Bearing a grudge and an overwhelming desire to skin the author of Swine Fever, here is Orlok with his usual florid take on the prog…
Ah, yes, a pun cover. “Martian Monocles” indeed. Class.
I really liked this and it is such a shame that corners are often cut with the actual strip in terms of artistic detail. This just looks great with a natty suit on Ampney displaying all the right creases and lines, a cheesy grin and a real alien looking Martain. The name Crucis inscribed below was a nice touch too and the whole thing does stand out from the plain background. The logo gets a bit obscured and I am not sure if the halo effects for both Ampers and the Martian were an attempts at offsetting the image from the logo. It would have been better with a stylised art deco logo to blend this in but that’s just my opinion and matters not a jot now the finished product is before my eyes.
Inside the prog, Mesmer Tharg attempts to make us buy multi-coloured Nemesis figurines that would not look out of place in IKEA. What’s next? A Mean Machine Angel wall clock? A Lawgiver pizza cutter? Johnny Alpha butt plugs?
This is still a good tale apart from a couple of script misfires.
Firstly, Heller is made out to be forty odd years on the streets when last issue (and later on in this one) it is established that he is a fifty year man. Ok, this may sound like pedantry but if you establish something, stick to it.
Second, Heller uses a ricochet in an open area, not a corridor or otherwise tightly confined space. That would be an automatic fail for a Rookie, let alone a hardened street officer who should know better. Again, this may seem like pedantry but I have just finished re-reading the Dredd novel “Swine Fever” so I am in a particularly foul mood and anything by writers who should know the material rankles me at the moment.
Third, according to Dredd, Heller has been spotted drunk at bars. Even if Judges were given nights off to go drinking, how would they pay? Judges don’t get paid for the honour of patrolling the Big Meg. Also, in the unlikely event the former was possible isn’t this a matter for the SJS to deal with? A drunken Judge would ring alarm bells all over the shop and questions would need be asked. Why is he drinking? Where did he get the money to buy said grog? Would he like a Earth facing cell on Titan?
Fourth, there is a reference to cordite which hasn’t been used in arms manufacturing for quite a while now so doubt very much it would be revived by 2135.
So, apart from these fundamental fuck ups are we left with anything decent? Well, yes, actually.
Essentially Heller blunders his way through more of the day (the ricochet thing, though rage inducing, is funny) until he gets the opportunity to put a round in Dredd’s back. In an unexpected turn of events, Dredd knows that Heller is out to kill him, suggesting that his comm is being monitored.
There are some nice little touches to the script (“wearing everything tight these days”) and at first I thought that Joe was cutting Heller slack for the sake of Morphy, but here it seems to be all about bringing his assassination attempt into the open. And what a nice little speech that is by Dredd at the end.
Artwise this is still quite clean and bright. Doherty adds subtle difference to the two old codgers so that you can always tell who is who, even at a distance.
Dredd is also very fit for an old man, much like Jimmy Savile in his twilight years. Except for the loathsome kiddie-fiddling of course.
The sight of Heller tucking into his burger is good as is the very craggy Dredd that Doherty portrays.
The swift gun to the head to enforce compliance on page 4 panel 4 was deftly handled and we get the same blur of movement on page 5 that Doherty does so well.
My one criticism is that the city does look too clean for the post DOC shitstorm.
THE RED SEAS:
This week, our heroes take a lift down to the bowels of the Earth in search of some action.
And that is all, next up we have…what…you want more?
Why? The artist and writer evidently don’t.
Ok, that is unfair. There is clearly a story here it just isn’t one that engages or enthrals.
Yeowell does comes up with some nice imagery and angles and the splash page is actually quite good. However, this is tarnished by the samefaces on all of the giants who, thanks to the familiar tattoo and underpants, are a direct nod to the brick shithouse with a boat on his head in Time Bandits.
Oh and the scene with the surprised dog…is that surprise? Looks like it could be thinking/staring blankly/passing a troublesome stool to me.
Tom annoys me with his Biblical scripture quote upon sighting the giants and his subsequent logical fallacy of “it all must be true” then. I hate that kind of thinking, plus you have to question the building skills of a God who needs giants to hold up his shoddy workmanship. He’ll be blaming them for the earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes next.
Fortunately Tom is slapped down by the mutt who gives him some Rumsfeldian philosophy to chew on. When a talking dog knows more about the nature of the universe than you it is time to shut the fuck up, Tom.
Bill must have read my review last week because he has decided to go out swinging as he knows that without the Volgs and his vengeance driven life he has no place in the world anymore. He is no people’s hero like his idol Shirley Brown and his fatalistic view of this final battle is quite refreshing. At least if he does go out in a blaze of liberation glory he might get a statue and that may be a fitting end for the man. Once Britain is liberated I don’t want to see him hop over to Paris and gun down Volgs on the Place Clemenceau with cries of “Manger des balles, scintillement-orteils!” nor sitting in his café recounting the glory days of the Liberation and descending into cappuccino fuelled depression. His work is over.
Better still there won’t be any shocked neighbours hearing the news report that ends with “…before Savage turned the gun on himself.”
