Wednesday, 31 July 2013

2000AD Prog 1843

Prog 1843 Cover by Carl Critchlow

This is an amazing cover! I really love the mix of the purple in the logo and the dark blue background of the sea, not to mention the positioning of Dredd as the tentacles threatening to drag him down. Carl Critchlow has done a great job here and this is definitely in my Top 10 covers of the year!


JUDGE DREDD - SCAVENGERS (Part 2)
Script - Rob Williams
Art - Carl Critchlow
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

Dredd and his three Judge companions continue their sub-aquatic journey towards the sunken Luna-2, but are rudely interrupted by a giant squid! After losing on the Judges, the survivors swim onwards to the submerged city, encountering a reluctantly carnivorous Klegg, who explains that two groups of Scavengers are in the midst of a battle to determine who rules Luna-2.

As I mentioned earlier in regards to the cover, Carl Critchlow's art is fantastic and really suits this underwater tale. The sequence where the female Judge is dragged to her death is chillingly effective as each panel silently depicts the action as Dredd stops Berkeley from firing a shot to preserve the element of stealth. I also enjoyed the image where the three survivors emerge from the water into the dilapidated Luna-2 with the change in colouring and detail to the water effects.


I'm really enjoying the direction that this story is taking, with the focus on stealth and underwater action - two elements rarely focused on in the Dredd universe. As I mentioned last week, there is a video-game feel to this whole storyline, which could easily be part of a Bioshock mod or adapted into its own title.



SINISTER DEXTER - LAST RIGHTS (Part 3)
Script - Dan Abnett
Art - Simon Davis
Letters - Ellie de Ville

This episode brings this "Witless Protection" arc to an end with Sinister and Dexter finally reuniting and vowing to hunt down Tannenbaum - The subtitle mentions that the series will next return with "The Generican Dream".

I really liked the tension as Ray goaded MacArthur into killing him in their home, making a messier loose end to clean up. The swift visual change as you turn the page and see MacArthur's gory fate was very effective and reminded me of those sudden gunshot death moments in films.



I'm looking forward to the strip's return now that the duo is reunited and attempt to locate Tanenbaum. I'm guessing Sinister's case worker will be a key factor in finding him. Maybe I'm misreading the tone, but it does feel like this may be the final arc, as the characters seem to be heading towards their natural conclusions, with Ray and Tracy wanting to return to the 'Right' life once this unfinished business is over.



AGE OF THE WOLF III - WOLFWORLD (Part 4)
Script - Alec Worley
Art - Jon Davis-Hunt
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

Rowan, making short work of the armoured wolves from the last installment, causes the Alpha Wolf to reconsider her approach, sending everything she can at the Grey Witch, whilst she escapes with Keira. One interesting development is when the Alpha sends the young cubs to fight, knowing that they will likely be slaughtered by Rowan. It demonstrates the ruthlessness of both the characters and the high stakes at play.


In terms of the artwork, this week seemed a lot harder to follow with the action sequences, particularly on the gliders. I've read criticism on message-boards that the Wolves appear too cute and cartoony - something I hadn't really agreed with until this installment. I'd expect the cubs to be depicted as more innocent than savage, but the majority of them seem to have rather cartoon-like features, like wide, white eyes, or goofy facial expressions. Even the armoured Wolves seem a bit hokey and ridiculous.  It feels less dark and brooding and a bit like watching a bunch of care-bears getting massacred by a mean, grey-haired witch. I'm not sure if this is a conscious approach to make us sympathise with the wolves moreso than the humans, but it doesn't quite fit right.



DEFOE - THE DAMNED (Part 8)
Script - Pat Mills
Art - Leigh Gallagher
Letters - Ellie de Ville

After touching base with the Reek Hunters left at the Tower, we return to the confrontation between Defoe and Faust, as he reveals more dark secrets from Damned's past, causing further rifts between the group, even going as far to make Defoe seemingly turn against his friends and accept Faust's deal. It's interesting to note that it isn't his thirst for revenge that makes him consider the offer, but the removal of any hope of a normal England after this outbreak. Obviously, something will happen to change his mind and reset Defoe on the right path, but I think the relationships with his other Reek Hunters will be irrevocably damaged as a result of his lapse in faith.



THE TEN-SECONDERS - GODSEND (Part 5)
Script - Rob Williams
Art - Edmund Bagwell
Letters - Simon Bowland

With his newly gifted God-like powers, Malloy has a bit of a 'Dr. Manhattan' moment and starts rebuilding the Earth and making changes. The use of narrative boxes throughout the sequence where Malloy reshapes the Earth help affirm his new omnipotence as he ponders philosophical questions to himself. The callous way he decides to summon Damage and Jen to him, with the intention of destroying him like the monstrous aberration he is, shows how quickly Malloy's humanity had been lost.

