Saturday, 07 November 2009 00:00
Synopsis by Gavin Hanly
Review by William Hobson & Charles Ellis
Cover by Neil Roberts
William Hobson: A fairly conventional cover that, though not among 2000AD's finest, does exactly what it needs to. I like the wings and the use of colour though, even if its not a character I could name.
Charles Ellis: Simple and to the point: this comic has big, mean-looking angels in it with big swords and they want to use their swords on YOU.
Judge Dredd - Tour of Duty - Pink Eyes - Part 2
Script: John Wagner - Art: Mike Collins - Colours: Chris Blythe - Letters: Annie Parkhouse
Murder, robbery AND pissing on a wall? The man had to go...
Synopsis: Dredd enters the town quietly, killing the mutant gang as he goes, with the intention of wiping them all out. However, Pink Eyes and some of his crew have found his bike and a shoot-out begins. Dredd is pinned down in the town and he shoots at Pink Eyes - who uses his powers to deflect the bullet, rip Dredd's lawgiver from him and send him hurtling into a building. The mutants close in on him, but Dredd's not out for the count yet as he presses a remote trigger...
William Hobson: The badlands of the cursed earth bring out the best in Dredd - which turns out to be the absolute worst for the Pink Eyes gang.
This strip was all about the narration as it did a great job of delivering Dredd's cold resolution to kill - to rid the world of this petty evil and the harm it can do. Although I love seeing the tiny human core of ol' stony face, seeing just how brutal the Judge system and the man who lives by its code can be is equally satisfying. Given that this whole story is about Dredd taking a fall for showing some sympathy, it's almost refreshing to see some straight out bloodshed. Although I know he's hardly the type, at the start of the strip Dredd really reminded me of a post-apocalyptic Bud Dwight (Russell Crowe in LA confidential).
The artwork is pretty functional really - nothing in the strip is particularly original or iconic - but there's something really effective about the panels where Dredd is just finishing them off. It's easy to take the action for granted in Dredd given that there's so much of it, but sometimes something jumps out at you.
Still, although I'm enjoying this little story, and the rest of the Tour Of Duty arc, I'm waiting for the mutie townships to really become a part of things. Though I'm sure action will move back to the Big Meg fairly soon in the grand scheme of things, the change of scenery is fun while it lasts. I just hope that it gets the pay off it deserves - like I say, I still feel like I'm waiting for a storyline to get my teeth into.
Of course, this could turn out to be the strip which gives me that - Pink Eyes is obviously a little more than I originally thought. Seeing the tables turned suddenly was a great moment, and the coming battle has 'High Noon' written all over it.
Charles Ellis: After all the slow build up and multiple plot threads and crammed-in story, we get ourselves a stripped-down, fast-paced action strip. This one’s more tense and brutal than Dredd’s norm: operating in silence, breaking necks and shooting without terse one-liners, the art all grime and desperate, pleading eyes. This would be standout just for that, but then Wagner chucks in a quick reversal of fortune and a contingency plan by Dredd in the last page and a half. Our cup overfloweth!
What’s going to happen next? No way of telling right now, but probably something violent…
Shakara - The Destroyer - Part 11
Script: Robbie Morrison - Art: Henry Flint - Letters: Ellie De Ville
Brenneka easily confuses the Shakarans...
Synopsis: Brenneka manages to confuse the Shakaran base long enough for his ships to destroy the monster attacking them. He sends his troops after Shakara who cuts a swathe through them. Brenneka offers it the chance to surrender - but Shakara refuses - "Not Shakaran way"...
William Hobson: I really want to like something this imaginative and well, epic, but I really find it hard to care about Shakara(!) beyond some of the artwork. It's mad and some of the concepts are great, but there's no character I really care about in there.
Although we seem to be finally moving towards the climax of this volume (perhaps the whole thrill), I'm not too excited. The carnage has gone beyond a level I can really relate to, and given the lack of focus I'm just a little lost.
I do think it would be really interesting to see one of these stories in full colour though given how amazingly busy the art gets at points. That said though the minimal use of blue and red is one of my favourite things about a strip I don't really have all that much time for.
Charles Ellis: I was sure Cinnabar was about to be torn apart by the Voices of the Shakara, but the sly git finds a way out! He continues to do well as a villain, though at this rate it doesn’t seem credible that Shakara could either defeat or escape him in six pages. (Maybe he won’t…)
For some reason though, I’m not that invested in whether Shakara will or won’t win this time; maybe I’m just too used to him pulling victories out of the hat all the time. Still, the art manages to keep me wanting to see more. It remains dynamic, violent, and even four books in, Henry Flint is STILL coming up with new designs for the alien hordes.
