Monday, 30 June 2014

Review - Doctor Who: No More Lies


Doctor Who: No More Lies
The Eighth Doctor Adventures 1.6
Written by: Paul Sutton
Directed by: Barnaby Edwards
Performed by: Paul McGann & Sheridan Smith
Duration: 60 mins approx
ISBN: 978-1-84435-260-9
Chronology Placement: After the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie and Phobos

What links a disintegrating spaceship to a posh garden party, where a wealthy couple are celebrating their love for each other in style? Gatecrashers the Doctor and Lucie think they know the answer. But they're not the only uninvited guests - ferocious alien warriors riding pterodactyl-like Vortisaurs are about to make their entrance!

The beginning of this audio-book is slightly disorientating as it opens up in the midst of an existing adventure, filling the listener in on the missing details as it progresses, and then there is a secondary source of confusion with the seemingly disparate narrative taking place during a garden party. Eventually, the two narratives do intertwine, and as expected from a Doctor Who story, there's a degree of “timey-wimey” stuff involved, but the unconventional narrative style might confuse and frustrate some listeners on the first listen through.

Nigel Havers guest-stars as the villainous time-criminal Nick Zimmerman, managing to bring a multi-layered approach to the character across both of the time zones, even endearing pity from the listener once the full extent of his dilemma is revealed. The story also introduces the Vortisaur-riding Tar-Modawk, aliens attracted to time energy who like any good Doctor Who enemy have their own catchphrase, “Give me your Time”. Thanks to the audio descriptions and their voices, it is easy to picture them as some form of orc-ish creature akin to the Urak-Hai from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, no doubt clad in spiky armour as they ride their pterodactyl-like steeds through the time vortex. They were great fun and I'd love to hear them in future audio adventures.

The supporting cast brought a lot to their roles, such as Julia McKenzie who played Zimmerman’s terminally ill wife, Rachel – the cause behind the time loop and emotional core to the episode. The chemistry between her and Nigel Havers was very effective and managed to convey the depth of their relationship in a short space of time. I also liked Tom Chadbon’s role of Rachel’s brother, Gordon, who becomes an unlikely accomplice to the Doctor helping him to break the time loop sending the Tar-Modawk back into the time vortex. The sound-effects guys deserve an honourable mention too, as they provided some really effective transition music to signify the shift between the events taking place in the time loop and those of the ‘real world’.

Despite my initial misgivings, I really enjoyed the mystery surrounding the time-loop and Rachel's 'condition', as well as discovering how Zimmerman landed in her past and eventually came to settle down and get married. The romance between Nick and Rachel worked fantastically well as an emotional cornerstone to the science-fiction trappings of the story, allowing writer Paul Sutton to explore the central concept of a man freezing the world in a perpetual time-loop to be with the one that he loves forever. I really liked the dramatic journey that Zimmerman underwent in the space of fifty minutes, beginning as an unrepentant bad guy, evolving into a doting husband willing to bend the laws of time to prevent his wife from dying.

In terms of the regular cast, the banter between Lucie and the Doctor continues to sparkle (“You're always looking at my bum, you”) and while there is a degree of flirtation between the two, it doesn't feel as serious as the relationship that the Doctor will eventually come to have with Rose Tyler. It does feel like their relationship and the characters as a whole take a backseat to the plot in this story, although the shock cliff-hanger of Lucie being kidnapped by the Headhunter suggests a more Doctor/Lucie centric two-part 'season finale' in Human Resources, as we discover the secret behind the seemingly ordinary Northern Lass and why she is under 'witness protection' with the Doctor.

In conclusion, while I applaud the brave decisions to both play about with the narrative structure and begin the story 'in media res', it feels like the process would have worked a lot better in a visual format rather than having to overcome the additional stumbling block of audio-only storytelling. Even though the story did eventually make sense in the end, my initial frustration did lead to me rewinding the initial tracks, and even checking to see whether I had accidentally downloaded them in the wrong order. Aside from that minor hiccup, it was a really interesting story that in some ways actually benefited from the mystery surrounding the narrative structure, as it could have been a bit formulaic and predictable had it used a more chronological approach.

