Oli Davis reviews 2000AD Prog 1939…
Borag Thungg, Earthlets.
Michael Carroll’s Judge Dredd story ‘Blood of Emeralds’ concludes this week with a half-action, half-exposition climax. After Dredd and Fintan finish their shootout, the Emerald Isles’ Chief Judge walks in to reveal the truth behind the whole conspiracy. What she describes is a political plot so interesting – of assassinations gone wrong, spies turned heroes and vast covers ups – it makes you ask, “why not tell that story?” In those two pages of flashback exposition, there is more drama, twists and action than in the entire six part story. Next week, however, will see Dredd return to his best, in the concluding ‘Encleadus’ storyline, written by Rob Williams and drawn by Henry Flint – one of 2000AD’s best creative teams. 6/10.
Ian Edginton is an incredible world builder, but he loves certain tropes so much that it can feel like he’s just copying and pasting devices from previous stories. In this episode of Helium, our heroes take to the sky with the same roguish adventure seen in Brass Sun or The Red Seas. Same tone, different world. Nevertheless, he admirably places complex motivations behind the actions of both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ characters, and D’Israeli’s art is as bold as ever. 6/10.
Back when the most recent Outliers story – ‘Dark Symmetries’ – began, it seemed as though Caul and Carcer’s separate lives were becoming slowly linked, like the characters in Sense8. One week with Carcer in a rehabilitation clinic was complemented by the next with Carcer at war. It seemed Outlier was being structurally daring. Nope. Both their stories have coalesced unsatisfactorily, Caul being thrown into Carcer’s storyline with all the subtlety of his flamboyant black and green skin. The strip doesn’t seem to know what it’s trying to say, or certain about its tone. And it’s making for a poor, confusing read. 3/10.
Jaegir might only be in part 3 of ‘Tartarus’, but it feels like a year of story has already been told. That’s how densely Gordon Rennie has plotted the strip. Flashbacks, references to atrocities long ago – every character action, trait and line of dialogue has a long tapestry of events leading up to it. The plot on the Kashan colony has thickened, a potential vampirism gene gone rampant, those in command using a steady supply of Souther prisoners of war as food. But, just like everything in Jaegir, this takes second string to character. The big twist isn’t a plot reveal or shocking full page spread showing a pit of bodies. It’s Kaitlen having sex. It’s not exploitative, nor reactionary. It’s revealing, how she lays back and serenely smiles. She’s forgetting. A brief moment of respite from the horrors she’s endured. 9/10
2000AD Prog 1938’s Scrotnig Story of the Week
Absalom has really turned out to be a thoroughly engaging read. Tiernen Trevallion’s black and white pencils somehow manage to be both grimy and defined. Characters’ faces are etched with lines, having more in common with road maps than human heads. The colour scheme matches the strip’s theme – there are the Heavenly forces (white) and those from down below (black), with Absalom and his colleagues as the grey in between. The double-crossing of Harry is an expertly noir-ish touch; his revelation of the children’s home activities even more fascinatingly gross. A great strip. 9/10.
OVERALL RATING – 6.6/10