It’s a testament to how good the writing is by Michael Carroll on Dredd: The Paradigm Shift that I can pick this up, 3 to 4 weeks after reading the first 6 page episode, and read on seamlessly without having to check back what happened before.
Especially given the complex history of the Dredd Universe and how this reaches back to the very roots of the Justice System as we now know it to be in the strip.
Kudos also to James Peaty and Paul Marshall on Skip Tracer. I really enjoy how much of a slow burner this is and how deliberate and well controlled the pace is. It’s a very pleasant read and of course is wonderful to look at. A welcome addition to the prog and has taken me by surprise given how impenetrable I found Peaty’s Future Shocks to be in previous progs.
The world ‘skip’ is an appropriate segue into for the next strip I’m about to talk about, Survival Geeks, in that it belongs in one and I will indeed ‘skip’ all remaining chapters of the series, which is by now par for course for this overly on the nose ‘comedy strip’. The ‘jokes’ are far too obvious, it’s geek patter from about the last 20 years and we’ve heard it all before. It’s a mystery to me who the audience for this is because I don’t know that anyone enjoys it.
I had some storytelling issues with the first couple instalments of Fall of Deadworld: Damned however these appear to be ironed out now with this 3rd episode and the series has now found a bit of direction. The art is amazing as always, reminds me of Will Simpson’s painted stuff from the early 90s, which is a massive complement.
The 2nd part of Durham Red: Born Bad was as good as the first. She’s been sent looking for a missing person and it’s a pretty original and inventive motivation for the person hiring her to do so. Alec Worley is channelling a bit more of the Wagner and Grant style in this chapter, at least that the feel I’m getting from it.
The art and colours from Willsher is again tremendous, although he has toned the ‘sexy’ down a bit, which I’m a little disappointed in, as it added an extra bit of spice to the strip and the comic in the first instalment, to set it apart from the other strips. I hope that tone returns.
Nice Mike Dowling cover. Interest to note a slight difference in his style again. Previously I’ve noticed that he’s been employing less lines and more space in his work, such that it is evoking Ranson slightly less.
This image he’s gone quite loose with the lines compared to his meticulous placement in previous strips - and although my first thought was it was Dowling when i clapped eyes on it, I did check inside the cover that it wasn’t Simon Colby. It doesn’t have the same thick blacks as Colby, but the blacks are thicker and looser in a lot of places than Dowlings usual work.
He has his own style and this does look like his work, but I wonder if he is practising with a looser style to try and speed his process up a little, now that he is back on a 22 page a month comic with Vertigo. There’s no way he could keep the level of detail and deliberation up for 12 issues a year on a US title. So glad he’s getting continual employment, he’s a great artist.
Dredd continues to be epic and tense. I love the juxtaposition between past and present, it’s incredible effective here, and the balance is 100% spot on. One downside is Lynch’s art is becoming a little inconsistent. There’s a lot of mistakes but I get the feeling es had to rush this and his inexperience is showing slightly.
This panel here I had particular problems with, but it’s all aesthetic really, it doesn’t affect the storytelling, just interrupts the flow because it is offputtting.
He’s one worth persevering with, he’s got ability and his style works well for 2000ad. There’s been a lot of progression and that will continue.
Skip Tracer continues to roll on at a steady pace, drip feeding the discoveries. Deadworld was difficult to follow this issue. Durham Red is excellent again. This issue is used as an advert for how badass Durham is, but it does so in such a way that adds tons of depth to the world and the incidental characters, as well as Durham herself. Brilliant stuff. Worley has developed into a top writer, and I used to really dislike the guy when he was doing film reviews - I just wish we got to see more by him.
If Carroll and Worley hang about over the next 20 to 30 years they could keep the comic in safe hands if Mills, Wagner and Abnett’s output slows down.
Typically classic cover from Robinson on 2085 and I love the idea of Red emerging from the blood on Rachel Stotts cover on 2086 although I think the image would have worked much better if the blood was over the entire cover and not trimmed into the coffin shape, it doesn’t really work with the white background behind - shame as the idea and the art itself is fantastic.
My only criticism of Dredd: Paradigm Shift is that it was only 5 parts. This was a joy to read, I just wish there was more of it. The storytelling device used by Carroll was so effective, brilliantly pulled off and Lynch is showing signs of becoming a very good Dredd artist, potentially for many years to come.
I always get a bit tentative after Wagner or Carroll roll of a Dredd story though as some of the fill ins are of a far lesser standard.
Whilst Skip Tracer has a really familiar feel to it, and it is very slow paced, I actually think that both of these work in favour of the strip.
It’s like a nice hot, strong cup of tea and a digestive biscuit on a cold winter night. One sugar and only the slightest droplet of milk please.
It’s a world I quite enjoy spending time in because of that familiarity - and because it is renderered so brilliantly, by now surely approaching legendary 2000ad artist Paul Marshall, it’s a really enjoyable strip to sit with.