Doctor Who: No More Lies is available as a CD or Download from Big Finish, or available externally from Amazon.co.uk

Score - 8.7 out of 10


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Review - Brass Sun # 2 (of 6)

Brass Sun # 2 (of 6)
Written by: Ian Edginton
Art by: I.N.J. Culbard

This second issue of the six-part miniseries collecting the Brass Sun saga features the concluding half of the initial book, 'Wheel of the Worlds', which sees Wren making her first ally in the form of Conductor Number 17 (aka Septimus) and travelling to the new world of The Keep, adding a whole new architectural design for series artist I.N.J. Culbard to play with.

Picking up where we left off last issue, we explore the connecting system that links the different worlds of the Orrery together, alongside a brief explanation  from the rather imposing figure of the Stationmaster. It appears that everything has fallen into disarray ever since the civil wars between planets and the rails linking them are relatively disused. I love the design behind the transportation system that sends our two protagonists between worlds, resembling a revolver which fires small bullet-sized pods through the constantly shifting tube system. This fabulous attention to detail in designing the Brass Sun universe extends to I.N.J. Culbard's vision of The Keep, a Gothic metropolis replete with huge statues overlooking the populous, which marks a departure from the icy, cog-orientated landscape of Wren's home world of Hind Leg.

This second issue sees the introduction of two new supporting characters in the form of Septimus and Ramkin as allies to Wren on her quest to restart the Brass Sun and save the worlds of the Orrery. The monk-like Septimus works well as a potential love interest for Wren, with his endearing sense of naivety, whereas the untrustworthy Ramkin serves as a more world-weary and duplicitous addition to the team, providing a more ruthless edge.


This issue also introduces some iconic looking villains in the form of the Scythe robots, whose deadly bladed limbs manage to evoke a real sense of danger and menace with I.N.J. Culbard's artwork instilling a deadly, fluid sense of movement. The sequence where one of the robots hunts Wren and Septimus through The Keep's fields feels so cinematic in its approach that it instantly transports you to that moment, making you feel like you'd just watched it occur in motion rather than reading it on a series of static panels. I also love the look of the palace guard robots, which remind me of the Laputan robots from the anime, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, further establishing a Studio Ghibli tone to the whole series.

The issue manages to effortlessly balance a mix of exposition with the Stationmaster's conversation with Wren touching upon the creation of the Brass Sun and clockwork universe alongside thrilling action sequences as the Scythe's chase after our heroes. I really enjoyed the Machiavellian politics of The Keep with the Duke and Duchess involved in a civil war over the throne, adding multiple layers to the storyline of the Brass Sun, much like the religious theocracy of Hind Leg added depth to the events of the first issue.

Overall, this marked a great development in the series following up on the impressive first issue. The storyline moves on, with Ian Edginton adding new elements to strengthen the narrative and enrich Wren's journey with her first steps onto a new world landing both her and Septimus into the midst of a power struggle for the throne. These two chapters, forming the first book 'Wheel of the Worlds' represent a fantastic debut for the Brass Sun series with the first issue establishing Wren's quest succinctly and emotionally before the second issue moves the characters onto their first part of their odyssey and into the political intrigue of a new world. It is easily the most exciting and visually stunning new series to come out of 2000AD's anthology for some time and considering the heavy promotion it has received, Tharg and his staff droids obviously agree.


Score - 9.3 out of 10

Brass Sun # 2 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the 2000AD webshop. Be sure to put in a standing order for the remaining issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

2000AD Prog 1887

Prog 1887 Cover by Nick Percival

This is a beautiful example of Nick Percival’s artwork, capturing the horrific nature of Dredd’s visions as he is set upon by four undead fiends. The realistic texture of their rotting flesh looks fantastic and I would love to see Percival handle cover duties for the next Defoe storyline, bringing the Reeks to life (so to speak) with his realistic approach.


