Orlok is counting the stories out and then counting them back in again. It’s 1982, the Argies have a foothold in the Galaxy’s Greatest and only Pat Mills leading a bayonet charge can save the day…
That, mofos, is how to do a cover. Even if I didn’t like Harrison’s work (which I do) that is simply outstanding and if you were going to do an epic movie poster for a Toothy story, then this would be the way to do it.
Harrison pulls off some lovely poses from our heroes with Bulliet being played by Brad Pitt in the movie and Resting Bitch Face (brilliantly portrayed by Lady Gaga) covering her mangina to preserve the eyeballs of the readers.
The hard worn tech and clothing is a nice touch and the background is made up of the Bruckheimeresque explosions and machines on the rampage. There’s that God bastard too.
Basically, it is all kicking off.
Inside Yewtree Tharg gives us his best “now then, now then” update on Grey Area and pats himself on the back for his fine work on FCBD.
The Letters page is the usual mixed bag with one reader lamenting Dredd’s demise and Tharg comforting the Squaxx with “reports of Dredd’s demise were premature”. What reports? The death was notoriously absent in the PR for this and so it was a shock to precisely zero people.
There is also a letter from my hometown of Birkenhead, where someone has put pen to paper (a remarkable feat for the knuckle dragging monsters that inhabit the place) in praise of Survival Geeks.
Well the Lord giveth and he just taketh the fuck away, doesn’t he?
Joyce cleverly escapes the idiot detectives in a nice bit of Shannon Matthews hiding and is able to hook up with a friendly face who rewires the shooter he purloined. Joyce it seems is going to do his own investigation on the fake Irish and that’s where one of the wings of this story is going to be.
Wing two sees the shit kicking off in the Big Meg. Mitchell (a Brit Cit officer and clearly high up in the food chain) calls Hershey over the Jedi Council Hologram to ask her if she had anything to do with Joyce vanishing. I don’t think he is the Chief of Brit Cit, since she refers to him as Mitchell and he refers to her as Chief Judge, so there seems to be a seniority gap there. This meeting is then interrupted by Pamelina who can come and go as she pleases, and she lays down the age old trope that Brits are the worst bad guys in history. Ok this could be just a writing ploy to make us hate Oswin even more, but it does seems a bit soapbox-y. On the plus side there is no small sense of irony considering what she is up to with the Big Meg.
Oswin also wants a highway linking the cities and despite the city being on the bones of its arse, Hershey is open to the idea. When it is pointed out that this will go through mutant territories Oswin states that a “fair settlement” will be offered, which doesn’t bode well.
Oswin then compounds this with “We might have to make some adjustments” to the mutant policy, using the term favoured by bosses across the planet who mean to get their way, usually at the expense of the listener.
In a juve rumble across town the cracks are showing when the pagga is put down by armed Texans using lethal force against unarmed mutants. The reason is simply stated “They’re mutants!” so that attitude isn’t going to change and it beggars belief why Giant arresting isn’t them. It’s politics I guess, but murder is still murder.
Wing three has Dredd still shitting in a bedpan and it is revealed by the onlooking conspirators that half of his intestines were ripped out in the shot he took and that their teleporter blew up the Med Wagon, killing everyone on board.
Mayhew is then wondering if pulling the plug would be the wisest choice. Quick clue- yes. Yes, it is. Sadly there are orders by some unnamed superior to keep him alive for some reason.
This simply doesn’t make sense given what we know so it will have to be a big reveal to turn that around.
There are some great themes here. Dredd is presumed killed, Texas City is trying to takeover and the Brits are up to no good (as they always are).
So why is it so dull?
The art is still ok. There’s a good use of the hologram and some nice light effects throughout. Oswin’s hair is now red, white and blue, so maybe she was waiting for her other highlights to be done or something.
Surprising no one except maybe Stevie Wonder, Gort gets up and blocks the blade intended for Slaine’s neck.
He then goes on to state that Slaine is his friend, despite the fact that he has betrayed the shit out of him and they were trying to kill each other only seconds before. I was actually groaning at that.
To make matters worse, Gododin calls Slaine’s mum a whore which enrages our barbarian again.
Before this can all kick off we have yet another interruption and the Archon wakes up, disrupting the fight. Interestingly, the Cyth begin to shit neat bisto, so summon the half dead to finish the two heroes off. I’m not sure why this is required but it’s the way it is and we’re all going to have to swallow it.
For me, this constant peril/disruption/drawn out tale can be a hindrance and isn’t really to my style of story telling.
Still loving the art. That’s a great last splash and the red eyes on the dead are deeply unpleasant, especially if you are one of those rare people (like me) who shit their pants at the very mention of the z word.
On the back of a brothel exit obsessed simpleton being torn asunder by the massed ranks of the undead pricks in Game of Thrones, this was quite a sight.
Jeez, this was talky and despite that, not a lot happens.
We get the smart revelation that the cults have a shared psychosis of sorts and this nascent cult seems different to the others. The new guys are not following the usual pattern and are remaining covert.
Brink and Bridge go to see Frannie who won’t shut the fuck up and are then introduced to her friend Bob, who is a life coach and is instantly punchable. To cap matters off he wants humanity to migrate to another star system and says this has been nixed by the Big Corporations which have a captive consumer base. Oh and he looks like Voldemort with a meth problem, so I don’t trust him.
So, we’re getting some more world building and just a small bit of plot this time out.
The art is still nice and I liked the balls of light on the catwalk at the start which serves as a cool framing device. It’s better than lens flare, in any case.
There’s some really good facial expressions during the uncomfortable encounter with Bob, too.
This had great black and white art and that’s all I can say about it really. Good panel work, great perspective and well rendered expressions to carry the drama.
I liked the story being that it was cute and succinct tale of time hopping and a man destined to be an assassin, whether he wants it or not.
The final twist was one that wasn’t particularly smart but it did play out well with a Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey style time game being employed with multiple moves. This clusterfuck then results in the target being returned to his own time to a waiting party of angry mobs.
With the Harmonious Free facing extinction, they are going out swinging. There is a real sense of despair here with everything they have deployed so far being useless in the fight.
But fuck it, they are going to fight anyway and this gets to be hand to hand combat when it all comes down to it.
In a great move of solidarity, Resting Bitch Face tells the prisoners that they are no longer to regard themselves as such and in their final hours they are finally free. Free to get killed in any way they choose, that is.
Manners has died, leaving our heroes limited in number and a transmitter that has been constructed for a cry for help has failed to yield a response thus far adding to the despair. Maybe you should have built a receiver too, shitlords.
Brilliantly, Bulliet decides to propose to Birdy realising he won’t have to put up with her shit past the wedding day. Smart move, fella.
I love the art, I really do. Panel 3 of the first page is just bloody gorgeous and the close quarter battle really does feel like the shit hitting the fan and that is powerful stuff.
Grey Area is really building to the finish now and the art is amazing.