Reviewer: William Cooling
Editor: Matt Smith
Cover by Laurence Campbell
Not a fan of this cover as it really doesn’t play to Campbell’s strengths, which are landscapes and actions scenes. Still it’s good enough with a good background although the central figure lacks detail.
This review contains spoilers
Story title: Meatmonger Pt. 6
Written by: John Smith
Art by: Siku
Lettered by: Tom Frame
At the end of last issue we saw convict buddy be attacked by the mind controlling parasites that were attacking the regime at the space prison. This issue we start with the predictable scene of Dredd squaring up to kill the convict but then John Smith introduces a wonderful twist, as he reveals due to the convict’s split personalities the parasite cannot establish any control over him. This a wonderful twist and is the motor of the conclusion as the parasite acts as another voice in his head and proceeds to dish the dirt on how to get out of the ship.
This a much improved part with the writing combining some excellent Smith weirdness with excellent cinematic set pieces. In addition, Siku produces some of his best with some excellent set pieces and some excellent character detail especially the opening page’s panel of the convict buddy and the 5th page’s Dredd. There are still places where the lack of detail overwhelms the storytelling but it is more stylised than poorly drawn.
An excellent part that mixes oblique weirdness, with old-school retro and some (in places) excellent, innovative art.
Tales of Telguuth
Story title: The Eternal Life of Emperor Ygg
Written: Steve Moore
Art by: Dave Kendall
Lettered by: Ellie De Ville
Strange story this week, as it’s a throwback to the more serious fantasy stories that this series contained at its inception. This is concerned about an Emperor who wishes to obtain the secrets of eternal life. What transpires is standard fantasy fare as the Emperor goes to the wise man who tells him where the secret is. The Emperor then goes on a dangerous quest and succeeds only to find what he searched for was not what it seemed.
This is a really solid, straight fantasy story that appeals to its audience without making any allowances for the general audience, which is a problem in what is nominally a sci-fi anthology. What adds to the slightly staid atmosphere of the story is the painted art which although looks good (a bit brown in places though) has a static feel to it in both the art and the layouts. That said in places it looks really nice and Kendall has a good (if traditional) line in developing the monsters that Ygg encounters on his quest.
This is a very competent story that is let down by being overly predictable and too much of a traditional fantasy.
Story title: Facing Mecha Pt. 9
Written by: Colin Clayton & Chris Dows
Pencilled by: Laurence Campbell
Lettered by: Lee Townsend
Last week we see Synnamon finally be subdued by the virus Godhead and being prepared to be processed into it (a la the Phalanx). However, this issue we see Synnamon throw a wrench in the works with what is a very nifty device that ties in a plot thread left dangling.
After her lucky escape we then see Synnamon take it to the virus Godhead in a manner that may raise hackles with those who were disappointed that the Matrix ended with an orgy of guns and violence Now personally I don’t mind such high jinks especially well detailed as Campbell does here. The art has really developed as this series has progressed developing into a distinctive style with excellent use of computer effects and colouring.
Whilst this series has had flaws in regards to characterisation and the writers’ predisposition towards the traditional/predictable this has been a largely good series where we have seen all involved have improved. This is a good conclusion and hopefully it’ll set the scene for a second series.
Story title: Autocrats Anonymous
Written by: Jaspre Bark
Art by: P.J Holden
Lettered by: Tom Frame
Interesting deviation from formula this week as instead of placing the focus of the story on the climatic twist we get a story that focuses on a character that his journey. The character in question is Prang and as you may have guest he is an autocrat, going to an AA meeting to give it up.
The writer does deliver some good stuff in here as he details Prang’s fall into addiction, I especially liked the stuff after he’s started trying to overcome his addiction and he’s trying to face down temptation. However, the central flaw of this story namely that he doesn’t tell the reader why Prang wants to cease being a despot prevents it really developing into something more than a one-joke story. Still one joke is more than enough for a future shock and Bark shows flair in how he develops it.
The art is good as well with a good cartooney style in a similar vein to Michael Avon Oeming with a good faux retro feel. He’s character designs whilst being purposely simplistic convey good characterisation and suit the feel of the story well.
All in all a good story that benefits from not adhering to the usual formula.
Dead Men Walking
Written by: David Bishop
Art by: Boo Cook
Lettered by: Annie Parkhouse
In the climatic episode Bishop tries to try up the three main threads of the series, namely the feud between Jude and the former prison kingpin, the friendship between Jude and talking black buddy and the zombie revolution.
Bishop quickly despatches first thread in a page making you wonder why he reintroduced it last issue. This allows him to devote the rest of part to interweaving the other threads as Morgan and Jude aim to stop the flesh-eating bomb that the prison warden has detonated. This all written in a fairly competent manner although there are still logic gaps especially centred around the character of Morgan. Firstly, why hasn’t he devolved into a mindless zombie as all other resurrected have (Jude being a special zombie Christ exception)? Secondly, his death at the end is meant to be a â€œsadâ€ event but when he was first introduced he said that he wanted to die instead of living forever as a zombie, so why is his death upsetting?
To be fair this is the best part of the story writing wise as Bishop does a good job concluding all the plot lines, writes some good page spreads for the ever excellent Boo Cook to depict and actually delivers a good, thoughtful ending. However, climatic episodes are only really enjoyable if the writer has succeeded in making you care about the characters in the preceding pages. Due to Bishop’s failure to do this and the numerous gaps in logic dotted throughout this can only be considered mediocre at best.
An alright prog with the three continuing series all delivering readable conclusions and a good future shock although I’m glad this line up is over as the quality has been way down on what 2000AD usually delivers.