JUDGE DREDD - TRAUMATOWN (Part 5)
Script - Michael Carroll
Art - Nick Percival
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

This final episode wraps up the ‘Traumatown' storyline, revealing the cause of the malicious manifestations to be the comatose remains of a dying Psi-Judge, who has been trying to reach Dredd in order to be rescued. It’s a nice, solid end to the tale, which resolves the plot threads and the mystery surrounding Dredd’s visions in a satisfying manner. One thing I would mention is that the plot was similar to the recent Rob Williams subplot involving Dredd hallucinating and it wasn't made explicit whether Pilcher was the cause of those – probably not, since some of them occurred on Titan, presumably out of range from Pilcher’s influence, but the similarities might confuse other readers, especially if Williams decides to revisit his subplot in the near future.


Michael Carroll’s love for Judge Dredd continuity shines through with a reference to Owen Krysler, the Judge Child, not only acting as a nod to the past for long-term readers but also providing a solid reason behind Dredd’s decision to execute Pilcher and put him out of his misery. Nick Percival’s artwork remained impressive, as it has been throughout the storyline, and his final panels depicted Dredd’s determined face were very effective, bringing a powerful end to the episode.



GREY AREA - NEARER MY GOD TO THEE (Part 4)
Script - Dan Abnett
Art - Mark Harrison
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

With its deep space setting, this episode of Grey Area evoked memories of Mark Harrison's work on the recent episodes of Damnation Station, and his earlier work on Durham Red, managing to create beautiful star-filled skies and spacecraft. The comparisons with Damnation Station seem apt as the high-stakes 'suicide mission' mood of the storyline is tonally similar to the conclusion of that series, although this particular mission hasn't had the same lengthy build-up.

The reveal that the box is a nuke defused my theory last week that the team had an ace up their sleeves and were bringing the deadly currency creatures from an earlier adventure to infest the God-Star, but instead, the box represents a deadly last resort, raising the stakes even higher. Dan Abnett manages to sustain the tension throughout the episode, giving us some nice character moments as the ship begins to dock with the God-Star. With all the foreshadowing of Bulliet and Birdy's relationship, I would not be surprised if one of the unfortunate love-birds didn't make it back to Earth. And since Bulliet has unresolved issues, it doesn't look good for Birdy...



INDIGO PRIME - PERFECT DAY (Part 8)
Script - John Smith
Art - Lee Carter
Letters - Simon Bowland

Wow, I didn't see that one coming! This double-sized finale to Indigo Prime delivered a punch to the gut with the revelation that Schroder's plan was to instigate a deviation from Christianity by having the doppelgänger version of Christ erupt into a monstrous form killing those at Golgotha and inspiring changes in history as “Christhulhu”, a hybrid of Christ and Cthulhu. The subsequent rewriting of time has adverse effects on Indigo Prime, and Danny specifically, with the final result being a full-grown version of Cthulhu, waiting for Schroder and Major Arcana to control it (via what looks like a Dual Shock controller – nifty!)

I think I missed this bit in The New Testament

Unfortunately, I'm not as up on my Lovecraft as I should be, with only a passing knowledge of Cthulhu and the 'old ones' but I recognised the reference in this story and the importance it brought with it. This worked fantastically as a double-sized finale with a breakneck pace that seemed to refuse to let up after the initial reveal of the Christhulhu creature. I'm sure long-term fans of the series, and Lovecraft, will be giddy at these developments and completely blindsided by John Smith's vivid imagination, all of which were brutally brought to life by Lee Carter's fantastic realistic artwork – the sequence where “Jesus” erupts into a foul creature is particularly unsettling, and luckily we're given a modicum of mercy by only seeing the full transformation from behind the cross, rather than a full-frontal gorefest.

