Orlok thought he had seen the worst of the Prog recently but 1990 will be the one will by which he will judge all others. This Prog and cockroaches will be the last things intact after Trump goes full Bob Booth on us all. We’re doomed.
Some nice work from Jake Lynch. Plus points were the cool smoke from the gun and the general composition of Dredd cutting an imposing figure. The gun is fucking huge and there is no way that is getting in the boot unless you are wearing Elton John’s from Tommy.
There’s some mild logo penetration but nothing too damaging.
Inside Yewtree Tharg gives us an Outlier catch-up which I zoned out of halfway through and it could have been delivered by the teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons. It’s a personal choice since that strip has never engaged me so I’m finding it hard to give a todd now.
Roll up, roll up! Marvel as we trot out some past Dredd tropes before your disbelieving eyes.
Be astounded as Dredd is shot once again but some redshirt gets in the way of the round!
Be amazed as someone is asked to make sure he is dead but approaches the body unarmed!
Be astonished as Dredd and the Chief Judge of the day discuss the situation and the future of the city as a wrap up to the tale!
Be ass clenchingly irate as yet another villain is undone by an explosive charge that goes off at just the right moment!
Alright then, a small diversion before we start this. I have this mate who is a big Beach Boys fan. Yeah, Beach Boys. You know when you have someone who gets into old music at school and says “you should really listen to some early Stones” and sets the bar high? Well for reasons best known to his neurologist my chum fixated on the sounds of the Californian surf community and would regale us with tales of how Pet Sounds was the album to listen to as it showed the entire panoply of human 20th century wants and desires for future generations to ponder over. By luck and the cruel twist of fate he found himself at a party in Oxnard in 2002 and at this soiree was one post “problems” Brian Wilson. Drinks flowed, a good time was had by my mate and Wilson was strongarmed into sitting before the piano before proceeding to rattle and moan through a medley of Beach Boys hits. My friend said it was like listening to Beethoven knocking out Concerto No3 with a kazoo planted firmly between his arse cheeks.
Michael Carroll is a good writer, he really is, but this story feels like a kazoo moment to me and is way below what he is capable of in that it seems to borrow from better tales and suffers as a result of being disjointed, nonsensical and downright poor at times.
I think it’s not all him, though and there is a fault with the editorial decision making here.
So what goes wrong?
Well, Dredd is shot again but Oswin is apparently a terrible shot or Knox is lightning fast and jumps in the way of the round. Tower is asked to make sure Dredd is dead and of course he walks over there without a gun and is shot by Dredd, who has a backup weapon for some reason. We have never seen this weapon before and so his gunning down of Tower dispenses with the Chekov’s Gun standard to the point where Smiley himself could have showed up riding a winged unicorn and carrying Excalibur to do the deed. All apart from Oswin are shot down and then we are left with the confrontation needed to close the story.
Oswin shows her true and evil colours (red white and blue it seems) and says that this is a new regime and if people don’t like it they will die. Her people are going to rule the Big Meg by hook or by crook.
After a standoff completely devoid of any narrative tension, Oswin’s bluff fails and she drops her gun. What? If she is telling the truth (which it seems she is) then at this moment it is all or nothing for her so surrendering is the dumbest move possible since she is finished in every outcome except still being the one carrying a gun and self preservation aside this is her one and only gambit. She says if they lock her up, her people will come for her, but must know that if just a handful of Judges can beat her best then she will be the first to die in any reprisal.
And the rest of the gang? Beeny is a there to prop up the numbers since Lewis is the one with the gun on Oswin and Dolman? Well, Dolman’s magnificent sniping ability is used to the fore when he paints his target with a laser. You don’t need a fucking sniper for this. You need a sniper to calculate trajectories and fire a shot over a distance with a whole range of natural obstacles to surmount. Pointing a laser which always travels in a straight line can be done by anyone. That is utter nonsense.
Hang on, if the target has to be painted for the teleporter to work, then why wasn’t this the case with Dredd? Oh, what’s that? Plot convenience?
On that score, Mayhew and Corden have caved in and revealed the teleporter logistics to Armitage. Dredd knew this because of…reasons.
With Oswin beamed out, Dredd detonates the pack of Hi-Ex with a signal that transmits thousands of km through the Cursed Earth and penetrates the missile silo. Wow, that’s some signal but it does give us the oft used “bad guy done in by explosives” scene (see Cal in Helter Skelter, Dark Judges hurled into limbo with a booby trapped d-jumps in Revenge).
In the wrap up we’re told the TC Council regard the silo explosion as an “accident” and we see Mayhew and Corden being judged. That’s a neat ending.
We also get the familiar trope of Dredd and the Chief Judge of the day discussing the future.
The art produces a great last panel and you cannot fault it but it is a poor story to accompany it.
Bottom line, this was a poor Dredd story and it seems like there was a good idea in there somewhere that either wasn’t developed well or was edited down to fit without plugging some gaping holes.
