¦ Reviews ¦ Progs
1380 - 1385 ¦2000AD Prog 1382
2000AD 1382 - 24 March 2004
Cover by Malcolm Hulme/Graham Rolfe
review by Gavin Hanly
2nd Opinion by Richmond Clements
Summaries and reviews contain spoilers for this issue.
GH: A photo
cover for a change this issue, but one heavily touched up so that it doesn't actually
look too much like a photo at first glance, to its credit. Unlike the last attempt
at a photo cover (over in the megazine with the same model) this one looks much
better given the striking red tinge. I am aware that people have problems with
photo covers - but I really don't mind this at all. It offers something different,
and also gives a chance to really show off what else is inside the issue (even
if that section on the left should really have been in black for clarity's sake).
I do notice, however, that they couldn't get the model to sport what Red's wearing
in the actual strip...
Well now, this has
caused an almighty stink, hasn't it? I'm not going to discuss the rights or wrongs
of this sort of cover (though I may address it in the review of the strip), but
to say weather it works as a cover or not.
Well, does it?
No really, I would have to say. The image is just too, well, red. The photograph
is all but completely obscured by the toning gone mad. I don't mind a photo cover,
just as long as it is a good photo. This might be a good one, I can't tell through
the red haze. The boxes down the side could be a good idea, if only they didn't
suffer from the same printing-the-same-colour-as-the-background sickness that
affects the Nerve Centre.
Sov hunting party...
the wasteland of Siberia, a man is caught in the snow by Sov judges, is brought
down by a shot and then killed by their dogs. A Mega City 1 satellite reveals
what the man was creating - a huge "99R" drawing. In a Mega City 1 briefing,
Dredd says it must refer to "Code 99 Red - Judge in trouble" and that
it must have been written by a war prisoner escaped from one of their gulags.
The Sovs have said they've given back all the Apocalypse War prisoners - but there
are rumours of other camps. Despite being a war veteran, Judge Votten, head of
the defence forces refuses to start an operation to get the prisoners, as it's
too reckless. Dredd says he'll take in street judges, telling the Chief Judge
she can take his badge if he doesn't get to go. Hershey concludes the meeting,
asking Dredd to stay. She agrees to the mission as long as he takes volunteers,
and that they're on their own in this mission. She also warns him that he'll face
the long walk if he tries to blackmail her again. "Find them and bring them
home. That's an order"
GH: This is a good start to a proper multi part Dredd story from Rennie -
something we've been after for some time. There was a worry that this week's Dredd
would suffer after the high of "Brothers of the Blood" but right from
Adlard's assured 3 page dialogue-free opener, this has all the hallmarks of a
top Dredd thriller.
I use to think
that it was Dredd who has a problem forgiving the Sovs after the Apocalypse War,
but now I'm beginning to see that it's actually Rennie who has unresolved issues
here. From his Megazine tale the Christmas before last (War Crimes in Megazine
201) to this month's chess finals, Rennie's Dredd seems highly preoccupied
with the war in a way that Wagner's does not. This isn't a bad thing at all and
gives Rennie something of his own to experiment with in his Dredd tales. However,
I doubt Dredd's going to get any more forgiving as this series continues. I'm
not sure about his "blackmailing" of the Chief Judge, but he does get
sufficiently slapped down for it, so we shouldn't see that again.
As mentioned above,
Adlard, following his under-rated art from The Satanist turns in another find
Dredd job here. In particular, his heavily garbed Sov guards look significantly
menacing, and the killing of the prisoner is effectively done. Given at how effectively
he and, of course, Chris Blythe on particularly good form as colourist portray
the icy wastes, we should be in for a treat once Dredd gets up there and starts
is looking good. A nice build up through the first three pages that feels almost
like the pre-credits sequence to a movie. Adlard and Blythe provide some cracking
action through the snow chase; the image of the big dogs being particularly striking.
The lack of dialogue in the first half of the strip is more
than made up for in the second half, as the Chief Judge and her council debate
the situation. Rennie provides good characterisation for each of the judges, and
the art is well up to the challenge, with a series of interesting panels, that
lift what could have been a couple of boring talking heads pages. There's a nice
character moment with Dredd trying to throw his weight about, only to be slapped
down by Hershey. A scene made all the sweeter when you think back to her first
adventure, trailing behind Dredd on the Judge Child Quest. I can only hope that
the story is allowed to grow over a number of weeks, without the usual hurried
ending that seems to plague Dredd multi-part adventures.
And one more thing, according to Tharg in this weeks Nerve Centre,
Rennie is a 'guest writer' on this week Dredd? If any writer, other than Wagner
should be called a regular, surely it's Rennie?
Ellie De Ville
Business - Part 3
and Dexter make their point...