Overall, this has been a joy to read over the past eight weeks, offering a truly unique reading experience that both challenged preconceptions of where a story should go, as well as pushing boundaries on subject matter. While I'm not completely sure of the inner workings of Indigo Prime and relied on Danny and Unthur as my gateway into the organisation, I found it fairly easy to follow and despite my initial misgivings, the story managed to make sense and keep me engaged throughout!



TIME TWISTERS - BURPING HITLER
Script - Rob Williams
Art - Simon Gurr
Letters - Elle de Ville

This fun little four-pager from Rob Williams and Simon Gurr really tickled my funny-bone, courting controversy with the concept of a time-travelling Hitler sending his adult consciousness back into the brain of his infant self to prevent other time travellers from completing the age-old question, “Could you go back in time and kill Hitler as a baby?” - turns out you can't, because he's ready and waiting with heavy artillery!

The critics weren't impressed with the plot to Home Alone 5

I loved Simon Gurr's artwork and the use of shadows, and in one instance the handle of the turret-gun, to give the baby Hitler the appearance of the moustache without actually giving him a moustache, because that would be too unbelievable! I liked the twist, which was wonderfully implemented with an “I should have seen that coming” reaction as I read on. I have a bit of a dark sense of humour, and love my time travel stories, so this was a brilliant combination of those two elements, expertly realised by two professionals in the field!



OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

Wow, what a controversial Prog – a time-travelling Hitler and a Lovecraftian version of Jesus Christ on the cross. 2000AD is nothing if breaking new ground, and this Prog is a perfect example of its satirical, anarchic tone which has been revitalising the British comics scene since 1977!

Next week sees the return of Brass Sun for its third book, 'Floating Worlds' in order to get it serialised before the US collected editions are completed. I've been a massive fan of this series, and not alone in sharing that sentiment judging from the online community, so I'm looking forward to reading the next chapter, as I finish off reading the initial story-arc in the US format. Normally I would expect a full jumping-on Prog, but it seems that Grey Area is carrying over until next week. Given the trickling of news surrounding Prog 1900, I'm guessing this has been reserved as a 'jumping on Prog' with a new Dredd epic and Greysuit rumoured to appear. In the meantime, we still have Aquila, Jaegir and Sinister Dexter due for a reappearance soon.


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1887 will be available in stores on Wednesday 25th June - 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, 18 June 2014

2000AD Prog 1886

Prog 1886 Cover by Simon Davis

This cover is another fantastic example of Simon Davis’ work on Slaine with a gloriously gruesome open-mouthed close up on one of the ‘miscreations’ that Slaine has unleashed. For a while, Simon Davis’ artwork was synonymous with Sinister Dexter, but with a few more ‘books’ under his belt, I think that his work on Slaine will soon become his new career-defining achievement.


JUDGE DREDD - TRAUMATOWN (Part 4)
Script - Michael Carroll
Art - Nick Percival
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

All hell breaks loose on the streets of Mega-City One as the horrific entities wreak havoc on the citizens in a variety of gory ways. Nick Percival’s artwork is well suited for the raw, gruesome nature of the traumatic hallucinations, with some realistic textures on range the zombified and demonic creatures rampaging about.


The story has lost some of its ambiguity now with Dredd’s personal hallucinations now becoming real and visible to all. It appears that he is being haunted by something or someone, possibly the criminal we saw in the dream he had. With the more phantasmagorical element to these visions, I am fairly confident that it doesn't tie in with Rob Williams’ sub-plot and is unconnected with the recurring visions of horses and imaginary snow experienced in the Williams Droid’s recent stories.



SLAINE: THE BRUTANIA CHRONICLES - A SIMPLE KILLING (Part 13)
Script - Pat Mills
Art - Simon Davis
Letters - Ellie de Ville

For the final installment of this current story, Simon Davis, unveils a brilliant design for the Miscreation army that comes to Slaine's aid. They look like twisted versions of the Venom symbiote, which made me realise how cool a Venom series painted by Simon Davis would be, as he would do a fantastic job in capturing the oily texture and slimy tendrils of symbiote creature. Elsewhere, Davis continues to showcase his flair for co-ordinating action sequences, capturing the frenetic energy as Gododin and Slaine battle each other, depicting the weight of Brain-biter with every axe-swing Slaine makes. The story ends with a strong cliffhanger, with Slaine sapped of his will to fight sits defeated and surrounded by enemy blades, although I did half-expect a "I am your father" moment to truly shock and destroy Slaine's mind.


