I don't like this cover, but I'll admit it's pretty eye-catching. I think it's the colour scheme more than anything else that's responsible for the eye-catching aspect of it, though. Young Sinister and Dexter aren't all that well drawn, although the older Dexter in the background is well done.
Judge Dredd: You're a Better Man Than I Am, Gunga Dinsdale - When I first looked at this week's Dredd I saw the second frame first and noticed the way Dredd was drawn. Instantly I thought "Oh no, it's Siku again!". Thankfully it's not, although this artist isn't much better. He uses garish colours and there's a distinct lack of detail to his work. As a saving grace, he does do people pretty well. Unfortunately there's an exception to this: He doesn't do Dredd very well, making him look a bit fat and giving him the chiseled jaw of Superman. Also, his badge and shoulder armour are wrong: the badge lacks the correct shape and detail while the shoulder armour is way too small.
The story is a good one, however, with PJ Maybe turning up again, desperate to change his appearance in order to avoid detection. This he does, in a way that I didn't see coming until the last page. I'm looking forward to next week now, which is something I don't normaly do with Dredd.
Sinister Dexter: Shrink Rap, part 5 - As the series builds to an explosive climax my ideas that maybe this psychologist's session is happening only in Dexter's head is begining to fade. I'm enjoying this strip more than I thought I would - it's giving character to Dexter and also showing Sinister was young and innocent once. It's plain how much Dexter was hurt by his father's death and while reading the strip I actually felt sorry for him.
The artwork is starting to grow on me, too. It's got a lot of detail but for the most part this is hidden by the computer colouring used. I'm still not sure why every adult has veins visible through their hands and arms - it just makes their arms look older than the rest of them.
Red Fang, part 11 - This story has now lost all appeal for me. There are too many gadgets just turning up out of nowhere just when they're needed and this has spoiled what could have been an enjoyable end to the series. I'm no longer bothered what happens, I'm just glad it has to end soon.
The artwork is still as flat and lifeless as ever, with the Rodovek and some landscape scenes being the only bits of note.
Future Shocks: World Next Door - While I'll admit I didn't see that ending coming, I'll also admit that I'd rather not have - it's just bad, for reasons I can't explain. Also, please stop Steve Moore from finishing sentences in other frames!
Aside from these gripes, I liked this strip - it was funny and also illustrated the viewpoint of the settlers which colonised America and destroyed the cultures and people already there.
The artwork is good - lots of detail but also heavy use of black and lots of white space, suggesting the artist had left things for the colourist to add details. Good, but a little more use of space would have been nice.
Roadkill, part 3 - Okay, what's going on? It looks like there's a conspiracy between the automated cars but what are they planning? Is it just limited to cars? I'm betting this strip has 2 more weeks left at max (Dante is due back in prog 1213 and this is filling his space) so we've got to find out soon.
The artwork is getting better - maybe it's the darkness used for the night scenes or maybe it's just that i'm getting used to it. Anyhow, I'm starting to like it; so whatever it is, it's a good thing. The story seems to revolve around one key point: getting the main character (does he have a name? I don't recall one) another car. Looks like it's building to a climax, which is good as it's got a very limited run left.
I'm undecided about this cover. It's a decent rendering of Dredd but there are small aspects that really get at me. Firstly, his leather uniform looks rubber. This, I think, is mainly due to the colouring - it's too reflective - but also due to the little fleck lines used in the shading - it makes the uniform look like it's stretching too much; which sugests, to me anyway, that it's leather. Not good. Secondly, Dredd's gauntlets suffer from the same 'veiny arm' syndrome that's been affecting adult characters in Sinister Dexter recently. Although it looks good and even suits the fingers of the gauntlets, the arm section looks wrong - the gauntlets look creased, which isn't likely since it's Dredd's uniform we're talking about here. He's a judge and would need to look in pristine condition whenever possible, to show the clean face of the law. He's not going to wear creased gloves.
Judge Dredd: Bring me the Heart of P.J. Maybe - Again, Dredd looks too stout here and the colours are still far too bright. I don't like it. The artist puts a decent amount of detail into close-up shots but for the rest of the time there's very little detail at all, suggesting they're leaving it all to the colourist; who appears to be using a standard Windows colour scheme - very bright. Not good.
