¦ Reviews ¦ Progs
1439 - 1444 ¦2000AD Prog 1442
Cover: Clint Langley
Prog 1442 - 08 June 2005
review by David Knight
2nd Opinion by Paul White
and reviews contain spoilers for this issue.
no great critic when it comes to covers. It seems to me the cover should do two
things: present a very nice piece of artwork, and sell lots of copies of 2000ad.
Neither one makes much difference to me, because I read comics for more the stories
on the inside pages, and so long as I’ve got my copy, sales aren’t
my biggest concern. That said, it’s a nice cover with a very respectable
piece of artwork. It’s got to be worth a 9 or a 10 out of 10. With any luck
it will bring in a few sales from occasional readers who only like Slaine, and
maybe a few Warhammer fans too.
looking all mean and moody, staring into a future that he takes no part in. It's
an improvement on previous stock covers, if only because he's posing side-on.
The usual obligatory firey colours are replaced by more muted hues of brown and
green, and you know something? I think I like it. It must be his imminent departure
that's making me feel this way...
Trails - Part 3
makes use of his daystick...
Judge Dredd interrogates a perp arrested for printing seditious literature, and
finds that a known democracy activist, Myron Loont, financed the operation. Dredd
orders Loont’s arrest under the Security of the City Act. Outside in the
corridor, Dredd upbraids two off-duty judges standing around chatting about the
sitcom his niece Vienna appears in. Through his helmet radio, Dredd contacts his
fellow clone, Judge Rico, who is in the middle of breaking up an illegal fight
meeting. Rico has heard nothing from Vienna. Dredd authorises Rico to track her
down using the Public Surveillance Unit.
is talking to her friend Renee on the vid-phone. She has been seeing a new boyfriend,
Travis, who is in fact an undercover assassin named Pasha assigned to get close
to her, but Vienna doesn’t know it. When ‘Travis’ arrives at
Vienna’s apartment he places a bug next to her vid-phone console that allows
Pasha’s accomplice to remotely access her address book. Travis and Vienna
go out to dinner. When they emerge from the restaurant, Vienna is met by Judge
Rico, who checks out Vienna’s boyfriend on his bike computer. Vienna divulges
to Travis that Rico is a sort of relative, and Travis’s accomplice discovers
that the ‘Uncle Joe’ in Vienna’s address book is none other
than Judge Dredd.
DK: Blood Trails has been an enjoyable thriller from the first part, and if
Judge Dredd was always as good as this I would have few complaints. The incidental
references to Vienna’s Tri-D show have been funny and have built up the
sense that Mega-City One does pay attention to what’s fashionable at any
given moment. So often it’s dropped into a story that some celebrity or
popular cultural phenomenon is ‘huge’ without there being any background
detail in addition to the authorial voice to support the claim.
The efforts of
the apparently Soviet undercover agents to get close to Vienna have been amusing,
and at the same time created a nice sense of imminent danger; and finally they’ve
got what they were after: the truth of Vienna’s relationship to the Dredd
bloodline, and a potential hostage.
is chugging along nicely at the moment, with Gordon Rennie doing the usual good
stuff with "his" characters (well they're not really his, but you know
what i mean... characters he's been entrusted with, then). Not much happens, which
is fine, because we're actually getting some kind of story here and not simply
a slug/bullet fest. Although Rico does take his turn in the semi-regular talking-in-radio-while-fighting-bad
guys sideshow. I'm happy that we know that "Travis" is a baddie, because
we then won't have to suffer the "shock" of being told later on. Instead
the suspense is building with regards to what exactly *is* going to happen. I've
no idea, but do have a feeling that this isn't going to be a complete story, but
a bridge between what has gone before and what is to come.
I'm also really liking Andrew Currie's art - it's not as cartoony as some of his
previous outings, but he sure does a sexy version of Vienna (or any of the other
babes in the backgrounds) and a particularly good George Clooney. Top stuff.
