Wednesday, 24 April 2013

2000AD Prog 1829

Prog 1829 Cover by D'Israeli

I like the image of the Hybrid-saur attacking Stickleback and it's really dynamic with the grey-scale colour scheme working well to draw attention from other brightly coloured magazines on the newsagent''s shelves. I'm not sure if I'm keen on the placement of the eyes on the creature, although it does make it look more like a mutated dinosaur, but keeps confusing me when I look at it.


JUDGE DREDD - SUICIDE WATCH (Part 4)
Script Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby
Art - Paul Davidson
Colours / Letters - Chris Blythe / Annie Parkhouse


After an effective cliffhanger last week, this concluding part had a lot to live up to and it managed to bring the story to an end in a good fashion without feeling like a cop-out. Some dialogue nicely explains why Judge Hamida and the Pastor are the only ones who can still remember the erased citizens and Dredd, which was one of the questions I had from the earlier parts.

I did feel that the creature itself was still a little ill-defined in terms of its power set and how it is able to erase people from existence but it largely made sense within the story's logic, although the ending felt slightly rushed, with the most of the threat resolved off-panel. Even though Dredd didn't play too much of a part in the proceedings, I did enjoy this four-parter.



DANDRIDGE - THE COPPER CONSPIRACY (Part 6)
Script - Alec Worley
Art - Warren Pleece
Letters - Ellie de Ville

After guessing that Dandridge would likely be saved by his servant, Shelley, whose body had been conveniently made available for him to regain control, I liked the bait-and-switch that made his man-servant actually the cause of further trouble instead of a grand rescue! This episode was mainly setting up the joke of having Shelley blunder in and make matters worse after Dandridge had seemingly gotten everything under control and wrapped up, but I really enjoyed it, as I have been doing with the last few parts.
Shelley to the rescue?


THARG'S 3RILLERS - THE GHOSTSHIP MATHEMATICA (Part 3)
Script - David Baillie
Art - Inaki Miranda
Colours / Letters - Eva De La Cruz / Annie Parkhouse

I've been quite vocal in my enjoyment of this short Tharg's 3riller series, to the point where the author featured one of my quotes on his website, but I was a little nervous about the ending and whether it would live up to the promise of the first two parts, especially since it ended on a rather bold cliffhanger. But, I'm glad to say that I really liked the ending and the way the story was resolved - I would quite happily read more of this as the characters managed to be likeable and interesting in only three parts - something that is not always easy to do. While I normally hate open-endings, this one seemed to fit really well, and gives us the option of further stories from these characters. Even if there are no further stories from this particular tale, I look forward to reading more from this creative team.



STICKLEBACK - NUMBER OF THE BEAST (Part 6)
Script - Ian Edginton
Art - D'Israeli
Letters - Ellie de Ville

This was more of an action-packed installment, as teased by the front cover, with the Hybrid-saur attacking Stickleback. As with some of the more recent parts, this doesn't delve too deeply into the series' continuity, so it is enjoyable without prior knowledge of earlier stories, but still manages to drop some hints of a larger mystery around Stickleback's current state of existence. Is it really back to life, or perhaps some weird half-life? I wonder whether this will have any repercussions in later stories.
Stickleback menaced by the 'Chewits' Dinosaur



ZOMBO - PLANET ZOMBO (Part 5)
Script - Al Ewing
Art - Henry Flint
Letters - Simon Bowland

I could sum Zombo up in three words, "Bat-shit Crazy" but I should probably expand on that somewhat. As with last issue, there is a gruesome fight scene between Evil Zombo and whom I'm assuming are the good guys, with the Sc4rabs entering the fray this time. There's some fantastic artwork by Henry Flint who seems to utilise every colour in the spectrum in this episode. While I still struggle to understand what is going on, I'm enjoying what aspects do make sense and that is a good thing! I'm pleased to see the return of a familiar face in the final panel and look forward to seeing the developments that will occur now he has made his inevitable return!
Sc4rab Lennon and Zombo Face-Off at last



OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

This was a really great Prog and while I'm sad to see Ghostship Mathematica go, I'm looking forward to the addition of a new Dredd story and what appears to be a new Tharg's 3riller called Gunheadz. One of the things I love about 2000AD is the constant refreshing of the line-up and that titles never outstay their welcome, and with the Tharg's 3rillers space in the anthology, there seems to be a lot more room for frequent short stories. I hope this continues to be an aspect of the comic and is used as a great place to trial new story ideas from writer's who have graduated from writing Future Shocks, but haven't quite gotten the chance to write a full-length series.