Unfortunately, the story has cop-out written all over it. P.J. Maybe escapes all too easily and then just disappears, turning up in another city where he bribes the judges and so gets off scott free. This could easily have been drawn out a little more, spread over a few more issues and been an enjoyable chase story; but instead we're left with a story that suggests the writer has other things on his mind.
Sinister Dexter: Shrink Rap, part 6 - A decent ending to this enjoyable story. The "Well, I know a good gun-shark..." line summed-up the story well, in my opinion. Although at first this episode smacked of cop-out ending, on re-reading it's a decent finish to the story. (I think my original assessment was somewhat clouded by the fact that I was hoping the whole thing had been due to Dexter having a breakdown. Ah well).
The artwork's not as good as last week - there's not enough detail to it and the psychologist's room looks far too dark. It's gone back to the quality level the strip had in its first few issues.
Red Fang, part 12 - At last, it's over! Unexpected ending in some ways, but in others it's not. I'm sure we all knew Fang was going to become leader, but I didn't expect Phoenix's arrest. Let's just hope this series doesn't get a second outing - it's just not worth one. The artwork is, as usual, bad. The linework is too thick and it looks like it's done with felt pens all the way. The colouring is muddy and I just can't bear to read it.
Future Shocks: Escape Ship - Although not an overly exciting strip, I loved the artwork and the story was good. The ending was predictable (after the first page you knew they weren't going to make it, but never mind) yet still I had to read it. An enjoyable one-off.
Road Kill - With none of my questions from last week answered, I was somewhat disappointed with this episode. It looks like it's been left open for a sequel but after this ending (seeing another man trapped inside a car, hammering on the window as the main character walks off down the road) I hope it doesn't get one. If it does, make sure the artwork is better than this. As with the other episodes, it's basic and uses a colour scheme that looks like it's been lifted directly from the Teletubbies - very bright and not at all fitting. I reminds me of the colouring used on the rather pathetic X-Men movie adaptation. Not good at all.
Nice cover. When I saw it I thought "Wooh! Nice!" and I don't often do that. It looks like the editor has thought "This is an issue with a lineup of new stories so let's have a cover that's going to pull in newcomers to the comic, 'cause they're going to be able to open the comic and follow everything inside". Well, I'd say this cover would have caught my attention - it's got great colouring, lots of detail and just looks cool. Dredd's fingers look a bit flat but other than that there's not a lot to fault with it. Nice.
Judge Dredd: Generation Killer - This story is great. After last week's cop-out we get a return to form that really kept my attention (so much so that I almost missed the train I was waiting for while reading it). It's good to see time travel tackled so well - the killings that the Generation Killer says he's going to do in the past have already happened by the time he's talking about them, instead of the usual method of having a new timeline come into existance later, once the killings have been done. Dredd's words on the final page, "He could be the shape of things to come for this city", is said in a way that suggests Dredd isn't too happy about it. He can see that 'justice' as extreme as that which is carried out by the Generation Killer is no justice at all. The start of something big for Dredd? Could be. Personally, I'd like to see this being followed up.
The artwork is pretty good, too. Dredd looks his age for a change, which is nice, but I don't like the way his uniform is drawn. The leather is thick, which is good (we see this in frame 6 of page 2) as it normally looks like it's that spandex stuff superheroes are so fond of. However, the left shoulder armour is far too chunky for my liking. Okay, it's going to give a fair amount of protection but it must weigh a fair amount, and so would impede the wearer's movement too much. The Generation Killer looks good, though - very otherworldly. Cold and beyond reproach, just as every futuristic sereal killer should be.
Deadlock, part 1 - When I first saw this artwork it really made me wish I could draw like this. It's full of life and the amount of detail in it makes me think the artist has spent all day doing just one frame. I can't think of many artists that can claim they do that. Henry Flint is fast becoming my favourite 2000 AD artist.
Following what I saw of Nemesis the Warlock and the dreadful Slaine: The Secret Comonwealth, I didn't have high expectations for the quality of this strip's script. I'm pleased to say that it's much better than I expected. It reads like a film would play out and reminds me of the opening scenes of Akira, with the bikers fighting each other. I'm not sure why Deadlock would say "Nourishment" while mowing down the gang on page 5. It just didn't seem right. That's all I can fault though, as the rest is just great. If the quality stays this high it looks like this will be a classic.
