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Facundo Percio's 'Terror' cover for issue 1

Rating: 5/5
Publisher:
Avatar Press
Written By: Garth Ennis
Art By: Facundo Percio

The Caliban, a mining vessel travels through space, traversing through far off planets and galaxies by warp speed. So far its crew have failed to detect any intelligent life, but on a routine mission their ship crashes into an alien ship, or rather, merges with it. The crew are naturally worried by this mysterious ship and the danger it represents, but that may just be the beginning of their troubles…

This new title by Garth Ennis (Preacher, Crossed) and Facundo Percio (Fashion Beast) first came to my attention via Zainab and her awesome comics blog: Comics & Cola, she was kind enough to send me the first issue and I was thoroughly impressed by it.

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The ship herself, Caliban

Ennis doesn’t hide his love of Ridley Scott’s Alien and it was partly due to the release of Prometheus that he was inspired to write the series: “When I finally saw Prometheus I realised they had gone in a totally different direction” states Ennis in a recent interview for Bloody Disguisting, “and given that I had all these ideas kicking about in my idle head, I thought – Why not?”

Indeed, why not? Because in this opening issue Ennis lays the foundation for a series which is  both gripping, not only by his excellent script, which is bleak at times, but Percio’s outstanding artwork which automatically evokes a feeling of claustrophia, dread, and terror. Looking at the design of the alien ship and indeed the ‘Terror’ cover for issue 1, it calls  to mind the works of H.P Lovecraft with tentacled horrors and strange symbols. I also felt Ridley Scott’s Prometheus was more in tune with Lovecraft than anything, for instance, is Prometheus but not a futuristic take on Lovecraft’s At The Mountain of Madness? I certainly felt so.

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Two of the crew members investigate the alien ship

Coming back to the comic, the script and art conjures up a place which is far away from the space of Star Trek or Star Wars: here the Force, or rather God is absent (which might suit Ennis pretty well it must be said!). It also calls to mind Event Horizon, which is perhaps let down by a poor third act but the ideas, and the production designs still remains captivating. And I felt Caliban was a blend of both Alien and (the good parts of) Event Horizon.

Being a huge fan of sci-fi/ horror, Caliban has certainly caught my interest, and going on this first issue I am absolutely enthralled and cannot wait get my hands on the next issue.

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Simon Bisley's 3D cover for issue 2

We have another superb 3D cover by Simon Bisley to kick things off, I cannot praise the innovative use of 3D highly enough, just by swiping the image to your left or right can reveal details in the artwork which you might not have seen at first. Corinthians have done a stellar job indeed and It’s great that digital comics can offer so much nowadays, I’ve seen some pretty cool stuff recently, (i.e falling snow on panels) but this comic just opens up the possibilties of what can be achieved via this format. I still have a lot of love of paper comics, and to be honest, don’t think I’ll ever give up my love of physical TPBs/ hardcovers, but I am so impressed with 13 Coins and its creators.

As for the story, John Pozner the washed up ex-Basketball player gets a visit from Samuel Goodwin, an agent of the ‘Sons of Noah’; who are the ‘Watcher’ angels sent to guard mankind from the ‘Fallen’ angels. Their brief meeting does not go unnoticed however and soon the Anti Terrorist Agency (A.T.A) are on John’s case, not to mention the Fallen themselves. We are also introduced to key characters along the way, such as the corrupt Senator Graham. And it seems the A.T.A also want to use his services to their advantage.

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John is interrogated by the Anti Terrorist Agency

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Bisley's original pencil work for the above panel

Simon Bisley’s artwork is superb again in this issue. He depicts the squalid nature of the city perfectly, and the supernatural slant gives it a feeling of foreboding, with danger seemingly just around the corner.

After the opening two issues I must say I’m hooked, and look foward to issue 3 with fervour.

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Cover by the mighty Edmund Bagwell

Cover

Excellent cover by Edmund Bagwell. If I were to compile a list of my favourite 2000ad artists then Mr. Bagwell would no doubt feature highly on that list. One minor criticism would probably be the way Dredd looks, either his face is too lean or the helmet is too big, I would probably go for the former. But the depiction of Slaine and Sin Dex are superb. Nice use of colour too, it’s definitely eye catching and perfect to draw in new readers. The cover is the glossy, more firmer quality which is now customary for the jump-on-Progs.

