Here’s Jacqusie with his take on 1909. This one got stuck in the thrill tubes. Sorry about the delay.
COVER: A magnificent piece by Cliff Robinson, who must have covered Dredd from every angle in his outstanding series of covers over the years, apart of course, this one. The simple, yet bold and effective use of the Eagle Shoulder pad is a wonderful foil for the snarling lawman, with shades of Karl Urban in focus here, against the remarkable city-scape backdrop.
I’ve always loved Cliff’s covers ever since I started reading the prog in the 80’s, when I would mix up the name ‘Cliff’ and ‘Clint’ and merge them together to give the ultimate rendering for the iconoclastic image of Dredd. For me, as far as a 2000AD Dredd cover goes, nobody does it better. Marvellous.
DREDD: Block Judge
What a pleasure it’s been following the adventures of Beeny, Corrigan and Mendis under the unflinching hand of Dredd, as he steered them through the drama serial that has been Gramercy Heights. The old masters have given us ten weeks of intrigue, violence, depict and of course a fatty contest, all played out as Dredd sought to bring his brand of no nonsense Justice and order to the block.
What also returned was Dredd, the real Dredd. Wagner’s clever use of the narrative for Dredd’s thoughts, frustrations and beliefs have given real depth to the Lawman’s state of mind. The chemistry between Dredd and his team has been interesting to consider how much he has mellowed, especially his relationship with Beeny which seems to have settled down to a mutual respect, with the younger Judge growing in stature and confidence.
The art from Ezquerra has been a sheer delight to enjoy from start to finish and I have particularly been engrossed once more by his beautiful use of architecture, especially his flanges, vents, alcoves, niches and recesses. There is something about a Carlos Ezquerra flange that I just adore, don’t ask me why! I’m also intrigued by how he is depicting the face of Dredd by adding a few more age lines here and there, almost in some cases returning to the days when Dredd was recovering from his stint as the Dead Man. One thing that never changes though, is the start-stop dog tooth outlines and Dredd down-turned mouth with that chin in profile.
The final explosive ending may have not been to everyone’s liking, but I was particularly chuffed for Peet Marvis, whose Doctorate in Chemistry finally came of use, even though he got his calculations were some what squew-whiff, I’d say better luck next time Peet, but you only had one shot and you blew it!
GREYSUIT: Prince of Darkness
I have to be honest and say that I’ll be glad when this book of Greysuit is over, as I’ve got absolutely nothing from it, apart from more sheer bewilderment whilst trying to fathom yet another Pat Mills script, that makes for such painful reading.
I really don’t understand why there has to be this pattern of dialogue, where the characters are explaining the what/why/wherefore of the past to each other before the story inexplicably changes tack once again to a setting we are supposed to just pick up and fit in to all the others without so much explanation.
John Higgins’ art is the only saving grace here, with the striking images of the aftermath of the drug administration scenes and the harrowing experimentation room. It’s interesting to note, that as I write this, the news on the radio is about the interrogation techniques (some may call it torture) used by the CIA on al-Qaeda suspects and the cover up that followed it.
I suppose maybe it’s just me and Pat’s style of story telling that I just can’t get on with these days. The disjointed dialogue and fragmented story telling seem cold and unfeeling and I can’t identify or emote anything for the characters here. The guy with the song tourettes and that whole two pages left me fairly perturbed and by the end of it all I suppose could at least sympathise with the bloke that bashed his own brains out against the wall…
STICKLEBACK: The Thru’penny Opera
A heartbreakingly yet achingly beautiful episode, one of slaughter and destruction, sorrow and desperation. The centre spread of the catastrophe is a momentous piece of art from Disraeli, and how clever that we read each inlaid panel stepping down, until we reach the mortally wounded Empress, laid low in her death throes at the bottom. The sense of anguish is palpable, as Stickleback is brought to his knees to comfort the slain Dragon-Lady and his lasts words to her as she dies, show the crooked man in a state of grace and compunction.
I’ve read this episode several times, giving it a respectful amount of attention to detail and poignancy, and it fair blows me away each reading. There are more questions raised yet again than explanations and we are kept on tenter-hooks for the goings about elsewhere with the sigil and the Sisters magic for the full exploitation of the image.
Apart from the fabulous art, one of the main reasons I needed to re-read the story, was to ponder upon the scene where the Empress handed Stickleback the key to use it “…to find him. He is still there. You need him”. Previously stating that “You cannot fight them, not like this”, this makes me wonder if the key is for some sort of secret closet or room where Sticklebacks’ alter-ego of sorts lies.
Like Clark Kent finding his Superman within (or the other way round?), I’m sure that the big reveal Edginton and Disraeli have been setting us up for, will be extremely intriguing and delightful. We know the crooked man wears a stickled-cape and one can sense that the final piece of the puzzle hides behind the door, to which that key will unlock, and with it all our answers…
ICHABOD AZRAEL: One Last Bullet
I have to admit that I’ve started to get a little lost with this now and that my enjoyment in previous episodes has been spoiled rather, by an over-compensation to try and understand what or who represents what in the meta-narrative.
It’s almost, but not quite, as if the story is disappearing up it’s own backside with the amount of heavy handed referencing and symbolism, that forces one to question if one is supposed ‘to get it’ or if it’s all part of the mystery that we all have to collectively admire. Although I can’t help but feel I’m missing something that you, and probably you over there are enjoying safe in knowing and I’m a thicko who ain’t cool for School.
One thing I do know, is that Mike Dowling’s run on this has been nothing short of outstanding in it’s portrayal of the final scenes of the series, which let’s face it, had some pretty big shoes to fill. But fill them he has and more, with his panels full of scratchy monstrosity, violence, redemption and beauty. It’s been one of those stories where the artist has been the perfect match for the script and the glorious resulting outcome, is far greater than the sum of it’s parts.
I was a bit sorry to see old Deputy Crowe have his head lopped off, but at least he died with his honour and courage standing up to the evil that must have plagued him throughout his lives. I did, however, like Mr Ed the talking horse when Ichabod asks “…but who are you really” and the blunt reply is, that he is not a bloody mystical concept or flipping symbolic, iconoclastic thingamajig, he is indeed just a smart arse farting and pooping talking horse. Thank you Horse.
KINGDOM: Aux Drift
“Deep Deep Deep… GNHH!… Deep Deep Deeeeeeeep… WHOOOMMF… (Geeeene!)… GRAAAGH! GHNN!.. UGHNN! GUHH…”
And they all lived happily every after… didn’t they?
TOP THRILL: Its a difficult one as Stickleback is such an amazing thing to behold this week, but as we bid a fond farewell to the old duffers on Dredd, I dare not give the spoils to the great men and that great Judge.