Vanguard - This is the weakest of the three strips in this week's issue. I'm as yet undecided about the script, but I've made my mind up about the artwork: it's spot on for the style of strip it's portraying. This seems to be some sort of space opera strip and the low-detail artwork presents a feeling of cleanness that the old space operas like Flash Gordon and Star Trek have. I don't like the artwork that much - it's not detailed enough for my liking - but I'll admit that it fits the story nicely.
Like I said, I'm not sure about the script. It looks like it's going to take a week or two for me to get into it but it's got a fairly steady pace and is a pretty enjoyable read, so hopefully it won't go the way of Red Fang.
This week's cover made me giggle somewhat when I saw it. The looks on the faces of Dante and Princess Marie-Anne are hilarious. The artwork is great also, with a fair amount of detail and very good colouring - bright and eye-catching, just like a cover should be. I was surprised to see Frazer Irving is the one responsible for the linework for this piece as there's not a lot of his trademark heavy use of lines here. An artist with a different style to suit each occasion, it would seem. And so soon after I said his work was instantly recogniseable. If I were paranoid, I'd say he'd done this just to confuse. >:)
Judge Dredd: Blow Out! - This is a very silly filler strip which relies entirely on flatulence for its jokes. Catering for the lowest common demoninator, really, and disappointing when we all know John Wagner is capable of so much more. The artwork saves this strip - it's just so nice to look at. The colours are spot-on and there's nice use of texture - not too much though, just where it's needed.
Deadlock, part 2 - This series continues the fast pace and great storytelling of last week. Again, Deadlock turns up at the end and kills lots of people. I hope this isn't what's going to happen every episode - it would be a shame for such a good series to become as formulaic as that. This aside, the characters are well-written, with good dialogue. It looks as if Pat Mills is back on form.
Well, what can I say about the artwork that I didn't say last week? It's just fantastic! The characters are so well drawn and there's so much detail that it puts other artists to shame.
Vanguard, part 2 - This looks to be going the way of Red Fang. I'm not sure about it. The artwork is weak, there's too much talk and not enough plot development and it's basically a slow, dull, waste of space. I hope it improves, though, as there's potential here.
Rain Dogs, part 1 - Nice artwork - reminds me somewhat of early episodes of Nikolai Dante. I like the way we don't see the face of one of the main characters fully until the third page, even though she appears on the first. The story is pretty fast-paced and there's plenty going on. Looks like it could be an enjoyable strip.
Nikolai Dante: Battleship Potempkin, part 1 - Amidst the turmoil of the war we're given a pretty comedic episode here, to break it up and give up a much-needed bit of fun. The script is good and the artwork matches. Dante's got his cheeky grin back, thanks to a return to artist Simon Fraser. An enjoyable episode but I hope the whole of the book won't be as light-hearted as this. If it's just a light relief opener to book three then fine, but a sudden change of tone, like this is, would break the story if used more.
Great art by Siku - it just goes to show that this man is a great artist when he's not asked to draw Judge Dredd. The colours are superb and Deadlock looks really mean on his chainsaw motorbike. I'm still unconvinced about how that bike would work, but I'll admit it does look cool.
Judge Dredd: Crossing Ken Dodd - It's a rather good throwaway episode for Dredd this week, with a good joke at the end and just mayhem for the rest of it. This whole strip managed to portray the madness of Mega-City 1 in just 6 pages. Dredd looks just right in frame 5 of page 1 and the double page spread that follows made me think "Wow!", which is something Dredd art hasn't done for a while now.
Deadlock, part 3 - Heavy use of black on the first page makes the artwork jump out of the page on this fast-paced action fest of a strip. The plot is standing up to scrutiny well and shows no sign of becoming a reincarnation of Slaine: The Secret Commonwealth. It really does look like Pat Mills has heard the cries of dispair from the readers of his last epic and gone back to the old style of Thrill Power.
What can I say about this artwork that I haven't already said? It's chock full of detail; the Mandrakes look great - so alien, yet with enough humanity that many of them could pass you on a busy street and I doubt you'd look twice at them. Deadlock looks fantastic, with his metal body positively shining, despite being in black and white. It's just fantastic and a very worthy addition to an excellent, cinema-style action fest script. The only problem with it all is the fact that page 5 clearly states that Deadlock is near-immortal. Well, doesn't that just destroy the tension in his combat sequences now we know there's hardly any chance of him dying.
