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!
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.