The slow pace works because the dialogue is stripped back enough for it not to be a chore, and there is always something going on to keep you intrigued. I also like how Peaty avoids having pages and pages of action by being quite clever about how he depicts the actions scenes, so he is not giving over a whole bunch of pages to something that is not going to further the story - Ian Edington is really guilty of that and I do think it’s really poor tactic when you only have 5 or 6 pages per instalment. Peaty avoids falling into that trap quite inventively, where’s the likes of Wagner, Grant and Carroll manage to convey action while still tellling the story - both effective ways of avoiding wasting your limited page count.
Survival Geeks is finished.
I think I have rediscovered the way I read the early Deadworld stories. Which is in an incredibly slow and deliberate fashion, absorbing what is happening a panel at a time. It’s not an easy thing to do, I had to use the same technique for the last series of the order as well. It’s made easier by the art being so good.
I definitely feel the benefit of doing this as I found these 2 instalments to be very effective and atmospheric - definitely transported me into that world for a spell.
Part of the problem is there is a lot going on, slowing down my reading pace has allowed me to follow the events better: although I do think this series would be better read in one sitting, it’s hard to follow in 5 page installlments.
Some new series about to start, Mechastopheles by Rennie & Richardson which I’m not overly excited about, as I don’t think it will be my type of thing, however you never know.
The Order will also be returning. I’m 50/50 over this as although I really didn’t not enjoy the first 2 series because I had no clue what was going on, I did really enjoy the 3rd, I actually got right into it - plus John Burns art is always something to celebrate.
One installement of Durham Red initially like an unnecessary padding, until I realised that Worley has used it to both give the reader a better understanding of Red’s thirst for blood and also to further the story, which is pretty smart writing.
Wilsher’s art has never hit the height of the opening chapter, which is disappointing. It’s still really good but not to the same degree in art or colours. Even more disappointing is that there is a change of artist on chapter 5 with Lee Carter replacing Wilsher.
It’s fairly seemless as they have both deployed a similar style, however what opened as potentially a story to remember has tailed off and I can’t see this one for the vaults to be fondly remember for years to come, which was my initial instinct early on.
Still a quality strip though and I particularly enjoyed how they chose to show the outside threat approaching the house. Really skilfully done.
I find it annoying that Matt Smith has pushed Beeby and Di Campi, when neither of them have written anything good for the comic, but Fay Dalton, who is an incredible artist has had no work since American Reaper.
If the aim is to up the number of female creators I hope they discover a few gems here, particularly on the writing side, as some new blood is required in general to push out some of the one source who have broke thru but are not very good.
It was good to see Lauren Beaukes a few months back, I really liked her Survivors Club series and I’d like to see something original from her in 2000ad or the Meg, although she’s maybe too busy with her prose stuff.
I’d prefer a meritocracy over box ticking exercises (pretty obvious this has been done to appease the vocal minority & boost relations and social standing before they turn on 2000ad) as it increases the chances of poor stories - however I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised.
So… any thoughts on the Summer Special? Overall I thought it was fairly stinky. The art was solid, often better than very good. I’d happily see any of these artists in 2000AD on a regular occurrence. The writing was just bad though. Poorer than anything I’ve read in the Prog or Meg for a long time. Actually, now I think about the writing again I’d change my ratings from “stinky” to “very stinky”. If this the Free Comic Book Day special I’d still be wanting my money back.
I am currently reading this CCF 11, and just noticed how the Wagner and Grant gave neat introduction to less positive side on Dredd we later get to see extensively, first Revolution, then Oz. Right before Revolution, the one-part darkly humorous story Reasons to be Fearful and then two-part FairlyHyperman arc. Fairly it’s obvious, that FairlyHyperman is fairly Superman in disguise in Mega-City One. Ofcourse, Dredd was a jerk at the end, because no one except judges can deal with crime. Btw, there is neat reference to 1978 Superman film.
Off-note: is the Oz story that Wagner and Grant ended their partnership, or was something else? I know that Grant hold less postive view on Dredd or he may was just tired of the character.
I don’t think it was ever one thing. If anything it wasn’t Dredd but their US work. Wagner was never that into writing stuff like Batman for DC and Grant really enjoyed it, they started off in tandem but not too long into it Alan Grant went solo. I think it just fell away organically, in all the interviews I have read and seen they seem pretty respectful of each other but just moved on.
There was a crazy period where they were writing so much together the IPC editors asked them to use the pseudonyms like TB Grover because it looked bad that 80% of 2000ad and The Eagle were being written by the same two blokes.
Yeah, their run on Detective Comics came at the same time as their time on Dredd. I know that Wagner abandoned writing Batman early on, so the question is which stories were written by Wagner and Grant together, since both names are stamped on the cover for later issues (for Grant’s fear of being fired).
But they later did collaborated on Batman/Dredd crossovers, which I’ll always remember the art by Simon Beasley. Wish he stayed longer on Bats; he could be one of definitive Batman artists.