Judge Dredd: Mega-City Confidential (Part 1)

When I first heard John Wagner and Colin MacNeil would be teaming up for this new Judge Dredd story, I was overjoyed. It’s been a while since we saw both of them together in the Prog, and everytime they do work together you are guaranteed to have a solid story. And this certainly was a solid opener as we are introuduced to the secretive Sector 7 (part of the Justice Department). One of the Sector’s workers, Erika, is under suspicion from her superior officer by the fact that she may be mentally unstable/ sharing information about her work. It’s clear the nature of the work is putting a big strain on her and she wants to share it with her husband but cannot do so, afraid of what Sector 7 would do to her (i.e, lobotomise her). It definitely makes us the reader intrigued to know the actual nature of her work and what she has seen, and the fact that Dredd is called to the case when we learn that she has disappeared shows the length they will go to to keep things quiet.

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There's a noirish vibe to MacNeil's art

Let me just say that Colin MacNeil’s artwork is just gorgeous to behold. The opening page alone with the shot of the work place with its work cubicles and shadows gives it an almost noirish vibe, not to mention the close up of the Sector Chief’s glasses. The first thing thing that entered my head was L.A Confidential when I saw the title of the story, and just like the film, here we also have dirty secrets related to the Justice Department, and those that would go to any length to cover up their secrets. It’s a fascinating opener and I can’t wait for the next episode.

Slaine: A Simple Killing (Part 1)

Slaine is back (the recent Book of Shadows doesn’t really count, as it was just re-enactments from some of Slaine’s famous exploits). And this time he stumbles upon some Glibbes, i.e thieves trying to nick the treasures of the Goddess Danu.

I’m not normally a fan of Simon Davies, but I thought his work here was excellent, although it looked like he overdid it with the blue ink. But what it does do is make the reds more prominent and eye catching, as is the case when we see blood splatter on the following pages. Like Dredd, I really enjoyed this and look forward to more in the next Prog.

Outlier (Part 1)

This is a new Thrill to 2000ad by T.C Eglinton and Karl Richardson, and one which I thoroughly enjoyed. We open on Graegan: an Alliance planet (the first panel reminded me of Joss Whedon’s excellent Serenity for some reason). Here we are introduced to Private Investigator Carcer. He’s here to investigate a gruesome murder of a grotesque Jabba-esque billionaire. We get a glimpse of the assailant but what were his motives?

I’m a big fan of Karl Richardson’s artwork and his style is very suited for a strip like this. The murder scene was especially a treat, both gruesome in its detail and very Se7en-ish in context. It’s early days but I’m already looking forward to the next part.

Sinister Dexter: Gun Shy (Part 1)

Last time we saw Sinister Finnigan and Dexter Ramone, they were sent on a Witness Protection Programme on Generica. On the run from Holy Moses Tanenbaum, they arrive in the town of Bluff Butte (what a name!), and Finnigan is busy loading as many guns into his car trunk as possible (free guns from the bank a la present day America). But one problem, they don’t have any bullets!

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Sinister joins a bank to get free guns!

I’m not a big fan of Sin Dex I’m saddened to say, but the last series was outstanding, and this new series seems to be going in the same direction too. I love Smudge’s black and white art here, his style is quite humourous and suits Dan Abnett’s storytelling very well. This was a fun opener and I’m looking forward to seeing what our trouble prone pair get up to next episode.

Jaegir: Strigoi (Part 1)

This is another new Thrill set in the same world as Rogue Trooper, but concentrating on the enemy (Nort) side of the divide. We are introduced to Atalia Jaegir, Nordland State Security Police, working on behalf of the Office of Public Truth, sort of like the S.J.S in Judge Dredd. Her fellow soldiers are not too keen on her and see her as a traitor, but Jaegir makes it clear that she’s after war criminals.

I thought this was a good introduction to the character and the world she inhabits. Simon Coleby’a artwork is very impressive, especially in the opening chase panels and the introduction of the main character. I love how we don’t see Jaegir’s facial scar at first, the right side of her face is obscured by shadow but not so in the final panel. There’s an orangey/yellowish hue to some of the panels giving it an almost sickly look. And seeing as it’s set on a planet ravaged by war and disease, I thought Len O’Grady’s colour work was perfect.

So a solid jump on Prog then, Judge Dredd was the highlight for me, but Sin Dex and Slaine were also great fun followed by the two new Thrills. I’m looking forward to seeing how each story develops in the next Prog.

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Cover by Clint Langley

We come to the final installment before the jump on Prog and we have a terrific cover by Clint Langley to start off this week’s proceedings. Some readers might not be too keen on Quartz’s head obscuring the title (In fact if you squint hard enough you can almost make out Kermit the frog!), nonetheless, I really like it.

