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1504 - 1509 ¦2000AD Prog 1508
Prog 1508 - 04 October 2006
by Gavin Hanly
1st opinion by Gavin Hanly
2nd opinion by Paul White
and reviews contain spoilers for this issue.
the (somewhat surprising) return of Sinister to Downlode, this is one of the best
covers that Simon Davis has ever done. In some ways, the image is slightly derivative
(I'm sure we've seen Dredd in a similar pose over Mega City One), but it sets
up the mood of Sinister Dexter going forward, and made me turn straight to the
story inside - so it's definitely done its job for me.
- Part 4 - Scrapyard Army
The scrapyard army descends on the judges left defending the money, and the judges
open fire on the attackers.
Back at the mutant
camp, the child of the human taken in by the camp has been born as a mutant, poisoned
by the contaminants in the soil. Dredd offers to have the mutants moved to a cleaner
area, but says that he has to take the citizens back to Mega City One. The teenager
argues, but Dredd says he's making the decision for him. On the way back to the
rest of the judges, Dredd muses that the evils of the Atomic War continue to be
felt, when they hear the gunfire.
Venables is killed
in the attack just as Dredd and his back up arrives. They wipe out the attackers,
with Dredd feeling responsible for letting them get sidetracked. Some escape as
the battle comes to an end, and a hovership arrives on the way to the mutant camp,
taking Venables body away with it, and the trek continues....
GH: When a story is so wildly anticipated as Origins, it's going to be very
hard to meet the exceedingly high expectations of an avid readership - one that
has been waiting a long time to discover the backstory of Judge Dredd. So, a small
feeling of "is this it?" is creeping into the back of my mind as I read
each episode. 4 episodes in, Wagner does seem to be taking his time, and the visit
to the mutants seems, at the moment, to be a rather unnecessary departure. As
Dredd is kicking himself for getting sidetracked, the reader is left thinking
So, Origins still
has to really take off. We've got another few months of the strip, and that knowledge
makes the slow start easier to accept. However, after another month into the epic,
I'm going to want more out of it than some veiled asides to the effects of the
Atomic War. There's certainly no cause for alarm yet, as the episode still has
much to enjoy - from the slaughter of the attackers, to the death of one of the
Med Judges and the fate of the Mutants. It's good, but we're still waiting for
that spark that will make this must-reading every week.
Ezquerra is on
top form, however, ably illustrating the carnage once the battle ensues, and the
Cursed Earth has rarely looked so intimidating. But I'd still like to see him
illustrate the story we all came here for...
There are distant mutterings already that the latest and most important of Dredd's
mega-epics isn't all that great, with a slow start compounded by Dredd's insistence
on following a wild-goose chase *and* some criminal thought balloons thrown in
for good measure. Well, I just don't care as I'm loving it. Sure, it's not following
the path I expected it to, but that's more than fine as John Wagner knows a lot
more about these things than I do.
To use football
parlance, it's a marathon, not a sprint (and yes, I know that was more likely
to be used for, say, marathons before football) and there's layer upon layer to
be peeled here in an epic that is likely (hopefully) to have ramifications for
Dredd's world forever. What we're seeing this week is the continued after effects
of the Atomic Wars on the Cursed Earth, and the lack of hope it offers for it's
people. Dredd, despite broadly sympathising with their plight, is still Dredd
,ordering the 'normal' members of the community to be returned to Mega-City One
in return for relocating the tribe. The anger that manifests itself in Dredd,
ordering the killing of any survivors, sets the tone for what is to follow...
basically I reckon Dredd's going to lose it big time, but if he doesn't i'm sure
Wagner will take this to a place worth reading and reading again.
Ellie De Ville
Elver is interviewed by the Dom Rymer of the CID about the death of Erin. He
reveals that Claude Meyer was Erin's birth name. Later, Elver pores over Meyer's
work, trying to find a meaning behind it, Two weeks later, his article is published
but he is still obsessed by the movie that Meyer handed over to him, looking for
a hidden message, but becoming entranced by the violence.
give our eye teeth to be able to pronounce it...
Later, as his office,
a man, Slim, arrives to meet him to talk about Meyer - telling Elver that there's
a mysterious lost film of Meyer's called Chiaroscuro - part of what he calls carnage
cinema. Slim says that he can see that Elver's fascinated too, but Elver punches
him and walks away, but knowing that Slim spoke the truth...
GH: Despite a double page launch episode, by the end of this strip, Spurrier
is still keeping his cards close to his chest, only gradually revealing the premise
behind the story. The reveal (in a manner of speaking) of what Chiaroscuro actually
is helps to move the story along gradually, and ultimately leaves me more intrigued
about this strip than I was last week. Unlike Origins, the slow start up works
in this strip's favour. Given that very little is known about the premise, the
slow unveiling of the plot fits much better. That said, it still feels a little
too early to be able to put together a decent review on the strip, however, with
too much of the story still to be revealed. Ultimately, it's got me interested,
and that's all that's needed at this juncture.
