Oliver Davis reviews 2000AD Prog 1914…
Borag Thungg, Earthlets! There are exploding heads, possessed heads and robot heads in this week’s issue. But first…
John Wagner’s Judge Dredd storyline ‘Dark Justice’ is now in full, gruesome flow. The Dark Judges have been awakened aboard the Mayflower (a spaceship colony shepherding Mega City One’s rich and famous to a better planet) and are proceeding to wreak havoc, deck by deck. In anyone else’s hands, Judge Death and his comrades would be a tedious collection of second-tier, one-dimensional villains. They have no backstory, nor any human conflict within their rotted hearts. They are simply out to kill. But then what is Dredd if not an uncomprimising force for justice? They say the best antagonists encapture the flaws of the hero. Wagner subverts one of Dredd’s greatest assets – unshakeable determination – into the ruthlessness of the Dark Judges.
Subversion is exactly what Guy Adams is up to in this week’s Ulysses Sweet: Maniac for Hire, with a wickedly metaphysical joke (as well as the superb gag: “Are the burgers vegan-friendly?” “You’d have to ask them. They seem pretty easy-going.”) The strip’s title card explicitly tells you to NOT READ Ulysses Sweet because IT’S EVIL AND BAD FOR YOU, mocking Fredric Wertham overreactions to cartoon violence in the 50s. The last page sees the character denouncing comics have his head blown off, followed by a montage of hammer shots, teeth-breaking punches and buzzsaw beheadings.
Savage uses his smarts instead of Ulysses’ toolshed of pain, outwitting the Hammerstein’s remote operators (further developing Pat Mills’ drone warfare critique) and turning them against each other. Unfortunately, an ‘old friend’ (meaning ‘fearsome enemy’) wants to have a ‘little chat’ (meaning ‘kill him until he’s dead’) with Bill for the cliffhanger.
Oberon is equally in demand by his foes. Oberon: Agent of Himself (formerly ‘East Meg One’) is finally hitting its stride. Now taking place in Euro-City rather than the Soviet territories, the narrative free itself from continuity’s shackles. This instalment almost sees the strip start afresh, establishing Euro-City as a utopian metropolis above, with seedy undercurrants of crime beneat. Three different factions are introduced, which Oberon intends to play off against each other for his own gain. An exciting premise. It’s just a shame we had to go through two throwaway episodes to get here.
2000AD Prog 1914 Scrotnig Story of the Week
The Order continues its fantastic run of form. How writer Kek-W can make five pages seem like an epic journey (in a good way) is magnificent. The band of men and one woman have now reached Prague in preparation for the Wurms’ attack on Earth. Nothing more than a filler episode between last week’s exposition heavy edition and next Wednesday’s action-packed fight, but still the week’s best strip. Wonderful, escapist fun.
Oliver Davis is one of Flickering Myth’s co-editors. You can follow him on Twitter (@OliDavis).