For me, crossovers are a bit of a hit or miss. There’s been some poor stuff over the years, but also memorable ones such as the first Alien vs Predator story (the films in comparison…well lets not go there).
And then there are of course the Judge Dredd crossovers (Judge Dredd vs Batman, Predator vs Judge Dredd). But Incubus was my first foray into the Judge Dredd crossovers…and what fun it was too!
I’ll be honest, my decision to buy this collection was more to do with the fact it was illustrated by Henry Flint, one of my favourite artists working in comics today, rather than the fact it was Old-Stoney face up against the galaxies most terrifying monsters (much as i love the Alien films). But what surprised me reading the collection was that the the story by Wagner and Andy Diggle was so strong. Maybe not on the same strength as America or The Pit, but still a damn enjoyable read. And of course the artwork……
Lets just say when my eyes graced Henry Flint’s awesome artwork for the first time, i felt i had died and gone to Zarjaz heaven! But i’ll start with the story first. The reason why Incubus is such a joy to read is the characters, whether it be the Verminators (pest controllers), or Judge Dredd and his team, especially the character of Sanchez (I believe this was her first appearance in 2000ad, we see her later in the Origins storyline). She brought a bit of humanity to the ‘unhuman’ nature of the Judges. You can see she is scared by the Alien catatrophe but slowly she developes along the way until she comes out stronger by the end. Her character reminded me of Anderson in the recent Judge Dredd film, a character who also harbours doubt and fear but developes into a tough nut toward the end. The villain of the piece was also quite memorable, sort of like the 2000ad version of Two-Face. We learn about his motives, and how he became the ‘daddy’ to the xenomorphs! His base of operations which is located in the ruins of the old world beneath MC1, is a visual delight. With remnants of New York like a graveyard, the skyscrapers side by side like giant headstones, it is here the outcasts and muties dwell.
Which brings us nicely onto the art; Henry Flint does a stellar job indeed. This being one of his earlier works, at first i noticed some similarities between his style to that of Carlos Ezquerra’s with the ‘obsessive’ details and line works, but Flint makes the style pretty much his own. Looking at his work now, especially his work on The Cold Deck (Trifecta) and comparing it to his earlier stuff such as his fabulous work on ABC Warriors and this comic, you can see how he has matured as an artist and how he has devoloped his style. I commented on his blog recently and he was kind enough to get back to me, he said that his inspiration was from earlier black and white works on 2000ad, and it shows – he is one of the most versatile artists around and you can see several influences from that period in his work over the years. But now he has mastered his style to the point his recent works and especially his work on the Chaos Day storyline, can only be called his own. Its the Henry Flint style.
There were a lot of standout moments in the comic; the Alien skydive with a series of panels depicting an Alien falling from a great height before exploding into a fireball mid-air and crashing down into the ground, leaving a huge hole in the process. The depiction of this thrilling moment was expertly conveyed by Flint, panel by panel. There was also some really nice artistic touches such as the opening panel. We see rows of ‘power towers’; structures which resemble the Aliens with their iconic hissing mouths. Not to mention some injokes such as the Harry Dean Stanton block! Also, i don’t know if anyone who has read Incubus before noticed, but i swear the tech guy ‘Benson’ looks like Sly Stallone! It probably serves him right that he gets to do the gruesome work; punishment for crimes commited in another life perhaps?
I was surprised by how fun this comic was, it was well written, funny, tragic, beautiful – everything you’d expect from a strong writer such as Wagner. And of course Flint, his artwork – especially for the Aliens- some of the best i’ve seen. There was a nice foreword by Simon Pegg in this trade, as well as a ‘deleted scene’ with some nice sketches by Henry Flint. Overall it was a nice package by Rebellion. On this evidence i am looking forward to reading the other crossover stories, notably Judge Dredd vs Batman. Now excuse me while i give this comic another read…