Kal's car goes off the road and lands near the sewers. Sinister and Dexter order
him to give it up as they face off against one another. They tell Kal that he
has to kill the woman as they accepted the contract, and that he'll have to do
it if he wants to become a gunshark. He has to leave his emotions aside when he's
on the job, and just get it done. Sinister tells him that they can let her walk
away, but if so Kal's apprenticeship as a gunshark is over too. Kal has no choice
- and walks back to where Isobel is and kills her (or appears to - as the actual
killing is out of shot). Back at Apellido's they have gained his trust and he
tells them he'll put them on a retainer - although Apellido could possibly have
an ulterior motive. Kal is upset, but still a gunshark.
GH: A better
than expected end to a fairly decent Sinister Dexter story in hindsight. Apellido
looks like he could be trouble (was that last comment of his supposed to be out
of Dexter's earshot?) and the development of Kutter is coming along nicely - finally.
Let's hope that we see a little more of Kutter from now on - as his sidelining
since his promising introduction has been disappointing, since he's clearly the
most intriguing character in the Sin/Dex mix - and could easily end up as a good
guy or a bad guy (although I'm secretly hoping for the latter). Some good art
from Clarke accompanies this episode, even though the talking heads face off could
have been more dynamic.
There are, however,
some minor niggles. Every week, the strap line says "they claim they only
kill fellow members of the underworld". Now I understand that this statement
is meant to be ambiguous, but this killing is more than a little cold blooded
for the pair. And they don't seem at all surprised as Kutter's special gun - which
he had kept from them up till now. And lastly, on the note of the gun, can we
please drop the "skin it" comment every time he transforms his hand
into the gun? It just seems un-necessary.
will never cease. The script Abnett has pulled out for this episode is superb.
There is more character building in this one episode than we have seen in the
last few series of Sin/Dex. Having Finnigan describing just what it means to be
a gun shark is a truly great scene, and having Kal kill Isobel just goes to show
how good a writer Abnett really is, when he puts his mind to it. It's just a pity
Sin/Dex can' t have a script of this quality every week.
As for the art,
it too is wonderful. Andy Clarke has a good eye for detail, and a nice line in
subtle facial expressions. He can draw cool guns too. Colourists never get enough
credit, they've got a really difficult job (just you try doing it!), but always
seem to be left in the shadow of the artist. So stand up and take a bow, Gary
All in all, Clarke
and Caldwell are getting to the point where, when I think Sin/Dex, it's the version
they do I think of, and not Simon Davis.
- Part 3
prepares for war...
Rogue infiltrates Nordska Tapor, the head of Nort military operations on Nu Earth.
He takes out the guards and heads into tunnels to meet their Nort contact. But
as he gets to the meeting point, other Norts are there too. Rogue takes most of
them out - but one gets a bead on him until the remaining nort officer kills him.
She is the contact, and makes sure the other Norts are dead before moving on.
She says that her husband and father were both victims of the War Marshall's purges
which is why she is helping.
Back above the
planet, Arkhan is interrogating a prisoner and has the full plans of the assassination
plan - and all those in the plot. He plans to deal with it himself, however, rather
than alert the War Marshall.
GH: I'm beginning to think that Arkhan's planning a little career move of
his own, the way things are progressing. If he can get rid of the competition
and the War Marshall - he'll be built up into a formidable opponent for Rogue.
This series continues to prove that there's much life in Rogue Trooper yet - and
that the character deserves a few more series so that we can play all this out
rather than rushing to a conclusion. More top class artwork from PJ Holden this
week too - with the only exception being his Rogue Trooper. He generally looks
fine - but his helmet looks slightly odd in some scenes and could do with a looser
interpretation. That said - his background art is astounding, especially the opening
shot of Nordska.
is what Rogue should have been doing for all those years when he, well, wasn't.
He is, after all, a soldier, and by all accounts a bloody good one. Why does it
feel like a novelty to see him doing some actual soldiering, then? Here, we have
some well played out action, as Rogue sneaks his way into the Nort base where
he meets his contact and the dialogue between the two, and Rogue's hat gun and
bag, is well written.
As for the art.
I must declare a quite substantial interest right up front. And that is, the first
page of this episode is one that I'm buying. This is Paul's best work to date.
Looking back at his other work, it is hard to believe that the lightness of his
Dredd work has come from the same artist who painted the gritty war story we have
here. It has just occurred to me too, that the use of greyscale matches well with
the ambiguity of the actions from the main characters in the story.
I'll be sorry to
see this end, as it's the best Rogue strip by far, for at least a decade.
Ellie De Ville
6 - Last Episode
Baldur escapes - or thinks he does...
The Valkyries hold the Mega Men off until the frigate explodes - set on self destruct
by Kara and Squeaks. Kara grabs Baldur and learns that the satellites transmit
a signal to the Trez who trigger the satellites - but it won't work unless a Trez
sends the signal. A mega man grabs Baldur, so the Valkyries have no choice but
to back off. They grab the burnt out Grimhild and head back on the ship escaping
to high orbit. There they release the satellites and use what's left of the dead
Trez to convince them that the signal is genuine. They escape to hyper as the
wormhole appears and Hel gets sucked away to the Trez for lunch. On the ship,
Kara contacts the priestess to let her know that they've won. But the priestess
says Baldur's death is the final precursor to Ragnarok - and to "beware the
the much maligned Valkyries comes to an end. While the last couple of episodes
have been a little below par - the whole series has been a fairly enjoyable ride,
with some decent plotting from Moore and great artwork from 2000AD newcomer Lucas.