The artwork by Edmund Bagwell was top notch, even if he was largely drawing geographical changes. There was one sequence that was particularly confusing was when the dead sailors in the submarine returned to life - it wasn't entirely clear whether they were now zombies or actually alive, but this should be explained once the cliffhanger is resolved next week.



OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

Sinister Dexter has come to an end without overstaying its welcome, and it feels like this particular chapter has been resolved and there will be forward momentum in the next set of stories. Next week features the return of Slaine to celebrate his 30th anniversary. I've found the series to be a bit hit and miss, particularly in terms of the more continuity-heavy tales, but I hope that this anniversary special is a more accessible story to celebrate the character's history.


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1843 will be available in stores on Wednesday 31st July - 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!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Review - Judge Dredd: Fatties

Judge Dredd: Fatties
Written by: John Wagner & Alan Grant
Art by: Carlos Ezquerra, Ron Smith, Mick McMahon, Cam Kennedy, John Higgins & Jon Haward
ISBN: 978-1-78108-133-4
Price: $19.99 (US) $22.00 (Canada)
Release Date: July 16th 2013

This Graphic Novel reprints the following stories:
  • Anatomy of a CrimeJudge Dredd Annual 1982
  • The League of Fatties2000AD Progs 273 – 274
  • Requiem for a Heavyweight2000AD Progs 331 – 334
  • The Eat of the NightJudge Dredd Annual 1985
  • The Magnificent Obsession2000AD Progs 440 – 441
  • The Bazooka Judge Dredd Megazine 4.01 – 4.03
  • Fat ChristmasJudge Dredd Megazine 227
  • Fat Fathers2000AD Prog 1694

This latest North American collection of Judge Dredd stories focuses on one of the more extreme fads to take place within Mega City One - The Fatties! Covering the first appearance of the Fatties in Judge Dredd Annual 1982, this collection reprints choice stories that focus on the obese citizens known as 'The Fatties' or the Heavyweight Eating competitions that they participate in, right up until their most recent story, "Fat Fathers", appearing in Prog 1694. Recognised as a true American past-time, it is only natural that competitive eating events are pushed to their extremes within the futuristic excesses of Mega-City One life. The Fatties, themselves, are such an iconic aspect of citizen life, especially the genius design of the Belliwheel, and the stories focusing on them often show the more satirical side of Judge Dredd, such as "Fat Fathers", which lampoons the Fathers-For-Justice campaign with a Fatties twist.


One thing I like about this collection is the sense of continuity between each tale which take place over the span of several decades. References made in the initial appearances are followed upon in the later stories, written years later. There is the sense of a growing narrative as the earlier stories focus on the fact that food shortages, due to the Apocalypse War, have meant that speed-eating competitions have been outlawed and the Fatties themselves are placed under house-arrest, unable to leave specified segregation blocks until they have lost the required weight. Later stories drop this restriction as Mega-City One's fortunes improve and the Fatties become an accepted part of MC-1 culture, even becoming celebrities in some cases.

While this collection features many of the key Fatties stories, it is not a complete collection. Most notably there is a missing story between "The Magnificent Obsession" and "The Bazooka", which is referenced in an editorial box ("Fast Food" in Prog 1054 - 1057) - it doesn't affect the narrative too much, but the fact that it is mentioned on-page makes it an unusual omission from the collection, especially after the strong continuity between the earlier stories.


My favourite story from the collection is "The Eat of the Night" in which the Fatties overcome the food shortage by eating non-food items during their competitions, such as a 24-ton Mopad! It's a funny look at  how the absurdities of the Fattie craze become even more bizarre in the face of adversity. I also quite liked the Romeo and Juliet inspired tale, "Fat Christmas", which takes the Shakespearian tragedy of star-crossed lovers and adds what the bearded bard was missing all those years ago: competitive eating!

This collection is perfect if you want a light-hearted look at Judge Dredd's world, rather than the serious drama ("Day of Chaos") or the more supernatural aspects ("The Dark Judges"). It offers up a tonally different Mega-City One to the city presented in the movie and may be unfamiliar to American audiences who have only experienced Mega City One through both cinematic releases. I would love to see more themed collections like these, perhaps focusing on the Taxidermy Olympics, Max Normal, Walter the Wobot and some of the more oddball citizens and their one-shot stories.

Judge Dredd: Fatties will be available from 16th July from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com in both the UK and North America.

