It’s a beautiful sunny day in Mordor and Orlok is spending it indoors and reading Prog 1994. In his pants. And if you’re looking to get that image out of your head, read on.
And so we have some Willsher goodness and he scrawls his foul name all over it like a two year old hoping to get it hung on the fridge by a proud parent. I’m only saying this to devalue it and get myself in on the burgeoning original artwork business before it is too late.
I liked it and the shadow work is pretty nice and you can see this huge nail that is pinned to some unfortunate. Still, he’s in heaven with Jovus now so fuck him.
With a Burdis pleasing seven links on the chain and only slight logo coverage it passes muster although the note doesn’t quite match what we have inside. You’re a fucking amateur, Willsher so I’ll give you $20 for it.
Also good was the use of metal clasps on the belt and glove pouches.
Finally we have a speech balloon on the cover, well that is rarer than rocking horse shit and funny because it had a bit of 80s/90s punnage to it.
Inside, Yewtree pimps out the latest Megazine and the goodness within. Well, it’s good apart from the Sinister Dexter content but you can’t have everything, can you?
Droid life is a washing up joke. Thrilling stuff.
The Letters has more justified praise for Brink and Tharg gets pulled up on his editing fuck ups. Elsewhere some cheeky Earthlet tries to get his name on a Judge badge in a story without first blowing an artist. Tut tut, mate. You know the rules.
As expected the woman with the baby is let through by a Judge who may regret his choices later on. They find the baby unhurt but that’s consistent with Maybe’s style. Despite the collateral damage his attacks have wrought, he only kills those that he can benefit from directly, be it a test of a new technique or for affection. It is always about him and therefore killing the kid at this point served no purpose.
The killing of the priest later is there purely to send a message to Dredd in order to buy him breathing room.
This victim is the brilliantly named Father Spug (which is a swear word of sorts- see spugwit) and we have seen kids called Spug in the past so if it is a legitimate name then it is conceivable that one of these kids could be a priest twenty years on. And that’s why one day we are going to get a Pope Kanye.
The script is superb here when Maybe waltzes into the church in disguise, immediately picking up the lapse in security, although the idea of the Church of Grud the Redeemer threw me a little as it has a cross. Has it had one historically?
Back at Warren Buffet, PJ is confirmed to have been at the penthouse and interviews of previous guests yields little.
With Dredd and Corrigan on the case the old man is resolute that “this ends only one way” and the warning from Maybe only serves to bring Dredd closer to this end, even though he considers the implications of both pursuit and letting his quarry go. Despite the note (where PJ seems somewhat rattled) promising killing like he has never seen, Dredd doubles down with the Tri-D broadcasts and this only infuriates Maybe who reacts with a very Cal like “You dare!”
We also see something we have never seen before with PJ in that he has a dark voice in his head. Whether this is related to his Dark Judge experiences, or end stage madness we don’t know at this stage but again the lack of narration from PJ is telling.
The art’s great throughout and that last panel of a focussed and determined PJ is a belter. Regardless of the makeup and the unflattering attire, the eyes are all his.
Only two quibbles for me. First, those nails are fucking huge. The ones in the palms are bad enough but the one in the torso is like a pointy baseball bat.
Second, how did he get that body pinned up? It takes two Judges with winches to get him down so unless Maybe had help then that’s damn near impossible.
Well it appears that I fucked up last week and that Shakespeare is Ahron’s human surname. I assumed there was a pilot who bought it last week and didn’t spot that it was just a three man crew.
There was a really nice scene here with Ahron’s dreams apparently being invaded by a Mekon like figure which has a reptilian look about it. David Icke was right all along.
The cold breath in the room highlights that the Martians have configured the place to their own atmospheric conditions. It is revealed that the Martians are surviving but not thriving and had they have invaded Earth permanently this would be a different story.
The visitor (who we learn is called Ikyarus) breaks them from the cell and kills a couple of guards before trying to track down Skellen. This leads them to meet up with his underground contact and partner Irya. She is also preggers which is thought to be impossible as they are created to be sterile.
She reveals that the guards that are from his genetic template are being produced as the Martians are dying off faster than expected and the demolition of Mercury has been stepped up. It makes me wonder if this huge workforce, if turned, could be the key to their defeat and the saviour of the Earth.
At the end of this it is revealed that their activities are being monitored by a Martian. Is this all a ruse?
Some fantastic panel work takes place here especially the ones of Ahron waking up in various places before he finally comes round. The panel of him waking at home has some nice little Easter eggs in there such as the Sky 1 on the wall and I loved the gunplay too with the beautiful green beams from the guns lighting up the corridor.The close quarter death was both brutal and gorgeous and I refer of course to the shooter fired under the guard’s chin that lights up all his skull cavities as the as the head explodes.
There was also a great background to the last page of the Martian brain watching the events.
