2000AD Prog 1369 Review

Reviewer: William Cooling

Editor: Matt Smith
Publisher: Rebellion

Cover by Henry Flint

A good cover by one of 2000AD’s premier artists; Flint brings all the characterisation and attention to detail lacking in Siku’s art to his rendition of Dredd and an excellent Klegg. I’m sure that everyone, upon seeing this cover, wishes Flint were drawing Meatmonger.


Judge Dredd

Title: Meatmonger: Pt. 5

Writer: John Smith
Artist: Siku
Letterer: Tom Frame

Last week, Dredd and his convict buddy walked round the spaceship a bit as a group of parasites were uncovered, we were reunited with erstwhile Dredd villains the Kleggs and we had our first glimpse of the Meatmongers’ masters. This week, Dredd and his convict buddy try to avoid the rampaging Kleggs and evade the Meatmongers, amid the backdrop of the ship being in the early stages of a parasite infestation.

Smith’s writing is back to something near his best, as we get away from the chase scenes that have plagued his stories over the past year. His writing is suitably compressed as he snappily moves from this part’s different scenes whilst always conveying a sense of chaos and menace. His dialogue has an enjoyable B-Movie feel to it, as shown brilliantly in the wonderfully cliché last couple of panels.

However, the writing is being betrayed completely by Siku’s art. What had originally begun as an interesting art style has descended into a near incomprehensible mess. This is partly because the more claustrophobic scenes of the last few parts do not suit the stylised art as well as the opening, widescreen episodes. However, in the main it is because Siku has cut back on detail far, far too much and it is greatly impeding his storytelling.

I feel that the script is on the whole a good one, but is being held back from forming the basis of a great story by bad/inappropriate art, which is a shame as it, promised some good B-Movie fun. Still if you approach it in the right frame of mind, you will be able to look past the art and gain enjoyment from it.


Tales of Telguuth

Title: Holding the Fort

Written by: Steve Moore
Pencilled by: John Haward
Inked by: John Stokes
Coloured by: Angus McKie
Lettered by: Ellie De Ville

Tales of the Telguuth are a series of self-contained fantasy one shots loosely connected by being set in the same world. They are more closely connected by all of them being written by Steve Moore. This title has progressed from originally featuring very serious fantasy short stories into featuring more comedic stories, a progression that this story doesn’t stop.

This story concerns a fort that is being guarded by a group of women warriors and plagued by a group of demons with more than healthy libidos. When a group of “Vikings” invade, the two come to form an alliance after the women come to an understanding with the demons.

Whilst there is no getting away from the fact that this is being used as filler, I enjoyed this. Moore has a very nice line in juvenile, schoolboy humour, with some gentle sex and even sexist jokes that compliment a simple, compressed plot. The art is suitably cartoony, with good design work on the “Scooby Doo” style demons and the “seaside postcard” style women. This story is good “Carry On” stuff as it manages to mix in copious amounts of sexism and T&A without being offensive.


This section features spoilers…

Synnamon

Title: Facing Mecha: Pt 8

Written by: Colin Clayton & Chris Dows
Pencilled by: Laurence Campbell
Inked by: Lee Townsend
Coloured by: Gary Caldwell
Lettered by: Ellie De Ville

Last week, we saw Synnamon being captured by the virus that Macaulay had infected her with. However in this episode it is revealed that she was faking it, to gain access to the virus heart. A heart that happens to heavily resemble the machine-head in Matrix: Revolutions (although the writers have assured fans that this is just a coincidence). This week’s episode is split between the virus-head doing the “baddie explains plot” bit, and Synnamon kicking ass.

This episode is back to the heights that this story reached previously, as the writers once again give Campbell something interesting to draw. Whilst to us, the virus-head scenes do look derivative of Matrix: Revolutions, there is no getting away how wonderfully realised they are with Campbell’s subtle lines capturing the virus head perfectly. Equally, the scene is well written as the writers manage to make the conversation interesting and give the virus logic, not only in its plans for world dominance but also in its focus on Synnamon.

