Wednesday, 2 December 2015

2000AD Prog 1959

Prog 1959 Cover by Cliff Robinson & Dylan Teague

This is an absolutely fantastic Judge Dredd cover from Cliff Robinson and Dylan Teague, and to be honest, I wouldn't expect anything less. Robinson has proved time and time again that he is a master of the 2000AD cover image, and this is just more fuel onto the fire. I love the unique perspective that the 'Megafone' brings to the image, as we witness Dredd captured on camera beating a perp. Not only does it tie into the main theme of the interior story in a smart manner, but it also allows Robinson to immerse the reader into the image through the POV viewpoint. I'm so impressed with the layout of the image that I've neglected to point out how fantastic the art itself is. Cliff Robinson's take on Judge Dredd has always been fantastic and this cover is no exception. I'd say it's even a late contender for a position in the highly coveted “Top 10 2000AD Covers in 2015” list.


JUDGE DREDD - THE BEATING (Part 2)
Script - John Wagner
Art - Patrick Goddard
Colours - Adam Brown
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

After last Prog's dramatic opening episode that featured Dredd seemingly murdering a citizen in cold blood, John Wagner switches gears for this installment and focuses an OCD executive attempting to blackmail Dredd with video evidence of the crime. While he doesn't outright deny committing the crime, there is something about his behaviour and attitude in this installment that leads me to suspect that Dredd purposefully staged the video to flush out blackmailers from within the OCD, although I suspect that he won't appreciate it being leaked onto social media.


I'm really enjoying Patrick Goddard's art on this strip, which strongly reminds of Leigh Gallagher's style thanks to Adam Brown's darker colour palette. Goddard's art manages to capture the grim tone to this storyline, contrasting against the more lightweight style he used recently for Sinister Dexter. I also love his take on Judge Dredd, who features more prominently in this installment, with Goddard nailing ol' Stony Face's chin. Over the last year, we've been treated to a bevy of fantastic artists on Judge Dredd, ranging from Henry Flint, Colin MacNeil and Greg Staples – each one bringing something different to the character and his world. While the writers often get praised and recognition in the USA, it's easy to forget how great a job these UK artists do, and the talent seen on Judge Dredd this year has simply been phenomenal.



DEFOE - THE LONDON HANGED (Part 10)
Script - Pat Mills
Art - Leigh Gallagher
Letters - Annie Parkhouse

With the absence of a Terror Tale in this Prog, we're treated to a double-sized installment of Defoe that greatly benefits the story and allows it to develop nicely. Interestingly, Pat Mills continues to keep the Brethren away from main plot relegating them to cameo appearances, but decides to bring Gallowgrass back into contact with Defoe, making the anatomist aware of  the true identity of the Carrion Killer's murderer. It's a great development and introduces a nice sense of banter between the former co-workers as they adopt a 'Holmes and Watson' investigative team.


I'm enjoying the increased focus on the Vizards, each of whom get a quick introduction and biography in the form of an ABC Warriors styled roll-call. Leigh Gallagher does a great job creating distinction between the masked 'heroes' with some wonderfully designed facial masks. As the series moves away from the Reeks as the central threat, it is comforting to see such interesting visual styles used for the new enemy at the heart of the tale. Putting Defoe up against these super-powered villains feels like a jolt of energy for the series' narrative, moving away from the undead and resurrectionists to create a more diverse threat. However, I'm glad that the undead remain a presence in the series, more like a tool to be wielded, rather than the central plot device. Mills' world-building is on absolute top form with this series, with the writer's trademark anti-establishment themes running through the core of the story like a stick of Brighton Rock.



BRASS SUN - MOTORHEAD (Part 10)
Script - Ian Edginton
Art - INJ Culbard
Letters - Ellie de Ville

This concluding installment of Brass Sun's fourth book, “Motorhead” acts as an epilogue for the chapter, addressing the problem of the Blind Watchmaker's consciousness. As predicted in earlier installments, Wren and Septimus have used the empty housing of the Arthur robot to store the Blind Watchmaker's “AI”, although it seems as if there are some remnants of Arthur's own memories left within the husk. Once again, Edginton and Culbard make use of contemporary New York to represent the dreamscape, juxtaposing visuals familiar to the reader against the more alien worlds of the character's reality. It's an interesting inversion to have the dream world resemble our world, and it works well stylistically. I particularly liked the way Septimus was represented as a paper cut-out, spouting out the technical jargon that Wren had memorised. It was also fun to see Wren looking healthier and with a full head of red hair, contrasting against the poor figure that she has become.


