In 1997 Orlok was still single. Harking back to those happier days, will Prog 1997 be like an episode of Blind Date with two hotties, one borderline boiler, one misundertood munter and an outright abomimination paraded before our eyes? Let’s find out…
Just fuck off, Robinson. It’s not fair! You’ve been doing this for decades now and producing brilliance every time in full defiance of the law of diminishing returns.
One thing Cliff Robinson excels at is the believable details such as the dented daystick and the expressions on the faces, be it Cadet Robinson looking on in amusement or the banned comic reader open mouthed as Dredd gives him “the stare”.
I’ve always loved the design of the pads that he throws out as they are unlike everyone else’s without going fully off message on the general style. And that background is just fantastic too.
Of course the timing of this (as kids in the UK go back to school) is perfect.
Inside Sinister Dexter: Replica is on the cards for Prog 2000 which makes me want to stab a fork into my own eye to prevent me ever reading it. Mind you, they could always do an audiobook version read by Joe Pasquale for extra torment me should I do so. I mean, why leave the blind and partially sighted out of the misery?
Yewtree Tharg says that apparently Steve McManus “shepherded his illustrious organ through the 80s”. That’s probably something you should be telling the cops while under caution, pal.
Our serial killing maniac does some nifty facial work (and he has had plenty of those over the last few years-fnarr) to pass himself off as an old lady. Once inside he spots the undercover easily as maintenance work is too lowly for humans and he also pops a kid who stumbles on the crime. It is implied here that Maybe kills them which is pretty hardcore but that’s life in the big city.
Congratulating himself after making an electronic lock pick he gets close to his quarry and knocks her out and it is clear to the reader at this point that his days are numbered.
He makes a crack about her weight which at first seemed a little ungentlemanly but then it dawned on me that the undercover Dredd was training up would probably be heavier with more muscle mass than Vienna and thus put more of a strain on PJs back.
The overt bug on “Vienna” also stank so much like a trap I was surprised that Maybe didn’t spot this but then we will come to that later.
Ditto for the choice of words where the undercover badge pints out that Maybe has “the mark” so it seems clear a switcheroo has occurred and PJ has more than he bargained for in the vehicle.
The voice in his head is back and the more I see I see this the more I think it is reflective of some end stage madness going on in his subconscious as he struggles to come to terms with the actions he is taking out of grandeur rather than through simple survival Has he bought too much into his own legend and is overlooking the obvious in that quest for greatness, silencing his subconscious? Has his contact with the Dark Judges given him a psychopathy that equates to a dark passenger that thinks just like one of the superfiends? When the voice urges him to kill Vienna now he ignores it, preferring to chop bits from her in a grand show away from the scene. The loss of Inga, the loss of power and the realisation that any (imagined) respect that Dredd had for him has ended is pushing him further than he has the ability to rebound from. It is perhaps his ignorance of this inner voice that has signalled his doom.
Back at the Quite Nice Bar, Walter has recorded the abduction and Dredd of course thinks this is a distraction to draw people from the Vienna stakeout. Smartly he gets his team to move in but Maybe is momentarily smarter, using his unconscious target as a hostage before Dredd shoots out the engine.
God, the art is gorgeous and that panel at the top of page 6 is absolutely iconic. I have no idea how Carlos keeps pulling stuff like this out of the bag.
How can you not like a story that starts with Parsley the Lion facing off with a displacer beast/coeurl in a fight to the finish?
You just have to hand it to D’israeli, he really knows how to pull off the visuals such as the surprise on both animals as their fight is interrupted and the Theed riding something that is part chocobo and part moa.
There’s a gorgeous Dutch angle as we view the mentat spire and the Theed are brick shithouses like the Na’vi in that carppy James Cameron movie.
It transpires our heroes have been kept alive for an audience with the chief cheese, Sohna aka the Mountain King in his mentat spire.
This fucker is also the creature from Ahron’s dream and there he is, sitting stark named with his tail out between his legs like Pete Wells doing a podcast. We know you do it, Pete.
This is the only spire that has not been captured by the Martians, who have basically been using them as a shared resource to speed up and co-ordinate their dismantlement plan.
In a nice bit of world building to set them aside from the Venusians, the Theed manage their society by directing it through a hive mind and the destruction of a mentat spire will disrupt this, causing the various ranks to resort to animalistic behaviour. Kind of like when the power goes off in Swansea. Ah, I’m only joking, they don’t actually have power in Swansea.
The mentat explains that free will is an illusion (you got that right, buddy. It’s all consequentialism these days) and that all of the Theed are all bred for a specific purpose in their society. Much like the Kardashians.
We also get the revelation that there is no psi connection to the created ones like Ikyarus (called Icarus here- not sure if this is a fuck up) as they have no souls. Again, much like the Kardashians.
Despite that Ikyarus was sent to Earth by Sohna to find Ahron and bring him back in an attempt to unite everyone against the common Martian enemy. How you ask? Well, we’ll get to that.
A bombshell is dropped in that during the invasion, the Theed and Venusians fought Martians together with Theed attacking from fucking stegosaurs! We get a mere snippet of this battle thanks to some stellar art and the Martians made a beeline for the mentat spires, breaking the ranks.
And who is responsible for this betrayal? Well Ahron’s family, naturally.
Is it me or is this all beginning to sound like a big old trap that the Martians are springing to bring all the strands together?
Amazingly there is some slightly better stuff here as we get an insight into Markha’s character from the opening salvo of “You’ve been busy killing Southers I hope” which paints her as a horrible racist before getting to the meat of why she is the way she is.
You see, Markha’s family were all killed by Southers in a nerve gas attack revealing once again that there are horrors and jerks on both sides of the conflict.