The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1829 will be available in stores on Wednesday 24th April - Digital copies of this Prog will be available on the same day through the 2000AD app, which can be downloaded onto iOS devices from here.

Keep checking back each week for more reviews and features about 2000AD, the Galaxy's Greatest Comic! Remember to leave your comments below, or contact me on Twitter or through my Facebook page!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

2000AD Prog 1828

Prog 1828 cover by Henry Flint

The cover features a nice Beatles-related visual joke with the Sc4rabs walking across an 'abbey road' style crossing, as well as the song-based puns, 'All you need is Blood' and 'A Hard Days Fight'. The eerie figure of the new 'Evil Zombo' leering over the quartet is very effective and the promise of a confrontation between the two definitely makes me want to read on...even if I'm not entirely sure who I want to win the battle!


JUDGE DREDD - SUICIDE WATCH (Part 3)
Script Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby
Art - Paul Davidson
Colours / Letters - Chris Blythe / Annie Parkhouse


The story continues with Dredd and Hamida split up and tackling both sides of the threat - Hamida finds herself dealing with the cult leader, who manages to appeal to her emotional side. Dredd, meanwhile, comes face to face with the Stygian Devourer, which leads to a very interesting cliffhanger.


Potentially the last appearance of Judge Dredd

I'm glad that this story has been given space to breathe, compared to the previous two-parter. Hamida's brief explanation of the Stygian Devourer sheds a little light on the creature's origins, but I hope there is a more visual description of how the Devourer operates and where his victims go to. The cliffhanger is very effective and I wonder how it will resolve itself, unless there is some kind of cheat. I'm looking forward to seeing how Dredd manages to...wait, who is Dredd again? What was I reviewing again?



DANDRIDGE - THE COPPER CONSPIRACY (Part 5)
Script - Alec Worley
Art - Warren Pleece
Letters - Ellie de Ville

Held captive by the VCR-headed Max Beta (or Master Beta to his minions), Dandridge is forced to listen to a pre-recorded 'Villainous Gloat' where-upon it's revealed that Dandridge himself is the key to the plan to take over London with the ghost-powered 'coppers'.

Oooh, BURN!!

I'm still really enjoying this series and I like the unique look to Max Beta, as well as the developments within the plot with the grand master-plan revealed. I have the feeling that we're over the halfway point in this series and because it's been such a fast-paced story, it doesn't feel like much has happened really. It was a bit convenient that Max Beta removed the head from the 'controlled' Shelley, leaving his body free to be reunited with the Shelley for a last-minute rescue, and it took a re-read to realize it was due to the 'Master Beta' comment, which he referred to as an irritating speech impediment earlier when another robot said it to him.



THARG'S 3RILLERS - THE GHOSTSHIP MATHEMATICA (Part 2)
Script - David Baillie
Art - Inaki Miranda
Colours / Letters - Eva De La Cruz / Annie Parkhouse

I was surprised at the shift in time since the first part with the young Marble Jones now as an adult alongside his robotic crew-mates as they pilot the Ghostship. The sudden shift forward in time made me feel that this story would have been better served in a full-length strip and given time to breathe, rather than being given a three-part restriction, but it depends on next week's final part.

I really liked the banter between the 'memories' of the earth crew, especially the engineer who wants to commit suicide rather than exist as a mathematical equation...yeah, it's a bit tricky to get your head around, but it makes sense from within the strip. The climax seems a bit abrupt and I'm not sure  where it can go next, which is fantastic as I have no preconceptions on how this story should end! More like this please, Tharg!



STICKLEBACK - NUMBER OF THE BEAST (Part 5)
Script - Ian Edginton
Art - D'Israeli
Letters - Ellie de Ville

Not much happens in this episode, with Stickleback tracking the factory worker back to his house where he reveals a bit more of the mystery, as his partner begins to experience some nasty side-effects and develops into a dinosaur creature. I particularly liked the weird look he has, with eyeballs in his nose cavities - it makes him look more like a mutated human-hybrid dinosaur, rather than a standard one.



