2000AD #1373 Review

Reviewer: William Cooling

Editor: Matt Smith
Publisher: Rebellion

Judge Dredd

Title: Cincinnati Pt. 3
Writer: John Wagner
Artist: Carl Critchlow
Letterer: Tom Frame

Last week all hell broke loose as Dredd’s plan came to fruition as the various Cincinnati gangs desperately tried to find Elron Shingler and so claim the reward. We also saw our first glimpse of the white eye wonder and learnt that he has done something to the Chief Judge, which would seem to explain the lengths that Dredd’s going to capture him. This week the game of hide and seek ends as a bitter turf war breaks out between the gangs as to who will present Elron to Dredd.

The two creators bring this story to a close with the level of quality that has distinguished its preceding two parts. Critchlow’s art is awe-inspiring with his idiosyncratic, polygon style revelling in its uniqueness. His dynamic page lay outs bring the best out the script with their chaotic, non-formulaic design perfectly portraying the atmosphere of the gang warfare while their abandonment for more traditional box panels when the Judges intervene making the imposition of order all the more pronounced. Particular credit must be given to his penchant for dramatic panel-less close ups which again add wonderfully to the capture of the energy of the script. He is also brilliant at capturing the nihilist, fascist grandeur of the Judges’ eventual intervention without being able to play around with a double page spread.

John Wagner’s script is of his usual quality with some excellent action scenes and characterisation, especially of Dredd. The ending may not to be everyone tastes but given the nature of autocracies and their loathing of any dissent to me it seems an apt and effective ending to what has been an excellent Dredd story.


The Red Seas

Title: Twilight of the Idols Pt. 4
Writer: Ian Edington
Artist: Steve Yeowell
Letterer: Annie Parkhouse

Last week our intrepid heroes in their search for the first half of the map Laputa had to scale the mountain on Tabletop Island where flocks of harpies swarm the air. Having successfully done so they are now confronted with a mass attack of harpies trying to prevent to get into Phineas’ cave and so confront for the map.

Nothing to add to what I have said for the previous three parts with this series having established itself as if not this line up’s best story then certainly its most dependable. Edginton’s writing again offers an enjoyable mixture of action and comedy with some excellent characterisation whilst Yeowell’s art is again assured and perfectly pitched at the tone of the script. Together they bring an energy and verve to their pages whilst maintaining a period look and a genuine all-ages feel.


The V.C.s

Title: Book III Pt. 4 ~ Hide & Seek
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Anthony Williams
Letterer: Ellie De Ville

Last week the tensions between Jupe and the other VCs intensified with a clash over whether they should attend to the fallen Diderot or push on regardless. Jupe lost only to discover that Diderot wasn’t even human but some sort of robot. This week the VCs push on whilst this story has another funny turn.

I have been enjoying this run with Abnett’s characterisation and action scenes much improved than last year’s run of disparate space war fights. However, the central flaw of this series has been trying to rationalise the first part in regards to parts 2 and 3, as they seemed to contradict each other. The obvious one was flashback however this issue seems to contradict that assumption and so has leaved me utterly perplexed and this story apparently nonsensical. Which is a shame as apart from that Abnett’s writing is the best he’s done for 2000AD for ages with the main group of VCs playing an elaborate game of hide and seek.

Anthony Williams produces some excellent work again managing to combine excellent characterisation and foregrounds with excellent backgrounds that capture the harshness of Charon. In addition his colouring is excellent with his strong vivid colours making his line-work leap of the pages.

This is still a very readable series yet it is suffering from some confusion as to its wider narrative.


Slaine

Title: The Books of Invasions ~ Scota Pt. 4
Writer: Pat Mills
Artist: Clint Langely
Letterer: Ellie De Ville

In a strange twist last week saw Slaine unveil his peace plan namely the Atlanteans get this density’s Ireland while the Irish get the Ireland in the density that the Atlanteans send enemy ships into. Slightly Star Trek and more than a tad illogical but it didn’t seriously subtract from what was another excellent part of what has been an epic story (this is book 3) as Slaine and the Atlanteans prepared to enter the Golomahs heartland and so regain the Atlanteans’ flame staffs to overcome the Sea-Demons. This week we see them in said heartland only to be confronted by the Great Golomah.

After the past two weeks’ departure from Slaine’s traditional characterisation Mills returns him to what he does best-whacking things with great big weapons. With the Great Golomah Mills creatures a truly hideous creature that he manages to imbue with effective characterisation despite him being a demonisation (literally) of the Imperialism that Mills so hates. After a couple plot/characterisation driven episodes Mills returns to sword & sorcery battles with the battle between Slaine and his allies and the Great Golomah and excellent mixture of action and maniacal villain dialogue. However, the characterisation is still there with an unwelcome return to the possible love interest between Slaine and Scota, something that completely undermines Scota’s story.

Still the Scota’s roving eye doesn’t diminish the feast to the eyes that is Langley’s art. Freed from the suffocating influence that is the Irish countryside he his able to let rip on a dark and hellish world complete with a blood-red sky. He also excels himself with the battle between the humans and his grotesque Great Golomah just being attacked from all sides, with the opening panel on page three a prime example. Hell he even manages to make the ghost ship from Mario Bros. 3 look impressive.

Like the VCs this has got a central flaw in its wider narrative although this is managing to rise above that better than VCs due to the sheer quality of the totality of the writing and the art.


Samantha Slade, Robo-Hunter

Title: Like a Virgin Pt. 4
Writer: Alan Grant
Artist: Ian Gibson
Letterer: Tom Frame
Last week we learn that Rich Guy (analogue of Guy Ritchie) was decapitating his leading stars (and Sam) and dividing and then selling their body parts to obsessive fans while replacing the actors with robots. Not wanting this to be made public he in true James Bond villain style devises an elaborate, easily escapable and ironic way for our heroes to die instead of just shooting them. This week he and his pet robo-Vin Diesel begin filming.

Yeah this is cheesy and yeah it all ends predictably but still it’s an enjoyable ride on the way. In this concluding part Grant gets some excellent if naff jokes in about Vin Diesel and Guy Ritchie while Gibson provides a great visual parody of Diesel. This all set in an Austen Powers’ quality spoof of the action movie genre right down to the hero’s “last chance” to escape. The ending is again corny but fun and that has been the great thing about this series, that it has been unashamedly fun without arty pretensions.


A very good issue with Cincinnati and Robo-Hunter having good endings while the other strips continue to build nicely despite slightly dubious foundations for VCs and Slaine. 2000AD has really regain its form and assurance in past four weeks and hopefully that will continue next week with a run of non-Wagner Dredd and a Future Shock.