Tooth Review: 1562 (Obligatory Spoiler Warning)

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The Red Seas is back – sort of. And the final showdowns begin in Button Man and Judge Dredd.

Prog 1562Cover: Frazer Irving draws Harry Ex. Effective but quite dark, meaning it doesn’t exactly leap off the shelf at you.

Spoilers ahoy!

Judge Dredd: Mandroid – Instrument of War part 8. The Judges close in the Vincent estate, Vincent is tipped off and scarpers while Slaughterhouse is left behind to shoot it out. Was this the General’s plan all along? Is the mole Judge Wittle? This is beginning to suggest a grand conspiracy which may well run within the strip for a while. Wagner seems to be lining his ducks up in a row again, what with this, the mutant subplot and the PJ Maybe storyline over in the Megazine. The last time there was this much of a build up of disparate plot threads was in the late 90s but that resulted in the ultimately disappointing Doomsday. Tharg is promising us revelations in December’s Prog 2008 (“Dredd does what?“). Here’s hoping it doesn’t end up as frustrating as an episode of Lost.

Nikolai Dante: The Chaperone part 3. Shot down at the end of the last episode, our band of heroes encounter Skar, who it turns out has history with Elena. A pretty action packed episode this, Arkady reveals that he isn’t just a sneery face (he is a Romanov after all) and the episode ends in a bang.

Good fun. Better than I was expecting, to be honest.

Sinister Dexter: Life is an Open Casket part 3. This strip still seems to be getting started. Once again it revolves around two vignettes. The first features former Sinister Dexter partner Kal Cutter, his girlfriend, Finnegan Sinister and John Croak (who I dimly remember as possibly being Finnegan’s mentor who died but whose counterpart crossed over into this dimension with Moses – can anyone out there help?). The second features Dexter and his former girlfriend – the ex-cop who shot and arrested him. It all reads a bit like an episode of The Archers, but with guns obviously. When’s it going to get started?

The Red Seas: War Stories part 1. A chance for Ian Edginton to atone for the dreadful Stone Island 2. So far, so good. Expecting a tale of piracy and the occult in the 18th century Carribbean? This is set in World War 2 and focuses on a boy looting a blitz-shattered London. Erebus the dog (albeit minus one head and plus one body) returns as does Jim, the pirate who died at the end of the last series but was brought back to life (I think – again, anyone care to help?) and appears to have gone all T-1000 on us.

Hard to see where this is all going, but I appreciate the change of scene which, particularly after Pirates of the Carribbean was getting a little stale. There’s always been a sense that there’s a lot more going on in this strip beneath the surface than meets the eye – this stuff about Jack Dancer being the direct descendent of Sinbad for example. So some revelations here would be welcome.

Button Man: Book IV – The Hitman’s Daughter part 12. The long awaited showdown between Adele and Harry at last. Thus far, very little to report. The fight is set in a shopping mall – hence the sexless nether regions of naked shop window dummies on the front cover – and the Voices are all observing the fight in the mall itself.

Hang on, this is a bit predictable isn’t it? It doesn’t take a genius to work out that none of those Voices will be getting out alive. Whether this is a plot cooked up by Adele and Harry, or whether they will resolve their differences and agree to team up, it seems unlikely that this is going to end up with one straightforwardly shooting the other. Plus, whisper it, but Fraser Irving’s art is starting to look a little rushed.

This is a crucial moment – all too often Wagner’s strips are gripping right up until the end where there is a palpable sense of anti-climax. If I recall, he pulled it off at the end of Button Man III, but will he succeed here?

Next week: face-offs aplenty in four out of the five strips, and hopefully some answers in all of them.

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