Judge Dredd: Fit

Rob Williams and Henry Flint are back on script and art duties for this prologue to Titan. Gerhart hands in his report on Dredd, to Hershey. He has his doubts about Dredd and questions whether he’s fit for duty.

I thought this was a superb prologue, not only does it address the injuries suffered by Dredd on Titan, but it also questions whether he’s still feeling the effects of the savage beatings he took. It’s quite clear that it is impacting on him, and Dredd is human afterall. I doubt any other Judge could return to duty so soon no matter how many sessions in speed-heal. The physical scars may be less prominent, but the psychological scars are harder to erase. And nowhere is this demonstrated better than when we see Dredd in action. First via a flashback, and then using excessive force against some perps and a two-headed mutie . Flint’s artwork is a treat, even if the lack of lower lip for Hershey might be a concern! And yes, Judge Giant is right – the SJS bikes are indeed, sweet.

ABC Warriors: Return to Mars (Part 12)

For this final episode of the series we come back to the present (and Clint Langley’s photoshop style) as Happy Shrapnel and his comrades gather together, planning on the best way to take down Quartz. In the meantime, Blackblood is busy plotting the downfall of his comrades, being the treacherous bastard that he is! It’s all topped off with a superb last page with the ‘Return to Ro-busters!’

This series of A.B.C Warriors has been a blast. I enjoyed every second of it and hope to see its return very soon, especially when you consider that last page!

Tharg’s 3rillers: After The Vengeance (Part 3)

Lennon Munroe breaks down a door made out of digestives (see first panel) and barges in on Barger. And lets just say that this particular Lennon is not your peace loving type! To be honest, I knew there was something fishy about him in the prior episodes, so that twist did not come as a surprise to me. In the end it was a very good 3riller, but not as thrilling as I hoped. The artwork by Jon Davis-Hunt was enjoyable, his use of the innovative panel styling on the opening pages were really excellent. However, I felt the colours (by Gray Caldwell) were too bright and cheery at times, and clashed with the grim setting.

Future Shocks: The Flowers of Viber Hinge

The story is set in a fictional country called Yetzanistan, and it concerns an old man (Hinge) visiting the place. Years back he commited an atrocity by unleashing a deadly bomb on the country’s citizens, turning them into strange tree creatures without the need for food or sleep. Guilt ridden for his actions, he returns to the country to try and make ammends….in his own way of course.

I love Paul Marshall’s black and white artwork here which recalls to mind his excellent work on Samizdat Squad. David Baillie’s story is very reflective, looking at the repurcussions of war and the choices one makes in life. I really enjoyed this tale much more than the closing episode of his 3riller to be honest.

Grey Area: I.D, Please

This was hands down my favourite thrill of the week! It’s like a morning after episode with Bulliett still shaken from last nights visitation from the Arakshu infiltrator.

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The aliens wondered off from a Miyazaki film

In the meantime we have an alien parasite passport seeking freedom from its Rithuan host! Their parting is a bittersweet moment with the Rithuan exclaiming “what will I do without you?” “Just be yourself” replies the passport. The characters look like they walked off a Hiyao Miyazaki film, such is their almost childish charm. But on top of all this, Birdy is also suspicious of Bulliett, thinking that he’s interested in Lyra and not her.

Simon Harrison’s artwork suits the story very well. In fact, looking at it I wish we could’ve seen his input much earlier in the series. His crowd scenes are especially a treat (see also Damnation Station). All in all, I loved this series of Grey Area, and hope to see its return later this year.

A solid Prog then, with Grey Area my top thrill followed by Judge Dredd and ABC Warriors. Next week is the jumping on Prog and we hope to see new line ups, what’s got me most excited though is the return of John Wagner and Colin MacNeil on Judge Dredd! So very much looking forward to that.

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The front cover to the book

I’ve been a huge admirer of Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen from the very start. The first two volumes were no doubt the standouts of the series; the East London settings playing a big part towards my enjoyment of it, being a born and bred East Londoner (but also of Northampton descent too!) and of course, the many colourful literary characters which Moore utilized in the story. Some have said that Moore’s storytelling dipped with the Century series, sadly I haven’t read said series so cannot comment on them. Although hopefully this should be rectified this summer by way of the upcoming Century Hardcover Omnibus. But The Black Dossier was a thrilling read, it’s safe to say that it was a truly unique reading  experience.

Then of course, last year saw the release of Nemo: Heart of Ice which was one of my  favourite comic titles at the time. Kevin O’Neill’s marvellous artwork was a treat as usual. Especially impressive were his rendering of the Mountains of Madness and the chilling Albino Penguins which were depicted in Lovecraft’s famous short novel. Although it was a brief read it was packed full of brilliant ideas and images, and being a fan of H.P Lovecraft I lapped it all up with joyous gusto.

