Ah, 2005. It was the year that Orlok boarded a helicopter in Las Vegas and sacrificed his bachelorhood for the ring of servitude that is even now constricting on his finger like Monkey’s headband. And that’s just because he spent too long looking at Vegas’s pert buttocks on the cover of Prog 2005. Curse you, Langley…
This is very simple and striking with a showdown between father and daughter that brought back memories of that Bond poster from 1981. For Your Pussy Only I think it was called.
It’s a very uneven fight since she has two shooters and a boot knife while he has just one shooter and a fucking claw. Plus he’s very tiny.
The logo coverage is minimal and there are some lovely lines and patterns on the poncho Vegas is wearing and it is this nice detail that makes it pop. Bottom line- I liked it. It won’t be cover of the year but it does the job.
Inside, the Damage Report has a nice joke about crack which someone I know who read this found offensive. To me, it is just humour and sensitivity can be very subjective so you have to give it some leeway on that basis since there should be very little that is off limits to jokes. It is also revealed that Thrill Power Overload is to get an extra 6 chapters. That is great news.
The art is just lovely. Flint delivers some great panel work to add to the suspense and to further emphasise the detachment of Sam from the inner circle. At times he seems to be on the periphery of everything, just like he is in the story, even though we are seeing this entirely from his perspective.
Storywise we pick up where we left off, with a horribly snapped neck. Sam thunders in which is a big fuck up because if there were an invisible assassin in the room, wouldn’t his opening of the door and blundering in have let them out?
Dredd himself seems unsurprised by events which further makes me wonder if this was a set up to fail so he could expose the truth.
And Sam is left isolated because of this event since Dredd’s inner circle of Gerhart (SJS, hardcase, messed up face), Giant (Senior Judge, bald, dull as a Thomas Hardy novel) and Frank (Wally Squad, resourceful, smells like wheelchair scrotum) close ranks and begin their own investigation away from San’s sight. Dredd’s report omits the Wally and SJS presence and is this to shield them from involvement or repercussions?
Months go by and Sam is still thinking on it, making a breakthrough but possibly bringing the hurt down on himself. Even when he and Dredd get to chat about it, the old man picks a safe place to talk- is this to be away from spies within the Department?
Analysing how Arthur Benn and his chinstrap were slain brings a vital clue and it is revealed that just for an instant the ex-witness saw two Judges before the pacifist Wolverine was dispatched.
Sam determines that the signature in the room is the same as the energy creature on Enceladus.
He also reveals that there are a series of hidden tunnels in the Grand Hall which are not on any plans and these could be Smiley’s rabbit runs between Hershey’s bathroom and the biscuit store at the far end of the mess hall. The place has more hidden spaces than Fred West’s house and it does stretch the credibility somewhat when you realise they would have had to get these designs through prying eyes twice over since this is the same Grand Hall that was rebuilt, destroyed and then rebuilt in the same year (see The Prankster).
This is a worrying turn. Are we once again going down the Bachmann stealth Judges/hidden people in the walls route? If so, there has to be something better done with it this time.
I loved the line about Dredd putting his fist through the supernatural and I did like the nice namecheck to Trump Memorial Crater which was hopefully made when someone dropped the cunthammer from Hairforce 1 back in 2017.
Again this is some great art and I particularly liked the nice graffiti of the figure binning the Volg symbol. Top marks too for the expressions which are of real people going through real conversations instead of static characters delivering prose like they are having some sort of epileptic episode. Goddard is perfect for this strip in many ways and Pat really does know how to pick an artist that works to his strengths.
We’re in bridging mode as two strands come together. In strand one, Bill guns down a corporal to convince the tagger he is on the level and to give him info about the Berlin Banksy (Wolfie Vos) and push that to a meeting.
In the second strand, Nika goes to see Ulrich Wilder (Bill) to confirm her suspicions that he may be the maniac she is seeking. There looks to be some flirting going on so Bill may be giving her his English banger by the end of this.
Fishing for anything that can tip her off to his psychology, Nika speculates her perp may be a Neo-Nazi and part of Bill’s cover story has Nazi shame in there to make him less than perfect. Like many who lived near the camps his grandmother was apparently complicit in the process of death that went on and we get the reveal that Bill’s accent is so good that he passes for a Munich native. Of course this could be that to Volg ears his accent doesn’t have to be spot on but it is still a bit of a stretch.
