Orlok is watching in quiet awe as the pound is flushed down the toilet and wondering just how many copies of the Cursed Earth Uncensored he can get for a Hobbit dollar. Meanwhile, here is his take on Meg 373 …
A nice but not magnificent cover from Dave Taylor of a grizzled Dredd backed by an assortment of mutants and aliens to fully show the diversity of the Big Meg’s population. I guess this takes place outside of the Carroll-verse. In the foreground we have the drooling, imbecilic visage of a Farage-alike with Dredd looking down on him, as all humans should, in utter disgust.
The colours are nice, the balance is nice and it does the job.
Inside the hallowed pages is another tribute to Stewart Perkins., so it is good to see him recognised.
DREDD,ER HANG ON…RICO:
Rico, Koburn, Crow and his boys get stuck in and this all wraps up in a very bland way.
Thorn has definitely grown back his chopper and confusingly he seems to be bullet and knife proof which doesn’t really make sense. Previously we have seen shots against him bouncing off armour (instead of well aimed shots to the kneecaps) but if he cannot be harmed and has permanent cheat codes on, why does he run away from fights or toss people into the path of heatseekers or even wear armour? This is just shoddy stuff that should be thought through clearly at the planning stage.
It turns out that Thorn is being controlled and by an astonishing coincidence, the control vessel is right near the point of fighting. So either it has been there a while and has been undetected by the seer or it moves around as Thorn moves around. Either way this is one vessel controlling one humungous mutant and his men. And these few hundred are fucking up the supplies for an entire city that is hundreds of kilometres long.
The woman controlling him via a psi link is a technically his sister as he is cloned from her DNA so isn’t actually a mutant. No reasons are given why this is the case so the place is then blown up to end all discussion. This terminates Thorn’s link and he switches off.
With him gone, the remaining Cowboys are exterminated.
By another stunning coincidence early palm print technology leaves some odd scarring and this doesn’t get past Koburn who has eyes like a shithouse rat and likes looking at the hands of dead men. This reveals that the stiff is either a current of ex TC Judge. I’m going to just ignore the ridiculousness of that premise for the good of us all but on the wholr this is just convenience played out for the sake of set pieces. Sadly these are not very good ones.
Artwise, it is good stuff. I did like the dangly body parts on the bike but again the scale seems wrong with what we have seen of Thorn before. He now seems about 8 feet tall instead of the monstrosity of previous tales.
Being Flint he pulls off some nice arrows going through heads and exploding trucks in the finale.
A quick apology first. I credited this to Abnett accidentally last week instead of stating that it seems to be in the Abnettverse of Colonial Marshals. This is of course the work of TC Eggers.
With that mea culpa on record I also have a tanto hovering over my first joint on my little finger if the writer still wants me to commit an act of contrition.
Moving on we get a nice backstory on the uplift programme and Blunt’s origins as some half human/half simian reverse Tarzan. He also has a huge chopper.
The two kids from last week that are following the party are discovered and a decision is made to allow them to continue, causing the start of a rift in the command structure. Blunt is already in conflict with the Marshal who seems a bit precious and keen to exert his authority.
One of the party is a Grud botherer which probably seals his fate going forward with a Gene Hackman Poseidon Adventure moment.
Meanwhile at the crash site things are not looking too flash for the survivors.
I’m trying to give this angle of the tropes (bickering leadership, kids, man of the cloth, unlikely outsider hero, plucky fodder) the benefit of the doubt in the hopes this will be a better tale going forward.
Artwise it is smashing work, with some excellent panel layouts on page 2 and borders being encroached upon by the vegetation and fauna. The splash page of the attack by magma ants (and the moons and sun in the sky) was a nice lift from the pulp sci fi playbook. Ditto for the pincer going through Judd’s eyeball.
REALM OF THE DAMNED:
It’s hard not to like a story that starts with a top of the line vampire sitting in an airline seat drinking blood while a terrified child cowers next to him clutching at his comforter. Severed heads around Balaur indicate what has gone before.
Up in the flight deck, his faithful servant is making sure of pilot compliance.
Meanwhile Van Helsing is trying to get ahead of the game in Cairo in order to alert Queen Nematari to the imminent attack. This does not go well and the Queen is a fantastic delight with her modern parlance doubtless picked up by watching TOWIE. Despite being thousands of years old, she is still a young girl at heart and has the impatience and arrogance of a wayward one so that’s nice characterisation since she could have been portrayed as some Hollywood Mummy knock off .
Exasperated with her attitude, Van Helsing decides to get rid of her and pulls a shooter. Being lightning quick, this is next to fucking useless against her and she beats the shit out of him.
