M-AL1 tears into Prog 1813 with his usual aplomb…
Kicking off 2013 is a cover that I still haven’t made my mind up about yet. At a glance it’s not all that impressive. It’s blurry, and the background merges into the Johnny Hammerstein rather than helping it to stand out; the blood splatter from beneath is mixed in with a red light source to much the same effect; the Mark-II itself is fairly plain on the colours, and completely emotionless. And so the image as a whole fails to register anything more than “meh”.
And then I look closer. The blurring shows movement in a way that best suits this semi-realistic style of the cover, and is well produced by Roberts. The blood is bright, with the glow suggesting unrestrained brutality. Furthermore, the plain Mark-II also takes on a new kind of cruelty in its emotionless state (also, the scratched paintwork is perfect).
I think it’s a good cover, but one that would be better suited a couple of progs later than 1813.
It should have been clearer that it was Heller we were looking at on the first page. Given recent events, one would be forgiven for assuming we were getting another dose of emo-Dredd to start things off. Granted this was probably Morrison’s intention, but the “you think it’s Dredd but it’s not really” missed an opportunity to compare Heller and Dredd directly and show their similarities side by side.
Would this have been better? It would have kept the story tied in to recent events, which would have been nice since it looks like the artwork won’t bother (I’m looking at you, unruined city).
I’ve a couple of art quibbles on the first page too: the angle of the bench in the first panel and the lack of a badge in the third. Not the greatest of starts to the year.
The ongoing artwork doesn’t impress often, either. The backgrounds in particular are dull (special mention to the page 2 cityscape with a total of three colours: sky, city, and out of place hovercar). There are moments though. The colour saturation on page five (and it’s small use at the top of page four) adds a lot to the scene.
6 pages, but not much happens. It’s not enough to go worrying about how the rest of the story will develop – there’s still plenty of promise that a lot’s going to happen – but it doesn’t make this particular part all that interesting.
No problems with the artwork, so at least the 4 pages of a Hammerstein strutting its stuff looks cool. There might be a slight problem if they can be so easily fooled by cardboard cut-outs though – there’s a parallel universe out there where the next few progs have Blackbloods donning Nixon masks to fool the Mark IIs.
The art gets better the more attention you pay to it (much like the cover) with a few panels standing out in particular:
Page 2, panel 2 – great explosion; a really sharp use of the stark black and white being used.
Page 4, panel 5 – the inky blur is more detailed than other methods of showing motion, and as a result it feels like there’s more weight behind it.
Page 6, panel 2 – because I probably wouldn’t have noticed if Goddard didn’t add the wash on a pint being drunk, but he did it anyway.
Crucis is putting a lot of importance on getting back to his own world, to the point that he seems to consider the people existing in this one nothing more than cheap facsimiles (his interest in finding this gold thief is solely to learn what they know of time manipulation). There’s the opportunity here for a lot of emotional grief if Edginton pursues this and has Crucis realise the impact of his actions too late.
I like Davis’ artwork. It does go wrong from time to time but when it goes well it’s impressive. This prog has some of his better examples, from decaying plesiosaurs (and their place in a well-rendered English countryside), to woolly mammoths, and on to martians. Davis can certainly handle variety.
Page 4 is looking quite barren when it comes to background. Davis does some nice wash backings from time to time, which normally go down better than a white page.
THE RED SEAS:
Another one where not much happens. A little description of the scenery, 6 panels dedicated to a regressing/devolving bird, some idle banter. Once again, I’m not worrying yet about how the rest of the story will turn out, and the pacing may well suit the trade perfectly, but it does make for a lacklustre opening to the year.
Yeowell doesn’t even have Goddard’s fortune in having some action and explosions to depict, but even if we take that into consideration it doesn’t live up to the same standards.
I’m hoping for better next prog.
I’m going along with this one mostly because things are actually happening, but suddenly turning up in the middle of the story again has really killed the flow.
The artwork is to the same standards expected of Ezquerra of recent: plenty of movement, lots of action, and strong colouring. Much like the story though, nothing standing out yet.
Very middle of the road, and unfortunately I see nothing to suggest it won’t continue like that.