Kids from all walks of life are abandoned and Markha has taken it upon herself to look after the abused, the rejected and the tainted be they two kids whose parents have been stained with unpatriotic parentage or Merthyr Tydfil abominations like the ones encountered last week.
When a child is about to turn it is up to Markha to issue a back street retroactive abortion to save the rest of them and it is coming to something when a supporting character like this is far more interesting and sympathetic than the star of the tale; a put upon monster hunter with daddy issues. This was actually some fleshed out writing that did the story proud.
Of course this leads us to a real problem with the story.
If the taint is bad and at high levels they employ a special hunter to kill those nobs who have turned then why would they allow children with the same affliction to be abandoned in a society where they would do such harm by getting out into the public. Wouldn’t a totalitarian regime simply round them up and exterminate them with zero qualms and then keep it all hush hush?
We also get the astonishing coincidence that Markha worked with Atalia’s dad, though this could be the reason they know each other. This means that Atalia’s philanthropy is born out of familiarity rather than true altruism.
Atalia’s dad also seems to be a man of two halves since he bombed civvy cities to rubble and yet led a mission to rescue his men. Atalia needs to decide which story to focus on to see if she will try to save him or not, so tropes aside this is a decent enough story base rather than a monster of the week snorefest like Aquila has become.
I keep saying this I know but the art is beautiful and the Nort version of Jägermeister was a nice touch.
I don’t know if it is a lettering thing but eunuch is spelled eunoch here.
The beaten hipster finally shows some compliance, which is about time as he has been knocked out more times than Worf and so probably has a brain injury going on. They should start asking him to count and see how far he gets.
Beardy seems genuinely terrified of going back to the Hurde and Richardson pulls off some good expressions here to drive that home. He also does a really nice silent look between Jess and Luthra as the former makes a hollow promise to Caul that he won’t get captured again. Pants on fire.
Meanwhile, Sornell seems to be some sort of mental defective since he has summoned Carcer aboard so he can have him dissected. You know, the guy with the tendrils that can infect stuff that he can touch. Like transformer suits.
With this loon on the vessel, there are some blackouts occurring and rather than put two and two together he instead assumes they haven’t paid the power bill and doesn’t flush the nimrod out of the airlock to save the entire situation.
Sornell also knows that Luthra has found the bombs and so Luthra does the smart thing and uses them to blow up the gate they have quickly arrived at.
The art is better this time and shows some really nice touches but all the men in the story look like they would get a visit from Purple Aki.
There are some real problems here.
First we have Central Plaza being deserted. This is the Grand Hall of Justice, yeah? This is the hub of the city and where Justice is meted out 24/7. When the anarchist sets a fire outside the only two Judges who are on duty at the Grand Hall fail to stop her. Sure she has a baby but they don’t leg shoot her even though they are spitting distance away. If the Department really is the haven of scrotes (see later) then both mother and baby would be twitching on the slab at this point.
But no, she runs off and they cannot give chase or summon backup to have her arrested before she leaves the Plaza.
And there is the issue. Beeby seems to think the city and the Judges are modelled after some form of alternative universe version of Aidensfield from Heartbeat. The local nick is deserted at night, the old school Judges are incompetent/corrupt and only the hip and fresh faced newbies on the force will give the kids a chance to play their rock n roll music.
Second we have the old “Judges are really shits” trope that gets staler every time it is trotted out. In a flashback to where the kids have called the Judges to arrest their parents (apparently muncho chowderheads which is never explained so it could be drugs or simply Thai food) the Jays are next to useless. Deciding not to arrest the parents, the Judges start abusing the kids because the story demands it and they are caricatures officers who would have seen this sort of thing all too often and should be reacting as a result. And they are both men which is standard since all male Judges are bad eggs unless they are sensitive types like Flowers.
Smart gets the mute brother (hang on, wasn’t he mute after the incident?) to touch one of the Judges who then guns down the parents. She then plants the idea that the mute brother did this himself with a gun.
So, as the mute brother witnessed it all, is he not capable of any other communication such as writing a note to the Judges to say “Holy fuck, my sister has psi powers and so do I”? And if he does have such power, what was to stop him putting the hex on anyone he came in contact with over the intervening years, including the arresting officers? And while we are at it, why would Smart even bother with that story? She could have Hexed the Judges to blaze away and then say the parents were armed. That would certainly explain the Lawgiver slugs in both bodies, a fact which probably bypassed the forensics officer at the time. They were probably too busy dealing with Citizen Greengrass again.
While we are on that, if Smart has the ability to control people simply by touching them (as evidenced by the Citizen’s Army showing up en masse at the Grand Hall) then why isn’t she running the city after glad handing her way through the Justice Department? She could have controlled the whole force in a matter of days.
Let’s see…shake Judge hand- take me to your Sector Chief. Shake Sector Chief hand- take me to the Chief Judge. Shake Chief Judge’s hand- appoint me leader of a coalition government, crushing all opposition.
Speaking of the Chief, we are once again fully aware that nobody knows how to write Hershey except Wagner and here Babs has heard nothing from Anderson and so has been slow to act with a build-up of angry cits affiliated to a criminal organisation baying at the gate. That could happen. Really.
Bottom line this is a bit of a mess and I think the story is overly complex and has probably suffered as a result.
One small quibble in that Anderson is calling Flowers “Rookie” when it has been established that he is a full Judge.
The panel work is ok and the riot Judges are pretty cool looking but in one panel, Anderson has a neck like a Slitheen.
Touch and go this week with Dredd and Scarlet Traces neck and neck. I’m awarding a double header.