In February 2012, for the 35th anniversary of 2000AD, I made a pledge:
“But here’s a deal for you. If you’ll do it, so will I. 2012 will be the year I read 2000AD. 2012 will be the year YOU read 2000AD.”
Edmund Bagwell delivers a Klegg-tastic cover – but from which strip? Nah, not going to spoil that.
Again, as I keep saying over the last few weeks, this current little run of 2000AD is perhaps the strongest it’s been since I started this whole 2000AD pledge thing. Consistently good, the comic has, with this run of stories transformed into something consistently excellent.
Dredd: Right, lets’s get into this. First of all, you should all be aware of 2000AD’s clever idea of making the first part of this latest run by Al Ewing and Flint Henry available free of charge as a downloadable pdf. Seriously, if you’ve ever been thinking of getting into Dredd, of getting into 2000AD, this is your time. download your Dredd: Cold Deck part one and see what I mean. For a start there are so many little seeds in there that you’ll be needing them all to decipher the very best of what’s going on in here.
Back to this issue though, and we’re four parts in if you’re counting that prologue in Prog 1803 with its tea and biscuit toting mysterious lurker in the shadows with a connection to Dredd from way, way back.
And what we have is something hugely impressive, confident in script and art, effortlessly piecing together a multi-layered plot of incredible intrigue and also succeeding in delivering a genuinely emotive core. Suddenly we have a Dredd full of doubt, disillusioned and demoralised, unsure of his place in the larger scheme of things just as things start to get politically really nasty. Brilliantly done by Ewing and Flint:
(Judge Dredd by Al Ewing and Henry Flint)
Well, after the fun of last week’s confluence of stories this week is all about the aftermath, as that Wally Squad N.O.C. list is up for grabs, and Dredd is busy following up Jack Point and the deal. But politics and intrigue, nastiness and scheming are there in the background all along, with Judge Bachmann turning out to be a bit of a classic in a Machiavelli mold; manipulating, listening in, pushing pieces around the board, seemingly with all the moves planned out, all seemingly leading to Dredd getting shafted somewhere down the line. It’s clever, classy stuff. The twin strands of the wider political saga and Dredd’s personal crisis of faith are handled so well by Ewing and Flint. Great, great stuff.
Low Life: More off-world antics from the wonderfully manic Dirty Frank. Williams and D’Israeli really are cooking up something quite insanely silly alongside the thrills here. Seriously, the first page is a riot – with Dirty Frank finding the one Klegg in the world who doesn’t do the whole physical violence thing… poor sensitive Klegg, just look into those beautiful reptilian eyes…..
(Low Life by Rob Williams and D’Israeli)
But there’s depth in here as well, and Frank may be the most important Judge in any City, Luna or Earth-based. He’s certainly the only one who can get to the N.O.C. list right now… even if his way is barred by “an army of inter-galactic bad lads. And labourers. Which is sort of the same thing.”.
And that’s just the sort of line that makes Lowlife so much damn fun.
The Simping Detective: Wally Squad Judge Jack Point is now in a lot of trouble after last issue and he needs to get off-world badly. How badly? Well, it may cost him everything he has. Beggers (and simping clowns on the run from the Justice Department after revealing the identities of every single Wally Squad undercover judge and accidentally murdering acting Wally Squad Chief Judge Folger), just can’t be choosers can they?
But something did occur to me. There’s always a possibility here that they’ve got another of those clever little crossover things planned here. After all, if Point needs to get off-world, could he possibly end up on the same Luna-2 as is currently playing host to Dirty Frank in Lowlife?
Whatever happens, The Simping Detective, although not perhaps as weirdly out there fun and funny as Lowlife, or as out and out thrilling as the current Dredd, is a damn fine strip, made all the better by the nature of the inter-twining storyline.
(The Simping Detective by Simon Spurrier and Simon Coleby)
What is it with all the tea? The flashbacks? The ducks? Do Frank’s headaches and Point’s toothaches have some connection? If Point’s teeth problems are down to an implanted bugbot, could Franks be the same? And who put them both in the right place to have something to do with the whole Wally Squad mess right now? Who was Folger running from? Who was she giving the Wally Sqaud info to? And just why did Dredd pause just for that crucial moment to allow the Wally Squad list to be transmitted?
And that, dear reader, is just a few of the things I’m wondering right now, and hopefully gives you some idea of how damn good it’s all connecting together.
Most of all though, what I plan to do in a few weeks time, is sit down, with all the episodes of Dredd, Lowlife, and The Simping Detective and put everything together. Going to be an absolute pain to read in collection form though isn’t it?
Right, that’s the three connected stories done. Here’s the other two….
ABC Warriors: Well, if you’ve been following along, you know I don’t like this. There’s a sense of too many broad strokes, Mills veering sharply from black to white, and forcing the motivations to fit his plot points. This time Hammerstein chats to the President, with Hammerstein attempting to work out whether to carry out his orders to assassinate the man or not, but in the end it all that moralising is just foreplay for the full page money shot from Langley that it was all building up to. Oh, and then there’s a final page revelation that may be important, but no, sorry, it’s just not working for me.
(ABC Warriors by Pat Mills and Clint Langley)
Brass Sun: It’s sublime, it really is. Yet there’s a growing feeling that whilst Dredd is something that thrills week in, week out, Brass Sun is something that will really blossom when it gets collected. Because it has a slower pace than Dredd, and there’s occasionally a sense of very little happening across these beautifully composed, drawn, and coloured pages by Culbard.
This time, Wren and her young priest companion are out in the wilds of the world, and about to run into a few wonderfully strange hunting types. Problem is, Wren and the priestling just look a bit small and tasty for these hunters. Or are the hunters really prey? In which case should Wren be concerned about who really is coming for her? The intrigue, the mystery, it’s all building up to something great. But yes, this really is turning into something that, as great as it is week on week, will really explode in one reading.
(Brass Sun by Ian Edginton and INJ Culbard)