Orlok has been reading one of David Icke’s books and is now convinced that Prog 1998 is an exercise in mind control to make us believe that “someone” is killed in the Dredd story, women are not be trusted and that you should always think of daddy when you kill a child…
With no logo coverage, Dredd is bathed in red with the chalk outline of his quarry (presumably) marked below him. This feels a bit of a cheat considering what happens inside but fuck it, I liked it.
There’s a nice reflective sheen on the helmet, badge and pads and this aspect of it really appealed as I love a nice shiny helmet.
Inside Tharg reveals that Flesh: Gorehead will be coming soon. Hang on, I thought Gorehead was dead. I saw it happen, didn’t I? What? Pat Mills is writing it? Oh…Pat, you anticlimactic monster!
Nemesis and Rogue also returning.
Why is this? Is it nostalgia or simply the mining of better stories out of a lack of original ideas these days? In the wrong hands these could piss on the classics and we have seen it happen before so given that hindsight is 20/20, does Tharg need some fucking Lasik eye surgery?
PJ sheds his face skin revealing his true visage so it is clear that we get to see Dredd gun him down and not some faux octogenarian that someone can then write into a sequel as a mind controlled stooge swapped out at the eleventh hour. I get the feeling this is deliberately done as there must be no doubt that this is PJ going to the wall.
PJ’s black voice is ever more critical and with him now in full crazy mode, it signals his defeat, so it has to be his subconscious railing against the decision making. Remember, PJ’s mania has always been there in one form another and this is the same loon who almost certainly hallucinated one of the Sisters of Death patting him on the head during Necropolis. He even said he was bonkers at the time, so this mania is just the end stage of a man who has lost it all.
When “Vienna” fights back, decking him with some quality moves, it finally dawns on PJ that this is not Dredd’s niece and thus her survival is assured, since slotting her solves nothing.
It is revealed that Mrs Gunderson is alive but confused. Jeez, what else is new?
She’s also tied up but sadly no address is given so I can’t pop over there and give her some Fifty Shades of Grey Pubes action.
There’s a nice couple of panels here as Dredd gives chase in the tubes and apart from the gunshots and the cry of pain this is delivered silent, just like a hunter stalking his quarry in a situation that is only ever ending one way. Dredd’s use of the ricochet (note how he doesn’t need to say it) wounds his perp and with PJ’s gun out of charge his luck finally runs out. Come to think of it, this luck has been with PJ over the years in that he has always had fortunate breaks that he has capitalised in order to succeed.
In despair he pulls out a home-made bomb intending to take Dredd out (yeah, I’ll just bet you do, buddy) and they will travel to the great beyond together, hand in hand and tongue in mouth.
In his mania, PJ says Dredd is a bigger murderer than him and Dredd distracts him briefly with the old look behind you classic. Even the smartest of us will fall for the simplest trick if delivered correctly. How else do you explain James Corden still having a career?
At the end, Dredd cannot resist himself and says “What became of the great PJ Maybe?”, which is part mocking and part serious critique of how far his enemy has fallen.
And here we get the true end which I’m sure the great unwashed will gnash their teeth over for possible outs. Having long ago decided on the verdict, Dredd lets him fall and shoots him in the heart as he drops. The bomb then goes off and his remains splat onto a pipe. So that’s essentially a triple death and all that was missing was him being hit by a bus, a steamroller and a marching band playing “Louie Louie”.
With Dredd’s “This case is closed” there is some finality there with the implication that nobody fucks with the story now and PJ is definitely dead.
Unless he was caught in a net by hitherto unseen Fire People of course.
There will doubtless be those who won’t accept it and look for holes in the story such as swapped DNA, brainwashed dupes or hologramatic planes hitting the WTC, but not every villain has to go out in a grand old style. Here we simply got a matter of fact execution by Dredd and the same level of justice meted out to Leonid Kazan, Lazarus Kohlrabi and Thomas Silver.
There are some lovely spot colours in the darkness with only the reds of the helmet or the gunfire lighting up with any vibrancy. This reminded me a little of the Mega Collection covers and added to the minimalist feel of the hunt.
PJ’s face also goes full on crazy when he whips out the bomb and starts ranting. We’ve never really seen this side of him so it is good that Carlos gets to draw something new for the character.
Christ, this is wordy.
Atalia returns to the shelter to find all inside are dead, Markha included, at the hands of a strigoi or four.
So again I ask if this taint is an issue, why isn’t there a check to prevent it happening since societal innocents can be slain and this will only damage the regime. I think that’s the fundamental problem with this strigoi thing as I thought it just affected the high born (and thus there would be a need to keep it schtum). If it affects the low born too then having no cleansing process in operation is idiotic for such a regime.
Nevertheless, Niko is the prime suspect since he has the taint and is a cunt in cunt’s clothing. Markha was meant to handle it (for some reason) but probably forgot or something and now four of the bastards have united in a rampage of terror like a Welsh boyband.
The action flows well enough when Atalia is attacked but I was groaning at the way she has to fuel her actions in killing this monster child by thinking of her father’s cruelty and malice. She’s a soldier for fuck’s sake so that won’t even enter into it when the training and self-preservation kicks in. Plus, these kids have just killed her mate and shelter full of innocents so I doubt she’s going to give a flying fuck if she has any sort of human emotion under the hood.
And remember this is a story where one of her comrades was going to kill perfectly healthy kids to save them from a strigoi attack so that doesn’t really make sense that she is going to agonise over dropping one inhuman brat, does it?
Disturbingly, it’s yet another female character who is not driven not by her own choices but by the overarching influence of a man in her life, in this case her father. Faced with the difficult decisions, Atalia needs to channel daddy to complete her tasks.