I think Bisley’s painted style is just too slow, and around that time he got a lot of work with album covers and general illustration. It been ages, maybe even 2 decades since he did a full comic in his painted style (he has pencilled some, most recently Hellblazer). He is currently working on a Johnnny Pinapples fully painted strip with Pat Mills which will be his first in a very long time.
There’s no artist that has ever had me as gobsmacked as when Slaine The Horned God debuted. It was sensational stuff, there’s a lot of painted work that’s technically great but very stiff in sequentials but The Biz was always dynamic and so far ahead of the pack back in 1989 or so.
Kingdom - This reads much better as weekly instalments rather than bingeing all the progs/trades. I was previously of the opinion that it was great and one of my highlights of the last 10 years. However, that opinion has changed somewhat to the point where I think it’s pretty mediocre. The opening couple of ‘books’ are the best as they establish the main characters and Gene finds his way into the world. After that thought it gets very samey and every prog just seems to be him shouting ‘Get Whet’ and fighting Them. I think Abnett has been phoning it in on this series for quite some time and at least it looks like the next book might be the last. That might all sound a bit harsh but I’m keen to say I don’t think it’s bad but it’s definitely not one of the progs highlights for me anymore.
Stickleback - Now this is more like it. What a joy this is. D’Israeli’s best art? Quite possibly. Edginton writing ye olde town London crimnal characters? You bet. The individual stories are all readable as one offs but there is also a central spine story running through them. I hadn’t read these in ages and had forgotten the last page from the most recent book (don’t think it has been collected yet) which reveals who Stickleback really is. What a cracker it is. I literally yelled ‘Fuck Yeah!’ when i saw it.
I’ve only read the first trade (three “books” I think) but I think it’s brilliant. I like the way Abnett describes everything according to Gene’s understanding, and leaves it to the reader to figure out what everything means. And I find the patterns of speech, kept up in the captions as well as the dialogue, really enjoyable to read. The plots aren’t especially deep, so I can see how it might get repetitive in later books, but at the moment I’m looking forward to the next volume.
Any idea what the online chat about this has been because I’ve just finished it and overall it was probably the worst issue of 2000ad that I’ve read. But not without some merit. Although I feel I’ve raised some average strips up in my mind because they were good relative to some of the others rather than something we’d see in the weekly prog.
As a rundown of the strips:
judge dredd: the feels
By Emma Beeby and Babs Tarr was a half gestated idea told badly, which is par for course for Beeby. She’s a terrible writer. There’s no other way to put it.
Tarr’s artwork is generally very good, but she did not suit 2000ad. There was no sense of play and the design element was lazy and underdeveloped. The antithesis of what 2000ad art needs to be, given the low page count of the strips. It looks looks she threw this onto the page over a couple of days.
The whole strip was lazy.
I thought it was Great to see Tyranny Rex back, written by ‘Katy Rex’ art from Liana Kangas - until I read it
What the fuck was this???
Possibly she worst single strip I’ve ever read in the history of the publication.
Absolutely no idea what the point of this was. Incoherent garbage.
Rogue Trooper: The Thousand Days
By Alex Di Campi & Sam Beck was actually really good.
It’s the first thing I’ve enjoyed by Di Campi, however it was a a really simple idea written really well. She has a good ear for the banter between the chips and the dialogue was good in general.
I liked Sam Beck’s art a lot. It’s still a bit raw, especially on the faces, but she did a great job and the storytelling was great.
All helped by Eva De La Cruz amazing colours.
Future Shocks: Delivery
By Tillie Warden looked REALLY great in some places but was really hard to follow in others.
The story itself wasn’t the best and as sequential storytellling the art failed, it was also hard to make out what was happening in some panels.
However, a lot of the art was really beautiful and I think there’s loads of potential there if someone gives her some advice and training on the storytelling side.
Judge Death: Darkness Descends
By Leah Moore & Xulia Vicente
wasn’t my cup of tea.
The art was decent in places, a bit rushed in others. The facial expressions were good though and it was pretty dynamic in conveying music and the band playing.
The Demarco story was a weird one.
The script by Laura Bailey was ok, but i cant quite piece it together. There’s some stuff in it that doesn’t seem to tie into the story, like the whole sighting of Nimrod, unless it’s just inferred what happened to him rather than shown.
The art from Dani was incredible in a lot of places but quite inconsistent. There’s a great artist there. It’s weird though, the rendering of DeMarco was poor but Mrs Tippins was drawn brilliantly. I hope we see more of Dani in the prog very soon.
The terror tale was poor, the colours on the Anderson story were good, the art was a bit rough in places.
I’d reallt like to see more of Dani and I think there’s some good potential with Sam Beck.
Tilly Warden is maybe one to watch out for as well. I’m not sure if she’s done a lot of comics before but I feel there’s a lot of potential there if she can keep knocking out work and refining her considerable talent - although I think her style suits a publisher like Image or Boom better than it does 2000ad.
From the writers I’m not really interested in reading anything more by any of them, although I think Laura Bailey shows some promise.