His sis inexplicably reads out the groups he is uniting like she is getting him to memorise a shopping list. I’m fairly sure he knows this, love, so leave him the fuck alone while he is tooling up.
My quibble about last week still stands. He has united the groups and they are now fighting alongside each other. How will him sitting in a room reading the Racing Post be more effective than him on the front lines blowing away the Volgs? If he gets killed, nobody is going to post it straight up on Twitter (“Savage is rly dead dis time. :-( ”) and watch in horror as all the groups suddenly stop fighting the Volgs and turn on each other.
So yeah, for him to sit this out is unthinkable and illogical.
Page 3 opens with Dick Quartz on the radio which sounds like a nod to Boromir’s “One simply does not walk into Mordor” to me.
Fuck me. Goddard loves to draw doesn’t he? That splash page is stunning to look at and smashes the one that Yeowell did to tiny bits. And then pisses on it.
The broken up Blackblood, the shell crater being steadily filled by pipe water, Hammersteins (look like both MkIs and IIs) as far as the eye can see, the drone overhead, the burning Volg rag and the hapless Volgan being lifted into the air by the advancing Hammersteins are all incredible. I could look at this page for hours.
There is also a neat re-use of the famous Bullingdon Boys pic from 1986 that featured young toffs David Cameron and Boris Johnson. I find it hard to believe that even in an alternate universe these chinless twats would get stuck in on the front lines. They would either be collaborating with the invaders or using their upper crust status to sit it out in Canada with the feckless King and Queen.
That is a great last panel but apart from the splash page, the highlight for me is the one of him kissing his sister goodbye on the top of the last page. The partial shadow, the sombre tone and sense of foreboding here is sublime.
In a bit of a Stargate moment, a secret alien artefact is found in the Egyptian desert in 1906. Could this be the device that is causing the time holes? Either way there is no chance that device bodes well.
We also get the fanciful Scarlet Traces staple of the asteroid belt once being a planet, which of course it wasn’t. The belt has a mass of about 4% of the moon and was never a planet at all, merely an accretion disc. What? Artistic licence? Oh, fair enough…just don’t come complaining to me if he suggests the moon is made out of brie or that John Travolta is really straight…
So, we head back to 1931 where the Martian Ambassador Pha’rouk (more Egypt references there) swans about in a red jacket and tells Ampney he is on to him. Said Martian arrived uninvited in 1921 at Horsell Common (nice War Of The Worlds reference there) and for some reason wasn’t banged up in a secure facility and repeatedly gang probed. I’m playing X-Com at the moment and have zero tolerance for any of these ET fucks.
Oh yeah, there’s a nice dig in there about the Conservative Govt in charge having cooler heads. Ouch.
The Martians looking like Earth creatures is interesting and opens up all sorts of possibilities including the prehistoric transplanting of species between worlds and the real story behind the Martians.
On the plus side, since Ampers isn’t interested in Calliope and may grow tired of “visiting Mr Chutney” with Cromwell, he now has a whole world of hentai possibilities to explore with Pha’rouk.
Next week, Ampney dresses up like a Japanese schoolgirl in Ampney Crucis: Invasion of the Overfiend.
Artwise this is actually ok and the usual offences are light on the ground. Lord Charles does put in an appearance on page 3, though.
There is a non-Egyptian number (48) on the cartouche at the top of page 2. I can’t see the bottom of the oval but I assume it is a cartouche. Is that number significant to the more knowledgeable AC fans?
My main criticism is the top panel on page 4. The impact and artistic skill is lost here by imposing one image on the other and this should have been two panels or better structured.
Bringing up the rear (so to speak) is everyone’s favourite resurrected homosexual bounty hunter.
Reading this on the tablet I found this about as welcoming as a Mylene Klass interview, only with slightly less screaming and rage filled lunges at the screen.
As Thomas Wolfe once wrote “you can’t go home again” and maybe that is the root of my issues with this story. The characters are all there but it just doesn’t feel like the great Doghouse tales I read in my youth. The same vibe of Johnny living life by the gun and his wits just isn’t there and for me the retcon has really cheapened it. This is, quite frankly, the sort of slop George Lucas would dole out and expect his slavish fandom to lap up without question. The redoubtable Chuck Squirrel seems to be doing this by the numbers even though there are artistic gems in there (light glows, parasite effects, Pelham about to get his nuts munched on).
Storywise we have the parasite back in Alpha (it threatened this so why Alpha didn’t stick Pelham in the boot was beyond me), a reunion with Middenface and the groan inducing promise of a second mutant war.
Let’s look at that.
So, high ranking members of the Govt and a few elites have decided to remove the future mutants from the gene pool and done this without the knowledge of the people under their command. Because of this Alpha and co are going to wage war on them, probably killing people who had nothing to do with the plan. Why not just take the names and have the Dogs do an assassination run on all of the ringleaders?
Overreact much, Johnny?
Finally, I’m glad to see Chelmsford, like Milton Keynes, is full of mutants. How art mirrors life.
Because of the issues with the Dredd story I’m awarding this to Savage which really has some power this instalment. Well done to the two Pats.