For me, this series has been the highlight of the Prog for the last thirteen weeks, showcasing some of the best art of Simon Davis' career, alongside an effective 'back to basics' approach to the script from Pat Mills, making Slaine accessible again to new and lapsed readers. It has been an absolute joy to read each week and I look forward to the inevitable collected edition to see those wonderful double-page spreads reprinted on high quality paper.



GREY AREA - NEARER MY GOD TO THEE (Part 3)
Script - Dan Abnett
Art - Mark Harrison
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

This week’s Grey Area continues to raise the stakes with the appearance of more faith-inducing spaceships, which remind me of the Atraxi from the Doctor Who episode, ‘The Eleventh Hour’. We get to see a familiar face in the Rookuk, who previously defeated their “God” by dropping it into a star, which obviously isn't an option for the ETC team. Although as they pack their equipment to approach the main spaceship, they refer to “the box”, which makes me think that perhaps they have a secret weapon. My theory is that the box contains the currency creatures from the earlier storyline ‘Rates of Exchange’ (Progs 1869 - 1871), making this into an effective ‘season finale’ to the current run of stories by building upon earlier plot threads and foreshadowing and bringing them together in a satisfying conclusion.



INDIGO PRIME - PERFECT DAY (Part 7)
Script - John Smith
Art - Lee Carter
Letters - Simon Bowland

This week’s shocking episode reveals where Schroder’s true reasons for his multi-verse road trip and his plan begins to take form, revealing his ‘anonybody’ daughter to merely be a tool to help him kidnap and replace Jesus, presumably to prove something to his former organisation, the ATL (Atheist Terrorist League).


This series really captures the rebellious and anarchic nature of 2000AD, with its near-the-knuckle concepts and shocking visuals. Already we've seen a taxidermied Queen Elizabeth, Giant Monster Sex and now, the replacement of Jesus on the cross. I love it! It honestly feels like anything and everything could happen next! 

My personal theory from last week that Schroder was planning to sacrifice himself for Jesus appears to be wrong, but I’m adapting it slightly to suggest that the substitution of the anonybody is what allows the resurrection to occur and kickstarts Christianity, with Schroder creating the religion as a final “fuck you” to the ATL, resulting in a “chicken and the egg” kind of paradox.



TERROR TALES - DONE DEAL
Script - Alec Worley
Art - Tom Foster
Letters - Elle de Ville

2000AD has a long-standing reputation for finding new British talent and this week's Prog features a high-profile debut from Tom Foster, winner of last year's Thought Bubble Portfolio Competition. As with previous years, the winner is chosen by a panel of 2000AD creators and offered a paid gig in the magazine.

Tom's black and white artwork is really impressive, evoking memories of Frazer Irving's early work on Necronauts, with his superb use of shadows and cross-hatching to create a sinister atmosphere.  I would love to see him turn his hand to more Terror Tales in the future, as his artwork suits the Gothic horror theme. The script by Alec Worley is pretty strong and does a good job at recreating the authentic London Youth dialect without sounding insincere or like a parody. The twist is nicely done, bringing the familiar 'selling your soul' trope into the digital age.



OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

Even though Slaine comes to an end this week, we have teases that the second book in the Brutania Chronicles (“Primordial”) will be in the Prog soon, presumably next year. I look forward to see Simon Davis return to the character. Other teases for future installments include a teaser for ‘The Order’, which features a nice bit of John Burns artwork and appears to be a swords and sorcery adventure, scripted by Kek-W. In terms of the near future, we can expect the conclusions to Indigo Prime and Grey Area, possibly as early as next Prog, leading to a fresh line-up for Prog 1888.


