Sunday, 23 August 2009 00:00
Synopsis by Gavin Hanly
Review by Darren Stephens and Pete McCosh
Cover by Pye
Darren Stephens: One of my favourite covers of the year, this. I'm a sucker for a detailed cityscape and this one is beautifully done. But...who is Pye? His previous cover art has left me cold, but this one is poster worthy!
Pete McCosh: Seen as an adjunct to Under New Management, with Dredd sidelined and overshadowed by the city he's so often towered above, this makes a good cover idea. As a cover in its own right, it doesn't work for me. The cityscape is competent enough, with a couple of nice little touches like the Chopper tag, but Dredd in the corner looks like a hammer-bashed thumb with a helmet plonked on top.
Judge Dredd - Under New Management
Script: John Wagner - Art: Carl Critchlow - Letters: Annie Parkhouse
314 goes into defence mode...
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The Red Seas - The Chimes at Midnight - Part 6
Script: Ian Edginton - Art: Steve Yeowell - Letters: Simon Bowland
The Baron has a plan...
Synopsis: Sarita reveals that Propseratus appeared to her in a vision and said she had to rescue Newton. As they try to escape, they realise that the walls of the building are moving, making it almost impossible to work out an escape. However, Newton spots the Baron's mechanical flying horse and carriage - they steal that, breaking through the building's glass dome. They all head off you join Captain Jack Dancer...
Darren Stephens: This has been a strange sort of offshoot strip, starring as it does, Sir Isaac Newton instead of the imprisoned Dancer and co. As such, I haven't really enjoyed it quite as much as I'd hoped to. I look forward to the next series, when hopefully it will be business as usual, cast-wise at least. I miss the swashbuckling.
Pete McCosh: With this conclusion, it becomes clear that this and the previous Dancer & co tale were more about maneouvring everyone into place for the next installment and Captain Sarita's toothy grin in the last panel suggests we'll be heading off for more straightforward adventure soon.
I can see how some readers might get frustrated with this repeated build up without a payoff, but I'm still enjoying the ride. This latest story has been as full of endearing daftness as before (the wigless Isaac Newton commandeering a helicopter modelled after Pegasus, no less) and has afforded us a glimpse behind the scenes of Edginton's fictional world, or even worlds which hints at plenty more to come after the current crisis is averted.
I just hope we get to see something substantial from this pair soon.
Terror Tales - Poison
Script: Alec Worley - Art: Ben Willsher - Letters: Ellie De Ville
The stiletto is mightier than the nasty pointed alien thingy...
Synopsis: A reporter, Jo, is investigating a designer called Raphael who, along with others, is taking a new wonder drug with youth enhancing properties. She steals a sample from her boyfriend and sends it to her publisher but is soon kidnapped by Raphael's people. Raphael has an alien inside of her that is producing the drug. Jo kills the alien, and a crowd descends on it for their fix of the drug. Jo's boyfriend grows old without the drug and her publishers pass on the sample to a cosmetic manufacturer who start mass-producing it...
Darren Stephens: A neat little strip from Worley and great young droid Willsher, involving the fashion world and a new mysterious drug that's doing the rounds. Good stuff, elevated by some cracking art. Ben Willsher can draw very sexy ladies with ease. He'd be a great choice if Babe Race ever came back. Then again... let's not go there.
Pete McCosh: A pair of prototype droids combine to bring us a reasonably satisfying short this week. Another wordy effort from Alec Worley, this was a decent enough little tale (which made a bit more sense on a second reading) but it wasn't up to the same standard as the writer's previous effort. Where the last one used the wordcount to build up a little alternative world, it feels here more like padding; as if the narration's being deliberately used to pad out to try and baffle the reader. There's not much I'd actually edit out, but it reads as if there should be.
