One of the obvious things about writing reviews for comics is that they should be pretty punctual, which is usually fine, but when it comes to 2000AD and the Megazine, I have a little trouble with this – the anthology format of both means I like to dip in and out, and, as such, here I am two days after release only just finishing them now, in my own sweet time.
2000AD PROG 1939
JUDGE DREDD – BLOOD OF THE EMERALDS PT. 2
SCRIPT: MICHAEL CARROLL
ART: COLIN MACNEIL
After last week’s assassination attempt on Judge Joyce the failed assassin is interrogated which leads Joyce and Dredd to Murphyville, the centre of Ireland’s Justice Department. We get a few more hints that there was more to Joyce’s father’s death than we thought and also that Joyce and Dredd have been deliberately drawn to Murphyville by forces within the Irish Justice Department.
Some elements of the world of Dredd have been a little underdeveloped over the years, or worst still, in the cases of future Scotland and Ireland, played only for laughs. So it’s nice here that Carroll is playing the Irish Judges straight and that he brings up politics, specifically the relationship between Britain and Ireland.
It’s never been attempted, as far as I am aware, to explained why every major country has adopted a Justice system. After World War III the US Judges took power there. Did every other surviving state follow suit in an attempt to appear legitimate? It kind of makes sense in the case of Ciudad Barranquilla that this may have happened, but why would the Russians, who in Dredd’s world stand against Mega-City One, have adopted their style of law and government? And then there’s Britain, where things seem very similar to the way they are now and the Judges are essentially just regular police. Hopefully this story will expand upon future Ireland in a good way.
ABSALOM – UNDER A FALSE FLAG PT.2
SCRIPT: GORDON RENNIE
ART: TIERNEN TREVALLION
Well, this week Absalom is even more unlikeable than last week – the scene in the pub is played for laughs, but I know from experience that there are few things worse than some old bigot imposing himself upon you in the pub to tell you tales that only highlight how terrible some people are…
Elsewhere Absalom has a group of dodgy or mildly supernatural people look at the evidence and explain to us what’s going on. Easy! (Reminds me of those early episodes of Fringe, where Peter had a ‘friend’ who could help with anything that he or Walter didn’t know…)
At least the artwork continues to look good!
SCRIPT – IAN EDINGTON
ART – D’ISRAELI
Part Two slows the pace and Edington uses the questioning of last week’s mystery man, who emerged from the toxic cloud that covers the Earth’s surface, as a way of giving us some world-building exposition. We learn that a society has thrived in domed cities beneath the clouds and, more importantly, that there is also a hostile species of mutated humans and animals that live in the clouds. The mutants attacked the man from below and have now followed him to the surface…
Edington makes world-building and exposition fun here, with the promise of a little more action next week. The art of D’Israeli, as always, is amazing, probably because he couldn’t draw a bad panel if he tried.
SLAINE: THE BRUTANICA CHRONICLES, BOOK TWO – PRIMORDIAL PT. 13
SCRIPT: PAT MILLS
ART: SIMON DAVIS
As mentioned last week, I plan on reading this next week upon completion, so I’ll review it then!
OUTLIER: DARK SYMMETRIES PT. 1
SCRIPT: T.C. EGLINGTON
ART: KARL RICHARDSON
Last year’s Outlier, by the same creative team, was, for me, completely average. It felt like it was filling space until something better came along, so while it was not bad, merely rather generic, it does mean that this follow-up series is one I could happily have done without.
The original series found the crew of the ship, Outlier, picked off one by one by a vengeful former crew member who had been tortured and then transformed by some sinister aliens. Jared Carcer, our lead, who survived the last series and who is now traumatised by the events, is hired to look into more mysterious alien stuff.
I’ll continue reading, but expectations aren’t high; story-wise it is nothing new and art-wise Richardson reminds me of all those Jim Lee-“inspired” artists working at Image during the 90s – not my cup of tea.
JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE 361
This feels like a rare jumping-on point for the Megazine this month with 4 new stories.
JUDGE DREDD – EL MALDITO PT. 1
SCRIPT: GORDON RENNIE
ART: CARLOS EZQUERRA
The current 2000Ad thrill cast has plenty about this issue and particularly this story, so check it out!
El Maldito promises to be a nice straightforward western starting Dredd. In the aftermath of Chaos Day, Mega-City One is still suffering. To help with the city’s food shortages, Justice Department has given a contract to Dysson Corp, who mass-produce crap food cheaply at their facility in the Cursed Earth using migrant workers. Dysson, like all evil sci-fi story corporations, are big on profit and not quite so big on labour rights. Enter El Maldito, a legendary Cursed Earth figure, a futuristic Zorro who is all for helping the little man. He does this primarily by standing up for poor workers’ rights by shooting Dysson Corp goons dead when they cross the line.
Dysson Corp, in an attempt to feign legitimacy, call in Justice Department who send Dredd. I predict a lot of shooting and only one man left standing over the coming issues.
Like I said, this reads like a simple western plot and has no pretension of being high art. Rennie and Ezquerra know that in the world of Dredd, sometimes bad guys need shot and Dredd’s gonna do the shooting – which is fine by me.
DEMON NIC – PLAYING WITH FIRE PT.1
SCRIPT & ART: PAUL GRIST
Filling this issue’s creator-owned slot is Demon Nic, from Paul Grist. Although Grist’s work looks familiar I don’t recall reading any of his stuff before so I went into this not knowing what to expect.
Grist’s art is simple, with a lot of black space and, as a result, pretty much no panel borders. The story features the kind of hard-bitten priest you only find in stories like this, reaching out to Nic for help. The priest has come into possession of an artefact that could end the millennia long peace between humans and demons by kicking off the apocalypse. Nic wants none of it, but some demons with bad timing pull him in. Not super original, but the art and story are fun, the actions cool, and there are a few good laughs. I recently read a lot of the early Hellboy (future blog post?) and got a similar vibe here, which can only be a good thing.
STORM WARNING – THE RELIC PT. 1
SCRIPT: LEAH MOORE & JOHN REPPION
ART: TOM FOSTER
This new story is set in Brit-Cit, so I hope that along with Blood of the Emeralds, we will get some nice world-building. Most of this first part is taken up with an extended flashback, which will surely become more relevant later. In fact, our lead Brit-Cit, Psi Judge Storm, only gets one six-word line of dialogue before getting sent on a mission to retrieve a mystery McGuffin, so while it all seems good, I’ll have to give it another episode or two before making any judgements.
LAWLESS – BETWEEN BADROCK & A HARD PLACE PT. 1
SCRIPT: DAN ABNETT
ART: PHIL WINSLADE
This second series of Lawless, even more so than the first, feels like Firefly with Judges.
Like it’s fellow off-world series, Insurrection, this series and it’s lead, Colonial Marshal Metta Lawson, does not always quite work for me. Judges in space are one of the aforementioned underdeveloped or poorly explained parts of Dredd’s world that don’t feel right.
How are Colonial judges hired and assigned? Lawson clearly isn’t Mega-City One judge material. Are they off-world Judges in name only? Do they get special training on Earth? Are they Judge trainees who flunked out or Judges who were not suitable for the streets, but who still have some value in a law enforcement role for the Justice Department, even if it is off-world? Maybe I should head back to the first series to see if any of my questions were answered then and I have just forgotten…
Despite some logic flaws, the first series was, while nothing spectacular, fun. Abnett has no trouble with this kind of thing and Winslade, whose art has not always been a favourite, works really well here. In the first part of this story, Lawson and her deputy, Pettifer, rescue an accountant who works for Munce, Inc., the company who all but owns the town. As Lawson investigates the murder attempt and possible corporate wrongdoings, she soon learns she’s looking for trouble in the wrong place.