Score - 8.2 out of 10

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

2000AD Prog 1842

Prog 1842 Cover by Leigh Gallagher & Dylan Teague

I'm not overly fond of this cover image - it might be the green colouring on the zombie, or the fact it is not representative of the strip inside, but it doesn't quite work for me. Curiously, it reminds of a recent painting done by cult internet artist, Jim'll Paint It, featuring Jeremy Kyle and Danny Baker escaping from Stephen Fry's mouth on a flying Ecto-1 - check it out here. I wonder if it was an inspiration, perhaps?


JUDGE DREDD - SCAVENGERS (Part 1)
Script - Rob Williams
Art - Carl Critchlow
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

Following on from the Trifecta storyline that ran in 2000AD last year, this storyline introduces the threat of nuclear war from the sunken Luna-2, deep underneath the Black Atlantic. Rather than attack the city directly, Chief Judge Hershey decides to send Dredd and a squad of Judges underwater to tackle the problem more discreetly.

I missed out on the original Trifecta storyline when it ran, but this follow-up doesn't depend on any prior knowledge, going as far to show the fall of Luna-2 from a different (and darkly comic) perspective. The set-up is briskly explained and the concept of some underwater Dredd action seems like something new to the character - it actually feels reminiscent of the game, Bioshock, to me. I wonder whether there will be many survivors trapped underwater, or whether it will be like exploring the ruins of the Titanic.



The artwork by Carl Critchlow is really fantastic and is completely different from the previous artists who have worked on Dredd recently. The level of detail is great and there's something wonderful about the way he draws the multi-headed and many-toothed sea snakes - hopefully, we will see more gruesome mutations lurking beneath the sea.



SINISTER DEXTER - LAST RIGHTS (Part 2)
Script - Dan Abnett
Art - Simon Davis
Letters - Ellie de Ville

This week's Sinister Dexter opens up with a cheeky nipple shot, as Dexter experiences another foreboding dream that his former partner will ruin his perfect life with Tracy. There is a nice little moment between the couple where she reveals she kept a gun for him, knowing he wouldn't keep one for fear of seeming non-committal. Dex's prophetic nightmares seem to be coming true, though, when Sinister calls up and tells Tracy about Tannenbaum, upon which Marshall Art threatens her with a gun.


Nipple Alert!

It's likely that next week's will be the end of this run, since Slaine is scheduled to return in Prog 1844 and this strip seems the closest to a natural break. The question is whether Tracy will be killed, fulfilling Dexter's dark prophecy, or whether Dexter will save the day. My theory is that despite her thoughts to the contrary  Dexter also has a gun, stored in his lawnmower or car, perhaps, and he uses it to launch a last minute rescue and Mr & Mrs Right head off to reunite with Sinister.



AGE OF THE WOLF III - WOLFWORLD (Part 3)
Script - Alec Worley
Art - Jon Davis-Hunt
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

I'm surprised how fast the pace is on this story, with only three parts elapsed, it seems like the main players are already assembled, with Rowan tracking down her 'daughter' and making her way aboard the Wolves' airship. It feels like we're approaching the end of the story (and series) but we're actually at the beginning - there might be a twist that extends the plot, but at the moment, it just feels oddly-paced.

The artwork is pretty cool, although Jon Davis-Hunt's strongest area seems to be the wolves themselves. Some of the other animals featured (the boar and the deer) reminded me of Princess Mononoke with the way they were drawn and portrayed. There looked like a slight mix-up in one panel, however, when the three deer charging down on Rowan seem to lose their antlers. On the plus side, the final panel with Rowan facing down three metal-clad ninja wolves looked great and promises an action-heavy fourth part.



DEFOE - THE DAMNED (Part 7)
Script - Pat Mills
Art - Leigh Gallagher
Letters - Ellie de Ville

Defoe and his cohorts make their way to confront Faust, who has two surprises for them. The first is Tomazine's son, Sean, who he reunites with his mother; and the second is the promise to Defoe of revenge against the man who killed his wife and children, Jack O'Bite, if he agrees to serve Faust.

I don't for a second believe that Defoe would join forces with Faust in order to get his hands on Jack, because surely he intends to kill them both, so his revenge would be sated anyway. I do suspect that Faust's 'gesture of good will' in reuniting Tomazine with her son will have some horrible twist - perhaps the boy is some kind of Demon or a Reek? I look forward to seeing how this will play out and where the story heads next, as it seems like we're nearing the conclusion of not just this particular storyline, but the series as a whole?



THE TEN-SECONDERS - GODSEND (Part 4)
Script - Rob Williams
Art - Edmund Bagwell
Letters - Simon Bowland

This episode took me a bit by surprise with what seemed to be the death of Paul Malloy (and in some ways, it was) in the opening panels. Whilst Malloy is having his genetic code rewritten, we catch up with Kane and Harris, getting a glimpse at the pair's mental state. While Harris loudly claims to be mental, it is the more quiet Kane who is showing real mental imbalance. Returning back to the Father's ship, we see the new Paul Malloy, remade by them as a God, promising a fairer playing field for the Humans vs Gods war.




OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

Overall, the whole Prog is still firing on almost all cylinders with Age of the Wolf III being the only potential weak-spot. With Slaine appearing in Prog 1844, it seems likely that this run of Sinister Dexter will come to an end next week, possibly with a shocking cliffhanger, judging by the way the current story is heading. The teaser for Ulysses Sweet: Maniac for Hire looks intriguing - after all, nothing says 'intriguing' more than a faceless man, holding his own face in a plastic bag!. 


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1842 will be available in stores on Wednesday 24th July - 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 July 2013

2000AD Prog 1841

Prog 1841 Cover by Dave Taylor

I like the foreground and use of light against Dredd, but the actual skeleton seems to be lost within the brightness of the explosion - perhaps using a darker colour for the bones would have led to a more striking image. Also, the positioning of both Dredd and the off-center explosion makes the image seem a little strange. It doesn't look so much as if Dredd is shielding his eyes from the explosion, but rather more like he's just interested in what's happening to the side instead.


JUDGE DREDD - WASTELANDS (Part 5)
Script - John Wagner
Art - Dave Taylor
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

Surprisingly, this story-arc comes to a close this issue with Dredd confronting Starbux and doing an Agatha Christie style monologue of the various leads and clues that form his theory that Starbux was behind the Surfer attack - something that the reader had predicted long before, making this reveal fall a little flat, although it is very satisfying to see Dredd use his detective skills and brains to solve a case, rather than brute force.

Watch out, He-Man, Dredd's onto you!

The artwork has been a bit hit-and-miss for me throughout the strip, but overall has been a success and definitely improved upon each episode. I like Dave Taylor's design on Dredd, although he does make him look skinnier and younger than he has been portrayed in other stories - perhaps he would be well suited in a Young Dredd storyline. Overall this was a fun strip, which told a good and tightly plotted story, even if some aspects were a little predictable. 



SINISTER DEXTER - LAST RIGHTS (Part 1)
Script - Dan Abnett
Art - Simon Davis
Letters - Ellie de Ville

This strip marks the return of two mainstays of the Sinister Dexter universe - the character of Ramone Dexter, Sinister's "right hand" to his "left" and Simon Davis, whose bold art style dictated the tone and mood of the series in its early days. I must say it's a pleasure to see both return to the strip!

Dexter, in a happier form of witness protection, than his former partner, Sinister, is living the suburban life with his lover, Tracy Weld, but he is haunted of dreams that his perfect life may be ruined. Dreams that might be more prophetic than he realises, when Marshall Art McArthur (introduced in Sinister's recent arc) approaches the happy couple to find out whether Sinister has been in contact.



This change of focus has been the breath of fresh air that this current run needed and I've been looking forward to seeing Dexter in his witness protection life, and as I expected, he is having a much nicer time than his former partner, who will inevitably ruin things for him - something Dexter's subconsciousness also thinks, judging by his dreams. I look forward to seeing more from this perspective. Also, Dan Abnett, master of the pun name, slips in another with Dexter's new surname 'Right', as well as the title of this arc - 'Last Rights'.



AGE OF THE WOLF III - WOLFWORLD (Part 2)
Script - Alec Worley
Art - Jon Davis-Hunt
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

There's an epic feel to proceedings as Rowan's adopted daughter, Keira, is revealed to be the key sacrifice for a Lunar prophecy that will wipe out the human race and make the earth into a Wolfworld. However, Rowan has prepared for her daughter's kidnap years prior and is able to find her using a tracking rune on her skin.

I'm really enjoying this battle for dominance between the two species, with the humans in the minority against the lycanthrope majority. While I appreciate the fast-paced action and the briskness of having the whole saga take place within a trilogy of stories, I do feel that the adventure would have benefited from more time spent 'world-building' with smaller story arcs that showcase the dramatic differences between their world and ours.



DEFOE - THE DAMNED (Part 6)
Script - Pat Mills
Art - Leigh Gallagher
Letters - Ellie de Ville

For anyone who felt short-changed by the Spiriter's apparent death in Prog 1839, he returns (still minus his legs after his last run-in with Defoe) and senses the three heartbeats hiding amongst the horde of dead, prompting the trio of false zombies to make a quick escape, but not before stuffing the stumpy corpse of the Spiriter into the furnace engine of their escape vehicle, putting an end to him once and for all.


I really enjoyed the action of this sequence, although I was confused on how the Spiriter had made his way back out to the horde, after last seen being blown apart in the Tower's cathedral. Apart from this minor issue, the story flows well and another threat is re-introduced at the close of the storyline. As with the last few Progs, this strip has been the highlight of the week for me.