Ben Willsher' s been on occasional contributor to the comic for a while, but this is his second appearance in a couple of months. Here, with the action mostly confined to interiors, he turns in a nicely atmospheric job. The thick blacks evoke fond memories of Dom Reardon on Caballistics, but the line is Willsher's own and his more detailed work builds up a Philip Marlowe style noir demi-monde. Good work from both droids here.
Sinister Dexter - Watch with Motherfunter
Script: Dan Abnett - Art: Anthony Williams - Letters: Ellie De Ville
Tracey loses it...
Synopsis: Tracey leaves Dex a message telling him all about Honeycutter and how he's watching her every move. She knows Honeycutter's listening to the message so she tells him to come over so that she can betray everything she cares about. He comes to see her and Tracey kills him - finishing the message to Dex saying that she needs help...
Darren Stephens: Oh dear. I must stress that I don't like Sin/Dex. Never have. Its always the last thing I read in the prog and often gets forgotten about and not read at all. Clever as Dan Abnett's dialogue is, I personally rarely find anything he writes interesting beyond that.
Anthony Williams' drawings are the only thing that's kept me reading this series. If it had been drawn by Simon Davis, I may well have skipped it again. No offense intended, but Davis' art leaves me cold.
Pete McCosh: Another story concerned with moving characters into place for a coming showdown. It was nice to take time out and remind ourselves of some of Ray and Finny's supporting cast. The twist here was pretty obvious from the start, but the way it was handled and Tracy forced into something and somewhere she didn't want to be felt natural and obviously pushes her into a more active role in the criminal future. It's not often remarked upon, but Abnett frequently turns in stories with clever little narrative ideas and this episode with it's first person answering machine contrivance is another good example of this.
I'm not sure how Anthony Williams' partnership with Rob Taylor works exactly, but it's brought an extra level of detail to his sometimes sparse work, which is a good thing, and a degree of beefy pneumaticism which I'm not so sure about.
Defoe - Queen of the Zombies - Part 10
Script: Pat Mills - Art: Leigh Gallagher - Letters: Annie Parkhouse
Defoe always has time for a quick pun...
Synopsis: Defoe throws La Voisin's head into the river and notices a copy of the Life & Death of Dr Faustus burning in the wreck. Meanwhile, Damned and Miss Benn dive out of Nonsuch House into the river and are picked up by Defoe. The other have retreated and Defoe realises that Colonel Blood is Mene Tekel and in control of Nonsuch house. As they escape, they notice Reeks attacking the Tower, trying to get to the gold inside. They also realise that Colonel Blood is only a disguise - their enemy is really Doctor Johann Faust...
Darren Stephens: The current book of Mills zombie epic comes to a close. Highly enjoyable stuff this. Filled with mad inventions, zombies, mindless action, more zombies, clockwork henchmen and some more zombies. You can never have enough!
La Voisin is no more, and the team turn their attention to the mysterious 'Mene Tekel', whose identity is revealed at last. That last full page illustration of Faust, from series artist extra-ordinaire Leigh Gallagher is fantastically evil looking!
Pete McCosh:A fourth story this week which is intent on setting up its next appearance, this time with a distinctly Red Seas attitude towards history. At least this one has the decency to close out the current adventure in style before the trailer. The silent page featuring Damned and Aphra's desperate leap into the Thames is the standout here, but Leigh Gallagher's art has been consistently excellent on this series.
Darren Stephens: So, the decks are swept in preparation for next weeks prog, which is one of Tharg's famous "jump-on" progs. I've been lucky enough to read it already. This week's prog was good. Next week's is amazing.
Best Story: Judge Dredd
Pete McCosh: A week where every story is about what's to come, but they all manage to go out in style. If there's a criticism it's to ask whether anybody knows how to write a story that just ends anymore, but that would be slightly churlish, as I do find myself wanting to know what happens next in every story. We find ourselves in a situation where Tharg has so many good strips fighting for a place to grow that there's not enough space for them all to get their turn in the spotlight so we end up being frustrated at the wait between storylines. Damn Tharg and his production line of enthralling Thrills!
Best Story: Judge Dredd