First up is M-AL1 with his take on 1814. Be warned it does mention something in Ampney Crucis getting “blown off”…
That may explain the smile on Ampney’s face.
I’ll be singing plenty of praise for Davis’ artwork again below, but the cover’s no exception in terms of general quality.
It’s weird, which is a good start, and in this case a plain background helps it stand out since it’s not particularly dynamic but still offers plenty of details to look over by way of the octopus themed Martian. Not that a sprawling background shot of Mars wouldn’t have gone amiss either. I’ll note here that the Martian appears to be adhering Earth customs (in dress and manner of greeting), which raises the question of how ambassadors from Earth manage over on Mars.
The artwork doesn’t go beyond standard fare for Davis’ work inside the prog, and coupled with the plain background that makes it a safe cover – something that won’t drop jaws but won’t be an embarrassment either.
I’ve warmed to both the story and the artwork. Not enough to call either fantastic just yet, but enough to get on and enjoy them both.
The art is helped by being more detailed than in 1813, with some more subtle changes in colour to ease it all along. Angles vary, Dredd and Heller are noticeably different even with their helmets on, and a well-placed blur effect turns up on page 5. The cityscape is still bland, but it’s less noticeable being tucked away at the very top of page 4.
Heller ends up showing a little competence to match his failures that occur on the first page, which helps me like him somewhat (I note that it’s Heller who has Jersey play as if everything’s normal, leading to two more perps down). We also know little enough about him to be unsure how he’s going to react things now Dredd’s called him out, which is keeping me interested in the next part of the story.
There are a couple of parts I do not like. For a start, nothing happens that wasn’t painfully obvious already. Savage is going to join the fight anyway? Well bugger me, I thought we were going to have 30 pages of him sitting in his coffee shop munching on biscuits.
Also, Cassie is firing off lists like it’s a sketch show routine. Maybe that’s why Savage implies she means nothing to him whatsoever (the pompous dick that he is).
On the plus side, we do see some action in the background of Savage’s conversation, and it will be difficult for Mills to not throw us into the middle of it soon. The artwork is an obvious plus, and Goddard seems determined to show Yeowell up at every opportunity. ‘A two-page splash panel with giants? Well I drew an army.’
It’s an impressive panel. The small crater on the right hand side is evocative of a war-torn landscape thanks to other media where we’ve seen the same or similar. There’s also dirt and debris all over, which set the action scenes apart from Goddard’s usually clean artwork
This has quickly become my favourite of the current prog lineup for both script and story.
There’s one problem with the art: the Martian Ambassador gets lost in the background of his own head on page four. Other than that it’s quality. Pages one and two show great detail (halo on the lanterns, light and shadow, Cornelius’ hat getting blown off) and great colour (nothing says horror like green light coming from a black object).
The Martians so far bear an obvious resemblance to Earth creatures (although the Martian Axolotl is several times larger than ours), which may be of importance later on, and of further note is Callipoe: she only appears clearly in two panels, but Davis has got her expression perfect in both.
As for the story we’re moving along well. Crucis now has an ally in his desire to return home, and one that promises us readers a little more insight into Mars and its lifeforms. Granted it comes bearing warnings of death and destruction, but that tends to be the case in these things.
THE RED SEAS:
Very plain, middle of the road work. To those who’ve read everything leading up to this arc it might have a little more impact, but from the opinions I’ve seen so far: it’s not.
There are elements of good writing and artwork though. Past events are just now catching up to the crew (because it’s always good to see actions having consequences later down the line), and Yeowell does do a pretty good job with the planets and landscape on page 5.
Like The Red Seas, it might be more engaging for those who know all of the backstory, but judging by the comments it doesn’t seem to make a difference. It’s just not as good as it could be.
What Strontium Dog does have going for it is movement. It reads like it was written for the progs, with the story leaping ahead every handful of pages. Wagner has no problem cramming in speech-bubbles to get things moving along at a fair pace, and often you don’t even notice he’s doing it until afterwards because the dialogue seems natural (except for one character).
As much as I hate Middenface’s dialogue for being simply unreadable, Ezquerra draws him well (in fact, whenever he speaks I seem to have the exact same expression he does – it’s uncanny). Grenville has a look of fear when he’s admitting his crimes, which is replicated on the final page and is more to Ezquerra’s credit.