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1886 will be available in stores on Wednesday 18th June - 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, 11 June 2014

2000AD Prog 1885

Prog 1885 Cover by Cliff Robinson & Dylan Teague

This is a great action-packed Grey Area cover from Cliff Robinson and Dylan Teague, capturing the same essence that Patrick Goddard brought to the characters during his interior work on the strip earlier in the year. I would love to see Robinson take a crack at covering the series during Goddard's absences, as it would ensure a more consistent and seamless transition between the art styles than we have seen between Goddard and Mark Harrison's alternating story-arcs.


JUDGE DREDD - TRAUMATOWN (Part 3)
Script - Michael Carroll
Art - Nick Percival
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

Michael Carroll and Nick Percival’s mind-bending Judge Dredd story continues and it appears that the mysterious Wendella Caskill is the cause of Dredd’s recent horrific hallucinations, which are now becoming visible to others in the department. Things quickly escalate as Caskill escapes, nearly killing Dredd, unleashing a series of hellish creatures into the city. Even though this episode presents the beginnings of an explanation behind Dredd’s recent visions, I suspect that there will be a twist in the tale and the ongoing sub-plot of his mental health will continue in the future, possibly as part of the mega-epic teased in the Nerve Centre this week?


While Percival’s photo-realistic artwork is amazing, I find that it doesn't really convey a true sense of action and movement, especially during the fight sequences between Caskill and Dredd, which come across as rather static in places. However, his art is fantastically well-suited to depicting the nightmarish visions that plague both Dredd, and now his city, with a brilliant final panel showing all manner of creature manifesting on the streets.



SLAINE: THE BRUTANIA CHRONICLES - A SIMPLE KILLING (Part 12)
Script - Pat Mills
Art - Simon Davis
Letters - Ellie de Ville

As the current story draws to a close, this penultimate episode was mainly setting up a cliffhanger ending with Sinead about to be decapitated by a Drune Lord – it’s a really effective ending and Simon Davis’ panel layout with the preceding decapitation really adds to the tension as the reader expects the next image to be a headless Sinead. I also loved his design of a ‘hooded Slaine’ and would love to see that realised in action-figure form!


Pat Mills’ script and Simon Davis’ artwork continue to complement each other perfectly as the two capture the brutal nature of the Drune Lord’s ceremonial sacrifice to the Guledig. I can honestly say that I will miss this storyline once it concludes next week, and will be eagerly awaiting Book Two in the Brutania Chronicles.



GREY AREA - NEARER MY GOD TO THEE (Part 2)
Script - Dan Abnett
Art - Mark Harrison
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

Things begin to escalate in the Grey Area as an almighty spaceship enters Earth's atmosphere, spurring on more rapturous emotions from the collective species gathered in the Immigration Centre who believe the spaceship contains God. This story seems to be raising the stakes, giving the ETC team a mammoth challenge in having to tackle a seemingly omnipotent threat. I like the fact that the god-killing Rookuk from an earlier storyline are referenced, establishing a connection between the two stories and building up a stronger sense of continuity between the short episodic bursts we've seen from this series this year.


Aside from the world-threatening plot-line, Dan Abnett, deals with the more soap opera elements to the series by having Adam Bulliet quash the jealousy in his lover, Birdy, with a public declaration of his feelings towards her. The panel where she plops herself down in her seat, post-kiss, is a fantastic bit of visual comedy from Mark Harrison with some humourous sound effects thrown into the mix to amplify the slapstick nature. This is great storytelling from both creators, deftly mixing subtle character moments with blockbuster action set-pieces that threaten to alter the status quo of the series...and we're only two episodes in!



INDIGO PRIME - PERFECT DAY (Part 6)
Script - John Smith
Art - Lee Carter
Letters - Simon Bowland

This week’s Indigo Prime ties up the loose ends from last week’s OAP in Robots attack, with Danny luring one ‘hanger-on’ into the methane lakes of Titan, with explosive results. Lee Carter manages to create some simply amazing visuals for the various realities the team traverse, with a skillful use of colours to distinguish between each environment, making the location changes easier to process. The double-page spread showcasing the map of the multiverse is breath-taking and highlights the same fantastic level of detail he has applied to previous splash pages.

