
last 10 years to be some of the low points of 2000AD. With his comeback this prog
I had to reread the end of his last run in 2000AD to remind what the hell was
going on. Ok, this is the original Rogue, not Friday. Is this Tor Cyan? No…that
was another story/dimension. Ok, we're back on the original Nu-Earth; we have
the original Norts and Southers slugging it out.
Fine, now I have
a vague idea of what is going on I could read the episode. Gordon Rennie does
an admirable job of trying to get something out the Rogue Trooper mythos. The
art work is nice and functional. Rogue always worked better in black and white
anyway. This is really a prologue to what is going to happen in the forthcoming
episodes. I'm mildly curious, but not hooked. I did have some empathy with the
Nort general who bemoaned the destruction of Fort Neuropa. That series is my favourite
serial from the original (and best) run of the blue guy. It's all a bit of a waste
really, rather like this once great story.
Despite the concerns about some of the strips, this issue is of a fairly high
standard. The art is highly professional throughout, and although some individual
stories raise concerns, they are never less than entertaining. Two strips narrowly
battle it out for best story, but there can be only one...
"The Red Seas" finishing last week I thought we might be heading for
one of those lull periods. Good to see I'm wrong, Dredd is brilliant, Sinister
& Dexter is good, Rogue Trooper is even passable. Pity Valkyries lets the
side down. Oh well, can't have everything!
JA: Judge Dredd
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