What then of Nemo: Roses of Berlin?

Well this time, Janni Dakkar and her lover,  Broad Arrow Jack are in 1941′s Berlin to rescue their daughter Hira and son-in-law, Armand Robur (captain of the airbornre craft – The Terror) who have both been taken captive by The Reich, controlled by the dictator Adenoid Hynkel (Chaplin’s Hitler in The Great Dictator).

If  Moore and O’Neill channelled the literary work of  H.P Lovecraft’s At The Mountain Of Madness in the last book , then here we are in the cinematic version of  Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Dr. Mabuse.

The book feels more like a straight adventure story as Janni and Jack travel to the bowels of Berlin to retrieve their loved ones. On the way there they meet Dr. Mabuse (from Norbert Jaques’ novels) and Dr. Caligari’s hypnotised sleep troopers. Not to mention Rotwang’s automon, Maria (the robot) from Metropolis. There’s also an unexpected development which I will not go into, suffice to sat it may come as a shock to those who have been following Janni’s storyline from the start.

O’Neill’s artwork is a sheer delight to behold especially the mouth watering double page splashes. His depiction of the German Metropolis is stupendous to behold, with overhead trains, steam, iron and long shadows which linger over the city like the German Expressionism which his artwork echoes.

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O'Neill's artwork recalls German Expressionism

Todd Klein’s lettering is also excellent, with the use of both upper case and lower case lettering in some intsances. And Ben Dimagmaliw’s colouring is outstanding, not too colourful (other than the opening splash page) but in perfect tone with the story. 

We have some customary prose near the end, ‘The Johnson Report’ where we have a fictional interview by Hildy Johnson of Princess Dakkar. Here we see Janni as a much older character, it’s clear this interview takes place a long time after the events of Berlin. It’s an interesting piece giving insight into her mind and thoughts on some of her sea-faring exploits.

The book itself is presented in beautiful hardcover. It is quite slim, same as the previous volume but the hard covers and spine give it some weight and the feeling that you’re holding something special, especially when you look at the interior cover art and the strong binding.

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Back cover: No coupons required!

In conclusion, Nemo: The Roses of Berlin is a superb addition to Alan Moore’s vast library of work, and it also has some of the best artwork I have seen by the magnificent Kevin O’Neill. There’s another book planned for next year in what will be the Nemo trilogy, and on this evidence you can sure as hell count me in.

5/5

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Dredd comes to grip with the mutant tape worm

Cover- Dylan Teague

An excellent cover by Dylan Teague! His phallus-like rendering of the mutant tape worm reminded me of Richard Corben’s Serpicock monsters in The Bodyssey! I love the shot of Dredd too, grappling with the er, thing! Colour work is also really eye catching.

Judge Dredd: Squirm (Part 3)

This was a superb ending to Mike Carroll and Nick Dyer’s story. I love the fact that a story which started off with a Fatty food contest soon descends into a monster chase. Nick Dyer’s artwork has been a treat and as I mentioned in my last review, his art is a perfect match for the story. This time round the Judges have figured out why the mutant tape worm has an appetite for large folks, and Dredd battles in a race against time to stop it from laying eggs. Suffice to say by the end the story is tied up pretty well – literally in this case! I’m a big fan of Nick Dyer’s artwork and hope to see more from him in the future, but overall, this has been an enjoyable story.

ABC Warriors: Return to Mars (Part 11)

We come to the penultimate episode of the series, and so far it’s been an absolute blast. This time round, Happy Shrapnel battles Mek-Quake. Worried for his ‘father’, the boy Tom tries to aid him in battle but will he pay a price?

So another thrilling episode, complemented by some terrific artwork by Clint Langley. And that last panel in particular had me punching the air! I’m really looking forward to seeing how Pat Mills and Clint Langley wrap it up next Prog.

Tharg’s 3rillers: After The Vengeance (Part 2)

We open with a scene of a banker in the past (acting like a tosser) and in the future, where the same banker is inside a cage, ready for execution. We also have our protagonist Munroe trying to plot the overthrow of the Wolves. But there’s something quite not right about him…

I enjoyed the opening episode to this 3riller, but sadly, this week’s installment felt a little weak. Nonetheless, Jon Davis-Hunt’s artwork is very good, I love his depiction of the main character and the little glimpses we get (such as on the first page) that he’s hiding something. I’m hoping this ends on a strong note next Prog.