Nika gets his fingerprints to run through the files (even though Herr Wilder is protected) and she feels even more committed to her suspicion as he wasn’t afraid of her and her line of questioning. Will this cockiness be his undoing or will he blag this as being untouchable due to his “connections” with the Volg brass? We’ll see what Pat stirs up next time.
What I don’t get is how Bill Savage, considering his actions in Britain, is not public enemy number one to every Volg on the planet.
This really is some of PJs best work and the colourwork here compliments his style nicely. If he could pull off more detailed work like this on his other jobs then I’d be more willing to let his artwork shore up the storytelling. I’m not having a go at him, I just know what I like and artwork that looks half-finished doesn’t do it for me.
And that last panel is excellent in that it features some really good perspective and colour choices and screams action classic right across the board.
Elsewhere, the General pulls the old “I have something to show you” line which usually ends with an official caution but here gets him the friendship of a simpleton. Dron, it transpires, is an early GI experiment gone awry and the General has somehow (look, don’t get mired down in logic) been able to track him and befriend him even though they are both on the run. The narrative also gives us the slight hint that the General will dispose of him when the mission is over, leading Dron’s plight to be even more tragic in that once again he is a tool to be used by the Southers.
The General’s body is an unholy mess and he is content to be treated here even though he wasn’t concerned about such things earlier in the strip (although he does want the Doctor for some reason). It will probably become clearer on a re-read.
Meanwhile Rogue has been busy killing his way across Nu Earth and is on his way to the General as is
Jaegir and her team who drop into the Vulcan zone to kick ass and take out the Traitor who has been fucking both sides in the ass.
With the mercs yet to show it seems we are heading for a four way gangbang. I hope Jaegir is up to it.
Carver shoots Vegas dead without talking her to death. That’s it. Story over. Roll credits.
Hang on, it turns out that doesn’t happen at all and like tantric sex, Pat’s storytelling is all build up and no climax.
Amazingly, it turns out that Trans Time have somehow (and don’t fucking ask how) managed to move the Chicxulub Impactor forward in time by a thousand years so it will belt into Earth in just seven days’ time. This will wipe out the Cret but there is a slim chance all the humans in the region could survive the megatsunamis that engulfed what was then Texas. No really, they could.
This corporate betrayal does little to sway the old man’s resolve to commit a very late term abortion but learning his daughter is now a Colonel somehow makes him proud enough not to shoot her in her treacherous face. Look, best not to dwell on the story logic, folks.
Gorehead finally shows up in the strip that bears his name because three years earlier he is disturbed from his slumber at the bottom of the sea (interesting fact: dinosaurs didn’t actually breathe oxygen- who knew?) and swims to surface only to be set upon by an underwater predator. With the titular tyrannosaur pulling a Billy Pilgrim it hard to know just when this is for him and he could have survived the swamp fight and beamed back. Maybe he’ll hop on top of the Impactor just before it hits and ride it to the 23rd like Major TS Kong.
Alright, the art is still unusual to the point where it is striking, which still sort of works for me. I did like the cop and doctor in their quarantine suits each differentiated by headgear (cop helmet and head mirror respectively) and that served the faceless authoritarian nature of the story well.
There was a nice piece of storytelling with the trial being screened on prime time telly for the couch potatoes to mull over and the revelation that Libra’s lawyer was an app and the prosecution an algorithm. The fact that the Judge looked uncannily like the Spitting Image Maggie Thatcher puppet (may she burn in Hell) only added to the Kafkaesque feel of the legal process.
Libra believes she will be saved by her comrades but none come to her aid, which is typical of anarchists and the anti-establishment. Instead she is broken out by mercs working for Albion Starflight who reveals it was –DUN-DUN-DUNNNNNNN- he who arranged for her to get the virus.
Again, this convenience is becoming a drag in what could otherwise have been a decent farce and a critique of where we are heading as a society. We also seems to be going around in circles with the treatment failures and this is getting tiresome.
Final point, I did like the use of the MCA logo in the traffic but the other one (it looks like the Drax logo but not quite ) is driving me crazy.
I did like the Dredd again this week but Savage has art to die for and a subtlety in the cat and mouse game that made it seem right out of the pages of a Nordic Noir serial. I’ll admit that it can be a cliché to have the hero and villain dance this way but done well (like this was) it can also be a good way to bring those two together in a logical fashion before the endgame.