Another late one while I’m playing catch up. Big thanks to Jacqusie for sending it in and for his patience!
An up close and personal Dredd head, set against a sombre grey background as the rain scythes down over the moody (and perhaps thoughtful?) Lawman. Gregg Staples has created an absolutely incredible piece of art, in which I think, is a bold and mature approach and statement by Tharg, as this is not a bells and whistles intro prog style we are used too. These usually feature all the relevant characters, in various poses and guises and tend to be a means to an end for newbies, but for a solitary somewhat muted Dredd to get the gig, sends out a very different message indeed, maybe one for the shape of things to come? It’s a corking 2000AD cover and one we should all be very proud of, as readers of a comic that has just hit one thousand and nine hundred issues.
THE NOBLE 1900, does what it’s supposed to do, of sorts, and I liked the self depreciating air to some of the relaunch progs recaps, most notably the woefully under celebrated Prog 1000 bobbins. Did they think we wouldn’t notice I always wondered, thinking it to be akin to Neil Armstrong receiving a cup of tea and a biscuit on his return from the moon and being told not to make such a fuss.
DREDD: Block Judge
There is something very reassuring about opening a Prog in the year 2014 and seeing John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s names on the credit card, something which strikes a chord of past times and familiarity, not to mention of course quality. Block Judge arrives without too much fanfare, yet opens with a wonderful splash page of Gramercy Heights, the likes of which we have been spoiled by Carlos’ providential imagination, the unmistakable distinctive style is there and we could almost be looking at one of his amazing intergalactic battle cruisers from the Stainless Steel Rat.
Wagner is on familiar territory too, with the use of the News bulletin, setting the story of how we come to find Dredd as the Block Judge to succeed the unfortunate Marlo, the back story nicely informing us of his killer as ‘a quiet boy, who couldn’t do enough for you’.
The return of Beeny was welcome too, as is the human side of her judging as she appreciates what a shitty end of the stick the block Judges get and it reminded me of her quiet desperation during the day of chaos culling in the blocks.
Dredd doesn’t seem to be a mood to be dicked about and the profile shots relay his customary snarl coupled with the clipped expressions portraying his no nonsense judging, riled, inpatient and with this being Wagner, gloriously sarcastic on his first impressions, cutting through the bullstomm… “you make it sound like Shangri-La”. Thanks chaps!
STICKLEBACK: The Thru’penny Opera
The Crooked man returneth, the continuing disclosure in his reborn guise providing a beguiling background for the macabre deeds afoot. I love everything about Stickleback, from the strong and intriguing characterisation and no nonsense scripting to Disraeli’s fabulously detailed panels hiding all manner of Easter eggs to seek out. J. Bugners Pile Driver for those who remember the heavyweight, the design house of Stephen & Blakeley’s and the curiously large reptile in the street below, looking for all like a scene from the film One of our dinosaurs is missing.
I also love the way that nothing, in this opener is what it seems, as the plot unveils the nefarious slaughtering of ‘small gods’ Mother London and Father Thames, or at least an attempt to dispel their ideologies once more. The concluding tie in being Miss Scarlett’s revelation and subsequent discovery by unlucky policeman 49, that a ripper is loose. I also loved the dinosaur in Grouty’s mob complete with cigar and bowler hat, now if we could please just have Tonga back to be with his ‘Bebe’ Robert, then all will be right with the saga.
KINGDOM: Aux Drift
I have to admit to letting out an audible groan when I heard about the return of Gene the Hackman (I hated this name bastardisation from the start) and his pack. I don’t think the strip is as poor as say, a Mazeworld or some of Pat Mills’ recent stuff, but my main problem with it is the simplistic repetition of both dialogue and action.
Please don’t get me wrong with the art, as some of the of Richard Elson’s panels and of course his mahoosive bugs are very well done indeed and the junker bi-plane page was pretty awesome. I just get bored of the same set up of repetitive plot set-ups where I can pretty much second guess the repetitive plot set up with what’s going to happen next, again, with both dialogue and action in the repetitive plot set up. Although I am quite interested in what will constitute the end of this series, as the great bloody advert for that book is back again.
I’m also a little perturbed by the inter-species chumminess and suggestion of bestiality in this series and I think I’ve seen more folks asked to ‘get whet’ than Silvio Berlusconi has at one of his Bukakke Bunga-bunga parties.
TOP THRILL: With Wagner & Ezquerra summarily back on duty, it’s got to be Dredd.