Review by Eamonn Clarke
It’s the big Christmas Prog from 2015. A bumper sized package that finishes off the year and sets up some thrills for what’s to come in 2015.
Cover by Greg Staples and it’s definitely one for the fanboys. Personally I would have gone with a bigger depiction of the Judges, something like Bolland’s original or Henry Flints’s from the Chaos Day run. Not sure this one is intended to sell any extra copies or just please the existing readership. Anyway he’s back.
Judge Dredd: Dark Justice by John Wagner, Greg Staples and Annie Parkhouse.
After all the sssizle the steak is finally here and because it’s only a prologue it is, let’s be honest, a little underwhelming. But in Wagner we trust, all will be well. In fact all will be the complete opposite of well which is the point. Lovely image of Dredd wearing an actual Planet Replicas kit and test firing the Mark 3 Lawgiver. Should it be that easy to break in on P.J.Maybe though? Have no fear, Wagner will deliver.
The Visible Man by Pat Mills, David Hitchcock and Ellie De Ville.
Hitchcock does a pretty good job on the art, considering that everyone is wishing it was Henry Flint. The haunted house looks creepy and all those seventies and eighties toy references are great. But the evil priest story-line, again? The most obvious of reveals, which is saying something for a strip where two characters walk around without any skin. Bit of a dull one this, and are the Visible Man and Woman now working as some form of supernatural X-Files force investigating the weird from their souped up helicopter?
The Order by Kek-W, John Burns and Annie Parkhouse.
John Burns artwork looks great but didn’t we already have this when it was called Black Shuck? Odd choice to run two similar stories close together but Robot Knights are always fun so I’ll stay positive and look forward to more of this.
Ulysses Sweet by Guy Adams, Paul Marshall, Chris Blythe and Ellie De Ville.
It.s mad, he’s mental and it’s a slice of pure 2000AD nonsense, and highly enjoyable nonsense at that. Paul Marshall’s style grows on me and it looks great.
It’s also a big yes from me to that advert for Enceladus by Rob Williams and Henry Flint. Can hardly wait.
The only thing I can learn from the quiz is that there is a huge gap in my knowledge basically covering all the nineties and noughties. Nice to be able to get the Halo Jones, Ace Trucking and Skizz questions right though.
Jaegir by Gordon Rennie, Simon Coleby, Len O’Grady and Simon Bowland.
Rennie’s alternate history of Nu-Earth fills in some more gaps and Atalia adds some brother issues to her problems with her father. In fact everyone seems to hate her apart from her doggedly loyal sergeant. It’s an effective little filler story that does leave me anticipating her return to the prog. Hopefully she will find a mission that doesn’t just relate to vengeance on her loathsome family.
Low Life by Rob Williams. D’Israeli, and Simon Bowland.
How can anyone resist a Christmas Dirty Frank story? One of my favourite characters and drawn by the demon, draughstman D’Israeli who uses a completely different style and set of textures to those we saw in Stickleback. I don’t know how he does it but this was fabulous and one of the highlights of the Prog for me.
Max Normal by Guy Adams, Ben Willsher, Chris Blythe and Simon Bowland.
A lovely team-up for Max and the old ape and a chance to wallow in some black and white 2000AD nostalgia in the flashback sequences. Plus an appearance by that bucket Judge Jimp helmet and a bunch of block names with simian references. Lovely stuff by Adams and Willsher. Another high point.
Savage by Pat Mills, Patrick Goddard and Ellie De Ville
War is hell and who better to deliver that message than Uncle Pat as he sets up the next book for Savage. There’s some nasty body horror stuff before old Bill finds himself betrayed yet again. Another strip to look forward to in the coming year.
There’s a very creepy Star scan by Godmachine before Michael Carroll and Karl Richardson take to the stage for the big finale.
Judge Dredd: The Ghost of Christmas Presents by Michael Carroll, Karl Richardson and Annie Parkhouse
A hard nosed tale of one of the crime families filling the void left from Chaos day. I’ve been reading a lot of Brubaker and Philips’ Criminal series recently and this felt as good and as gritty as anything there. I love a story from the dark heart of Mega-City One where Dredd is a peripheral character, he only appears in the final pages here. Lovely arwork by Richardson, lovely colours by Blythe, and Dredd is safe as ever in the hands of Michael Carroll. Top thrill
Overall it’s more of a mixed bag of nuts than I was expecting and it’s too early to say anything about Dark Justice but I’m braced and ready for thrill power overload in 2015.