THE TEN-SECONDERS - GODSEND (Part 3)
Script - Rob Williams
Art - Edmund Bagwell
Letters - Simon Bowland

The Ten-Seconders continues with the mayhem unleashed when Malloy summoned the Fathers. The comical creature known as Damage (who it appears has been in the strip before) attacks the Father which is attempting to take Jen - rescuing her, but getting a bashing at the same time. Malloy enters the submarine, which is promptly lifted off of the captive Earth and into the laps of the Fathers themselves!

I love the grand scope of this series and it continues to get bigger and more downbeat for mankind. I'm guessing that we'll see some form of communication between the Fathers and Malloy as we find out whether they are to be trusted, or whether another dangerous threat has been introduced to the storyline. I hope we see more of Damage too - I like his childhood innocence and the character design. He looks like a stone fist...with attitude.



OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

I'm looking forward to a fresh Judge Dredd storyline next week, preferably with a run of single-issue or smaller multi-part stories. Also, Sinister Dexter has taken on a new direction with the focus on Dexter and the return of Simon Davis to art duties. Everything else is running at a good pace, with Defoe holding its position as best Thrill of the Week. With Slaine joining the ranks in Prog 1844, I'm guessing that Sinister Dexter will be the strip which comes to an end in Prog 1843, maybe with a cliffhanger until the next run of adventures?


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1841 will be available in stores on Wednesday 17th July - 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 July 2013

2000AD Prog 1840

Prog 1840 Cover by Jon Davis-Hunt

I really like the bold image of the crouching werewolf with the moon behind – it’s a really striking image and the tattered flag, along with the headline, suggests the werewolves have seized control of the world, which is an intriguing idea.


JUDGE DREDD - WASTELANDS (Part 4)
Script - John Wagner
Art - Dave Taylor
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

Dredd confronts the two assassins, Waldo & Mutch, who are attempting to remove the loose ends after the Surfer attack on Valentino Block, but ironically end up becoming the very thing they were sent to remove when Waldo gives Dredd the next piece of the puzzle to lead him towards the mastermind behind the Valentino Block attack.

Dave Taylor’s artwork shines here with an action-heavy sequence and his panels seem to lend towards the kinetic movements of gunfire or falling bodies. The panels where Waldo receives his injuries are particularly effective as Dredd coldly incapacitates his foe, leaving him alive for questioning.

It feels like there is a certain expectation with this strip, which was loudly proclaimed as John Wagner’s return to the character since his status-quo smashing storyline, Day of Chaos. I'm enjoying the story as it comes, but it does feel a little small in scale to what I expected. Whether it’s designed to be the start of another long-running storyline or just a chance for Wagner to tip his toe in Dredd’s world once more, remains to be seen, but it has been enjoyable thus far.



SINISTER DEXTER - IN PLAIN SHITE (Part 5)
Script - Dan Abnett
Art - John Burns
Letters - Ellie de Ville

The majority of this week's installment is taken up with the promised gunfight between Sinister and Frontal's men. I really enjoyed the blow-by-blow narration during the battle, as it made the split-second action feel drawn out in slow motion. As I predicted last week, Sinister has taken Piper with him as his companion in his cross-country trip across Generica, however there is the unresolved problem of Uncle Vanya, who isn't quite as LOL as before.

It looks like Sinister has got his mojo back and with a partner, albeit a non-gunshark female, he won't have to rely on talking to himself to keep sane. I like the fact that there are still consequences from both this storyline and the previous one to be resolves, with Uncle Vanya and Marshall Art still looming large as threats. While this hasn't been the complete fresh start that many were hoping for, I have been enjoying this new direction that the series has taken and wonder where it will go once the gunshark duo finally reunite.


AGE OF THE WOLF III - WOLFWORLD (Part 1)
Script - Alec Worley
Art - Jon Davis-Hunt
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

I’d caught part of the first book in this trilogy, but didn't really follow the storyline, but Tharg does a good job of catching up any new readers in his Input Centre introduction. This concept of a werewolf-controlled world is one that I've not seen explored in fiction before - there's been plenty of vampire and zombie Armageddon's but no werewolf ones, to my knowledge.

It is now twenty years since the events of the second book and the werewolves seem to have their own hierarchy and rules, such as challenging the alpha of a pack to a battle. Curiously they also seem well-educated and follow their own religion, using runes and the moon. While they are clearly the dominant race, there are still remnants of the human race, notably The Grey Witch, Rowan, whose daughter has been kidnapped by the wolves, setting into motion events which Sigrid Runecrafter, alpha of the pack, predicts will eliminate the human vermin, once and for all.

