Orlok should really have posted this last week but he’s been busy with real life nonsense…
Another good effort this from Paul Marshall with the normally imposing Joe looking miniscule in comparison to the Lawlords, possibly because of his tiny little legs. Was it my tablet screen or did they look out of proportion?
The colours and poses are nice and there’s a weird half smile from the dude on his knees.
Two slight things…Lawlord blood is green inside and red on the cover. Also, the trigger guard on the shooter seems a good fit for Joe but not for the marrow fingered aliens who built it.
And that’s the end of this logo…sniff.
Still at least the new one has apparently been redesigned to prevent covering, which slightly occurs here but in a smart way since some helmets are covered and some aren’t.
Inside Mesmer Tharg gives a small preview of the latest Anderson comic from IDW. Luckily it isn’t the one of Cass with her space hoppers showing as this would upset the social engineers and cause instant misogyny in any child unfortunate enough to view it.
Joe bluffs the Lawlords into revealing their plans and Dolman does something interesting. For once.
Ok so I haven’t been overly enthusiastic about this story, not out of nerd rage but because it doesn’t make sense to me and is, to my ape brain, a come down in the quality I expect from the writer. As I stated in my last review, Carroll is the one to whom I’d like to see the reins handed to should that day ever come but every writer has an off day. Hopefully this is his.
So, we pick up where we left off with Dredd still alive after assaulting a Lawlord. Rather than just shooting him, they instead explain their whole plan in Bond villain style. Joe pulls off an elaborate bluff involving “secret agents” forcing the weapon platforms to target him on the alien vessel.
It was good to see Dolman doing something for once and hopefully he can have some more impact going forward. He’s an odd character to write for I guess.
Look I am just going to express my concerns as a series of questions…
1. The Lawlords have a Star Trek like non-interference directive with unaligned cultures. That’s new. So how, if they are not permitted to make contact with other cultures, do they offer to take over one way or another as explained here? How were they even at Lawcon and offering an alliance with the Sovs?
2. If Ricardo’s World is a Mega City 1 Colony, then how would they even be there to approach Knight?
3. Isn’t it a massive coincidence that Knight made planetfall on a Meg colony that they just so happened to be on?
4. Dredd tells the Lawlords that Knight is an honorary Mega Citizen but we only see him bestow that when she arrives in the city.
5. Dredd insults the Lawlords at least twice and assaults one of them. If this is a death sentence then why hasn’t he been shot dead by the dozens of armed Lawlords who are surrounding him? They kill their own guy in half a second.
6. How would Knight be in a position to obtain the biometric data of every Judge in the city?
7. How did Dallas get from the Cursed Earth to deep space, meet the Lawlords and get back to the city to be captured and taken to the Undercity?
8. How would he have revealed his psi empathic gift to them? And if he could do that, wouldn’t he have psi influenced the Lawlords themselves and had a bigger slice of the pie?
9. Why didn’t the Department use their own kit to target these ageing 80 year old weapons?
10. Why do ALL of the weapons target Dredd other than the need to rake the ship with lasers?
11. If it’s the system that locks onto the threat, why does it need a command from Dallas to fire?
12. Considering these are precision lasers that can biometrically target Judges with pinpoint accuracy, how do MULTIPLE lasers miss Dredd on every shot?
13. Dallas tells Dolman he has fifteen seconds before the lasers re-target him. How is that a threat? He could kill them twenty times over in this time.
14. Once Knight and Dallas are killed, the lasers stop working. Why? Wouldn’t they still have carried out their programming to shoot Dredd?
15. Dallas made contact with Knight and not vice versa, so how could he know she had been co-opted by the Lawlords?
16. If Knight met the Lawlords and they explained the brutality of Mega City 1, how is this any worse that their regime of total control and an arbitrary death sentence for all crime? Surely as a smart human being she would understand the changes the world has gone through and that she is selling out all of Earth and not just the Big Meg to aliens far more extreme than the Judges.
I’m not shooting holes in the plot here. These holes are already there I’m just pointing them out.
The first couple of parts of this were good and showed real promise. Though the story went off on a surprising (to me) tangent it seems that a golden opportunity to revisit the fundamentals of the Big Meg’s set up had been lost. It could have been the perfect jump on story for new readers with them seeing the city through Knight’s eyes and yet still keeping the sci-fi credentials intact.