Future Shocks: The Modular War

We have Eddie Robson back again on another Future Shock, this time accompanied by Robin Smith on art, and the excellent Simon Bowland on lettering.

I won’t get into the plot as it’s a little barmy to be honest (in a good way), it took a re-read for me to figure out what was going on, but….I enjoyed it. It had a smidgeon of Doctor Who in it for me which isn’t a surprise looking at Eddie’s prior work. I love the fact that each module (or city) could be removed on command like a chess piece! A nice little tale, I hope to see more from both writer and artist in the future.

Grey Area: Visitation

We have a change of artist for this one off story (which is actually vital to the development of the series). Adam Bulliet gets a rude awakening as an alien infiltrator, representing the Arakshu comes-a-calling. Those who read the last series will know that Uuveth the ambassador which Bulliet had a run in with, belongs to the same race. And of course, it is for this same reason why this visitor turns up un-announced.

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Bulliet's moody Deckard-esque apartment

It’s a slightly chilling encounter which is made all the more engaging by Mark Harrison’s superb artwork. The shot of Bulliet’s apartment in the opening panels, with light filtering through the blinds gives it a moody atmosphere, pretty much like Deckard’s apartment in Blade Runner (as has also been mentioned by Eamonn on his his review for ECBT2000AD). At times his artwork looks like a still version of an anime film, and I must say it looks rather splendid indeed.

Next Prog we have the last installments of Grey Area, ABC Warriors and Tharg’s 3riller as we await new thrills for the jumping on Prog. I’m really looking forward to it!

My review can also be seen on ECBT2000AD, a big thanks to Richard!

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Cover for Rebellion's collected edition

MINOR SPOILERS

It had been quite a few years since I last read Judge Dredd: America so I recently re-read it again, and I must say that the power of its message has not diminished even one iota.  A few people may grumble that it is not a proper Dredd story as Old Stoney Face himself hardly features. And while that may be true, the few instances where we do see him are some of the most iconic moments in the story. One thing nearly all will agree on though, is that it is probably John Wagner and Colin MacNeil’s finest work.

When I first read America I was floored by it, it left me emotionally drained. The ending especially, was like a gut punch. It made you question the nature of the Judges and their world. But it also showed the world of the Judges from a normal citizen’s point of view. And reading the story again it impressed me even more. It is a stunning piece of work which could quite easily sit alongside such comic book greats as Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns or any other comic which is seen as the best in the medium. But it could be argued that the subject matter is more resonant, it is something more vital, powerful, like a chilling prophecy on where our own world is heading especially in this climate of fear, surveillance and people’s rights being slowly eroded.

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Justice has a price...

The story centres around two friends, America Jara and Bennett Beeny, childhood friends growing up in Mega City One. Beeny is bullied as a child by other other kids but find’s a kindred spirit in America Jara. Beeny falls in love with America but feels that she is out of his league. His fears are soon confirmed when she falls for someone else. However, Beeny can never get America out of his mind. He sends letters to her but they soon grow to lead totally different lives. Beeny becomes a successful comedian and singer, whilst America Jara joins a terrorist organisation ‘Total War’ which is intent on taking out the fascist Judges. But even as they drift apart, Beeny still yearns for his childhood friend and love. A chance meeting years later has terrifying consequences for Beeny, and it will ultimately lead to tragedy for both.

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Total War (and love) in action

America is a love story first and foremost, and a critical look into the oppresive way of life for the citizen in Dredd’s world. Dredd is not the protagonist of the piece, but rather an antagonist. We see him at certain times such as in the beginning showing his views on where he stands:

”The people, they know where I stand. They need rules to live by – I provide them. They break the rule, I break them, That’s the way it works”

These words follow to Colin MacNeil’s iconic artwork of Dredd standing on the American flag. The statue of Liberty in the background, but that itself is overshadowed by the collusus statue of Judgment. A symbol of liberty, sacrificed for the harsh laws of the Judges. It is ironic because America Jara’s father names her America for the fact that as an immigrant, he is proud to be accepted in the land of the free. But that is a false notion as he himself soon discovers. Freedom is long dead, and oppression reigns supreme. And nowhere is this more clearer than in the opening panels.

Wagner’s storytelling is mature, affecting, tragic; a critical look into the world of Mega City One, and the life of two of its citizens. This story is a far cry from the earlier Judge Dredd comics, there is a very little humour in this story. But what makes America such a powerful read is due to the beautiful painted artwork by Colin MacNeil. It has an almost dreamy feel to it. It is an artistic achievement of such resounding beauty and power, once I started reading it I could not take my eyes off the panels. There were images in the comic which have now seared themselves onto my mind, images such as the one I have mentioned (of Dredd standing before the statues of Liberty and Judgement) but also images of a child Beeny standing with his ice cream on the ground as the figure of Judge Dredd on his bike looms near him. It is a chilling look into a system gone awry, where citizens have very little say on politics and how their city is run with the fascistic Judges controlling how a person should live. It reminded me of other great fictional works such as Alan Moore’s V For Vendetta, and George Orwell’s 1984, of a totalitarian state or police state which posseses all the power over what people can do or say.