The art is really strong and there's plenty of gore. I mean, it's not every day you see one werewolf strangle another werewolf using the intestines of a third werewolf. I really like the design of the werewolves, which look cute and cuddly in places, yet vicious and deadly in others. It helps to showcase that these aren't the mindless wolves from the movies, but a genuine race with all the subtleties of humans.



DEFOE - THE DAMNED (Part 5)
Script - Pat Mills
Art - Leigh Gallagher
Letters - Ellie de Ville

I was surprised to see the Traitor sub-plot resolved so quickly, but glad that Tomazine owned up to her mistake and that Defoe understood her motivations, although I agree with the point made by Bodie that he wouldn't have been so lenient with him if he had been the traitor. Using a plot idea from Shaun of the Dead, Defoe and his team attempt to escape the Tower by disguising themselves as Reeks, complete with rotting flesh and entrails dangling from them, resulting in an awesome looking final page showcasing the three Reek hunters in their semi-undead glory.


This continues to be the strongest strip in the Prog, with a perfect blend of amazing art, taut script-work and dramatic high-concept action. Pat Mills’ idea of Victorian Zombies swarming the Tower of London is such a fantastic one that it is really enjoyable to see it fully realised with such well-crafted art by Leigh Gallagher. This is easily the strip I look forward to reading each week and I'm going to go dig out the two graphic novels which collect the previous storylines.



THE TEN-SECONDERS - GODSEND (Part 2)
Script - Rob Williams
Art - Edmund Bagwell
Letters - Simon Bowland

After the extended flashback introduction last week, we're straight back into the present as the Earth is swallowed aboard the Father's ship, as the moon crashed into pieces against the side of the massive craft. The scale of these creatures against the humans highlights just how out of their depth Malloy and his freedom fighters really are. By summoning the Fathers, have they made matters twice as bad?

The art by Edmund Bagwell continues to astound, especially the first full-size appearance of the Fathers which takes up the whole page, with additional panels along the side. It's a really effective way of demonstrating the might of these godly creatures and the scale of their size compared to the humans. 



OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

This was another strong Prog, with the addition of Age of the Wolf to the roster. I like the mix of new strips starting and other ones winding down as it brings a varying tempo to the anthology - sometimes when all the strips are running at the same rate, you can get a bit of a lull as strips come close to the final run - I'm glad to say that this isn't the case here with all five strips firing on all cylinders.

I must admit the teaser for Ordinary piqued my interest with a panel of artwork showing a Bear unblocking a toilet. It doesn't shed much light on the contents of the strip, but it's definitely stuck in my memory as one to look out for when it appears in Judge Dredd Megazine.


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1840 will be available in stores on Wednesday 10th July - 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!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Interview - Ari Carr [Blogger / Comics & Cookies Blog]


One of the first blogs that I started following after setting up my own was the very well-written and frequently updated 'Comic Books and Cookies' blog, run by Ari Carr. My initial experience of her blog was during the "30 Day Comic Book Challenge" she ran during March where she would write posts based on certain pre-determined topics. This was a really fun way to generate daily content and allow your readers to get to know you personally, which is one the best aspects of Ari's blog.

Since she was one of the first blogs I actively followed, it made sense that she would be the first interview I conducted on my own blog.

PCB Blog: Hi Ari – Thank you for agreeing to be my first ever interview on my Blog! I’m very excited to interview a fellow Blogger and host a different type of post on my Blog.

1) Let’s start at the beginning, what got you into comics?

Ari Carr: Well there's quite a lot to it! Like a lot of British comic fans, I started out with the Beano and The Dandy, which my grandparents always used to buy for me, as well as reading through my Dad's old annuals. Fast forward a few years, and my Dad and I were visiting a family friend, and being the voracious reader I was when I was a kid, I ended up reading Maus by Art Spiegelman and Lenore by Roman Dirge, which kick started a love of comics. A while later,  I started reading manga, spurred on by watching Neon Genesis Evangelion, which was and always will be my favourite anime. A few years later, my two best friends got into Marvel and DC comics in a big way so I jumped on board. Also, my Dad is a huge fan of 2000AD (so much so that one of my middle names is taken from the pages of Judge Dredd) so I've always been able to read independent stuff, or more mature stuff from Vertigo if I wanted a change of pace.


2) And what prompted you to begin blogging?

Originally it started out as a place for me to review films, with my first post being a review of the first Hunger Games film. After a month and a bit of silence, I reviewed Avengers Assemble, which got quite a lot of traffic, and I began reviewing comics my Dad lent me, and I've grown from there, inspired by sites such as CBR and The Mary Sue.


3) Your blog is focused mainly on comics, as well as Lolita fashion, and you put a lot of your own personality into your posts, often discussing meets or box-set marathons with friends. Is there anything you would like to talk more about? Or aspects of your blog you’d like to improve on?