Ellie De Ville
- Part 6
heads off into the sunset...
and his company of demon hunters pursue the Fomorian Odacon on horseback through
the forest. Odacon uses his magic to put illusions in Slaine’s path to slow
him down. At the edge of the forest, Slaine catches up with Odacon at last. Slaine
strikes the demon first with the Sword of the Moon, and then with his great axe.
Wounded, Odacon throws Slaine off, and gallops his horse over a cliff into the
sea to escape. However, the tide is out, and Odacon and his horse lie broken on
the rocks at the base of the cliff. Odacon pleads with Slaine - his final request
is to be allowed to die in the sea. Odacon begs for water, and Slaine urinates
over him. Odacon curses Slaine as a filthy animal, and Slaine slices off Odacons
head with his axe.
Days later, Gael
is crowned the High King of Ireland, and becomes the founder of the Gaelic race.
Slaine visits the barrow where his lost love Niamh is entombed. The affection
between Amergin and Fais deepens. Slaine departs to search for his son, Kai, asking
those who remain behind in Tara to always remember the Tribes of the Earth Goddess
DK: I haven’t been a fan of Slaine for many a year, but I have enjoyed
this series since he came back from that Other Density, restored to his old warp-spasming
self, and then started giving the Witch Finder General a run for his money. As
it happens, that whole short-lived cleansing and purifying things seems to have
paid dividends in terms of exterminating the sea demon threat to humanity.
episode rounds the series off nicely, giving us a good few more pages of chase
before Odacon plunges to his doom in a most unseemly way for a sea monster. It’s
a very minor niggle that a sea demon must surely know the ebb and flow of tides
just as land-dwellers must know when the sun rises and sets. Never mind: the important
thing is that Odacon meets a gruesome comedy ending, which is surely better than
Odacon and Slaine having yet another fight. Slaine piddling on his enemy wasn’t
something I’d foreseen, and even a glance at the page didn’t tip me
off ahead of reading the speech bubbles. Beautiful though Clint Langley’s
artwork is, the meaning of the pictures and the relationship between the objects
on the page aren’t always apparent until you read the words that go with
It was a fitting
ending to the series, as the threat from Odacon escalated with each episode since
his defeat at Tara, first with the parasitic Spawn, and then with the Fomorian
queen Magenta Chill (seemingly named for early eighties punk rock). After that
titanic underwater struggle, Odacon was on the run, his threat dwindling to nothing.
Then all the loose
ends are tied up: Gael becomes king, Slaine visits Niamh’s grave, Amergin
and Fais get all lovey-dovey and Amergin looks better without the straggly beard.
Not only that, but the seeds are sown for Slaine’s next adventure: finding
his son. I will watch for the next series with great interest. I do hope that
too will be drawn by Clint Langley. I’ve got quite used to Slaine looking
this way now.
One final quibble.
What is that halo effect round the setting sun? Does the sun really look like
that when you glimpse it through tree branches, barbarians’ crotches, etc.
or is it just an artefact caused by pointing a camera lens at it? If so, whose
lens are we looking at Slaine’s adventures through?
this was your regular 5-story prog, then I'd be inclined to write "praise
the goddess for that!" and be done with it... However, as the barbarian-who-has-outstayed-his-welcome
takes up 42.86% of this progs strip-page count, it would be rude of me to do so.
Instead, here's my slightly more objective than usual take on things.
Slaine was better suited to 12 pages this week to allow for a more rounded conclusion
to his latest tale. Page 3's usual battle with insults was both typical and overused,
but as it progressed I particularly enjoyed Odacon's sudden realisation that he
wasn't going anywhere. The tide was out, and Slaine was getting the last laugh
again. It was prolonged *just* long enough to taunt the dying Fomarian - who wouldn't
take pleasure at seeing the suffering of someone/thing who had caused you great
The remaining 6 pages simply look very pretty, with only the
poignant farewell to Niamh breaking it up. I'm tempted to say that the last 2
pages are the best we've seen in the books of invasions and would make a great
poster. A poster with a huge banner "THIS IS THE LAST YOU'LL SEE OF SLAINE"
- alas this is not very likely...