Rather than closing the book on this chapter, this epilogue still poses plenty of unanswered questions, such as whether the appearance of Arthur in the dreamscape represents a threat to the Blind Watchmaker, and what is the nature of the remaining three mechanoids – each one also named after Arthurian legend. Whereas previous books have seen our heroes physically travelling to new worlds within the Orrery, our heroes remain stuck in Mother Gynor's realm, barely out of her grasp. I look forward to seeing how the adventure will develop going, especially with the growing roster of supporting characters in Benedict and Arthur 2.0. As a whole, Brass Sun continues to develop at a leisurely pace as Edginton and Culbard indulge themselves in creating a entire solar system of imaginative characters and planets. I've really enjoyed this more action-focused chapter in the Brass Sun epic, although hopefully the forthcoming “Engine Summer” will offer more variety and mythology in its narrative.



BAD COMPANY - FIRST CASUALTIES (Part 10)
Script - Peter Milligan
Art - Rufus Dayglo & Jim McCarthy
Letters - Simon Bowland

The search for answers finally comes to an end as Kano and Bad Company come face-to-face with the Krool for a spot of...hand holding?! It seems that there is a deep conspiracy behind the Ararat War from the series' origins and while the exact details are revealed “off-screen”, it appears that the Earth Government were responsible for the Krool's savage nature. Running alongside this mystery, Peter Milligan continues to remind the reader that most of the characters have died and inexplicably returned to life, fuelling my suspicions that we're heading for a “we're all in purgatory” revelation. While Rufus Dayglo and Jim McCarthy are doing an absolutely sterling job at recapturing the essence of the classic series, it does feel that the success of this series will depend on the 'big reveal' at the end. While I admire Milligan's attempts to deconstruct the characters and entire concept behind Bad Company, adding a conscience to these hard-boiled killers – I do worry that any twist endings will undermine the narrative. It's hard to judge the series until it has been completed, but it's clear that each individual episode has been a labour of love to honour the memory of the late Brett Ewins.



OVERALL THOUGHTS / NEXT WEEK:

Next Prog sees the conclusion of this current run of stories, clearing the way for the annual Prog 1961. I'm keen to see where Judge Dredd is heading with its shocking corruption storyline, although I suspect it will be revealed to be a ruse. Both Bad Company and Defoe have held my interest over the past few weeks, although I'm looking forward to a fresh roster of thrills to get my teeth into, and judging from Tharg's teases in the Nerve Centre, there will be plenty to enjoy.

First up, there's Rob Williams and Henry Flint reuniting on Judge Dredd, presumably for some epilogue to the recent “Titan” and “Enceladus” storylines and a farewell to Aimee Nixon. Strontium Dog looks set to return with another classic adventure from creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra – judging from preview art seen in earlier Progs, it looks like we're going to see more of Johnny Alpha's supporting cast in this adventure. We're also getting treated to another scrotnig series of the apocalyptic Kingdom, thanks to Dan Abnett and Richard Elson. Plus, there's also mention of Absalom and The ABC Warriors – it certainly seems that Tharg is determined to start the New Year with a bang, bringing back some of his greatest stories at once! It's the one gift at Christmas that won't disappoint!


Thrill of the Week: Defoe


The physical edition of 2000AD Prog 1959 will be available in stores on Wednesday 2nd December - Digital copies of this Prog will be available on the same day through the standalone 2000AD app, which can be downloaded onto iOS and Android devices.

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!

4 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jamb, just wondering - How come you don't rate 2000AD out of 10 but you rate other comics out of 10?

      2000AD trivia:

      Prog 1961 - this year's Christmas prog - replaces Prog 2016. All previous end of year progs were given year dates. The first extended Christmas prog was in 2000 to mark the first 2000 AD of the new century. :)

      I guess the change to the original prog numbers is to avoid confusion when 2000 AD reaches 2000 progs and more! Prog 2000 is in autumn 2016.

      There is some interesting news about Defoe in Prog 1960.


      Delete
    2. Hey :)

      The reason I don't mark 2000AD out of 10 is because it's an anthology and it seems unfair to give one mark to many stories, so that's why I use the "Thrill of the Week" to highlight the best story out of the line-up. Besides, if I marked them out of 10 - they'd probably always be in the 9 range!

      Not sure if I agree with the usage of normal Prog numbers for the Christmas progs. I'd have been happy if they'd used the year but just made it an "annual" - I think that would attract casual readers moreso than the normal numbering, but I guess it keeps things consistent for people going forward.

      Cheers for reading,
      Jamie (Jamb)

      Delete
  2. Prog 2017 (the regular 32 page prog) will be out before next year's Christmas prog (which would have been Prog 2017). I can see why Rebellion went back to the usual numbering system. Avoids confusion.

    Your idea is rather good. Rename the Xmas progs "annuals" to distinguish from them regular progs. :)

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...