Tooth Review: 1569 & 1570

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Prog 1569Prog 1570Covers: 1569 features a rather odd picture of some mutants by Simon Davies, clearly still in his Stone Island phase. 1570 features Gene from Kingdom mid-battle with some giant insects. The latter is clearly the more obviously commercial, but I was surprised to see that 1569 had sold out in a couple of days at my local Borders.

It is interesting to note that just a few issues in, the new logo has already had a slight tweak. The big thick bar across the top of the page which I hated has gone transparent. Whether the redundant extra “2000AD” will stay for much longer remains to be seen.

Quote: “Gene did not even know there was a word called hide-rononiks. Your mouth is full of strange.” – Gene Hackman gets to grip with modern farming techniques in The Kingdom.

Contents: Both progs feature Judge Dredd (a new multi-parter starts in 1569), Shakara, Kingdom, Stickleback and Strontium Dog.

Spoilers…

Judge Dredd: Emphatically Evil – the Life and Times of PJ Maybe parts 1 & 2. This strip has been trailed for almost a year but given the two Christmas stories I didn’t expect it to arrive quite so quickly. Not that I’m complaining, mind. Essentially, Wagner has taken the two major plotlines he’s been developing in 2000AD and the Megazine over the past year, mashed them up together and is exploring the results.

The story picks up a few weeks after Christmas, with the Judges’ Council about to debate whether or not to relax their laws against mutants. Meanwhile, a book is about to be published about the life of notorious child serial killer PJ Maybe, who of course just happens to now be the current city mayor under an assumed identity, Byron Ambrose. Things are further complicated when a man is found murdered in what appears to be a PJ Maybe copycat crime with forensic evidence pointing to the mayor being the perpetrator. Will Dredd get his way to relax the laws against mutants in the face of public (and Judicial) opinion? Has someone discovered the mayor’s secret?

The handling of the mutant debate is well played, managing to mix contemporary anxieties about immigration and paedophiles in one glorious satire. I particularly liked the factory owner complaining that his robots will be put out on the street in favour of mutants who would “work for free” and the man murdered by a lynch mob not understanding the difference between a “mute” and a “mutie”.

I’m also looking forward to seeing how “Ambrose” and Dredd’s relationship will develop over the course of the story. We’ve already learned that Maybe has turned out to be quite a good mayor who Dredd respects. Will the mayor support Dredd’s attempts to relax the anti-mutant laws or side with public opinion? And given the revelation in Mandroid – Instrument of War that there is a growing dissatisfaction amongst the Judges themselves that they have become too soft, will there be an anti-Dredd backlash? This is all great stuff.

Shakara: The Defiant parts 4 & 5. A slight change of pace as the strip focuses on Eva Procopio, the woman introduced in part 1 who is obsessed with tracking down Shakara to learn why he killed her apparently blameless mother. Of course this is Shakara, so when I say change of pace she still manages to find him in the course of five pages. In part 5, Shakara reveals to her that her mother was responsible for the destruction of the Shakara race, something she has little time to contemplate before the medical ship she is captain of is destroyed by government operatives intent on tracking down Shakara.

In short, Robbie Morrison has sacrificed little in terms of dynamism in favour of the more complex plot that appears to be developing here compared to the other two Shakara outings and Henry Flint still gets to draw a completely different oogly-boogly every couple of pages. Great fun.

Kingdom: The Promised Land parts 4 & 5. Gene meets the townsfolk and is quickly adopted as their protector after seeing off a Them interloper. He stays and starts to explore his new home.

A very enigmatic strip this, with huge numbers of questions remaining unanswered. We are invited to speculate about the hydroponics plant which provides the town with its meat – shades of Soylent Green perhaps? And what is the meaning of the enigmatic conversations Gene has with the Urgings?

It’s a fun mystery but I do hope we start getting some answers next week.

Stickleback: England’s Glory parts 4 and 5. In part 4, the gang continue their fight with the zombies from the previous week. In part 5, Stickleback visits the Temple of Mithras for some answers about the Jewel of the Seven Stars and the people who seem to be after it.

The appearance of the Temple was inevitable in a strip dedicated to celebrating Londoniana, and establishes that Stickleback shares more than a love of pulp with Edginton’s other 2000AD strip the Red Seas. The current custodian of the Temple (as opposed to the Red Sea’s Jim, who appears to be the temple’s librarian by the 1940s as revealed in December), is Dr Orlando Doyle, the bad guy in the first series of the Red Seas. I can’t remember but didn’t the Temple make an appearance in an earlier Red Seas strip as well? I’ve just come across Matt Brooker’s blog where he has been listing all the references and links to the “Edge-verse” (lots more than I picked up) so hopefully he will reveal all soon.

Overall, this is certainly the richest of the current strips in the comic in terms of both script and art.

Strontium Dog: The Glum Affair parts 4 and 5. What looked like it was going to be a rehash of Mutie’s Luck (Prog 189) looks as if it is turning into a rehash of The Rammy (Progs 544 to 553). Alpha’s plan to raise the money by gambling goes awry so he resorts to plan B which involves abducting the variety of outlaws hiding out at Club Paradiso.

As I suggested above, there’s very little here that’s new but Johnny and Wulf remain sympathetic characters, with some little flashback scenes in part 5 reminding the reader of Johnny’s scarred childhood (which for people who don’t know involves being the abused son of an anti-mutant politician who runs away at 12 and goes on to lead the mutant freedom fighters).

It’s enjoyable stuff, but a little over reliant on nostalgia perhaps. It would be nice to see them do something a bit more radical with this strip.

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