As for the mysterious
Smudge and his greyscale work, there's much to rate. He seems to fit the tone
of the strip down to a tee - and is especially adept at playing with the lighting
and camera angles to affect tension. As the important plot points are revealed,
Smudge keeps the scene shrouded in shadows, and the last panel, as Elver staggers
away through the mis-shapen architecture, is excellent.
It's still early days for this, but I'm liking it so far and haven't already got
to the point where I'm skipping the 'new' story. This is obviously a subject close
to Si Spurrier's cinematic heart, and is very nicely rendered by the newly improved
Cam Smith (I'm sticking my neck out, but i think it's pretty obvious despite being
200% better than his previous stuff on Sin/Dex). If i was being picky, I'd say
that it suffered slightly due to last weeks double-length as not enough seemed
to happen, but I have faith in Spurrier moving this onwards and downwards into
murky fright-filled territory.
Another one of
those stories that probably wouldn't be allowed anywhere else, and that's to 2thou's
Ellie De Ville
Interference - Part 1
Hunter returns to the Citadel after a reco mission - all the time flashing back
to the time she and her family were evacuated from Nu Karthage 15 years ago -
leaving her father behind to fight the Norts. She also sees an image of her mother
dying... She tells the deck crew that there's something wrong with her comms,
but isn't specific enough for them.
She's been looking
for a Nort raider with no luck, so heads to the rec area, buying contraband drugs
when she gets there. The Norts who are working for the Citadel try to wind her
up with stories of the kills they made back in Nu Karthage. She's told that Venus
and the Psi are spending a lot of time together, but they don't know why. All
the time, the Nort raider is preparing to attack...
GH: The 86ers made a fairly underwhelming debut earlier this year. There was
too much of a focus around Venus Bluegenes, at the expense of properly introducing
the crew of the citadel. In some respect, it felt a little too connected to Rogue
Trooper than we were really expecting. What we wanted from this tale was a decent
war story with a good crew of characters. Instead, we got a sub Rogue storyline,
with a cast of under developed characters.
So it's certainly
gratifying to see a different approach taken with the start of the new series,
with Venus pushed very much to the background. Taking the tale forward from the
perspective of a non-GI is what we all wanted all along from the series, after
all. The introduction of Becca Hunter adds some much needed backstory to a main
character, and even gives us the chance to get closer to the odd group of Norts
in the citadel (even if the constant stream of "stak's" reminds me a
little too much of Al Ewing's Rogue/Nort dance off...). There's still a lot of
ground to make up here, as the fellow crewman who stops Becca attacking the Norts
is a little too generic for my liking (note to Tharg - if a series is returning
from a sabbatical, all writers should be forced to ensure that all characters
are given names upon their first re-introduction). In all, I'm willing to give
the series another chance based on the set-up here.
As for PJ Holden's
work, it certainly improves on every appearance, as to be expected, but I still
find myself pining for the excellent grey wash effect he used on Rogue Trooper.
Occasionally here, the art seems a little too heavy for my liking.
I wasn't looking forward to this (with The Mighty One sneaking this in on us,
he's probably only too aware of the lack of enthusiasm on it's last run), but
was pleasantly surprised. First things first, there's no blue people - this is
a definite plus, and I don't mind the brief reference to "bluegirl"
so long as the story keeps a safe distance. Maybe this series is the kind of story
Gordon Rennie wanted to write but wasn't allowed to due to Rogue's video game
dictating that the "franchise" stay alive a little longer, or maybe
he realised that the last one was such a dud that anything would be better. Well,
this is plenty better and actually quite readable. Apparently it's only scheduled
for a short run, so hopefully it'll be punchy with plenty more drug taking...
the blacks are my favourites too...
Ellie De Ville
Places to go, People to do - Part 1
Heading to the end?
returns to Downlode after the events in Malone and visits Dexter's grave. Afterwards,
they head to Cherry Bomb's bar where Sinister can pick up some weaponry. Cherry
Bomb is surprised to see him and warns him that there are a lot of people in Downlode
who want him dead. Back in Bar None, Sinister, Rocky and Wendy plan the next move.
Rocky tells him that Apellido is in hiding since it became clear that he was a
clone of Holy Moses, but he still has some clout and is protected by a Ukrainian
called Ronko. There's a war on with the mover, and no one knows the Mover's identity
yet (note - we know that it's actually Holy
Moses from an alternate dimension).
Elsewhere, As Sinister
expected, Cherry Bomb has contacted Appellido and warned him of Sinister's return.
Ronko promises to end Sinister..
GH: Dan Abnett has shown an remarkable capacity to surprise jaded 2000AD readers
in the past year. This turnaround happened with the last series of Sinister Dexter
in the latter part of 2005. Before that period, I myself was very vocal in wondering
if perhaps it was time that the gunsharks should be put out to pasture. But the
events that led to Dexter's apparent death pulled together a number of threads
that Abnett had left dormant for some time, resulting in a miraculous about-turn
for the series.
