After a long few months in exile wearing a shirt made out of Rich’s pubes, here is Orlok with his take on 1921. The Prog, that is, not the year. I mean we’re not a website for reviewing historical events. Although it was the year that Hitler became Fuhrer of the Nazi party and also the year that the first White Castle opened. Coincidence or conspiracy? I’ll leave you to decide…
Fuck off, Staples. Just fuck right off.
I’ve never forgiven Greg for an incident that occurred in 1998 and his constantly excellent covers only seek to irk the hell out of me. This wrap around is a beauty and my eye was immediately drawn to Anderson letting off a round into Fire’s head while fending off Fear. It really drives home the desperate nature of the conflict. In short, it is excellent.
Inside, Yewtree Tharg is back and there is a nice little tribute to John Cooper. Though not a big fan of his work myself I recognise the man’s enormous talent and it’s always sad to see one of the originals buy the farm. Or maybe I was just more cut up about Brett Ewins carking it as well. I dunno. Anyway, RIP John and thank you for the thrills.
The story wraps up with fairly expected results. No surprises here.
Let’s start with the art. This has continued to be fucking excellent and there are beautiful gems throughout. On page 1, the panel of Death reaching out for Anderson and her reaction is just stunning and shows just how smart Greg has been in his choices. The expression here from Lauren is just perfect for the scene and Greg has obviously used the shoots to tremendous effect, taking his work to the next level. It’s just a shame we had to see Burdis’s arse a few times.
The close up of Dredd on page 2 is also a standout and this is going to be a touchstone for future depictions and goes up alongside some of the superb work by John Higgins.
The colour effects are also off the scale with not only a neat explosion but also a beautiful faux sunrise on page 5. That’s the first and last time you’ll see Dredd and Anderson on a beach.
It was also cool to see Mortis getting run over, though being dead already this hardly slows him down. Death’s “I fear not” as he spies the charge on the barrels is pretty funny too.
It’s also good to see Anderson as hard as nails though and still able to fight off Death and help out Mitch. It’s not fully explained how she shrugs off the touch of Death but she does, so there.
I wonder if we will see any long lasting repercussions of Anderson being fingered by Death? Back in 2107 Xena Lowther was affected to the point where she fell in love with the creepy bastard and though that won’t happen to Anderson (since she only lifts tail for East Meggers) it would be interesting if this did affect her in some way. Perhaps as an inroad to a final confrontation with her great nemesis.
The Dark Judges drifting in space is an open ending if ever I saw one. Being undead they can survive in the vacuum of space without much complication and that effectively leaves them out of the city and in stasis where they can be picked up at a later date.
With the SOS sent, help should be on the way fairly quickly. Of course this means that the vessel can locate the impromptu escape pod, track the vessel and the Dark Judges, vape ‘em, suck ‘em into an airlock and then do with them as Jesus commands. But that won’t happen.
I’ve always advocated dropping them into the sun where gravity will keep them out of harm’s way for several billion years. That won’t happen either.
My main issue is that the story suffers from two main drawbacks and that is a hard thing to say about the great John Wagner.
First there is the slight dumbness. Resource stretched or not, I cannot figure how the Justice Department didn’t just send in robots to assess the situation on the Mayflower, then nuke the fucker if the Dark Jays were inside. Dredd has made such hard calls before with East Meg One and the five zombie factories in Judgement Day. Harsh maybe but since these citizens have left the city anyway they aren’t exactly going to be missed back home. At the end of this Dredd also assumes that Death and co are dealt with for now and that’s unlike him. Dredd has shown himself to be smarter than that many times and I find it hard to believe he’d not rest until the creeps are under lock and key.
The Dark Judges themselves are also pretty dumb throughout to the point where you almost expect this to be called Carry On Killing. It can be argued they have drawn out the cat and mouse game to rid themselves of their greatest enemies but this isn’t a Bond flick and if they are really ruthlessly geared towards carrying out judgement, they would have dispensed with Joe and Cass with extreme alacrity. It can also be argued that even though they are superfiends they aren’t automatically smart and that’s true. However, it’s hard to swallow that the killers of billions are dumbfucks who have just been very, very lucky so far.
The second point is that this story was hyped, even in spite of the delays, and this hampered it in my eyes. We were expecting something that would match the artwork and be the definitive Dark Judges story. Sadly this wasn’t it.