ZOMBO - PLANET ZOMBO (Part 4)
Script - Al Ewing
Art - Henry Flint
Letters - Simon Bowland

The carnage promised last issue happens in a grim and gruesome manner, with a sly streak of dark humour running through it. I don't think Willy Wonka has ever sounded more creepy than when Zombo sings the lyrics to 'Pure Imagination' while he nails a hapless victim to a wall and proceeds to stretch his neck from his body.

Zombo hadn't fully grasped the concept of buying earrings for a girl

My only criticism is that there isn't much confrontation between Zombo and the Sc4rabs as teased from the cover image - however, it's highly likely that they'll clash in the next issue so I'm looking forward to seeing how this version of the 'Fab Four' manage to hold their own against the evil Zombo!


OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

On the off-chance anyone from 2000AD is reading this, it might be worthwhile using the advertising space to promote early graphic novels featuring collections of stories relevant to the ones featured in the anthology at that time - for example, promoting Stickleback, Dandridge and Zombo's early collections would be a great way to entice new or lapsed readers to pick up the earlier stories and get up to date quicker.

I am really enjoying all the thrills, particularly Ghostship Mathematica and Dandridge! I am a little downhearted that it will be coming to an end next week, and hope that it's replacement manages to fill the large space left in its wake. All in all, I'm really enjoying the comic and it's nice mix of futuristic and alternate historical strips at the minute.


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1828 will be available in stores on Wednesday 17th April - Digital copies of this Prog will be available on the same day through the 2000AD app, which can be downloaded onto iOS devices from here.

Keep checking back each week for more reviews and features about 2000AD, the Galaxy's Greatest Comic! Remember to leave your comments below, or contact me on Twitter or through my Facebook page!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

2000AD Prog 1827


Prog 1827 Cover by Nick Percival
The cover seems a bit dark in terms of colour, but it's a brave choice to show a headless body on the front cover, especially one that appears to be bear-hugging two C3PO's! Let's hope George Lucas (and his lawyers) are sleeping!


JUDGE DREDD - SUICIDE WATCH (Part 2)
Script Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby
Art - Paul Davidson
Colours / Letters - Chris Blythe / Annie Parkhouse


The story begins to develop with Dredd and Hamida investigating the suicide cult she saw in her psi-flash. Their discussion leads them towards Drew Ridgeley block, although, it appears the suicide cult is already putting their plans into motion.
Grin when you're winning
I'm enjoying this storyline, although I am quite confused by things, which isn't a bad thing at this point as it has been set up as a slow-burning mystery. It appears that the suicide cult are aware of this mysterious grinning stranger who can wipe someone from existence (although it wasn't clear last issue if they did know about him or not) and the final scene seems to demonstrate that the creature's powers extend to not just erasing a person from existence, but their family too? Unless I misunderstood the reason behind the photo vanishing? Either the photo became blank because they all disappeared, or it became blank because the husband and wife never met and they never posed for the photo. It was slightly unclear and hopefully upcoming explanations will clarify the extent of the danger posed to Dredd and Hamida.



DANDRIDGE - THE COPPER CONSPIRACY (Part 4)
Script - Alec Worley
Art - Warren Pleece
Letters - Ellie de Ville

The front cover gives away the resolution of the cliffhanger from the last issue, but despite that, this story continues to impress. The pace continues quite briskly with a nice mix of exposition and action - as the plot begins to take shape. I quite liked the internal monologue provided by the mute golem, Shelley, as he reflected on his relationship with his master. The inspired plan to use elements of the copper robots as disguises to infiltrate their lair made me smile, and looks set to backfire on Dandridge as his former ally is controlled by nefarious means. It's a nice cliffhanger that definitely intrigues me to read more!

Who remembers the Crash Test Dummies?


THARG'S 3RILLERS - THE GHOSTSHIP MATHEMATICA (Part 1)
Script - David Baillie
Art - Inaki Miranda
Colours / Letters - Eva De La Cruz / Annie Parkhouse

In a future world, where the legend of Earth and their inhabitants, the humans, is a whispered myth, a young boy desperately seeks adventure and sneaks aboard a space-pirate ship to join the robot crew on the hunt for the Ghostship Mathematica, a legendary spaceship said to contain the co-ordinates to the lost planet Earth.