Our UXB specialist awakes only to be told that the shrapnel from the mindmine is invisible to all but the bomb’s creator. That’s a great concept but is topped later when it is revealed that when a person’t mind shatters some of it ends up with you, and in Caxon’s case, it is a sizeable chunk of one Ikler Vloot, a member of the Carasoga.
This is a lucky break and the military are now interested, calling on Caxon and revealing what a hero he is. Of course the fact that they only show up now and get his name wrong is indicative of their attitude and they are more at ease in their pristine uniforms and fruit salad than associating with the rank and file. They don’t really want to be there and he is now just as asset to be coddled and used to save face.
They even give him a brain implant to keep the pirate scum under control.
This measure of control gives him a lead to find the pirates and chances are the military have bugged this implant- it’s what I would do.
Extra points for using the phrase “I was a few solar systems south of sane”.
This is clever storytelling and after over thirty years it is hard to keep these Future Shocks fresh any more but this nails it.
MacNeil doesn’t put a foot wrong and I absolutely loved the expressions of these aliens, the different facial tendrils (some rounded, some spiky) and the myriad aliens which are all are great. He also gives us some horrible images in Caxon’s visions, including a cute teddy alien being tortured.
Art first. I really liked the image on page 2 showing the broadcast of the damage spreading on the planet Graegan. Again we’re watching the action unfold on telly though, and that narrative device is getting boring.
Apart from that, it’s standard but not magnificent and the scowly faces are really all I see now, which is a shame.
The story takes an interesting but largely unthrilling turn when Sornell does a conference call and after some mansplaining to the dolts he says the Hurde are now entrenched and have cut the planet off using a form of atmospheric control. This method will cloak the surface and eventually knock out comms. Sornell states that they are altering the populace to become Hurde facsimiles as a bypass for actually transporting troops there and in effect that are making more Carcers.
Isn’t this just a homage to the Borg and their modus operandi of assimilation and conquest?
With the planet just 23 days from total colonisation Sornell wants to nuke the tectonic plate boundaries and kick off some massive vulcanicity. This will wipe out everything on the planet which raises two questions. First, will this act of slaughter make the Alliance a Nietzschean cliché and no better than the monsters they are fighting? Second, did Sornell owe Graegan Blockbuster 500 credits in fines for unreturned dvds and is keen to erase the debt?
Bizarrely one Council member talks about “humanity” when there is clearly an alien on the council- ouch.
Elsewhere, Luthra is still pushing her theory that Caul was interfered with, but not in that way. She wants to present this data to the Hurde lower caste in the hopes of stopping the war. In order to do this she proposes to deliver their one high value asset (Caul) to them and have them hopefully analyse him rather than just assimilating him on the spot. Yeah, that’s not risky at all, is it?
Smart lays out her campaign promises and wants to double the number of Judges. Good luck with that fifteen year plan.
This is interrupted by a Citizen’s Army broadcast featuring some slightly shrouded faces, which was a nice touch but these cits would be identified by PSU in the time it takes Dredd to have a shit.
One of these is apparently an overweight red headed Judge that we will get to shortly.
Let’s look at the themes here. The CA beat the revolutionary drum and believe the Justice Dept to be corrupt, saying that safety will always be at the expense of liberty. That is not an isolated case in Mega City history and it is something well played out in Democratic and Badge-smashing organisations but is that the only motivation of the Army? If so, they must know that the mayoral office is largely figurative and has little power so why rail against Smart?
The concept of further mind control also plays a part and principal in this is Judge Waid, the Judge from the broadcast. The Trump Gang was taken down by Waid, so he is golden at the Dept, which (since it is corrupt) is turning a blind eye and actually protecting him despite his clear Tri-D appearance for an outlawed group.
Waid then blows himself up believing he is protecting some treasures.
It was nice to see Sector 109 again and I don’t recall seeing that since it was hit by the Judda who murdered Judge Defoe mid-dump.
There are a few things wrong here though.
Flowers spots who Waid is, even though nobody else appears to take an interest as explained. Is this the same city that has SJS and won’t take kindly to any officer hooking up with terrorists (especially after Chaos Day), no matter how famous? Beeby seems to think this is a city that is run like South Yorkshire Police in 1989 and that is a problem.
When Waid (who is an arrogant and abusive asshole who doesn’t like Flowers for…reasons) blows himself up, Flowers is at the door of the warehouse when he presses the button and is magically not turned into a thin red mist.
Bizarrely Smart is under arrest but not in a cube. Why is this? By the end of the strip she is let loose again despite her actions last Prog, which are independent of any action Waid may have taken.
I think that intriguing story aside, the writer seems to lack some understanding of the city and how the Judge force actually does the job and this is an issue that should be addressed editorially, no matter who is writing it. Even the best written story has to have an adherence to the continuity.
Scarlet Traces is brilliant stuff this week and just about pips Dredd.