I'd like to talk more about indie comics and the comic industry as a whole, and get a bigger variety of comic/book reviews done. I'd also like to review films more often, and given the amount of amazing summer blockbusters we have, I'm not spoilt for choice! Sadly, I'm only one person and I can't write about everything, as much as I wish I could!


4) What would you say is your favourite comic that’s current being published right now?

Ooh, tough question! Morning Glories from Image is a personal favourite, as well as Bedlam. From Marvel, it'd have to be Captain Marvel, Young Avengers or Hawkguy... I mean Hawkeye! As for DC, it has to be Gail Simone's run on Batgirl which has been amazing. Jeff Lemire's run on Green Arrow is pretty good too.


5) If you were trapped on desert island and could only bring three graphic novels, which would they be?

Maus by Art Spiegelman as some intense and brilliant reading, Emitown by Emi Lenox for one of the best autobio comics out there, and Messiah Complex from Marvel, because it's been one of the best stories out of Marvel in ages.


6) Are there any iconic moments/scenes/panels that have stuck with you long after you’ve read them? And why?

So many! One of the big ones is when Vita Severn was murdered in Transmetropolitan. It shocked me so much because I honestly wasn't expecting it, and unlike in a lot of comics I read at the time, death was permanent. Not only that, but it brought about a big change in the world of Transmet and registered at such a deep level in Spider Jerusalem, even if he didn't admit it straight away. Transmetropolitan was one of the first self-contained stories I read all at once, and to have the characters in it affected in such a way by the death of one character was astounding. 


7) As a female comic-fan, do you feel that female characters are being well-portrayed in comics, beyond the cheese-cake T&A antics of Witchblade, etc? Out of the big-name publishers, who would you say is better at representing the female voice within comics, both through their characters and their creators?

I think that female characters are certainly treated better than they have been in a long time. As culture changes, so too do the roles and content in comics. If you compare a Silver Age comic to something you pick up now, the difference (particularly with female characters) is incredible. However, there is still the incredibly annoying tendency for women to have the ridiculous sex doll pose, which is literally impossible and uncomfortable to keep up for prolonged period of time (I tested it as a theory!) but that's slowly seeping out now (thank god). I think that Marvel are probably the best for representing the female voice at the minute. There's still a markedly small amount of women in comics, but we're definitely on the road to change, as I would absolutely love to see more women working in comics, and it would be my dream career path.


8) What is your most "geeky" treasured possession? Something you would run into a burning building to retrieve!

I can't pick just one, so I've narrowed it down to three 1) my 1930s copy of Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (I'm a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and love old books), my signed copy of Morning Glories #1, and my sketch of Layla Miller by Guillermo Ortego


9) What has been the most impressive cosplay costume you've ever seen at a con?

I went to Thought Bubble Leeds last year (my first con!) and saw so many amazing cosplays. One that sticks out in my mind is Kid Loki and Pixie from X-Men, because they looked as if they'd been lifted straight from the comics, and the work that went into them was amazing.


10) And, finally, if you were a superhero, what powers would you have and what would be your code name?

My superpower would be the ability to have a batch of freshly baked cookies with me at all time, and I would be The Cookie Girl


Thank you for your time, Ari, I really appreciate it! If anyone would like to support and follow Ari's blog, it is called 'Comic Books and Cookies' and can be found here - she is also on Twitter and can be followed on @ariellaalphabet. Please check out her blog, it's awesome and full of content!

Look for more Interviews coming soon!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

2000AD Prog 1839

Prog 1839 Cover by Lee Garbett

This is a striking cover with the use of the neon green illuminating the cover and logo. I like the clarity of the image, although I'm not familiar with the character showcased. Is the image of a figure holding the Earth between its hands a homage to an older cover? I think I recall seeing Tharg in a similar position once, unless my mind is playing tricks on me - it definitely feels like an iconic pose.


JUDGE DREDD - WASTELANDS (Part 3)
Script - John Wagner
Art - Dave Taylor
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

The plot seems to be moving along as predicted with Waldo & Mutch, a duo of unusually polite hitmen, removing the witnesses to link Onan Starbux with the attack on Valentino Block, although this may all be in vain as Dredd is already on his way to dispatch them. The plot is moving along quite fast, especially in comparison to strips like Cadet Anderson which seemed to spend a long time on the procedural aspect of the crime.

The artwork wasn't quite as nice as it was in last week's issue, possibly due to the fact the plot returns to the exterior location of Mega City One. I felt that the interior sequences from last Prog worked much better and seemed suited to Dave Taylor's art style. However, I really loved the dynamic feel to the final panel depicting Dredd gripping onto the side of the heli-craft as he makes his way to the high-rise crime scene.