It's very rare for a story to grab me from the first episode - I normally need two or three parts before I begin to feel invested in the characters and their universe. However, it is a testament to David Baillie's writing that I found myself completely involved with this story from the third or fourth page - the imaginative creatures (amazingly designed by Inaki Miranda) and the sense of fun and adventure from this space-pirate tale really hit me hard, to the point where I was a little disheartened that this would only be a three-part adventure!



STICKLEBACK - NUMBER OF THE BEAST (Part 4)
Script - Ian Edginton
Art - D'Israeli
Letters - Ellie de Ville

The plot continues to develop with Stickleback investigating the site of the robbery from the first episode. It seems that after the brief re-introduction and establishing of the new status quo that this strip is ready to continue moving forward. As a lapsed reader with limited knowledge of the history of this story, it is more interesting to see the plot moving forward rather than reminiscing over past adventures I haven't read, but I am aware there may be long-term fans who may have gotten a different level of enjoyment out of seeing Stickleback adjusting to the changes since his 'death'.

I quite like the notion of a Lizard sub-species mixing with the humans, and predictably they have become a more servantile race, forced into labour by the government - it will be interesting to see how this develops and if I seek out some older Stickleback graphic novels, I may be able to see the drastic changes between the older stories and this one to experience the same "culture shock" that Stickleback is reacting to.



ZOMBO - PLANET ZOMBO (Part 3)
Script - Al Ewing
Art - Henry Flint
Letters - Simon Bowland

Zombo continues it's odd mix of horror and comedy and while the comedy moments feel flat for me this week, I particularly liked the feeling of horror towards the end of the story when the 'bad brain' Zombo has escaped and looms above the team of scientists.


I-Spy with my Little Eye...something beginning with Z
I have no clue what's going on and what the motivations are of each character, to the point where I don't even know who the bad guys and the good guys are - I assume that Zombo is a good guy, but even that doesn't seem overly clear. However, despite this, I still find myself enjoying the 'organised chaos' of it all. While the humour can be hit and miss, there's no denying the sheer craziness of the story and it's unlike anything else I've read in 2000AD before! As it continues, hopefully, I'll become more aware of who I should be cheering for!



OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

I've been completely won over by The Ghostship Mathematica and this will likely be the first strip that I read next week, followed by Dredd and Dandridge. While I'm not completely won over by Zombo and Stickleback, I am still enjoying them, and in Zombo's case, I am looking forward to seeing how things develop with him and his good vs. bad 'brain problem'.

Curiously, Tharg teases a panel from the upcoming Thrill, Greysuit, which will likely replace one of the stories currently running. My memory of this series is rather spotty, but I found it okay but a little confusing in places. It will be interesting to see if this returning story will be reader-friendly, like the majority of the stories thus far.


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1827 will be available in stores on Wednesday 10th April - Digital copies of this Prog will be available on the same day through the 2000AD app, which can be downloaded onto iOS devices from here.

Keep checking back each week for more reviews and features about 2000AD, the Galaxy's Greatest Comic! Remember to leave your comments below, or contact me on Twitter or through my Facebook page!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

2000AD Prog 1826


Prog 1826 cover by Paul Davidson

I really like the cover art with the mysterious grinning stranger leering behind Dredd. My eyes are naturally drawn to the eerie grin within the silhouette, which is an effective visual for an enemy. It definitely looks more intriguing than the last Dredd story, especially accompanied with the headline, 'Just what is wiping Citizens from Existence?'


JUDGE DREDD - SUICIDE WATCH (Part 1)
Script - Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby
Art - Paul Davidson
Colours / Letters - Chris Blythe / Annie Parkhouse


Dredd is on a regular pursuit of some joyriding perps, when they crash into Drew Ridgeley block (which took me longer to get than it should have!) - a mysterious smiling figure approaches the injured perps. The mystery deepens when Dredd approached the now empty crashed vehicle and cannot remember why he is there and neither can Control. Meanwhile, a strange cult becomes aware of this phenomena and make a pilgrimage towards Drew Ridgeley block. However, the mysterious goings-on do not go completely unnoticed with Psi-Judge Hamida getting a powerful vision of the suicide cult.


