2000AD Prog 1372 Review

Reviewer: William Cooling

Editor: Matt Smith
Publisher: Rebellion

Judge Dredd
Title: Cincinnati: Pt. 2

Written by: John Wagner
Art by: Carl Critchlow
Lettered by: Tom Frame

Last week we saw Dredd go to war torn Cincinnati in search of a mysterious fugitive named Elron Shingler. In his pursuit of Elron Dredd, he offered a deal to the Crazy 20, Cincinnati’s biggest gang, who caught him but rejected his offer. This week, we see the consequences of this offer, as the Crazy 20 realise they may have been a tad hasty in rejecting Dredd’s deal out of hand.

This part has a faster tempo than last week’s more deliberately paced part and also sees more “widescreen” action with the Judges making good their escape of last issue, and then all hell breaking loose. All of which is rendered in Carl Critchlow jaw dropping idiosyncratic art style, framed with inventive and attention grabbing panel layouts. In addition we see our first glimpse of Elron Shingler and hints (only hints mind you) at what he’s done. The way Wagner refuses to tell us the full story with Shingler, and the fact that this story concludes next Prog leads me to think that this, like Critchlow’s last Dredd story is a teaser for a bigger story.

Another superb part with both Wagner and Critchlow delivering to their usual standards in what is an enjoyable and intriguing action romp.

The Red Seas
Title: Twilight of the Idols Pt 3

Written by: Ian Edington
Art by: Steve Yeowell
Lettered by: Annie Parkhouse

Last week, our heroes’ mystery benefactor showed them their new ship, a clockwork bronze ship from Atlantis and revealed their quest, to help him find the map for the floating island of Laputa, although an unidentified group seems to be unhappy with this new alliance and prepares to stop it. This week, we see Dancer and company search for the first half of the map on Tabletop Island, only to encounter some nasty looking flying creatures.

Edington writes another fun, action filled romp, especially as he’s getting back into his stride in writing the interaction between the crew. He also shows an excellent skill for the appropriation of Greek mythology using a rather gruesome tale to form the backdrop of this part. He also shows perfect synergy with Yeowell with his simple action yarn allowing Yeowell to deliver some deceptively simple and expressive pencils.

This is an enjoyable part that manages to combine Greek mythology, with enjoyable action and dialogue and marks the return to top form of Dancer whilst furthering the threat to his mission.

The V.C.s
Title: Book III Pt 3

Written by: Dan Abnett
Art by: Anthony Williams
Lettered by: Ellie De Ville

Last week, Abnett threw us all off guard by showing what had happened before the meeting of Keege and Smith in Part 1. In this (uncaptioned) flashback we saw how three survivors of the plane crash led by Jupe come under Geek attack but managed to repel them and see Keege. At the end we see Jupe assume command of the VCs in Smith’s absence on the basis of rank.

This issue, we see the problem of having rank without respect, as the other three members refuse to truly acknowledge Jupe as their leader and disobey orders. With these scenes Abnett shows a tighter grasp on characterisation with him succeeding in carving out individual characters for all the VCs, something that he failed to do with Book 2. He also manages to weave a simple but effective narrative with the veteran Jupe increasingly forced to undertake additional burdens by his younger and less brutal/disciplined colleagues. In addition Abnett is able is to use the hordes of Geeks and the harshness of the surroundings combined with our knowledge of this group’s impending death to develop a feeling of unease and tension, something that is added to by the constant bickering between Jupe and the others.

Anthony Williams’ art is of the same high standard as the rest of this series with his angular cartoony style perfectly suited for a series first popularised by Cam Kennedy. In addition his very straightforward and simple box panel layouts suit the straight-laced action nature of this story. He is also extremely good the glacier-lunar surface of Charon and creates some spectacular backdrops to the action.

Another good part of this story has Abnett creating a tight narrative that is developing the minor characters well, whilst Williams’ has brought some really character and quality to his art.

Title: The Books of Invasions ~ Scota Pt. 3

Written by: Pat Mills
Art by: Clint Langely
Lettered by: Ellie De Ville

Last week, Mills threw us a major surprise when he had Slaine suddenly convert to the policy of appeasing the Atlanteans by offering to share Ireland with them, something that would seemingly go against everything Slaine stands for. He also introduced a hint of sexual chemistry between Slaine and Scota, which led to last week’s cliffhanger when Gael confronted Slaine over his wife’s honour. This week, we see Slaine develop his offer and the Sea Demons doing their best to force the Atlanteans to fight on.

Mills’ certainly is taking some risks on the characterisation of Slaine with the peace offerings and the offer does seem slightly illogical but aside from that the writing is maintaining the same high standards of the previous two books. In particular Mills’ shows how vile the Sea Demons are with a deftly written torture scene between the lead Sea-Demon Odacon and his Golamh Gael. He also further develops the friction between the former High King Slaine and the new High King Sethor. This emphasis on the development of the various character interactions leads to another dialogue centred part although there are hints at the end that this is just the calm before the storm.

The art is of course amazing with Langely showing once more that he excels just as much with dialogue and characterisation as with set piece battles, thereby managing to bring to life a sword and sorcery epic with an aplomb that Peter Jackson can only dream about.

At the moment this is still a terrific read yet it almost feels like being in the back seat of a Limo that’s driving on ice—a comfortable ride but one you’re sure will crash at any moment.

Samantha Slade, Robo-Hunter
Title: Like a Virgin

Written by: Alan Grant
Art by: Ian Gibson
Lettered by: Tom Frame

Last issue saw Samantha drawn further into Hoagy’s quest as a robot attacked her apartment and her two robotic friends informed her of her absent grandfather’s money. At the end of the issue they find Sam’s (living) head in a lost luggage locker, which leads us to the start of this issue with Samantha, Hoagy, Sanchez and Sam in a railway diner.

From here develops the plot as we begin to learn more about the case that Hoagy wanted Sam to investigate, which leads to a bizarre (and fairly humorous) confrontation between a Guy Ritchie parody. As he has throughout this series Grant seems to be having a lot of fun writing this, he throws out the absurdities left right and centre with idiotic robot side kicks, a head in a jar and some gently mocking pop culture references. In addition, his dialogue is wonderful with each almost every line opening up another can of worms for the characters, with Samantha being especially put upon.

Gibson continues his fine work on this series with his wonderful cartoony pencils being full of life and humour while his character designs bring out the best in Grant’s mad cap script. The relationship between the two is what elevates this story to the heights it’s achieving with both complementing the other as the story and laughs hurtle on.

Another varied selection of parts with the only connection being their shared quality with a wide range of writing styles, art styles and story genres forming a cohesive and entertaining whole.

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