The collection has  two sequels to America. The first is called ‘The Fading of the light’. Again Wagner and MacNeil are on script and art duties respectively. It is not as powerful a story as the original, but nonetheless very enjoyable. We get to see Bennett Beeny with his daughter ‘America Beeny’. He is very ill and hasn’t got long to live. The media see him as a loony but as we soon learn in the story that is far from the case. We have a troubled man still trying to come to terms with his guilt. We are introduced to a devious character called Victor Portnoy who blackmails Beeny into carrying out a bomb attack on an award ceremony. I found it a really intriguing and engaging read. The artwork (by Colin MacNeil) is maybe not as stunning as the original painted style of the first story, but I still loved it. Also it shows the versatile nature of MacNeil’s talent (his later work on Insurrection is some of the best comic art I have seen in recent years). There’s also a really harrowing rape scene towards the end which made me nauseous. And the fact that a Judge is near the incident and fails to intervene makes you the reader as furious as the victim. It’s a really moving story which I thought was a good sequel to the orginal.

The third story in the book called ‘Cadet’ shows Bennett Beeny and America Jara’s daughter America Beeny as a young adult working as a Cadet (trainee Judge). The decision for Beeny to become a Judge was made by her father in the previous story, as he felt that she would be most safest in the the Judge’s Academy of Law. It’s not surprising it’s the poorest of the three stories seeing as the orginal story and even its sequel was a hard act to follow, but even then it is much better than the dozens of comics I’ve read over the years. And this was really the first time during my read that I laughed out loud! I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet but if you do read it or have done, you’ll agree that the perp had it coming! One character I haven’t yet mentioned but who is ever present in the background in all three stories, offering his assistance and unflinching loyalty is the character of Robert, the (robot) butler of Bennett Beeny. He is such a likeable creation, sort of like C3-P0 but with brains! I really loved the character and how he always stood by Beeny, and assisted his daughter in her investigation too. It makes one wish that they too had a robot butler like him! All in all it was a really enjoyable read.

I can now see why America is regarded as the greatest Judge Dredd story by many. It’s a really beautiful, moving, tragic story made doubly brilliant by MacNeil’s stunning artwork. It is such a shame that John Wagner has not had the same recognition as some of his peers, especially in the U.S, but thankfully due to the recent Dredd movie there does seem to be a lot of awareness for the character everywhere. America has to be one of the greatest comic book story ever written, and one I hugely recommend to all comic book fans.
I’ll leave you with these powerful words from the story itself:

“You can’t ignore whats going on. You can’t bury your head in the sand and forget what the Judges are doing to us. You’ve got to keep fighting. You’ve got to keep looking for America”

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Cover by Jon Davis-Hunt

An excellent cover by Jon Davis-Hunt, it’s eye-catching with a funny title to boot. I really love the depth that he brings via the shading.

Judge Dredd: Squirm (Part 2)

Dredd interrogates Simon Cowell while his fellow Judges try to come to grips with one of the mutant tape worms…

I’m really enjoying this Fatty-tastic tale by the ever reliable Mike Carroll. After the tense, no-nonsense nature of Titan, this story is welcome sight, also the chance to enjoy a little light hearted fun.

I know not everyone’s a fan of Nick Dyer’s artwork, but I really like it. Sure, you can mention that his bodies don’t look right, or Dredd looks too young, but that is Dyer’s take on the character. Is it really all that different from other artists putting their own stamp on the character? And for me it suits the tone of story which is geared more towards humour. The panels where we see the Judges trying to restrain the mutant tape worm was hilarious. It reminded me of a scene from Hellboy 2 where we see some B.P.R.D agents trying to restrain an angry un-friendly looking creature with comedic results.

ABC Warriors – Return To Mars (Part 10)

Happy Shrapnel A.K.A Tubal Caine comes under attack from Quartz’s robots, and some of the scraps even come alive, chief among them – a big robo wolf. But will Shrapnel hold them off or will they finish him off?

