Orlok was dropped on his head as a child (seriously…fractured skull) so he assures us he is not to blame for any of this…
A massive thanks to the chaps for pitching in with the reviews. If anyone wants to take a stab, drop us an email.
I’m a creature of habit these days and since getting the Galaxy Tab last year I like to whiz through the digital copy (usually on the loo) before settling down with the actual prog. This allows me to compare and contrast, mess about with the brightness and zoom in and out on certain panels. Because I didn’t have a digital version this time I have to rely on my hardcopy and the Mk1 human eyeball so apologies if I miss some stuff.
I have to admit that when I picked this up I thought this was the bastard son of Wulf and Johnny. Devoid of his Norse fuckbuddy the resurrected Johnny had tearfully constructed a robot to approximate the mixing of their genetic material and here it is…pointy of helmet, square of jaw and wielding a hammer. It’s what the Viking would have wanted…sniff!
But no, this is in fact a Hammerstein MkII and it does look nice, though the helmet style appears a little different inside- maybe it is the angle. The colours and sense of movement really work and though it reminds me a little of a Dredd cover from a while back it is still hitting all the right notes. Also, that appears to be claret being splashed around. A lot of it.
Inside Paedo Tharg heralds in the last year of his freedom (if Operation Yewtree finally nets him) and there is talk of the inclusion of Toothy material in World Book Night. Meh.
Coming up we have The Ten-seconders: Godsend. This looks very nice, especially with Bagwell letting rip on it. He has shown he can do alien shit so his artistic interpretation of the Gods should be well worth a peek.
I liked this a lot despite a few reservations/quibbles.
The switcheroo on page 1 is nicely done. At first you think this is Joe with his tight boots and 50 years behind the badge until Heller rocks up with that line. It is a great revelation that Morphy passed the knowledge of the tight boots to more than one of his Rookies and that Dredd’s now famous catchphrase may actually have originated with Morphy. I say “may” because given that Heller probably graduated in 2084/5 Dredd graduated before him in 2079 and Morphy may have adopted it as a tribute to his best Rookie who could have been spouting it for 5 years.
Or Morphy might have seen this poster for Les Miserables and decided to nick it…
Page 2 has a beautiful looking city and this brings me to my first quibble. It looks too neat and undamaged for a post DOC tale. I am still expecting swathes of the city to be in ruins/under construction so it makes me wonder if this is a tale that was written and drawn before DOC had run its destructive course. It certainly explains why there is no reference to the DOC at all here. No cits reconstructing the city, no making do with the Judges they have, etc.
Despite this I did like the blur of movement on panel 7 (repeated on the last page) and the fact that Heller is seemingly toying with Dredd about attending the flashing incident. The fact that they head for the gang confront could be an indication that he is looking for the chance to see Dredd take a bullet to the face.
My second quibble also springs into view here. If Heller is “a disgrace to the badge”, then why isn’t the SJS dealing with him? Shouldn’t they be the ones checking on a Judge with something amiss in their behaviour or arrest record? Granted, we have seen Dredd tagging along to assess colleagues before (Judges Minty and Murdoch spring quickly to mind) but these seemed to have suffered badge fatigue rather than being “a disgrace”. It just doesn’t seem right that this would be Dredd’s role given the terminology used.
I liked the tactic employed by Heller with the gang members but the panel of him and Dredd sitting off watching the carnage brings up quibble number 3. That would be an automatic fail. While Heller is observing at least one person is killed (a spectacular sliced open head) indicating dereliction of duty. When Dredd was undergoing direction by Cadet Brisco back in the early days of the strip (Prog 421), Dredd asked if he should wait for back up when there were juves fighting. Brisco said no and Dredd was to steam in and break heads. Proper procedure to apply the law and punish the guilty. Though Heller can argue the toss that his shocking (nice Bond reference) tactics paid off and the disturbance was quelled, a life has been lost due to his inaction.
Page 5 was excellent. Not just because it featured norkage (that always helps) but because the colours were great and the sheen off the badge was very well played. It also gives an insight into just how far from the path Heller has strayed.