Vanguard, part 3 - Finally, this strip is picking-up speed. The artwork is, in general, basic and nothing to look at, but the explosions on page 2 really stand out and are worthy of praise. In frame 2 of page 2 even the ship looks good, which makes a change, as they usually just look silly. Poor artwork aside, the script is great. It plays out quickly and looks like it's the start of something worth reading.
Rain Dogs, part 2 - I'm still unconvinced about this strip. The artwork has very little going for it, looking more like a coloured sketch than anything worthy of print and the script is meandering. I hope it picks up soon as the idea behind the story has potential that's just not being tapped here.
Nikolai Dante: Battleship Potemkin, part 2 - What this has to do with the events of last week's episode remains to be seen. It's a drastic change of pace from the brief comedy of the previous installment, which is good to see as comedy has little place in this bleak tale of civil war. However, one thing seems evidentat the end of this episode: either Dante is going to leave the Romomanovs soon, or there won't be many of the left at the end of this story - the tension between them seems to be getting too much.
I'm not overawed by this cover. Dredd looks wrong - he seems to be staring at something behind the reader. Rico is looking at what Dredd's doing in a manner that suggests he's copying his older clone brother. The background is an unimpressive firery effect and the colours are a bit too murky for my liking. Overall, I'm not impressed.
Judge Dredd: Sector House, part 1 - "Welcome back, Carlos!" is what I'm inclined to say after seeing this artwork. Although I don't like the colours he uses for the judges' shoulder pads, nor the different colours used for each of them, the artwork and colouring is spot-on for everything else. The stark lines of the judges' lockers and the cleanlyness of the sector house contrasts nicely with the grimy streets of the Big Meg. The characters look great and are coloured very nicely, giving them a realistic look rather than a drab, false colouring look that plagues a lot of computer-coloured artwork (notably 'Roadkill').
The story is great, too. Judge Rico isn't having an easy time at all, being plunged into the thick of things and developing nicely as a new counterpoint to the mellowing-slightly-with-age Dredd. Rico's a hard-hitting, nasty piece of work, it would seem; although I'd have to see him go bad. We've had enough bad Dredd clones over the years. However, no matter what happens to him, it looks like this story is going to lead into something big.
Deadlock, part 4 - I'm no longer really bothered what happens to Deadlock now I know he's practically immortal. However, the story still runs along at a decent pace and is enjoyable enough despite its main characters practical unkillability, which stops the cliffhanger ending being ver effective.
The artwork is, as usual, mind-bending. The first frame on page 1 made me want to pack in my studies and learn how to draw - there's so much detail in it it's almost unbelieveable. A similar effect was had with the second frame of page two, although this one was somewhat hampered because I also thought this frame may have benefitted from some colour - the girls' clothes seem too lifeless, as there's not enough detail to them.
Overall, the artwork holds this strip together this week, as the story seems to be building itself up to something at the moment. I'm hoping it gets a little better, as right now it's enjoyable but not as hard-hitting as the first episode.
Vanguard - What did we do to deserve this? The story is pathetic and the artwork matches. After an interesting episode last week, this strip seems content to rest on its laurels and just plod its way through a very predictable story. Bring back Slaine - even he was better than this!
Rain Dogs - I'm not keen on this washed-out colouring or grimy artwork. The characters are distinctive, though, which is a plus. The story is dull, though. Not Vanguard dull, but not a lot higher.
Nikolai Dante: Battleship Potemkin, part 3 - The change of style in this strip since 'Love and War' is due to 'Battleship Potemkin' being book 2, yet still being printed after book 3. I'm not too sure why, but I suppose it doesn't make a lot of difference, seeing as how book 3 doesn't really seem to follow the events in this book anyway; so far, at least.
The artwork is good. A little bright in places, but nevertheless good. Dante doesn't look quite as rugged as he did in the previous books, but since he's not yet hardened as much as he had in book 3, that's okay. The story flows well, continuing the fight from last week and setting the scene for something interesting next week. Things definitely seem to be building to a stunning conclusion, with Jocasta Romanov's bold statement of "We're going to stop the war, Nikolai". Bring on next week's prog, I say!
Nob T Mouse
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