Kingdom - Call of the Wild - Part 11
Script: Dan Abnett - Art: Richard Elson - Colours: Abigail Ryder - Letters: Simon Bowland
The Wild Bunch closes in...
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Necrophim - Hell's Prodigal - Part 6
Script: Tony Lee - Art: Lee Carter - Letters: Ellie De Ville
Heaven vs Hell...
Synopsis: A stand-off begins between the Necrophim and the Seraphim. Uriel proves (by framing him) that Neberon was guilty of Ezarat and the angels take him away. However they also say that the Seraphim will take control of Hell and that they will also take Lucifer. A battle breaks out as Uriel and Hell fight to keep Lucifer...
William Hobson: THIS IS HELL! Awesome. The twisted politics of Hell decay even further as Heaven drops the jackboot, and for the first time since Uriel went off to kill Jotennheim, I'm really intrigued by the strip.
I know its taken a lot of flack for being a bit similar to a dozen existing (And admittedly better) comics about an unconventional take on Heaven/Hell, but I quite like the world of Necrophim. It's one of the few versions where I feel like the demons used to be Angels, and though the constant 'you're a traitor' act is a little repetitive it's slightly less out of place when you consider the setting. Lucifer as a completely unworthy scumbag, and his second in command as an honorable but cold as ice killer - well, it works for me. Especially given the ready expectation everyone has to be betrayed.
Still, though I like the slightly modernised designs on the Angel and the rough idea about Heaven placing Hell under 'martial law' because the rules of their cold war have been breached, I'm not too sure about some aspects. Namely the DNA testing stuff and the other misplaced modernisms. I just don't think it really adds anything to the strip, though I liked the Constantine style undercover Angel. Perversely, though it doesn't make sense at all, I enjoy Uriel's continued loyalty to Lucifer. That's if it's for real...
Again, next issue should be good - who knows, maybe we'll see something great come out of this; a second War for The Throne. But this time its Hell's, not Heaven.
Charles Ellis: Y’know, at this point I’m honestly unsure what the heck Uriel’s trying to pull off. He’s succeeded in framing Neberon, but now he’s rallying everyone around Lucifer? Or was that his plan all along, and he was just stringing Heaven along? It could go either way; the story was coming off as listless before, so it’s quite nice to have been surprised by the plot over the last two weeks.
The only issue: surely Heaven sent enough angels to effectively enforce martial law? Uriel’s rebellion should be hacked to bits quickly…
Strontium Dog - The Mork Whisperer - Part 10
Script: John Wagner - Art: Carlos & Hector Ezquerra - Letters: Ellie De Ville
Galactic's end in sight...
Synopsis: Galactic arrives at the farm with two Earth Marshals who tell them that Kevin is to be returned to his father and that Andromeda is under arrest. He tries to take Kevin by force when he refuses to go along, so Kevin calls for the Morks. Galactic is killed in the resulting stampede and Kevin gets to stay with his mother - and both the boys inherit a huge fortune.
William Hobson: Well, we finally see the end of the Mork Whisperer storyline just as the title starts to actually have a baring on the story. Honestly I'm sad to see it go! Ezquerra and Wagner always make a good team but this has been really strong.
I won't be making any friends with the prog's hardcore crowd, but though I like Strontium Dog often the stories can leave me a little cold. I came late to 2000AD as it goes - heck, the Case Files have only really just begun to catch up with my lifetime - and though some have been amazing, a lot of Stronty stories haven't really clicked with me.
That said, this was one of the ones that did. Considering its length this is even more impressive - I've been looking forward to it every prog. It seems like an abrupt ending given the previous length but I thought it was fitting.
Charles Ellis: After the very story nine parts before it, this is a bit of a let down. Johnny doesn’t have to do anything (and doesn’t do anything), and Galactic is bumped off by something that hasn’t been a big part of the plot. There are still some nice bits, however: Kevin’s response to his dad’s death, the Marshals only having to turn up to swing victory in Galactic’s favour, and, of course, every bit of the artwork.
William Hobson: A really good prog - a satisfying ending, some great developments and no weak thrills. A real range of artwork styles and some varied writing voices, it would be harder to choose a favourite strip if it wasn't for the unbroken hold Kingdom has on me.
Best story: Kingdom
Charles Ellis: Two great strips and three okay. And with all four continuing ones, I’m genuinely unsure about where they’re going and how they’ll be resolved: always a good thing with 2000 AD! Best Story, however, has to be… well, it’s Dredd, isn’t it? It’s been Dredd for everyone since Tour of Duty started, that shows no sign of changing…
Best story: Judge Dredd