The action scenes are as well realised as ever, although now that we’re fighting the main villain there’s a greater edge and impact to them with Campbell really upping his game in his portrayal of Synnamon. The only place the episode really falls down, is explaining whether Ascheta (Synnamon’s robot helper) was in on Synnamon’s deception. Still it’s a minor quibble, in a story that will delight Matrix and Grant Morrison fans alike (two groups that after all are used to dodgy plotting).


Future Shocks

Written by: Simon Spurrier
Pencilled by: Gary Crutchley
Inked by: Cliff Robinson
Lettered by: Tom Frame

Future Shocks are usually the proving ground for the aspiring 2000AD writer as they are the most compressed form of comic book storytelling that is published on a frequent basis. Every Future Shock is a sci-fi story with a twist ending; because of this rigid formula they are usually met with groans when published.

This one is slightly different. Hot new talent Simon Spurrier writes it, although the fact that it is over a year old would seem to confirm fears that it is last gasp filler. That said, it’s a readable enough story centring on a soldier fighting an alien invasion, but plagued with amnesia-fuelled doubts about his mission and voices in his head.

The art is well suited to the story, with a solid, clean style that is perfectly appropriate to the action scenes. The design is a little predictable, and safe, but that is in keeping with the story and understandably when (presumably) the guy is still new. Spurrier is helped by the expert hand of inker Cliff Robinson, whose clear black lines, and shadows further the retro feel of the art.

Of course, the feel of the story changes with the twist featured on the last page. The twist isn’t an amazingly original one, but like all good ones it has been subtly foreshadowed, meaning that it makes sense. Also, the page where it is revealed features the best art, as Crutchley’s art changes into a more claustrophobic, b-movie style.


Dead Men Walking

Title: Untitled: Pt. 8

Written by: David Bishop
Art by: Boo Cook
Lettered by: Annie Parkhouse

Last week, Jude was killed by the guards and then resurrected by Lazarus to be its zombie Christ. This week, Jude helps lead the zombie revolt as they pore over the prison walls.

This is a better-written episode than last week’s mess. The focus is centred back onto the zombie hordes, allowing to title to regain the readable mediocrity of a few weeks ago. However, the part is let down by Bishop feeling the need to bring back other strands that have been made irrelevant by the events of the past two weeks. One of them is the return of talking black buddy to offer some helpful advice, which begs the question, why has he alone maintained his previous identity after becoming a zombie (Jude having been specially resurrected by Lazarus)?

Even more troublesome, is the return of Holden, the former prison kingpin to do battle with Jude. To me, this strand reached its natural conclusion when Holden was betrayed by Dreadnought and became a lab rat (the sowing up of his mouth is virtually ignored by Bishop in this story). However, Bishop brings him back to tease a battle with Jude in the closing episode. This is a mistake, as it will probably clutter the conclusion and take valuable space away from zombie mayhem.

The art is as always excellent with Boo Cook producing some of his best work. Although Bishop doesn’t utilise Cook fully, for instance there really should be a double spread of zombie carnage.

This episode is better than most of this story, and reminds me that if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief as many different plot lines whiz past and out the window, this is an enjoyable action romp. In that respect, it’s similar to what I’ve read of Austen’s Uncanny X-Men. It suffers from similar flaws, in that some good ideas are lost due to lack of focus, simplistic characterisation, stilted dialogue and an abundance of clichés.


I actually quite enjoyed this Prog. Although I miss the two stories that left last issue, the change in the line up does seem to have freshened the Prog. Although the fact that they are throwaway filler means they don’t improve the Prog quality wise. What does (almost) make up for the leaving of the two better strips, is the fact that the three continuing strips all improve in quality with Synnamon holding out hope that it will peak just in time for next week’s conclusion.