The art is the only saving grace in this so far as it is a just another monster hunt with a twist. I am still hoping that Rennie can pull off a surprise, though.
Well there’s a turn up and the Mentat lays it out for us to see. And I’m not talking about his “Pete Wells tail”, either.
Ahron’s mum is a member of the Cerulean Sisterhood (which I am sure is a Pokemon reference) and far from being a rad fem org fighting for their rights in an unfair society, they were a bunch of racists who wanted the Theed back under the brutal yoke of second class citizen status. This motion was defeated but when the war came they saw a chance to wipe out the Theed for the future (even through the Theed and Venusians fought shoulder to shoulder to liberate the planet) and sold them out to the Martians. This treachery doomed them all in the end and it’s a sad state of affairs that she has managed to find asylum on Earth when many others have fallen. That’s a good and thoughtful aspect to this given the current refugee crisis and the character of these refugees being brought to question.
As war machine after war machine drops, the Theed are cut down because spears and shields are fucking useless against the heat rays. Who would have thunk it?
And once more a planet has been betrayed by a bloody female. They just can’t be trusted with long term plans or complex decisions involving apples and snakes.
Of course her gender had nothing to do with this but rather the contents of her belly as she wants to preserve the life within her and the deal is that she, Ikyarus and the rugrat get to live for handing over the Theed brainbox.
There’s no way that is going to be a raw deal.
We’re all set for the big finish and this has been a great run.
The art is just gorgeous with a nice panel as Sohna awakens an image in Ahron’s mind of his mum when he was just a little blue bundle of joy. The fact that this loving mother turns out to have been a monster makes this even more heart rending.
Ditto for the splash page and that Theed in tree as the Martians approach in their behemoth. That ship has cannons as big as a city and looked like something out of Babylon 5.
As war machines drop in splattering the Theed resistance, the vivid colouring explodes off the page and this is a masterclass in storytelling, it really is.
With the gate apparently gone and our heroes on the other side, Sornell instructs his people to target the remaining Hurde ships who now won’t be able to flee. That’s a sound military tactic but his droids fail to fall into an attack pattern at first, meaning that not everything is going to plan.
It’s almost as if he has fucked up or something.
Luckily he has an Aloha shirt wearing geek called Milos on standby who is able to brainstorm the situation and get everything working again. Luckily said geek’s shirt has not been made for him by a female friend and contains precisely no risqué semi naked ladies. This will of course save him from being bullied to tears by social justice cunthammers with no sense of irony.
There’s also something building on Graegan. Something big.
Over on the Hurde side, Caul now knows Jess lied to him so I guess that relationship is pretty much gone the way of Brangelina. He is also subjected to a brain scan and the Hurde are now convinced that they have been duped so I guess none of them are the elites.
And this sudden rush to the finish is part of the problem with this tale. It’s been really uneven and the big reveal is a few panels after months of watching people watch TV and talk to each other about how shit things are.
The art is ok and though I won’t remember any of this story in six months, at least I can say that the visuals have had nice moments.
Speaking of uneven, we have Cass’s Adventures in Blunderland drawing to a close.
With terrorists on the doorstep the Judges do fuck all except stand there. Maybe they learned their lesson from the Democratic March of 2109 or maybe they just don’t know how to deal with a TERRORIST ORGANISATION after that thing a few years back where lots of TERRORISTS murdered a load of Judges and Cadets. You’d think something like that would stick in the mind.
Psi Chief Shenker, who isn’t even on the Council anymore, is apparently affected by Smart’s whammy but not Hershey which doesn’t explain the inaction on her part. But again, Hershey is useless as a Chief Judge when anyone else but Wagner writes her.
Amazingly, Anderson is still alive because standard execution rounds (why say it when that is the standard load?) can’t penetrate the badge. I guess the writer is not versed in the classics, especially that often overlooked tale called “Apocalypse Block Wars” or something where even a reduced charge could go through the badge and an inch of flesh.
But in Beenyworld the badge merely gets a dent in it (which vanishes by the bottom of page 3 but this could just be a psi induced hallucination) and Anderson lives to dodge some more rounds like she is Remo Fucking Williams.
After some explanatory dialogue with Anderson, Flowers apparently teleports over to the Grand Hall as it all kicks off, managing to fight his way through the crowd to the point of contact. That’s really clever of him but just comes across as though there’s a missing few pages here.
And it is here we get something really good and the actual point of all of this.
Smart starts speaking to Cass in her mind offering her a chance to change things in the city and with Smart’s mesmer power she can do just that.
This is a fascinating concept that Beeny has and though Cass has been offered a sort of deal like this before with Satan, there is no such compromise to inherent evil. Instead it is a chance to remake the city in a way that promotes her sense of justice and fairness. If she can trust the woman who just tried to kill her, of course.
The problem is that the story has been built around this idea and has been convoluted and doesn’t make any sense.
Smart doesn’t need Anderson to make this choice, and it is only crowbarred in for the sake of a hook to link this to the story lead and get us to identify with her dilemma.
Then there is the whole sub plot of the brother who wasn’t needed and was disposed of as soon as the game was up. This could have been dropped entirely.
Plus, if Smart had this power as a girl, what has she been doing for the last 20 years?
Honestly, this could be set in an entirely different universe to the Anderson stories that have gone before because it bears no resemblance to anything approaching continuity.
Apart from the badge thing, I really liked the idea of the bikes with a number on the front of it, though I thought Lawmasters had a different registration system. The tires are also a little different, as is the cyclops laser.
Tough choice. Killing of PJ aside I am going with Scarlet Traces as it’s all gone to custard and I feel that nobody is getting a happy ending here.
Unlike Mrs Gunderson if I had my way.