SINISTER DEXTER - IN PLAIN SHITE (Part 4)
Script - Dan Abnett
Art - John Burns
Letters - Ellie de Ville

Sinister manages to work his way through the list of targets that Frontal provided, and Dan Abnett has fun with the names here, using his flair for puns. I particularly liked Grassy Noel! Despite completing his tasks efficiently and without hesitation, Frontal pushes his luck too far when he brings out Sinister's case-worker, Piper Dupres, and asks him to kill her as a final show of loyalty. (This guy has serious trust issues!)

Is this how Nikolai Dante really ended?!!

While I thought that Frontal would force Sinister into a corner to prove his loyalty, I didn't think we'd see the case-worker reappear, so that was a nice twist. By actually having the permits and documents in his hands, I have the feeling Frontal has outlived his usefulness and perhaps Piper (if she survives) will be accompanying Sinister on his cross-country trip to find Dexter. Hopefully she does as it should eliminate the need for the plot device of Sinister narrating events in a near-fourth wall breaking manner. While it was funny for the first time, it has worn a little thin and has been taking me out of the storyline because it feels that the reader is being addressed directly.



CADET ANDERSON - ONE IN TEN (Part 7)
Script - Alan Grant
Art - Carlos Ezquerra
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

Anderson and her Cadets tackle the sinister cyborg, Malaparte, as two more of the team are injured during the resulting firefight. After dispatching the cold-hearted criminal's body, Anderson is quick to realise that there was, quite literally, a back-up plan. The story ends with Anderson realising that while one in ten cadets may commit suicide in their first year, more may get injured or killed in the line of duty.

I'm intrigued to see how the events of this storyline will influence the upcoming Anderson, Psi Division storyline in the Megazine. Perhaps it will pick up with the other cadets from this storyline and we can see how well they've fared since their days as Cadets. While this storyline has been fairly luke-warm, I am very interested in following it out of the flashback and into the current-day incarnation of Anderson, hopefully with longer-lasting consequences.



DEFOE - THE DAMNED (Part 4)
Script - Pat Mills
Art - Leigh Gallagher
Letters - Ellie de Ville


Despite the lengthy build-up, it appears that Tomazine's act of treachery hasn't borne any fruits for the villainous Faust, when the Spiriter is defeated and the opened entrance is promptly sealed, which felt like a slight anti-climax. One area where Faust may have succeeded, however, is that he has sown the seeds of distrust amongst the group, causing Defoe to incorrectly label Bodie the traitor. The dramatic irony is fantastic and the real question is whether Tomazine will confess her sins and pray for forgiveness, or continue to make the wrong decisions and allow someone else to suffer for her crime? I look forward to seeing how this storyline develops and the relationships between the Reek Hunters becoming more complicated. Fantastic stuff, as always!



THE TEN-SECONDERS - GODSEND (Part 1)
Script - Rob Williams
Art - Edmund Bagwell
Letters - Simon Bowland

This opening installment serves mainly as a recap for readers of the previous series, or a complete introduction for newcomers, like me. I really liked how the first few pages managed to succinctly sum up the strip, making me feel like I've not missed anything at all. It does make me wonder how much of it was repetition for readers of the first series, and whether it was enjoyable from their point of view. Having done some research, I discovered that this strip last appeared in 2000AD way back in 2008, which explains the lengthy recap.

I love Edmund Bagwell's art - I've enjoyed it since Cradlegrave, and as with that series, he manages to blend realism and the fantastic together effortlessly in a way that makes the unbelievable seem perfectly reasonable. I must admit the concept of superheroes acting as Gods is an intriguing one and I expect to see some subversion of the traditional superhero tropes as we continue. What was the general consensus on the previous series? Was it well-received?



OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

Overall, the Prog continues to showcase strong strips and the addition of The Ten Seconders has worked in its favour, especially due to the lengthy recap in its initial episode. We have a gap in the line-up due to the departure of Cadet Anderson, making me wonder which strip will replace it, and I suspect that Sinister Dexter is winding down its current run too, with maybe one or two episodes remaining. 

I like the fact that Cadet Anderson being continued in the Megazine in her current-day series, Anderson, Psi Division, especially if it means that we'll see the consequences of this story, which felt rather unimportant due to its flashback format. Tharg also reveals in the letter page that Celtic warrior, Slaine returning for a six part story called 'The Book of Scars' in Prog 1844 with multiple artists to celebrate his thirtieth birthday. I've been hot-and-cold on Slaine in the past, so I hope that this is a return to form, and a much less complicated story than some of his adventures have been.


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1839 will be available in stores on Wednesday 3rd July - 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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