With October ticking over and the Megacast Ladies still playing Arkham Asylum or lying unconscious from gin intake, Orlok opens up Meg 375 and gasps at the filth inside…
That’s easily a contender for cover of the year and is, regardless of all other things, a great image with clearly a Mad Max look about it. When you drill down into the detail, like the shocked faces of the punters inside (are they jaws agape at the carnage outside or simply upset that Jeremy Corbyn has nowhere to sit?) then the whole thing really comes together as a masterpiece. I also like the look of the driver who seems to be part Casey Jones and part Mario.
It’s also a massive lie, sheeple. We’ll get to why later but with Jaroo grabbing some unfortunate flying twat from the sky and Pettifer blowing someone else away, I can tell you that only one of these two is one the train. It’s like looking at Da Vinci’s The Last Supper only to discover that Jesus is sharing his table with Kanye West.
That said, there are good poses all round and the colours are beautiful. It’s also great to see Winslade’s work can incorporate anything other than black and white.
Art first- this was stunning stuff from the lovely opener to the gruesome finish. Willsher is adept at the panel work here and it flows effortlessly with an even balance of action and power.
The panel of the guns sticking in the doc’s eyes was just horrible- but in a good way- and I’m sure Flint will be raging at the lens flares during the gunfight.
There was also a great panel of Dredd in dark as the perps come through the door and here the amount of shadow used is just perfect. Some artists (Holden for example) have an over-reliance on shadowplay that just doesn’t work effectively but Willsher uses it excellently, especially in the reveal.
After Dredd lets loose, Willsher is able to drop into gore mode showing one perp with multiple wounds and another with his head missing above his cockduster tache. Gruesome stuff.
Finally, who else but Dirty Ben would get the ultimate honour of drawing Little Joe. Ok, we had Bisley drawing a bulge on Dredd that looked like he had a small ferret in his pants but here we see the old man’s meat mangler swinging in the breeze.
The story leaves me a bit mixed.
Carroll pulls off a nice tale of Dredd’s vulnerability, creates a situation where he cannot use his gun (really clever stuff from Carroll there) and then paints him as the unstoppable force of nature we know and love. It’s a well-trodden path but it does have some merit in the revisit and this is a fresh twist on the situation. I also liked what may be a cheeky nod to the having to put up a sign about “122”. Is that to do with the real world vs Big Meg timeline? Sadly the possible solution to this is problematic and with Dredd at Carousel (which simply must be a Logan’s Run and rebirth) for a big rejuve job after his recent death we’re having trouble at the first hurdle. Sure Dredd had some severe injuries but these were deeper than the epidermis and it seems that the rejuve will only put a layer of paint over the crack in the wall.
It is also hard to imagine that such a place would have two gate security rentacops only but I suppose with cutbacks and the recent nonsensical Texas City bollocks then maybe manpower is thin on the ground.
My biggest beef is why would Dredd do this? What are the benefits? Plus, if the bones and organs are the same old shite and all you are changing is the epidermal and muscle layer, then it is purely cosmetic and Dredd has always been against anything of that nature. I mean, just look at his attitude to facial hair. It is also implied here that he is “due” some treatment as if this is a regular thing, hence the reasons the perps have staked out the clinic.
Though Goodman was seen to have monthly trips to the rejuve clinic (since he was the public face of the Department and very old at this point) Dredd has only been rejuved once I think. That was after Necropolis and only because McGruder insisted since he was giving the public shit loosening terrors. To recollection this was intended to restore his existing skin rather than add a youthful appearance and there was a reference to several grafts in Nightmares and then a throwaway line about it being a good rejuve job at the start of Death Aid from some cheeky helmet who is probably even now on traffic.
All this means is that artists can now consistently draw a fresh faced Dredd that doesn’t look his age and that seems a little contrived given Dredd’s resistance to such treatments. I suppose coming on the back of the “Dredd can go on for years” story that Carroll recently penned this seems a little like overkill. As a final observation, the helmet and uniform are a part of Dredd and his age and cantankerous nature are also facet of who he has become over the decades. To remove some of that could be to lessen the man. And it could also remove the “Dredd ages as we age” appeal of the strip which is why we feel we have grown with the character instead of him being a perennial student with wall crawling ability who gets more distant from us with each passing year.
