In February 2012, for the 35th anniversary of 2000AD, I made a pledge:
“But here’s a deal for you. If you’ll do it, so will I. 2012 will be the year I read 2000AD. 2012 will be the year YOU read 2000AD.”
That’s another great cover right there by D’Israeli. There’s just not enough vivid pink on the cover of the galaxy’s greatest sci-fi comic.
Dredd: I’m beginning to get the feel for these mini episodes, they’re not just short stories, they’re world-builders, all designed to paint the background to MC1, to Dredd, to the society he lives in. And having such a rich, vibrant, fully featured backdrop is what makes the epic multiparters feel so big and important.
Wagner et al did it when building the legend, and now that Wagner’s spent so long tearing it all down, ripping away the status quo with the events of Chaos Day, it’s a chance for others to have their way, taking the stripped back MC1, building up once more. And that’s what Rob Williams has done here, joining Michael Carroll and Al Ewing, in a threesome of writers I certainly hope are kept around for a while.
In this new world of MC1 we’ve already seen sleeper agents, hints of a military coup, the Justice Department undermined and understrength, a populous starting to question their place, and so much more. Dredd’s world is teetering on the brink, and that’s a great place to write stories from. All in all, post Chaos Day is shaping up really well. A while ago I was bemoaning the lack of epic storyline here. Now I find myself enjoying this return to world building.
This issue’s climax of the Sov sleeper storyline sees Williams sort of manage to get round the problem of last issue – how Dredd knew it was a high level sleeper agent so quickly. Of course, the explanation also smacks of moving the story on as quickly as possible, but it’s a neatly done shortcut, and just about holds up, as does Mark Harrison’s artwork. It’s not bad, and it works to service the story, but there’s not much wow in there. Still, wow may come. For now, simply support a good story is fine.
(Judge Dredd by Rob Williams and Mark Harrison)
Brass Sun – So far we’ve had epic scale, a little action, lots of intrigue. This is the first time we’ve actually had to sit back and breath out. Still lots of epic stuff, after all this is where the strange being describes the nature of this strange clockwork universe we appear to be visiting.
So yes, it’s slow, and yes, it’s a change down in pace. But there’s so much going on nevertheless, and looking again at it I find myself once more drifting off into a beautiful and fantastic world as I look at Culbard’s art. No. A little slowing isn’t a problem, and when I eventually buy the collection it will barely be noticeable. And oh yes, I will be buying this as a collection.
(Brass Sun by Ian Edginton and INJ Culbard)
ABC Warriors – Hammerstein’s in trouble, marooned on Earth and completely incapacitated. The good news is that he’ll be reactivated in three hours to complete his mission. The bad news is that the FBI have shown up to turn him into scrap. And if you want to know how uninvolved I find myself I couldn’t tell you why Hammerstein is on Earth if my life depended on it.
I know I keep going on about it, but there”s a big bit of me feels bad about my reaction. Partly as there’s a growing sense that the 15 year old me might have actually just gone with this as a big robot adventure, ignoring all the nonsensical stuff and going with it for the sheer fun of seeing Hammerstein take a beating and come back from it (and yes, that’s the end of this episode, but really, you all knew it didn’t end with Hammerstein at the scrap yard).
But instead, the elderly me can merely see the flaws, the intolerable pacing, the stilted dialogue. Sorry fifteen-year old me.
Now, part of this elderly me is enjoying the Clint Langley artwork in this clean b&w form, there’s almost hints of John Hicklenton in here. But every so often the computerised effects are coming sneaking back in, and there’s a clash of styles that spoils the feel. It just really isn’t for me is it?
(ABC Warriors by Pat Mills and Clint Langley)
Low Life …. and then I turn the page and everything feels like a breath of fresh air. D’Israeli’s art is light, stylish, serves the tale so well. And Rob Williams creates intrigue and interest almost immediately as a drooling, zombied-out Dirty Frank realises that he just ‘aint in Kansas anymore.
Just in case you don’t know, Dirty Frank’s another one of those Wally Squad undercover Judges. Just like former Wally Squader Lenny Zero, and active squader Jack Point the Simping Detective (also this issue) he’s not the most emotionally stable of chaps. And this time round Frank finds himself well out of his beloved Lowlife, onboard a huge starship, just him, a board of corporate nasties behind Overdrive Inc, a huge amount of money between them, and Teddy. Dirty Frank still has Teddy. So it might all be okay.
A great start. Weirdness written as funny and interesting by Williams, and D’Israeli on beautiful, beautiful form delivering so much to play across your eyes with pleasure in every single panel. There’s the bonus of being able to read D’Israeli’s thoughts on the story at his blog, where I found out that Frank’s on Luna-1, MC1’s moonbase alpha. So that saved me one of those newbie questions you’re all so good at answering for me.
(Low Life by Rob Williams and D’Israeli)
The Simping Detective: Another Wally Squad Judge, another messed up MC1 resident, and bizarrely enough another set of flying ducks on another first page. Second episode finds Judge Jack Point deeper and deeper in trouble, one dead Judge already, his corrupt section chief on his case wanting the crappy jester statue the dead Judge passed to Point,, kidnapping ex-Judge Galen DeMarco to show just how serious (and nuts) he feels about it.
Point does the thing he seems to do best; a touch of violence and a whole load of getting himself deeper in trouble.
Frankly The Simping Detective reads really well, looks great as well. Coleby’s art has a weird style to it. Very dense, sometimes too much so, but there’s so much in here to enjoy that the small lapses are easily overlooked. Meanwhile Spurrier has a blast doing Raymond Chandler comes to Mega-City. Good old fashioned insane fun.
(The Simping Detective by Simon Spurrier and Simon Coleby)
Yep. With Dredd on form, Brass Sun keeping the quality so high, Lowlife starting real strong and The Simping Detective rounding the whole thing off strong, this really might be the best line up I’ve seen so far in my pledge year. Cracking stuff.