When removing people from existence, it is important to practice good oral hygeine

I really liked this introductory episode as it had a nice mix of mystery and action. I'm looking forward to finding out exactly what the situation is with the grinning stranger (featured on the cover) as well as the cult and their purposes. The prospect of a villain who can wipe people from existence and memories is intriguing, and I am concerned that they might be a bit too powerful for Dredd to defeat without an awkward plot device, so I am interested to see whether the story can be resolved without a Deus Ex Machina ending.



DANDRIDGE - THE COPPER CONSPIRACY (Part 3)
Script - Alec Worley
Art - Warren Pleece
Letters - Ellie de Ville

Dandridge continues at a cracking pace with a bit of detective work this episode following the action-heavy installment last week. The cliffhanger however was very reminiscent of the end of the first episode with Dandridge surprised and outnumbered, but maintaining a cool head. I like this aspect of his personality and it makes me want to read more.



I like the mix of Steampunk Victorian London and the 80's, which I noticed more in this episode with the pub and the look of the locations. I had to flick back to the synopsis on the first page to discover this takes place in 'another version of the 1980s' - I had thought it was early Victorian until now! Still, it's nice to get a feel for the location and setting now! This story is really growing on me and makes me want to seek out the back issues - is there a collection for the previous stories yet?



THARG'S 3RILLERS - SURVIVAL GEEKS (Part 3)
Script - Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby
Art - Neil Googe
Colours / Letters - Gary Caldwell / Annie Parkhouse


This is the concluding part to the Tharg's 3riller, Survival Geeks, which judging from Tharg's comments in the Input Centre may have potential to spin-off into a larger series, if popular. I personally enjoyed this light-hearted pop culture heavy romp and wouldn't mind seeing a larger series (perhaps 6 episodes long?) but there would need to be a lot more characterisation. Apart from the girl, Sam, the other three 'geeks' are very indistinct and samey - they need a bit more of an individuality if the series is to continue beyond. In terms of the set-up, Sliders with geeks, it definitely has potential if it can develop the characters more.



STICKLEBACK - NUMBER OF THE BEAST (Part 3)
Script - Ian Edginton
Art - D'Israeli
Letters - Ellie de Ville

This episode was more enjoyable for me than the previous ones as I didn't feel totally out of my depth and it seemed to be more focused on moving forwards rather than discussing the past - seeing Stickleback teamed up with Miss Scarlet (who I assume is a former associate) should prove for some interesting drama and the story appears to be moving on well - It's not my favourite out of the stories, but it's getting more interesting. The artwork, however, is really great and I love D'Israeli's use of black and white in this strip.



ZOMBO - PLANET ZOMBO (Part 2)
Script - Al Ewing
Art - Henry Flint
Letters - Simon Bowland

I really liked the Beatles parody with The Sc4rabs, especially the John Lennon carciature known as Jim Lemon. The sequence where he attacks a reporter and proceeds to rob him left me with a grin on my face! I do like the wacky elements to this story and there seems to be a lot of them! Zombo, fresh from his rebirth, doesn't appear to be himself and almost seems like an after-thought at this point, barely featuring in either episode thus far. I do like the dark sense of humour in this strip though, so even though I might not fully understand the story, I look forward to more deranged moments in future Progs!
Jim Lemon conducts an unorthodox interview


OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

Next issue has a new Tharg's 3rillers called The Ghostship Mathematica, which sounds intriguing. I like the three-parts and out approach these stories take as it gives us something fresh every month and is a great testing ground for new series. I look forward to seeing more from Dredd and Dandridge, and I'm growing more attached to Stickleback and Zombo! Overall, this was one of the more consistent Progs I've read since I started these reviews, and I hope it continues with the introduction of a new strip!


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1826 will be available in stores on Wednesday 3rd April - Digital copies of this Prog will be available on the same day through the 2000AD app, which can be downloaded onto iOS devices from here.

Keep checking back each week for more reviews and features about 2000AD, the Galaxy's Greatest Comic! Remember to leave your comments below, or contact me on Twitter or through my Facebook page!
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