Oli Davis reviews 2000AD Prog 1937…
Borag Thungg, Earthlets.
Michael Carroll’s Judge Dredd story ‘Blood Emerald’ has been progressing neatly – the Emerald Isle has been fleshed out and Fintan’s backstory explored – but, until now, there hasn’t been much at stake. Part 4 signifies the middle act, raising said stakes to personal levels. Fintan has sent off his ma (the only woman formidable enough to make Dredd remove his muddy boots) to a safe house and the conspiracy over his pa’s death now extends to Emerald Isle’s Justice Department. Colin MacNeil’s thick pencils lend an overly cartoony aspect to the strip, but Carroll’s storytelling is succint and absorbing enough to compensate. 7/10.
It took a while, but Gordon Rennie has now struck the perfect balance in his paranormal detective strip Absalom. The opening 1983 flashback, to the orphanage Absalom is investigating, is terrifically well drawn – in both tone and art. There’s a banality of evil to the overseers’ child experiments (“Be a love and fetch the lamb’s blood and the other stuff from the office. We’ll see if we can’t calm her down with a little ritual or two…”) and Tiernen Trevallion’s black and white art work is majestically precise, like a manga inflection of Charlie Adlard’s work on The Walking Dead. The character of Absalom himself remains an issue, his dialogue too convoluted with cockney turns-of-phrase, but the overall story – abuse at a children’s home in the 80s – is effectively timely. 7/10.
Like most of the continuing strips this week, Helium is now on Part 4, meaning middle act time. The tank-driving invaders from the last issue’s cliffhanger are demanding the town hand over Bloom, the chap who emerged from the poison mist two weeks ago. What’s interesting is Hodge’s reaction. She goes to do so immediately. There’s no wrestling with her conscience, no innocent until proven guilty; she simply reasons that all the people’s safety in her town, people she knows, is more important than a mysterious stranger she met a few days previously. It’s a refreshingly sensible departure from the more traditionally heroic response. Of course, Bloom has to go ruin everything by revealing he can cure the poison mist. Now the conventional dillema – to hand him over or not – is back in play. 6/10.
Outlier’s switching between perspectives continues. Part 1 was Carcer’s, Part 2 was Caul’s. Now we’re back with Carcer again, investivating a crash-landed Hurde spaceship. There’s something very Mass Effect about the whole strip that’s hard to define. It might be Karl Richardson’s character designs (the blocky males, the blue aliens), or the diverse planets they travel between (jungle, ice, water…). The associations bring a nostalgia to the strip that possibly elevates how good it actually is. So far, the strip feels like filler. 5/10.
2000AD Prog 1937’s Scrotnig Story of the Week
Gordon Rennie pulls double duty this week, writing the returning Jaegir as well as the continuing Absalom. The latter took a while to strike the right tone. Jaegir, however, begins again as strong as ever.
I interviewed Rennie not too long ago about the strip’s first arc for its release in the US. There, he called Kapiten Inspector Jaegir the most developed character he’s ever created. It’s true. Imagine if the Nazis had won World War II. Then imagine, years later, that their government established a division to investigate war crimes. That’s Jaegir’s job, travelling from human rights atrocity to human rights atrocity, judging what (weak) moral parameters have been crossed. Now she finds herself in Tartarus, one of the most controversial communities forged in the Nordland war. Spectacular stuff. 8/10.
OVERALL RATING – 6.5/10