Disturbingly, the crimelord that blackmails Heller has people in the Department which makes this sound even more pre-DOC in that it has probably been a network he has developed over years. And why take out Dredd now? What’s the motivation? This may have made more sense being part of the Assassination List story with agents bribing/manipulating the crimelord to see off the Old Man.
Artwise this is still good shit but certainly not the best work Doherty has ever done. It looks a little too bright and clean for the timeline but that aside the sense of movement, the framing and the old style Lawmasters (for old style Judges) all work well. It still looks a teeny bit off, though…I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Ah, Savage, how you divide me so. I really like this strip and love how this is playing into the start of the Volgan War. The art is fucking marvellous and the script is usually tight but there are things that just niggle at me.
Take for example the Hammerstein MkII. It has four arms, two of which appear to be robotic approximation of human ones for manipulation. Fine, but wait…what is that it is carrying? An assault rifle? With a stock? Think about that. The stock is used for steadying the gun with the shoulder (which a robot would not need due to strength and mass) as well as providing a convenient way to sight the rifle (again, not needed with the robotic targeting) and would just get in the way. It would have been better if the robot was carrying a modified rifle with the stock removed, or a couple of machine pistols. But, that’s a minor quibble.
I’m a little unsure why Savage needs to be at the field testing as he seems fairly low level in the grand scheme of things and this is the kind of testing that should have taken place in Middle America away from prying eyes. Quartz needs to prove the MkII’s worth to the military top brass and PR people, not to someone like Savage. He should just get a communique saying “MkIIs tested. Invasion is a go for the 23rd. Kill every Volgan you see.”
Of course, we learn later that our Bill is vital to the upcoming invasion so his safety is absolutely paramount. I am sure the safest place for him is in the back of a Hummer (loving those blinged up wheels, Goddard) next to a Blackblood that a field test MKII is hammering fuck out of. What could possibly go wrong there?
The Guilt Patch and ethical programming of the MkIIs is cool but you can see disaster looming because of it. The robots have to stay within budget of an acceptable level of destruction, so if one has to take out a school or kitten hospital will it then just go offline as it has reached the budget for the week?
To paraphrase the great Zapp Brannigan…“The Killbots? A trifle! It was simply a matter of outsmarting them. You see, Killbots have a preset kill limit. Knowing their weakness, I sent wave after wave of my own men at them, until they reached their limit and shutdown.”
Let us hope the Volgs don’t watch Futurama.
The script is again better stuff from Pat with Bill nicely taking the piss out of a couple of Ruperts at the end. It was very kind of Pat to also restrain himself when the MkII spotted the nun and didn’t display the words “Ethical Governor Override Overridden- Magdalene Laundries- Killshots engaged.”
There was one groan from me with the “Even radical organisations like the Tolpuddle Martyrs, opposed to the return of the Royal family, have agreed to work with you.” Yeah, wouldn’t Bill know who they are without the painful exposition?
I’m not sure what the connection is between the Tolpuddle Martyrs and Windsor bashing. I’m an avid anti-monarchist myself and as far as I know the Tolpuddles were just trade unionists who were booted out to the colonies. I don’t think they were anti-Royal so this just seems a random connection.
“Oh, and Bill, the Wat Tyler Brigade, who are fanatical One Direction fans, have agreed to work with you. Better delete Taylor Swift’s album from your playlist…”
I am a little confused by the set up at the end. Certainly that is in place so that Bill can break his promise and save the day but is it really realistic to have one of your key elements sit out the final fight?
Correct me if I am wrong but during D-Day the French Resistance were not asked to stand back and not risk themselves in the invasion were they? No, I think they were told to go loud and kill as many of the enemy and cause as much chaos as was humanly possible in a stripy shirt and onion necklace combo.
This is an “all in” endgame and exactly what Bill’s entire job has been leading up to so far. How will him getting killed in the fight have an effect once the fighting is underway? If he gets killed before (as the news has reported) that may be an issue, but once the invasion starts it won’t matter. They could just say it is propaganda anyway or stick him on the back of a horse like El Cid.
Personally I don’t think he should survive the finale. These days Savage is all but unemployable except as a murderer or an arsonist and his barista/customer skills leave a lot to be desired. There is no place for his kind in post-Volg Britain.