After last week’s revelations, Frannie lays out her evil plan and it is a corker. They have been spiking the food supply with a psychoactive synthetic, which is why they eat their own “organic” grub. This compound reacts with the nudge to send people bonkers and generally believe in stuff that would make a Catholic scoff. This in turn will drive the corporations to back their evacuation plan and leave Earth behind. This is evil for the greater good, but evil nonetheless.
Frannie believes that Bridge is a plant and her showing up is no accident. She also reveals that she knows that the officer has been stood down. There is also the slightest intimation that Brink’s death was somehow her doing and this could be done just to wind Bridge up.
At first Bob and his mate want to use her as a way into the authorities but then they elect to ice her anyway and there is an uncomfortable moment that exposes Frannie’s psyche when she wants to watch this happen.
Taken to the loading dock, the murder is planned before Bridge reveals that even though she has been off the meds, she too has been having hallucinations. Have they fucked up somehow?
And is her tracelet on? We have seen this barely visible in a few panels so we know she still has it.
Little touches in the art such as the breath being visible in this colder area are nicely done as is the great angle work as Bridge gives up her shooter.
Again there are some truly great facial expressions throughout.
There’s a fly overhead and the Bishop is coming across like a medieval Walter White, thinking that the Scucca is taunting him and stating that only until the kids are born will they be truly sinless. Because of that he cannot act to stab at thm with a blessed coathanger. Man, this Christian ideology is fucked up. I thought all life began at conception, so technically aren’t they bound by original sin right now? Oh, it’s all made up bollocks? Fair enough.
Luckily Brother Cedric comes up with an idea and for a moment the two are about to kiss until interrupted by a bloody woman. They ruin everything.
With the story going nowhere in a hurry, it is time for the Queen to go into labour and for Shuck to face his tormentor. Oh, and Coenwulf and his gang are on the way.
All of these myriad threads are executed with a dullness rarely seen outside of a David Beckham speech. There’s no sense of urgency, tension or thrill at all. Part of this is the art, but the writers must share the blame too as for a serialised strip it is sorely lacking in any sort of punch.
The Queen talks a lot for a woman passing twins through her vajayjay and even comes up with a hilarious “Frigg protect them!”
The fight is likewise scripted terribly with “rrrrrrrrrrr” being the order of the day in the mid pagga conversation. It was almost embarrassing to read.
The art has suffered all along from sameface disease and even the fact that the characters have similar facial hair is starting to annoy. At least in Red Seas there was a difference in hairstyles you could cling onto and then try and guess if it was a man or a woman.
The writers should have stipulated this differential at the start in order to avoid the issue.
Two questions to finish off:
What happens to Shuck’s beard when he is in wolf form?
Why does Shuck have a black bolt in the quiver he found?
The story that nobody demanded returns and gets up to speed fast with a series of check ins.
The Hurde continue their assault and board another ship before the Redstar Intervention can take place. This involves saturation bombarding the victim ship which makes me ask two more questions…
First, won’t that have to be done really quickly to be effective? I mean faster than light quickly?
Second, if they can see the transmission being sent and then cancelled by a human obviously under Hurde infection, why didn’t they order the strike anyway and nuke the fuckers?
Anyway, plot hole aside, the Hurde are ramping up and gaining military secrets as they go. One of the Council wants to stand down like a little bitch but is overruled.
The Hurde it seems are a species that adapts quickly and assimilates other species, using some form of bio-technology to complete their invasive ends. I feel certain I have seen something similar somewhere.
Borger me, I can’t remember.
Luckily the Alliance have adapted some armour to work on Hurde principles and this may help with the final fight. All we need now is a ragtag bunch of misfits to don the stuff and do battle. I wonder where we will find them?
Meanwhile, Jess is on a downer about her experiences and with Caul still missing it’s looking like we may just have our first sucker.
The art is good with more of the same burly individuals standing around looking gruff. My only real quibble is the transmissions in that when seen, have the Alliance lettering backwards. Except the one with Jess. It’s a small quibble but I’m a pedant.
It’s six months on and an incident at an airbase drives home the divide that still exists in Blighty when a Venusian immigrant and his Sikh counterpart are racially abused by some WW2 NCO stereotypes. This was a great bit of background showing how the non-Martians have booted the Venusians from their home and they have washed up here on a foreign shore.
Though faced with the truth that both he and his pal are here to help (and repay the immigrant umbrella with hard graft) the racist jizzbats ignore this in favour of a three versus one shoeing. In their world, the kind looked upon with rose tinted revisionism by the Brexit crowd, Britain is a place for the British (preferably white) and is the land of afternoon tea and the thump of leather on willow that only ever existed for three afternoons in July 1956.
Luckily Sgt Driscoll steps in and does the right thing and the Venusian is whisked off to meet the alien visitor who now works for the ministry and is dressed like a fop.
There’s great art throughout and I love the Dan Dare style eyebrows on Ahron. Sgt Wellbeloved foaming at the mouth on page 3 was a nice bit of characterisation to lay clear the wild eyed hatred of the man, too.
Love the look of the Adders, which remind me of the experimental Bell X-3.
This wasn’t a difficult choice since this is one of the worst Progs in recent years with two hits and three misses. It’s coming to something when an actionless story like Brink can blow the finale of a Dredd epic out of the water.