Oli Davis reviews 2000AD Prog 1945…
Borag Thungg, Earthlets.
The creative team behind the deeply endearing Survival Geeks – Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby – enter part 2 of their latest strip, The Alienist. Part 1 was all set-up, introducing a cast of characters – none of which, oddly, were the protagonists. But there was a gruesome death. So there’s that.
Hopefully now entering the story proper, with the two not-as-they-appear leads Sebastian Wetherall and Miss Vespertine (the two constantly hint at a darker ‘truth’ in their narration, and Sebastian is at one point called ‘Reggie’), Part 2 is sadly comprised entirely of people talking in a room. Which can sometimes be great, but this ain’t Samuel Beckett. 5/10.
War-based science fiction – that’s the genre in which Robert Murphy’s 3riller, Apocalypse Anonymous, roots itself. Set in modern day Syria, a team from an unidentified Western country are sent to investigate a large monster that’s killing entire regiments. It’s a great premise, one that Monsters: Dark Continent explored to great effect earlier in the year. The opening of Apocalypse’s three instalments was intriguing enough, especially with letting the protagonist get shot so early on. 6/10.
Grey Area is back – yay! Dan Abnett’s superb immigration-police-procedural-set-in-space is one of 2000AD’s most consistent strips. With an almost infinte array of possible storylines and characters, the ETC team’s tales can flip from incredibly funny to heartbreakingly poignant on a dime. This latest arc, Contact, is a direct continuation of the previous’ cliffhanger – the ETC are stuck on a strange planet soon to be eaten by a God-Star. The Harmonious Free finally seem to be listening to Bulliet’s warnings, but otherwise its a rarely uneventful instalment – particularly for an opener. 6/10.
Helium reaches its conclusion this week. For its first arc, at least. The episode is all action, with Hodge and company fleeing their captors, and into the poison sea. A dogfight ensues, similar to the one a few weeks prior, only this time surrounded by the deadly gas.
It’s adventurous fun; it’s a romp. What it isn’t, though, is a satisfying cliffhanger. Has our brave heroine perished in a ball of flame?! No. She hasn’t. She’s the strip’s lead character in which the entire narrative is invested. Ending the occassional episode like that is fine. It’s a minor, primative piece of intrigue left over from the early days of Western serials (of course they’re fine, but you’d like to see how they survived). But it’s not befitting to conclude an eleven-part arc. There should’ve been a major twist or piece of valuable information revealed, not the usual false peril. 7/10.
2000AD Prog 1945’s Scrotnig Story of the Week – Judge Dredd
Judge Dredd’s first few panels are like cave drawings. Unevolved, abstract etchings. Ladies and gentlemen, Henry Flint.
People always talk about how Jack Kirby drew motion, how he created an incredible dynamism in his action. Flint, though…not just the way he draws violence, but the way he draws the aftermath of violence. It’s like the just-napalmed ground on the page is throbbing in pain.
Coupled with Rob Williams’ writing, the two are a dream team. The latest instalment of their Enceladus: Old Life story delivers in both Flint’s painterly aggression (Mega City One has just firebombed its own outer wall in defence) and development of plot. A strange energy source on Enceladus appears to be the cause of the Ex-Judges reanimation into ice monsters. The revealation sees the strip shift into its final act, particularly the operatic rallying cry of the final page – a broken, half-burned-alive Dredd climbing atop a black horse. Terrific storytelling. Even better art. 9/10.
OVERALL RATING – 6.6/10.