Oli Davis reviews 2000AD Prog 1943…
Borag Thungg, Earthlets.
Helium is now in Part 10. Jeez. Has it been that long? What started out as a strip with potential has become one of Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V. Any scene in Helium could be replaced by one in Brass Sun and you wouldn’t know the difference. Ian Edginton’s doubling up on plot points, narrative devices and overall tone is undoing all his fantastic world building work.
That said, D’Israeli’s panel layouts here are hypnotic. The page is divided into six; three up, three down; the white background seeping through the gaps; the Steve Ditko-esque neatness and consistency makes the final splash all the more effective. 6/10.
Outliers last week was good. Really good. The action was fast-paced and the parents and child reunification genuinely affecting. The strip, it seemed, had finally found its tone. Unfortunately, and fittingly, that instalment was just an outlier.
This week’s episode fails to capitalise on any of the character development from the previous issue. Suddenly, the connection felt towards Caul or Carcer last week is gone. Even as Caul’s arm is sliced clean off its socket, there’s no attachment there. Not even a ligament. 4/10.
In between being accused of fixing professional snooker matches, John Higgins sometimes writes and draws disturbing Future Shock stories for 2000AD (disclaimer – writer/artist John Higgins and snooker player John Higgins are actually separate people). Writer/artist Higgins has provided a steady stream of self-contained, largely non-verbal strips over the last few years, typified by their unsettling tones and twists. Cloud Nine is a little different, in that Sally Jane Hurst has written a voiceover narration to accompany Higgins’ images. It dulls the impact; Hursts ambigious words add an unneeded clarity to Higgins’ abstract pictures. I only had to read Cloud Nine two times for it to make sense. Higgins usually takes at least four. 6/10.
Gordon Rennie’s always superb Jaegir just misses out on being this week’s Scrotnig Story. It was close, though; this episode only being a fraction less fantastic than the eventual winner. As Rennie so likes to do, this issue begins with a ‘BEFORE’ flashback to Kaitlin’s training. In it, she brings back her team alive, but fails the mission because of taking too long. It’s a fail. Sacrific team members for the objective. Soldiers are replaceable. Valubale intel is not.
The memory of the beating she receives echoes throughout the rest of the episode, the past constantly being churned up again and again in Kaitlen’s narration. What would Kaitlen’s former Commanding Officer think of her saving the enemy now?
It’s what Jaegir does so well; plot, dialogue and structure all blooming from Kaitlen’s extraordinarily complex character. 9/10.
2000AD Prog 1943’s Scrotnig Story of the Week – Judge Dredd
Dirty Frank is back in all his hobo glory. Dirty Frank returns in Henry Flint’s glorious living colour (his last outing was in D’Israeli’s monochrome pencils). But, most importantly of all, Dirty Frank speaks in the third person.
It’s a testament to how good Rob Williams is as a writer. At the end of last week’s episode, when Dirty Frank was revealed as Judge’s Dredd’s last resort against the Aimee Ice Entity, a more comical shift in tone seemed to be approaching. Instead, Williams perfectly balances Dirty Frank’s crazed mutterings with Dredd’s murderous intent. Frank can talk about spooning Old Stoney Face, then switch to poignant memories of Aimee in a beat. Williams writes Frank incredibly tenderly. Like all the great clowns, there’s both a deep wisdom and tremendous sadness to the character. 9/10.
OVERALL RATING – 6.8/10