Anyway, by the end of the tale, the perps are dead, the Doc is in the cubes and Dredd has a face smoother than Jennifer Lawrence’s ass. Normally that last part would excite me but here it just makes me uneasy.
REALM OF THE DAMNED:
Petrova is resolute about engaging Balaur in the air, even though the Vamps have jets ready to go. They have these jets because they also have an aircraft carrier. Of course, having the equivalent of an airbase in the Mediterranean is of zero use if you are facing Superman and Balaur zaps the carrier and turns the pilots into wolves. And this is a fucking gorgeous panel topped only by the use of spot colouring and the panel of Balaur flying in sunny sky (which of course would be an issue for vampire pilots).
In a surprising move, Petrova is court martialled in absentia and her arrest is ordered, perhaps as an attempt to gain favour with Balaur should the jets fail. Her supposedly loyal bodyguards sniff out the change of the tide and turn on her.
Meanwhile Van Helsing’s extraction team are given orders to ex him and though he spots the knife in the reflection he is seemingly stabbed. Is he dead? Probably not.
Brilliantly, the eyes in the vampire control room turn from red to yellow as the Cardinal and everyone in the room turn into Welshmen. This is followed by them bursting into the corridors and raising hell with some close harmony singing and banging on about Men of Harlech.
The alarm gives Petrova the chance to slot her guards and she then comes face to snout with Vargas as a wolf. Rather than dwell on the relationship issues between them and discuss them in a manner benefiting two professionals, she kills the idiot with both hands tied behind her back.
With the carnage spilling out into St Peter’s Square, she wryly observes “So this is what the end of the world looks like” leading us clearly to a finale next time.
This has been a hell of a combination of script and art. I get it won’t be to everyone’s tastes but at least it is true to itself and isn’t mired down in inconsistencies and turgid dialogue.
This is really not progressing much at the moment which is a worry.
With the search party mostly tied to a tree and tripling balls, there is some kind of Gaia planet hallucination where one erudite member sees the truth of it in her hippy dippy haze. Humans are an invasive species and have no place here. They fuck it up for everyone.
After the Marshal begins to show the effects he has a flashback where it is revealed his incompetence saw him kicked out to the colonies. He is, in effect, a fuck up and everything he has accused Blunt of. A brief bit of simpatico with the man-ape sees him tossing off the Marshal.
And by tossing off, I mean off a cliff. There isn’t some sort of Neverland simian/human masturbation going on and it is now up to the planet to claim the Marshal or let him die. I don’t care either way, to be fair.
The colours are astonishing and this is something Boo Cook does with aplomb. I doubt there is anyone out there (even D’israeli) with a colour palette approaching that.
I really liked the symbols on the containers at the crash site to denote what they are for/have in them but aside from that nothing except the colour scheme really stood out this time.
Proving that you don’t need a technicolour artbox to tell a good story, Lawless ups the ante this time. Our heroes board the train just in time and Rondo fights off some creeps as Pettifer fires hotshots, downing four perps. She seems to have the hang of this killing stuff now, and thuse she has passed the point of not giving two fucks.
As I alluded to earlier, Nerys is not on board so the cover blatantly lied to us.
On the train, battles are joined and there is a great little scene between Lawson and the driver that underpins her concerns about there being “actual people” in the firing line. This highlights how Judges and perps see each other. These are simply sides and characters with the real folk in the middle and it reminded me of Mr Pink’s similar line in the great Reservoir Dogs…
Mr. Pink: You kill anybody?
Mr. White: A few cops.
Mr. Pink: No real people?
Mr. White: Just cops
With the train crashed, Pinkerton dead and Brotherley saved, there is a feeling that Lawson is back to square one with this.
Blimey, the art is lovely and the panels at top of page 6 to denote Lawson and Brotherley moving through the carriages are simply brilliantly done.
My only quibble is that page 11 seems to be a little fucked up since the car looks huge compared to the train carriage.
The combination of the two is an exciting chase with frantic action all the way through as the different battles and interactions blend towards that one end. In short, it was like the end of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome only without a racist dickbag and a midget.
Interrogation-This was a good one with the hugely talented Ryan Brown laying out his techniques and submission history. I’m not a fan of interrogations but if we have to have ‘em, this is how it should happen; short, sweet and on point.
Floppy- A Sinister Dexter extravaganza that I could not bring myself to read past page 12. I cannot believe it is the same writer as Lawless.
A double helping of Lawless blows everything else away.