Schroder’s final request to attend the crucifixion suddenly makes the opening sequence to the first episode make sense, including the ‘redacted’ panel. Something terrible is going to happen on Golgotha Hill – my theory is that somehow Schroder is going to end up sacrificing himself, getting crucified instead of Jesus, which is why the Atheist Terrorist League are after him, plus it is exactly the time of crazy plot twist that John Smith would use in his stories. 



THARG'S 3RILLERS: IN SECONDS FLAT  (Part 3)
Script - Eddie Robson
Art - Andrew Currie
Colour Abigail Ryder
Letters - Ellie de Ville

In time travel fiction, there are two different ways that time travel can be depicted – either time is fixed and any attempts to change events will not work and are all part of what happened, or time can be rewritten, causing paradoxes and rewriting of realities. After reading the first two parts and seeing older versions of the protagonist, I expected this story to be following the ‘fixed law’ of time travel, so the twist at the end and rewriting of events was a genuine and effective surprise. It did feel a bit “timey wimey” to borrow a phrase from Doctor Who and perhaps a bit more fleshing out of Scott’s life before meeting Lily would have helped, but overall, this was a fun time-travel story.



OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

I’m really looking forward to seeing the conclusion to Slaine, which ended on a really strong cliff-hanger this week, and I’m equally as intrigued to find out what’s going on with Judge Dredd as 'Traumatown' seems to be living up to its name and spreading out to the rest of the city. On the horizon, it looks like we’re in for a treat with a Wagner/Ezquerra Judge Dredd mega-epic starting in Prog 1900 – which should be released in September – which sounds absolutely fantastic even with the merest amount of information provided. Just reading that Wagner and Ezquerra are back on the character they created for an ‘epic’ should send a jolt of thrill-power down even the most jaded reader’s optic circuits.


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1885 will be available in stores on Wednesday 11th June - 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, 4 June 2014

2000AD Prog 1884

Prog 1884 Cover by Neil Roberts

I really like the old-school ‘pulp fiction novel’ design to this week's cover, with its distinctive colours and imagery leaping from the newsagent’s shelf. The quote from Jonathan Ross, “Still Firing on all Cylinders Today” is certainly true, and represented perfectly by the visual of 'OAP's with RPGs' on the cover.


JUDGE DREDD - TRAUMATOWN (Part 2)
Script - Michael Carroll
Art - Nick Percival
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

This story continues to intrigue with many possible explanations given for Dredd’s recent hallucinations, such as over-exhaustion or the mental trauma he has suffered recently. Judge Joyce even raises the interesting theory that perhaps Dredd’s bionic eyes have been hacked and someone is influencing his vision, which would be a great twist, but the episode concludes with the revelation that one of the Psi-Judges is able to see them too. I’m really interested to see where this story goes and whether we will see some long-term effects of this plot-line.


Nick Percival’s fantastically detailed artwork really helps to emphasise the psychedelic nature of this storyline with Dredd’s hallucinations neatly embedded within the story making it equally as disorientating for the reader as the panels switch seamlessly from fantasy to reality, helping to place the reader in Dredd’s shoes. I also liked his subtle Breaking Bad reference with the med-officer named Heisenberg, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Bryan Cranston.



SLAINE: THE BRUTANIA CHRONICLES - A SIMPLE KILLING (Part 11)
Script - Pat Mills
Art - Simon Davis
Letters - Ellie de Ville

Yet again, this episode features a beautifully realised action sequence as Simon Davis fuses a vibrant sense of movement into Slaine’s battle with the Gogs, showing off his expertise with pitch-perfect panel placement.  It’s such a visually fantastic sequence that I would love to see it animated in a ‘motion-comics’ style. In the hands of a lesser artist, I would possibly complain that this story has been largely filler, but when the ‘filler’ looks as superb as this, it is worth taking the time to indulge in these stunning battle scenes.


