Wow. This Thrillpowered first prog of the new year nearly blew my socks off! And the cover by Henry Flint is superb. The design of the suits and the Justice Department Ship (Olympus 1) is so so cool. Probably overshadowing the most coolest military ship in sci-fi – The U.S.S Sulaco in Aliens!
Judge Dredd: Titan Part One – what an opener this was to the new story! Dredd is sent to Titan’s prison colony to investigate why they lost contact. With him are a crack team of Marines headed by Austin. I loved the way the script was set up, almost like a film with key flashbacks which helped to build the story. The first page with the shot of Titan and Jupiter in the background was simply stunning.
I was a little disappointed with Henry Flint’s work on the recent Dredd: Underbelly storyline; some of the panels looked really rough, almost rushed. Compare the artwork of Underbelly to the Ma-Ma prologue story to see what I mean. But I’m glad to say that it seems like he’s back to his best here. Indeed, the opening few pages are simply captivating. And his depiction of Hershey is sublime, especially the close up on page 6. I’m really excited with this new story and look forward to the next episode with great fervour.
Future Shocks: Dying Wishes– A nice little tale from newcomers Eddie Robson & Jake Lynch. The story concerns a robot’s trip to the planet of its origin, to rescue the blueprints of its now extinct occupants. But his human assistant has other plans. Robson’s b&w artwork is excellent; I love the design of the futuristic ship and environment and a nice little twist at the end. I’d love to see more from both these new droids in the future.
ABC Warriors: Return to Mars Part Two – Really enjoying this. I’m so glad to see this strip back in the prog; the last series (Return to Earth) was great fun with a lot of memorable moments, and this too is shaping up rather nicely. The opening double page spread was fantastic, I’m not a fan of Clint Langley’s CGI/ Photoreal style (as witnessed in American Reaper), but it works really well for ABC Warriors.
Ulysses Sweet Maniac for Hire: Centred Part Two – I loved the opening double length episode in Prog 2014, and here we carry on as Ulysses Sweet escorts a Britney Spears-a-like pop star to a peaceful planet ruled by someone who looks like the distant cousin of Tharg! Again our protagonist is up to his silly shenanigans, and this might sound very insensitive from my side but I thought his encounter with the dolphin was very funny, especially the use he derives from the poor thing! I’m really enjoying Paul Marshall’s artwork – his work looks so much better in b&w if I am honest, just look at his prior works on Samizdat Squad and Judge Dredd: Killer Elite to see what I mean.
Strontium Dog: The Dogs of War Part 2 – Another excellent episode. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed the political subtext in this series, just change the word Muties for Muslims and the Norm Brotherhood For the B.N.P or any far right organisation and you can see the allegory quite clearly. Being from a minority group myself there are instances in the strip which really ring true. The hostility or fear of the ‘other’, and fear mongering by politicians which we ourselves witnessed during the Iraq war and so-called War on Terror. I’m really intrigued to see where this new series will be heading, but one thing is for certain – it’s already looking one hell of a read.
I cannot finish without commenting on Carlos Ezquerra’s artwork which is simply magnificent to behold. I’ve had a bit of a love hate relationship with his art (being blown away at times, and not so impressed at others) but recently it’s been nothing short of outstanding. Like good wine his work seems to get better with age – or maybe it’s just me!
All in all, a superb opening prog for the new year!