The series seems to hint that there might be a sequel - but that doesn't seem
likely if the 2000AD fanbase gets their way. Much of this is down to the rather
foolish decision to hide much of the plot under some of the gratuitous amounts
of flesh on display here.
It seems that many
readers haven't been able to get around this rather unnecessary part of the series.
And it's this "unnecessary" part of it that many people have that doesn't
seem to have hit home with editorial - given this week's Nerve Centre which rather
annoyed me. We're asked to compare the nudity on show here with the violence on
show in some of the other storylines - but that's not the point! The violence
in Sinister Dexter/Slaine et all is part of the storyline - here, the nudity is
just a titillating add-on (plenty of girl on girl action for the teenage boys),
which wouldn't have gone missed if removed. Tharg would like to think we're all
prudes - but perhaps if we're going to have sex in 2000AD it could at least have
relevance to the plot?
That all aside - I wouldn't mind seeing
more of this but doubt that I ever will.
a rocky start, this strip grew on me, and I kind of enjoyed it. This seem to have
fallen apart in this final episode, though. Perhaps I missed something, but how
did they get the wormhole to open? Oh I just don't care.
My views on the
art haven't changed since the last time I reviewed the strip. It's good work,
but not a style that sits well in 2000AD.
Ellie De Ville
Empty Suns - Book 2 - Part 1
Alpha. Dead again.
(Continues from Prog 1368)
Red appears to have been transported back to the Milton Keynes ghetto, where
she meets a Johnny Alpha who does not recognise her as a friend. But he recognises
her as a killer and starts shooting while Red realises that the Offspring got
the scenario from her mind. She kills the representation of Alpha which returns
her to the present as she and a puzzled Syte come to.
Red orders Manalogs
to bring her data of the psi scan and continues her task of "pissing off"
the Offspring. They attack Accord World Angstrom, destroying the Offspring's sentinels
that were weeding out the weak mutant population. Red says she can sense the Offspring
- and he's coming for them in person...
introduction to this episode doesn't do you much favours, given the 4 month gap
since Red's last appearance - so check out the link above if you need a quick
refresher as to how we got here. Alpha gets killed (again) which is sure to piss
off more than a few people (even though it wasn't really him). Mind you, his death
here is much better than going out to that stupid winged thing back in the day.
This is fairly decent - even if we haven't actually progressed much since the
last series. Red's still killing and the Offspring's still pissed off - although
there is the promise of bigger things to come next issue.
The art is fairly
good - and Harrison can draw a decent Johnny Alpha, but it can suffer from being
a little too dark in places. There's a bit to much "squinting to see what's
going on" for my liking and Harrison could do with brightening his colour
palette. And is her improbable outfit even smaller this time around...?
RC: I wasn't
a fan of the previous Durham series, but already, this is looking as if it'll
be a lot better.
with Johnny, while ultimately pointless, and only there to provide a cliff hanger
from the first book, is exiting and well choreographed.
But the art. Oh
the art. It ranges wildly between the marvellous to the hurried, and sometimes
is almost as murky as the bad old days of painted art that was various shades
I've got a couple
more quibbles while I'm here. When where the Strontium Dogs employed to round
up renegade mutants? Portrait of a Mutant clearly has Johnny being exiled from
earth, never to return at the end of the mutant war, just after he has joined
the SD agency. And while it could be argued that some mutants would hunt down
other mutants for money, it is not
something Johnny Alpha, as a former leader of the Mutant Army, would be doing.
The second thing
is Miss Red's clothing. My complaint about it has nothing to do with any feminist
ideal, or any concern that it may offend the weak minded. No, it's just stupid.
She's fighting for god's sake! Surely she should wear something that offers a
wee bit more protection? And where does she keep her immac?
This would be as
good a place as any to mention Tharg's comments about our reaction to the recent
sex and nudity in the comic. He makes a lot of the fact that overt violence is
seemingly alright, but sex is not. If Tharg really believed this, then the model
on the cover would be dressed like Durham Red, and not in a pair of sensible trousers.
After all, the average readership is in their thirties, Tharg, so if you think
we can handle it, why not put it on the cover?
A more rounded issue that last week's with it being almost a two hander between
Rennie and Abnett. The latter has redeemed himself somewhat for the VCs over the
past few weeks - so let's hope he really makes something of the Red series. And
despite the drubbing it got, I would like to see, if not more Valkyries, another
creation from Steve Moore some time in the future.
RC: An above
average prog. The first three strips are excellent, and Red looks like being worth
reading, despite the misgivings I've expressed above.
RC: Judge Dredd
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