I’m a big fan of Harry Shrapnel/ Tubal Caine and would be mighty pissed if the latter were to happen. But let’s just say he puts his non-violence stance on hold and dishes out one hell of a butt whupping to those unruly robots. Once again, Clint Langley’s artwork is a pleasure to behold. I know this stylistic choice is maybe more to do with the tone of the story, but it’s been great to observe these last few weeks. For instance, that last splash page of Mek-Quake towering over Happy Shrapnel was absolutely fantastic. This is shaping up to be a fun arc and I can’t wait for the next episode.

Tharg’s 3rillers: After The Vengence (Part 1)

It’s a pleasure to see David Baillie back again with a new 3riller. The Ghostship Mathematica was my favourite non-Dredd strip of last year with its Treasure Island crossed with Star Wars vibe, and lovely artwork from Inaki Miranda. But how will this new 3riller fare? Well for one, I enjoyed the set up with London in the grip of anarchy after an attack on Canary Wharf. A gang has formed, known as the Canary Wolves and they rule the streets of the ‘New City’. I had a little smile on my face when I saw their name because it took me back to my boyhood when I used to mispronounce Canary Wharf as Canary Wolf! (my son is still carrying on the tradition, e.g, Cybermen = Cider-men! Weeping Angels = Whoopy Angels and so on).

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London after the Vengeance...

Jon Davis-Hunt’s artwork is also great to see after his last work a few months back on the (sadly) much derided The Age of the Wolf III. I seemed to have a love hate relationship with his art on that strip, but this is looking much much better. I love his depiction of London in particular with all the graffiti on the walls and so on. Our protagonist, a musician by the name of Lennon Munroe Seeks work for the man behind The Canary Wolves . As a character he doesn’t seem too interesting, even if he does look a little like Robert Downey Jr in a few panels! But I’m very interested to see where the story might take us, can London be free of the colours of Brighton & Hove, and will Lennon lead all the rich folks to freedom? Or does David Baillie have other ideas for us in store? I’m looking forward to the next episode to see how it pans out.

Terror Tales: The Icarus Project

A secretive group of black berets respond to an alarm call from Station X, which is a secret military base. And once there are confronted by some strange goings on.

A really disappointing Terror Tale this. I read it twice to see if I missed something (which I hadn’t) to explain why I didn’t like it, but sadly it just didn’t do it for me. It was also rather confusing especially towards the end. Would it have helped if it was maybe a page longer? Probably. The only saving grace for me was PJ Holden’s excellent artwork, with the sickly green tone giving a sense of the macabre and weird. Such a shame the actual story didn’t measure up. I would also like to say that I know a Terror Tale doesn’t necassarily have to be scary, but what would help is the subject matter and mood.  For me the last great Terror Tale I read was by John Smith last year entitled Black Spot (Prog 1801). It was illustrated by the mighty Edmund Bagwell and involved a driver and his companion making a grim discovery on the road. For me it was a creepy little tale packed into a mere few pages. The storytelling was great as was the art and it worked really well. I would love to see a Terror Tale maybe in that mould or set maybe somewhere outside of good Old Blighty, maybe Asia, or South America. There’s a whole wealth of spooky folk tales or unexplained phenomenon in those parts of the world which could be the basis of an unsettling little tale.

Grey Area: Rates Of Exchange (Part 3)

I love Grey Area. I love the premise and I love the characters, and I’ve been enjoying this new series immensely. A large part of it is due to Patrick Goddard’s impressive artwork but Dan Abnett’s writing hasn’t been too bad either even though it’s not been on the same level as say Insurrection or Kingdom. But you could say Grey Area is a little lighter in tone than the aforementioned two. This particular episode we have Bulliet and his agents locked in as the Xenomorphs run rampage – where’s Ripley with that loader and flame thrower when you need her eh?

All in all, a pretty solid Thrill. Next Prog we have the conclusion to Judge Dredd: Squirm  and another Future Shock to look forward to.

This review has also been published on ECBT2000AD (Everything Comes Back To 2000AD). A big thanks to Richard!

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Simon Bisley's cover for #1

I read the first issue of Simon Bisley’s new digital comic last night, 13 Coins and I must say I really enjoyed it. The comic is written by Martin Brennan and Michael B. Jackson with interior art by Bisley. The story revolves around two warring angel factions, the first group are known as The Fallen and consist of 13 rebel angels who had escaped hell and are intent on creating an army to orchestrate an attack on heaven. The second faction are known as The Watchers, their sole purpose is to protect mankind from attack from The Fallen and their descendants. And of course this war comes to earth and we are introduced to our protagonists. And oh, did I mention, there are 13 Coins involved originally given to the rebel angels, and this also plays a big part towards the story.