For too long, Sinister
Dexter had been accused of spending too much time in the comic, especially appearing
in underwhelming "funny" strips, when better series were pushed to the
side. Abnett appears to have acted on this criticism, bringing some much needed
and clear direction for the series, leaving us in Prog 2006 desperate for the
tales to continue - something that would have seemed impossible at the beginning
And recently, of
course, he has managed to pull off the biggest surprise twist in 2000AD since
The Dead Man, with Malone. Rarely have I been so surprised at the events in any
comic since that aforementioned Dredd-related revelation. Malone was already shaping
up to becoming an intriguing series, but as a herald to the return of Sinister
Dexter, it was masterly done.
So this all leads
us back to Downlode. Abnett continues his association with Anthony Williams from
the VCs, who actually seems to suit the strip fairly well given this first installment.
Much like Simon Coleby, Williams is an artist who has slowly settled into a new
style - especially as he has become more comfortable with computer colouring.
He also manages to make Sinister look pretty intimidating, as you'd expect from
a gunshark, something that the main Sin Dex artist, Simon Davis rarely managed
(this issue's cover being an exception). So far he seems like being a good choice
So - going by issues
of Previews - it looks like Sin Dex will be with us (at least intermittently)
up until Christmas - and for once, I'm really looking forward to this. Will Dexter
make a reappearance? In a series with both a clone and a parallel dimension
duplicate of the original Holy Moses, anything's possible...
Everyone probably feels that there were two kinds of reader of Sin/Dex, love'
em or loathe 'em. Well, now I think there's a third category - used
to hate them, now i'm intrigued - that I fall into, courtesy of the recently
ended "Malone". I'm hoping that they (and let's fact it, Ramone has
to be coming back at some time) will get some fresh impetus that will allow Dan
Abnett to tell some stories worth reading, or end the series on a high and a "wow!"
For the first time
ever, I'm glad it's back. That's got to be worth something...
Of course, that's not going to be a problem later...
Denisov needs a hit. In an undetermined future time, all music is cover-version
crap and nothing original remains. So, Denisov heads out to fringe space to meet
an alien species named the Murmux. His interpreter Gunther, who only understands
a fifth of their language, tells him that the Murmux have a song that, if the
Earthmen start singing it, will make them sacred. He is introduced to a huge statue
of a monster that represents the Murmur, to whom the Murmux are calling to with
the song back top Earth and it becomes a huge hit, playing on stations across
Earth. However, Gunther calls him telling them to stop. The song is supposed to
summon Murmur and the millions of radio stations playing on earth might just do
the job. But as Denisov looks out the window, it's too late as the Murmur as arrived
to destroy Earth...
GH: Judging by his past efforts, and indeed this one, Tharg should just make
Al Ewing the sole writer of all Future Shocks. In the recent past, the revelation
in any week that one of the five 2000AD strips was a Future Shock was cause for
disappointment - given that they were usually seen as testing ground for unproven
writers. However, Ewing has managed to turn that perception around through some
genuinely enjoyable writing that brings a great deal of the fun back into what
was a tired format.
In many respects,
the Future Shock should allow for limitless possibilities, and really allow writers
to stretch their imaginations with no constraints other than the page count. Ewing
drops in a number of clever ideas here, be it the future where there is no original
music, the monster statue done to scale (with miniature figures to show this)
- or the fun telegraphing of the clear danger of the interpreter's semi knowledge
of the Murmux language. All of this combined with the back page reveal, make for
a highly entertaining tale.
This is coupled
with some excellent art from Edmund Bagwell. Who is this guy? This is some of
the most accomplished art I've ever seen from a newcomer to the comic. His charicatures
are brilliant, his colouring is phenomenal, and there's hardly anything to criticise
in the entire piece. A fantastic debut and hopefully we'll be seeing more of him
An interesting effort by Al Ewing, although not as mental as some of his stuff,
aided and abetted by a lovely splash back page finish. Edmund Bagwell's art was
excellent for a first appearance in the prog, and it would be nice to see more
of his work to find out if it could sustain something more lengthy. The last page
made me feel all nostalgic for the "good old days" where there could
sometimes be a surprise waiting. Last week we had an order change in the stories,
could this be a sign of crazier days ahead..?
GH: Of course,
we can't let the review go by without mentioning the centrepiece to commemorate
Tom Frame, a real loss to the comic. It's an excellent tribute from some of the
best British creators in comics today, and big kudos go to Rufus Dayglo for making
it happen. Don't forget that you can make a donation to Marie Curie here.
As for the rest
of the comic? For the first time since prog 1500, I'm starting to really look
forward to the next issue falling on the doorstep. now that the thoroughly underwhelming
Stone Island has departed (a black mark on the other wise excellent record of
Ian Edginton), there isn't a duff story in here. Even the slightly underwhelming
Origins is clearly building up to something.
But it's the return
of Sinister Dexter that really shines. And if a strip like that can make such
a miraculous turn-around, then surely there's hope for Nikolai Dante yet...
Lovely centre spread spoilt only be two Ukkos - what were the management thinking!!!
Only joking - this was a splendid effort for a touchingly worthy cause. Tom Frame
appeared to have many friends in the business that we're clamouring to honour
him, and it was nice to see the prog "donate" the centre spread for
this. Well done to Rufus for the organisation, truly a friend of the prog.
PW: Judge Dredd
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