She puts him in a death mask (which will strip him of his faith) and seals him up just as Balaur arrives. Luckily this saves his life since her men shift to werewolves thanks to the power of Balaur and a punch up ensues with the Queen looking to finish off her enemy before the rising sun does.
We’ll see how that pans out.
The small backstory we get of the Queen is an interesting one. She awakens to find interlopers in her tomb and then essentially rebuilds her body over the years to the lean, mean pain machine she is now.
Artwise it is still ticking all of the boxes from the opening horrors on the plane to the kinetics of the fight scene. The spot colouring of the Queen’s mask was well done as was the Egyptian feel to it all.
The POV panels of Van Helsing in bis mask are cleverly done and that was a really nice touch to show the plight through his eyes.
The pencil work in this is just bloody gorgeous.
Storywise this confirms what has been suspected with Lawson alive and well, having been rescued and put back together by the mysterious Roy. A man with a past, he’s apparently not spoken to anyone civilised in three years. Mentioning only that he fought in the Zhind Wa he believes it is not over and these heady days of peace are merely a lull. The local Abs (Zhin-hal) are militarised and want to fight to keep their tribe and Roy knows all of this because he reveals that he trained them.
Local biker and ne’er do well Crazy Hearse and his biker boys are getting out as it is too dangerous, reporting that Zhind scouts are being seen and it will be worse than before when it all kicks off. There is a real sense of building here and Abnett does that well.
Meanwhile, for those keeping tabs, Lawson has been calling out the name Zia Freely in her sleep and after she discovers Roy is SJS, she reveals they were on opposite sides of the war, essentially outing herself as a rebel. This was not entirely a shock but at the same time it was deftly dropped in without much fanfare, which is good plotting and delivery.
With this SJS/rebel distrust they part ways and she is reunited with an unbelieving Jaroo. It seems that she and Roy will once again cross paths though and all the pieces are coming together for a shitstorm.
I like this and the only downside is the amount of “fucks” in use. I’m not objecting to the swears, just the terminology which would be more Meg speak, even on the Colonies. It just jars slightly is all. Not as jarring as the disparity between this universe full of SJS troopers securing the supply chain to the Big Meg which has only three Judges and a police dog according to the latest Prog. Someone didn’t get the memo.
This wasn’t bad. It didn’t really have any meat to it but did the job.
I’m a little unsure about this one as it seems a bit too on the nose and the Galaxy’s Greatest has always been at its level best when sending stuff up in a subtle or nodding wink kind of way. That said this is a nice pop at the dickbag that recently narked me off to the extent that I want to piss on his severed legs.
Mirroring real life, Barage heads a Meg First party and is keen to blame all terrorist acts on the Zhind and their immigrant scum apologists. When the demo erupts into violence Dredd gets in there and hands out arrests.
There were some cool touches in here such as the Fergitorium and St McAuliffe’s which was a- hold on- SAINT MCAULIFFE’S? Fanwank at its worst, that is.
Moving on, the aliens in the demo being more acutely aware of the workings of the Big Meg (and Dredd in particular) than Barage and his knuckle dragging cohort was pretty funny.
I liked the reveal at the end as to the real perp and the flashback to the Varks tale was deftly done and making the Alien references (Ridley, Weaver, Ash and Parker) did not go unnoticed. Dredd’s Vark noise tactic was a cruel but effective tool but the wrap up of Barage having married an alien was a bit too twee for me. Though it does speak to the hypocrisy of the bellend it is based upon, so there’s that I guess.
My only quibble is that Lola reveals in a roundabout way that they have the bomber. She’s done this style of wrapping up before and could have just started with the salient facts instead of going through the Barage connection and dragging this out. I guess that was necessary to tie it up but it is becoming a habit of the writer.
The art was excellent, especially in the crowd scenes and that was a great panel of Dredd arriving and firing his gun with headlamps cutting through the haze. It was an odd looking bike though.
I also liked the funny scan of Barage saying sock suspenders are “questionable”.
It was curious though to depict Ridley Weaver as looking like Sigourney Weaver when the mum in the original story (Sigourney Bean) also bore more than a passing resemblance.
The lack of an Interrogation is a strength.
Letters- Stephen Watson from Paisley (his full name probably) backpedals somewhat on his Realm of the Damned criticism.
Floppy- Killer- Jesus. I don’t remember that either. It wasn’t bad but it did come across like one of those cheap as chips dvds you see near the tills in Matalan featuring a current big name in a role before they were famous.
At the risk of repeting myself, Realm of the Damned just edges out an excellent Lawless this month.