I’m actually starting to warm to this though I still don’t like Ampney as a character. Perhaps if we saw more of his PTSD with him flipping out, curling into a ball or screaming “The Hun is on the wire!” at inopportune moments then he would be interesting. However, he just seems to be a toff with seat of the pants good fortune and zero skills other than his detective ability.
Ampney actually gets to do some of this much vaunted detective work for a change and figures out that the dead liopleurodon and plundered train is nothing more than a fiendish robbery utilising time travel. Mind you, if you have that kind of tech you don’t actually need to rob stuff, but I’m getting ahead of myself…
His sole focus seems to be finding a way home and solving this will be a means to that end. I don’t know I would be so quick to do that. If I jumped to an alternate dimension devoid of global warfare, had a chance of getting regularly laid and had a whizzo job at Whitehall that afforded me to live in a country pile then I’d probably want to stay. And the other Ampney? Fuck him. That’s why Jesus gave us shovels and shallow graves.
One typo here. “Compliment” is used instead of “complement”.
Interestingly if this is an alternate universe then it may not be just Earth that is different. Could the Mars in this universe have evolved differently too, hence the Martian Ambassador?
And was this Earth the target of a War Of The Worlds style Martian invasion, hence the lack of World Wars (due to a fairly united planet) and the need for an Ambassador?
Artwise I loved the first panel of page 1 with the crows picking at the dead. That’s great stuff. Likewise the mammoth on page 3 is introduced with a superb panel in terms of scale, colour and a quality beady eye. There are the usual misfires with blank backgrounds, lack of faces, disembodied heads and at least one impression of Lord Charles.
Page 4 panel 1 annoyed me a little as the convenient old farmer has some zombie eyes going on and Ampney looks like we have walked in on him crimping off a length.
I’m still reading it, though, so that is a good sign. If they make a Ferrero Rocher reference at the Ambassador’s reception I’d like it even more.
THE RED SEAS:
It’s in the past, then the present, then the past again.
There’s the Red Wench but I have long since forgotten/cared that it even existed.
I’ll be brutally honest, this story bores the living piss out of me.
It’s been trudging towards a conclusion for years now and though we have the supposed showdown with the Devil in sight there is still the matter of the golem army that skipped out of Canary Wharf. I suppose they could show up here.
Blank backgrounds and a half a dozen panels devoted to heretical teachings (a dinosaur devolving from a bird is in strict defiance of scripture!!!) don’t help.
I even spotted a woman (hard to tell with Yeowell) in there who was clearly violating several passages of Leviticus.
She was obviously touchy and therefore had “vaginal tantrums”. There is no way she should be out and about consorting with men.
So, yeah, not enjoying this and nothing about it makes me want to see the next instalment. You compare this black and white art against Goddard’s and it is a no win scenario.
There may be a good story buried amidst the rubble of waste and sparsity but I can’t seem to find it.
I want to review this without coming across like a moaning twat but I know it isn’t going to happen.
John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra are like Gods to me. They represent all that is good about comics in general and 2000AD in particular. Both are absolute legends but that doesn’t mean they don’t fuck it up from time to time.
For every Brothers Of the Blood there has to be a Life And Death Of Johnny Alpha. Nobody can be that good all of the time.
The art isn’t so bad, of course. It does come across as by the numbers and I think this is largely because we are so used to seeing these two work so well together and play off each other to perfection. With an uninspiring and downright contrived script it is hard to get excited about the art even though it achieves the goal adequately. However I can’t help but feel that if anyone else had written/drawn this retcon then fan fury would erupt. And that is plain wrong.
I suppose for me the core is that this comes on the back of a resurrection story so ridiculous and insulting that even Uwe Boll wouldn’t touch it. That is always going to taint what follows.
So what happens? The convenient parasite allows Alpha and co to escape but only after this escape is Pelham’s life considered null and void. Not before, not during, just after. There is a promise that the parasite hasn’t finished with Alpha and there is a curious line from Johnny where he abandons his mutant brethren who are fighting for their lives and says “I’ve got to get out of this” before driving off with Pelham. Presumably he thinks saving/exposing Pelham is more important than staying and fighting but this does seem somewhat out of character.
Dredd had tits in it. Win.