Bottom line, I think this was a competent tale for the most part but the hype far overshadows it and the art carries it in ways that the story should be strong enough to support itself. The work by Staples has been something that has pushed the boundaries of the strip artistically but the story has done little narratively.
Ok, so I knew this series was coming and despite that it’s still a little disappointing.
It doesn’t really do anything too offensive but it’s just coming across like an also ran in the thrill stakes and is about five years too late to cash in on the geek chic fad. Had this have turned up just after the first series of The Big Bang Theory then I guess it would have some novelty. Now it just seems to hammer home geek or cultural references at a rate that makes the script seem configured around them. It’s probably a good read if you are a teenager but then teenagers won’t get many of the references, will they?
If we don’t see a kaiju fight between the Godzilla robot and the Giant Cthulu at the end of this then I’ll eat this review’s words.
On a positive note the narrative flow isn’t that bad and it seems to be an ok story let down by timing and forced dialogue. Bottom line this is fluff and juvenile filler; nothing more.
The high point of the story is of course the art which is of a level of beauty that I find hard to quantify. The layouts and intelligently presented panels leap off the page with vibrancy. Incredible stuff.
A decent opener that sees a standard commute turned into a fight for survival. Anyone who has taken a late night train trip on the Wirral line knows exactly what I’m on about.
The art is denser stuff from Culbard and it’s a step above the Brass Sun work and I loved the look of the void as well as the gorgeous colour scheme here. I won’t go into details on this one as I feel we’re in for some exciting stuff over the next couple of instalments.
Storywise, this is smart. The stewardess, realising they are trapped in a warp and fed up of serving rich pisshats, decides to end her torment and in doing so opens the door to the unknown and some trippy shit. Uncharted space, hallucinations and a surprisingly animated tiny toy are all mysteries to be solved over the next two parts. Robson hasn’t put a foot wrong so far so we’ll see how he wraps this up.
We’re set for the big finish as the five remaining members face down the wurm horde.
I’m a little iffy on this. I really want to like it and love the overall feel of it, but the delivery has been somewhat lacking. We seem to move from wurm peril to wurm peril without any real depth to the characters or setting. There are a few choice pieces such as Iron John cutting his way out of a wurm (“Iron John is not for eating!”) and the rage as a beloved pet is killed in battle.
Ritterstahl’s transformation into a human being was an odd moment and I’m not sure if I missed something there. It seemed disjointed somehow and just dropped in as a “ta-da” moment. Anna seems quite happy to see him walking around bollocko.
Speaking of which, I will say it is refreshing to see a strong female character with daddy issues that don’t define her entire fucking life choices, though.
The art has been bloody amazing throughout and it’s great to see an editorial decision that plays to Burns’s strengths. This guy needs to be doing this kind of work for the Prog more often as his period piece work is second to none. Crossing panel borders, cool expressions and a dude who resembles Tony Hopkins on page 4. He’s knocking it out of the park.
With Quartz smashed to a bloody pulp and destined to be scooped into a bucket before becoming a brain in a jar, Bill has his showdown with Joe.
The smashing of Quartz was not unexpected and goes a long way to explaining his disdain for Hammerstein in later times. I’m surprised he doesn’t have Hammerstein cleaning toilets on a daily basis as payback for the sins of his brethren.
The revelation that Bill’s lucky run of things was by the grace of Joe rather than Savage’s own strategic competence is a bitter one but really clever considering things.
Joe is a Volgan now, having married one and of course shows loyalty to his new family. That’s clever storytelling and I really did not expect that so Pat can still pull a fast one. He’s been turned into a grinder to get some snazzy night vision and visibility in the whole light spectrum, which sounds cool but would be fucking awful. You’d see radio/wifi wavelengths, mobile phone signals as well as x-rays and UV. In fact you’d be more or less blinded by the gamut of light.
We’re going into dark territory with betrayal of a personal and political nature and it’s going to get nasty as we head to the finish.
Artwise this is still smart and gorgeous. The look on Bill’s face as his brother comes out as a Volgan is choice, and the tooth flying at the end lets us know that punches are not being pulled. Setting this against a window backdrop of the battle is clever too.
Savage. Without question. It looks great, it reads great and is building to a nice climax.