Should black and white classics be re-coloured? Do we want to see Casablanca tinted so that Bogart and Bergman’s memories of Paris appear in Technicolor? Personally I believe the correct answer to be no, and I generally feel the same way about black and white comics. I have nostalgic views about those starkly inked stories from my youth, and some artwork just seems better in monochrome. David Lloyd’s chiaroscuro work on V for Vendetta is a perfect example. I was happy to see the series completed when DC picked it up but I much preferred the black and white beauty of the Warrior pages to the American coloured versions.
Now IDW comics continue their fruitful relationship with 2000AD and publish two US style floppies reprinting the original John Wagner, Alan Grant and Brian Bolland Judge Death stories. Bolland’s artwork has been coloured by Charlie Kirchoff who impressed me with his work on IDW’s lovely Apocalypse War hardback. The results are very impressive indeed and make for enjoyable comics which are available with two different covers for each issue. Of course there are always some problems with reprinting these classic 2000AD stories from the golden age of large format newsprint British comics. The artwork does not scale down perfectly to fit the US floppy page size and IDW have chosen to get around this by leaving a large bottom margin of about 5 cm of white space with some ghosted grey-scale images of Dredd along the bottom edge. And honestly I didn’t even notice it at first as my eyes were immediately drawn to the lovely sight of the beautifully coloured Bolland art.
Kirchoff’s work is generally excellent and would not look at all out of place in the pages of the Prog or Megazine. The only glitch I could spot was where he tried to add some shading to Bolland’s rather featureless representation of Anderson’s nose as she looks directly at the camera. The result makes her look a little like a six nations rugby star.
Apart from that the two issues are a joy to behold. It’s particularly impressive to have Judge Fire rendered in all his ghastly, glowing glory. The standard covers shown above are by Darick Robertson and Diego Rodriguez who bravely attempt their own version of the most famous panel in British comic history on the second issue. The two spooky variant covers are by Sam Shearon.
To answer my own question I am happy to have my cake and eat it and delight in both the original black and white versions, and in these updated full colour comics. And just how many times can we 2000AD fans buy reprints of these classic stories? Rebellion and Hachette are no doubt gambling that we will return again and again to the same well, and in my case they have been proved right. Meanwhile IDW continue to introduce US readers to delights of the Dredd world and I hope it proves to be successful for them.
The Hachette part works collection continues with issue 2 which confusingly is volume 24, and issue 3 or volume 36 for those who are keeping score.
The Mechanismo volume includes Mechanismo by John Wagner, Colin MacNeil and Annie Parkhouse; Mechanismo Returns by Wagner, Peter Doherty and Parkhouse; Body Count by Wagner, Manuel Benet and Tom Frame; S.A.M. by Wagner, Val Semeiks, Cliff Robinson, Chris Blythe and Tom Frame; and finally Safe Hands by Gordon Rennie, Jock, Chris Blyth and Tom Frame. The full colour reproduction seems good all the way through, I’m guessing that the original art plates from the painted era all survive so there are none of the problems that trouble reprints from the older black and white Progs. I’ve previously reviewed the Mechanismo storyline so won’t rehash my thoughts but safe to say it is nice to have all these stories collected in a neat shelf sized volume.
The other problem affecting the King Carlos episodes is some central gutter loss on the double page spreads particularly towards the middle of this volume where the binding seems tight. The IDW edition and Case Files 5 do have similar problems but their larger size makes it less obvious.
Extras in these issues are limited to full colour reprints of the Prog covers, introductions by Matt Smith and afterword essays by Michael Molcher. However subscribers also got a rather lovely ceramic coffee mug and a metal Dredd badge which is a bit small for cosplay but does look spectacular on my mantle piece.
Overall these are nice compact volumes that sit well on the shelf and are lovely to pull down for a quick dose of thrill power. I am still going to recommend the IDW volume as the best version of the Apocalypse War out there at the moment. This Mechanismo issue wins out on previous editions by virtue of those two extra stories of more Mega-City robot madness.
The excitement of receiving my subscriber copies has to be balanced against the thought of how much shelf space the full set will take up, and, of course, the full cost of continuing to all 80 volumes. Space and money are limited resources so it remains to be seen whether enough 2000AD fans will continue to double or even triple dip with these stories for Hachette to make it to the end.
Anderson, PSI Division
The King of The Six Sectors
Review by Seth
So, another of IDW licensed spin off series’. I’ll make an admission , I haven’t read the main Dredd past the first 3 issues . I have a bit of a problem with this whole multiple versions of characters thing (despite my feelings on continuity). I didn’t really take to another version of Joe Dredd; there is only one Old Stoney Face, but credit where credit is due the mini-series from IDW so far have been quite spiffy, I just ignore the fact that they are in another continuity (there’s the “c” word again). This is about to be collected as a trade, so now seems like a good time to review the 4 issues in one, seeing as I won’t be buying a collection of this, ‘cos although I DO buy multiples copies of stories (exhibit a : “Dredd Mega Collection”), I am quite tight.