Bisley’s artwork is simply outstanding. British fans of 2000AD will of course know him from his work on Slaine, but his work on Heavy Metal has also gone towards confirming him as an exceptional talent.

I’ll admit to saying that I’m not a fan of digital comics but this just blew me away! Some of the 3D images are superb, especially the cover for issue 1. I urge all comic lovers and fans of Simon Bisley to check it.

You can find the link here.

The app is free to download and is very impressive indeed. I’ll definitely be returning back for issue 2!

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Cover- An excellent 37th anniversary cover by the formidable duo of Robinson & Teague! I always look forward to their covers with great fervour, together they’ve produced some real gems over the years and this one also is also up there as one of their best. The colour work is superb, red works really nicely with green. And of course if you pay close attention to the bullet points, all the numbers add up to 37, which is pretty cool touch.

Judge Dredd: Squirm (Part 1) – After being entertained on Titan for the last eight weeks, we return to more familiar shores and a story involving Fatties: MC-1′s overweight residents. I recently finished the Judge Dredd: Fatties collection and enjoyed it immensely (a big thank you to Pop Culture Bandit!), and it was nice returning to the world of food binges, purges and belly wheels. Mike Carroll’s story concerns Hugh Munguss and his competition on the X- Fatter show (fronted by some familiar faces!), but something goes dangerously wrong. And so enters Judge Dredd and before you know it he’s under attack from a mutant tapeworm!

This was a fun opener with some lovely artwork from Nick Dyer. I love his depiction of  Dredd in particular, and it’s all capped off perfectly with Chris Blythe’s crisp colours.

ABC Warriors: Return to Mars (Part 9) - After rescuing the boy Tom from the zealous clans- people, Quartz comes-a-calling with the psychopathic Mek Quake in tow. He has a proposition for Happy Shrapnel (a.k.a Tubal Caine), but will he take it?

Another terrific episode from Pat Mills and Clint Langley. Quartz’s introduction for the Japanese Robots was really funny, with some familiar faces in the line up. Clint Langley’s black and white artwork is a treat, with only little colour visible such as the three main robots’ eyes. It gives a menacing tone especially where Quartz and Mek Quake are concerned.

Grey Area: Rates of Exchange (Part 2) – Last episode we had a Ceti Eel-ish critter going on the rampage, but this time round we discover that this creature hatched from an egg which was used as currency by an alien race. The ETC agents, led by Bulliett, realise that there’s another egg which could also hatch soon,  having cordoned off the area, they go to investigate (with a bit of side romance on the way) but are in for a nasty surprise…

The sort of surprise that would get Pvt. Hudson (Bill Paxton) to cry out “game over man!” Because this episode was very evocative of Cameron’s film, not only the look of the creatures but that fantastic last panel which was pure Aliens, mirroring one of the coolest suspense drenched reveals in the film. Patrick Goddard’s artwork is superb as always with some lovely (almost muted) colour work from Abigail Ryder.

Future Shocks: Immunity – It’s always a pleasure to see John Burns in the Prog/ Meg, and so it proves again in this Future Shock tale by new script droid, Eddie Robson. Burns’ painted artwork is so stunning here that I could literally weep with joy! From the Tatooine-esque desert shots with the beautiful colours throughout, to the look of the Tectuan alien ambassadors themselves!
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The story also has a fine twist at the end which I did not see coming after a human ‘messiah’ seeks asylum on their planet. While genuine twists in the Future Shocks are hard to come by nowadays, I still have a lot of love for the format as it gives new writers and artists to showcase their talent. And thanks to this particular story, Eddie Robson is a name I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for.

Strontium Dog: Dogs of War (Part 10) – Oh my! I never expected to see another (supposed) death of a key character after the tragic turn of events in this months Meg, but I am not convinced that this is the last of Johnny Alpha. Firstly, there is no conclusive evidence that he is dead other than the shot of his helmet amidst the explosion. Secondly, would the writers resurrect Johnny, put him through the wringer only to kill him again? That would seem pretty cruel in my estimation.

But, as an ending to the series it works pretty well. It’s open and leaves every chance for Alpha to return in the future. One thing I can say with certainty though is I enjoyed every single moment of this series. It showed Alpha as a character who would go to any length to protect his fellow mutants, even at the expense of innocent Norms. It also shows a more ruthless side to him, with Middenface almost acting as his conscience at times. I think this would read much better in collected format as evidenced with the first collection (The Project), and I for one can’t wait for its release.

A pretty stong Prog overall, I’m looking forward to the start of a new 3riller in the next instalment, also the second part of Judge Dredd: Squirm.

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