With only two episodes remaining, it appears that the storyline is coming to a head and will likely end with some cliff-hanger once the Drune Lords lure Slaine into their trap. I expect some gruesome transformation to occur to her – presenting Slaine with a challenging enemy to defeat. Having read some of the earlier Slaine stories for the first time recently, I have been struck with how often some of the same themes (Drune Lords, Beltain, Slaine’s Father) have appeared in these newer chapters, which gives the story a nostalgic feel similar to the way that Pat Mills has been revisiting other classic elements in his other serials, such as Flesh, The A.B.C. Warriors and Savage.



GREY AREA - NEARER MY GOD TO THEE (Part 1)
Script - Dan Abnett
Art - Mark Harrison
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

It’s great to see Grey Area back in the Prog after a short hiatus, picking up on the religious charity storyline introduced in its last run (Prog 1866). The frequency in which the series has appeared over the last few months helps keep the more ‘soap opera’ plot elements such as the relationship between Bulliet and Birdy and her jealousy of Lyra. This episode is mainly set-up, introducing what appears to be a religious visions which have been causing disruption amongst the Exos and Humans in the Grey Area. The visions seem to be warning about an approaching God – but despite the rapture-like symptoms of the visions, it is unlikely to be a blessing when, or if, this creature arrives.

Mark Harrison manages to turn in some great work that looks much clearer and defined than his work on Damnation Station, helping to distinguish his work on both series. I really like his alien character designs and he manages to capture the hustle and bustle of the Grey Area facility.



INDIGO PRIME - PERFECT DAY (Part 5)
Script - John Smith
Art - Lee Carter
Letters - Simon Bowland

Viktor Schroder’s ‘bucket list’ journey across the multiverse may have come to an end, much sooner than anyone expected when the Atheist Terrorist League show up with OAP terrorists. I liked the juxtaposition of giant robotic death machines piloted by old-age pensioners, with their dialogue flitting between angry statements of impending doom and complaints about their various ailments.


This series continues to impress me, and is just pure fun. It feels like John Smith has let himself off the lease to come up with as much wacky and out-there concepts to cram into one storyline. The sheer freedom that he has got in this series allows for some real creativity and I look forward to seeing the other surreal pit-stops on Schroder’s journey, especially with Lee Carter’s sublime artistic skills capturing Smith’s vivid imagination onto the page.



THARG'S 3RILLERS: IN SECONDS FLAT  (Part 2)
Script - Eddie Robson
Art - Andrew Currie
Colour - Abigail Ryder
Letters - Ellie de Ville

After an enjoyable introductory episode, this middle part of the Tharg’s 3riller has the unenviable task of providing the exposition and background to the story, leading towards the finale. Eddie Robson introduces a very intriguing premise of a man travelling back in time repeatedly to thwart an alien invasion – in fact, it is so intriguing that it feels a little constricted by this three-part format. It would have been interesting to see more from the other iterations of the lead character, Scott, especially since there are a large variety of ages present. Perhaps, the final part will give the other Scott's a bigger part to play?

The whole idea of aliens rising from the ground after being dormant for years is reminiscent of the Gears of War series or the Silurians in Doctor Who, and again is a concept that would have been fun to explore at a slower pace.



OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

After reading through the Prog, I’d have to say I echo Jonathan Ross’ statement on the cover that 2000AD is still firing on all cylinders with a fantastically eclectic range of sci-fi and fantasy stories crammed into its pages. It feels like we’re approaching the end of a current ‘season’ of thrills as Slaine nears its conclusion, so we’re in that ‘winding down’ phase but the stories are all still kicking ass with a brilliant Judge Dredd mystery, a fun romp across the multiverse with Indigo Prime and a true ‘classic-in-the-making’ with Slaine.


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1884 will be available in stores on Wednesday 4th June - 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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