Set early in Anderson’s career, “The King of The Six Sectors” is a semi sequel to Matt Smith and Simon Coleby’s rather spiffy Judge Dredd “Year One”.
Cass’ is on the trail of a Mega City crime lord the titular urban legend, going by the name of Ashbury. Ruffian that he is, Ashbury is using mutant children as “Psychic bombs” to wreak havoc and rob around MC1.
Tasked by PSI Chief Omar (remember him? After Ecks, but before Shenker) Cass’ takes a trip with a Texas City Judge to the Alabama Morass to trace the origin of these mutant kids and follow the trail back to MC1. Needless to say things don’t quite go according to plan, but Cass’ makes it and returns to MC1, to confront the crimelord, corruption in Justice Department and her own origins.
Smith has Cass’s character down pat – and more to the point, the Meg’ and its citizens. He’s a good fit , editing the Prog’ is going to help, but you get the feeling he has worked at getting his character right. Bear in mind that this is a much younger Cassandra, but I haven’t felt as interested in what goes with Anderson, as I have here in quite a while. Ashbury- the big bad, is suitably shadowy and without giving too much away he and Cass’ share some history.
Carl Critchlow’s art is lovely and chunky, stylised stopping short of being cartoony, one of the great unsung artists in 2000ad. I particularly like his rendition of Texas City and Tex,it takes me back to Mike McMahon’s rendition allllllllllll those years ago in the “Judge Child” Saga.
Now, will someone put Smith on the regular Dredd title? I’d buy it.
It’s me (Richard) back with my THIRD review in three weeks! At least my doing this means you don’t have to listen to me slurring them out on the podcast instead. Small mercies and that….
Cover – I’ve met Alex Ronald. He’s a really nice guy. If I was him I’d be a total wanker to everyone and walk around with an “I’m Alex Ronald… fuck you!” t-shirt. His stuff is amazing! I did do a slight double take at the gun arm and wonder if this was the Hammerstein Jeremy Beadle variant but then I remembered this is actually how they are with small arms for the gun and big arms to smash your head in. Anyway, great stuff as ever.
Dredd - NOW we’re talking! The Dark Judges rise and all hell breaks loose. Watched The Horror Of Dracula on the weekend (starting a Hammer Horror marathon) so that shot of Death’s hand on the side of the vat was awesomely gothic. The carnage was suitably horrific and the shot of Fear in the background of the penultimate page looked like a cool re-do of a classic Bolland panel. And that Mortis transformation? Daaammnn.
As for the story…. Dredd is now en route to intercept the Mayflower and in a twist from the norm has been assigned a team of rat catchers as backup. Wonder if Wagner has been watching The Strain? Anyway, it’ll make for a nice dynamic shift as they won’t act and react like the usual trained Judges and while you could possibly argue it’s unlikely they’d be sent for a suspected Dark Judges situation, if it makes for a good story I dont give a monkeys. Got a serious colonial marines vibe from them too but pretty sure that’s intentional. Continuing to live up to the hype.
Ulysses Sweet - RON JEREMY CAMEO! Don’t pretend you don’t know who he is. You know. Yeah, you know.
Gotta love a comic that writes in a pre-emptive “fuck you” to its detractors. Another fun installment where Sweet takes out a crusading schoolboy who is a bit of a dick but at least is out there actually doing stuff instead of being a facebook slactivist…. but I digress.
Wasn’t quite sure how those guys nailed to crosses were supposed to be attacking but then the thought of them waddling towards Sweet like giant gingerbread men was funny so who cares? The format seems to be to give us another target/hit team combo each week to get torn to comedic pieces which is keeping it fresh. If we do have to keep Sinister Dexter coming back in 2000AD can we let these guys take a fresh shot at it? Might actually make it fun.
Orlok - Nope, still not grabbing me. This is a hell of a lot more…well, everything than last week but I’m struggling to care.
Orlok is now apparently in the guise of someone called Oberon which means he can fuck women with asthma (yeah I know it’s prob a drug inhaler) and bald german guys and live it up a bit. Other than that I’m not too sure what he’s doing or why and I’m not really feeling any pull to find out.
Art was really nice with cool touches like the Judge Pug and the Princess Leia on steriods body guard at the end but for me this strip might as well have “Coming soon to a Megazine ‘graphic novel’ near you” banner on it. As usual a quick squint at the 2000AD forums shows that I dont like this so apparently most everyone else does.
The Order - Looks pretty. Like REALLY pretty. Not really enjoying the story though for the same reasons as last week so rather than focus on the negatives…
Savage - Didn’t quite get what happened here. Savage faked out the robot’s controllers by pretending he was being injured so instead of just shutting the robot down they told it to obey his orders? Hoo-kay then. Still enjoying the strip and the artwork is as brilliant as ever (and I’d say that even if Goddard wasn’t a Welsh boy) but to be honest I just liked this where I loved it last week.
Overall? A good if not great prog, for this reader anyway. Pick of the bunch? Dredd storms it.