Assassin - Part 2
prives his worth...
returns to its base, where the group mind of the exterminated Shakara race ponders
why it hesitated to execute their killer, Dr Procopio. The Shakara gestalt should
not have felt any compassion toward Procopio; it should not have been affected
by her expression of remorse and regret. Shakara was born only to kill as a weapon
of vengeance and has no free will. This message is reinforced in the creature
by the group mind. When at rest, Shakara’s suit opens up and its essence,
a red substance, leaks out into the floor of its retreat.
Meanwhile, the greatest
freelance assassin the universe has ever known, Valentine D’eath, is writing
his memoirs. While trysting in his apartments with Katya the Insatiable, D’eath
simultaneously assassinated Katya’s people’s enemy, the Growllian
President with a psionically controlled bullet fired from his balcony moments
earlier. Katya attempted to silence the assassin she hired for the hit by beaming
a heavily-armed Strike Squad into the room to kill him, but their weapons were
rendered useless by a nullifier D’eath had rigged up. He then killed the
two-man Strike Squad with his bare hands.
reminiscences are interrupted by the arrival of Karnak Bleed, Master Inquisitor
for the Federation of Psionic Powers, who has come to tempt the assassin out of
retirement with the challenge of killing Shakara.
DK: It’s great
to have Shakara back in 2000ad again, and fantastic to get two double-length episodes
in a row. The present series of Shakara brims over with neat ideas, from the fussily-detailed
and bewildering war machines to the Cenobite-looking Doctor Procopio last issue;
and this issue not only seeing Shakara leak out of its suit, but also the introduction
of a great new character in Valentine D’eath via a sexy encounter with a
cat-like alien. Valentine D’eath is pretty darn good value for a new character.
He’s got a striking appearance in the same way as the ABC Warriors, the
iconic character designs from Nemesis the Warlock, and Carlos Ezquerra’s
aliens and mutants in Strontium Dog.
The lascivious bits in the
story were similar in style to the saucy capers of Nikolai Dante, but whereas
Dante’s escapades are almost always tongue-in-cheek, you can tell Valentine
D’eath is supposed to really mean it, even if Robbie Morrison quite possibly
doesn’t. There’s a slight danger here that Shakara has been upstaged
by its new adversary, so it’s just as well D’eath is knocking on a
bit and it’s probably best Shakara kills him off quickly.
But then, please
Tharg - can we have the archive adventures of Valentine D’eath in a series
of short spin-off tales?
double-parter. We're simply being spoilt here with Henry Flint's art, because
it's a treat to behold. In this kind of story, for me, it's much better to enjoy
the backgrounds and the detail that's gone into them. Nothing really happens in
the first part of the episode (which is probably why it's double-length), and
to be honest the rest of it is pretty bog-standard stuff we've seen many times
before. I have a feeling i'm going to enjoy this 100 times more when I read it
in one go and try to appreciate the story (should one exist). It's still beautiful
to look at, though not as good as last week.
The new Dredd series
continues to interest and impress me, and keeps me entertained. It was nice to
see Slaine going out with a bang and getting the space he needs to properly grab
the reader’s attention. Shakara is a modern masterpiece in the making, and
must be set to become something like the top thrill of 2005. Much as I may stress
the importance for my own reading pleasure of the story over the art, Henry Flint’s
artwork on Shakara is sensational; and it’s not wasted on a shoddy script
It was a real pleasure
to read a Prog with two double-length stories in; I sincerely hope Tharg is going
to do more of this in the future. It makes for a more balanced reading experience
than when only one stories is given a double episode.
so glad we have no more Offensive's/Assaults with dropping in/off points for readers...
this means that even with only 3 stories, there's something for everyone here
and - despite my slightly negative attitude towards Shakara, and my wholly negative
attitude to Slaine - this is a good-looking prog with the promise of better to
PW: Judge Dredd
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