In the end this felt a little muddled and rushed and I wonder if there was a bigger story cut down to suit this plot. And of course, Carroll has to put all of the toys back at the end and press the reset.
It was a shame to see a character like Knight discarded so casually but after the shit she pulled there was only ever going to be one ending for her. There was something George RR Martin about that.
There was some nice stuff here such as the citizens in disbelief at the damage they have done. This was reminiscent of the Judges at the end of Necropolis finally coming to their senses and turning on the Dark Judges.
The art has been great throughout and the panel layouts have been stunningly smart. I love the fact that the Lawlords all have individual crests on their helmets.
There was something a bit Mick Austin about the artwork in that final panel.
Aquila finally faces off with Nero and Locusta pays the price for her crimes.
Though I haven’t enjoyed this series as much as previous Aquila stories, this end run has been really good. It did seem to suffer a little from padding in the middle and could have been a tighter tale.
The lardy boy that Nero sends against our hero lasts about three seconds and is there only as a distraction. How Aquila doesn’t spot someone the size of a pregnant hippo in the shadows is beyond me.
I didn’t really understand the need for this event since Nero took the poison unimpeded by Aquila before he unleashed Lardus Maximus. In fact, it seems a really lazy piece of writing.
The monster of the week format is now a dry well and hopefully Rennie can take this thrill to new and interesting places without having to rely on this.
Rennie also rewrites history as Nero was around for four years after the big blaze. He seems to combine the mob action during the fire with the Senate action to try and remove Nero which would be incongruous in the middle of a citywide disturbance.
Brilliantly, Aquila gives a nice message from Boudicca at the finish, tying up that promise nicely. One slight thing, I’m pretty sure it is Iceni and not Icini.
The Diviner sitting on the hill and stating that Rome will rise again is nice, as is his foreknowledge that Locusta will get gripped. Her reward for her crimes is both fitting and terrifying.
There’s a promise here that Nero and Aquila will meet again in Hades.
The art has been stunning throughout this run and there are lovely touches throughout such as the slaves abandoning the palace and the teary eye as Aquila thrusts his gladius into Nero’s gullet, breaking teeth as he goes.
The use of shadow in the scenes between Nero and Aquila is excellent but that last panel is as creepy as fuck.
Our heroes make it to the transit point and Ariel and Ramkin leave the team to make the beast with two backs.
Wren is shown to bleed when Vonnegut is around making him more like menstruation than a mentor.
The “sucking face” line was a horrible piece of dialogue but for the most part this works well as a point of departure before more marines show up.
Ariel and Ramkin staying on seems fitting since they have now both been injured by the quest and now that Ariel has her own vessel using the five finger discount system there’s little incentive to leave.
Ramkin gives Septimus a couple of shooters and some gaseous clay, which may play a part later on. Hard to know.
For the next book it’s off to “Tall Green” via a diversion or two and there is the added revelation that the Blind Watchmaker is not quite as omnipotent as imagined.
One small quibble…if that metal bastard is still alive and it can fly then why didn’t it simply float back up when blasted out of the window?
The art is lovely once again with a nice effect of wind blowing through the transit point.
A court battle takes place concerning the legal ethics of identity.
Future Shocks are difficult to pull off as intelligent and original stories but this one did it well.
Imaginative and with a decent twist I didn’t spot. There’s a very human question at the heart of this and it is probably one we’ll have to address real soon.
The panel layouts were a little odd but Dyer produced some very nice art nonetheless.
Shuck beats the stone poo out of Overdal in a final battle that is a walkover.
Shuck winning the punch up didn’t fill me with anything other than a need to shrug my shoulders. There was no suspense as I didn’t care for any of the characters and since Shuck has been the Viking equivalent of Aquila throughout this it seemed unlikely he would lose.
It was a nice way to dispose of the Jotunn King though.
Bottom line, this could have been told in five instalments and been tighter as a result. There wasn’t actually that much of a story here at all and it suffered terribly from the flashback formula which hampered the flow.
It had all the right ingredients but instead of having the individual parts cooked into a tasty meal, it was blended into a kind of shit soup.
And the fucking cheek of “The End?” was like a desperate plea for fans to write in and save it from the axe.
A good end to Aquila makes that a sure fire winner for this week.