A slightly disappointing prog this week as the Summer Offensive draws to a close…
Cover: Another great Frazer Irving cover to coincide with Button Man IV. Over the past few weeks we’ve probably seen more pink on the cover of 2000AD than we had over the previous 30 years. Good to see the comic getting in touch with its feminine side.
Judge Dredd: Mandroid – Instrument of War Part 4. General Vincent rescues Nate’s brain-damaged wife and Nate’s transformation into a walking tank continues. A test run of his new robot body involves wiping out a town full of Canadians.
Still a lot of this story that is unexplained, in particular the motivations of General Vincent. He appears to be a man of almost unlimited resources which begs the question why does he need an emotionally scarred space marine rather than a bunch of mercenaries and a large amount of ammo. The plot will stand or fall on a decent explanation (one theory of mine is that Vincent will turn out to be PJ Maybe in disguise, but on reflection I think that’s a bit of a stretch). Nevertheless it’s still an engaging story – this week entirely Dredd free – and Carl Critchlow’s art, while occasionally a bit inconsistent, keeps things running along smoothly.
Stone Island: The Harrowers, Part 8. Still fundamentally not caring, I’m afraid. The pedant in me wonders how come the parachute at the end of the last episode conveniently landed them near the gateway which they used to come through to the aliens’ dimension in the first place. Harry, apparently killed in part 6, turns out to be alive in what is possibly the most predictable plot twist of the year (or would that be the fact that the military won’t let them back through the gateway?). This is the penultimate episode but it feels as if almost nothing has happened – they simply walked in one direction, set off a bomb, had a fight, and then came back. Not good.
A.B.C. Warriors: The Volgan War, V.2 E.9. For me, this is actually the highlight of the week as it contains with in it some delicious Millsian touches. In sentencing Volkhan, Deadlock opts to destroy his ability to produce new robots such as his “son” Kal in the last episode. This being a Mills strip of course, despite the fact that this is surely a reprogramming issue, Deadlock performs the operation by aiming his blowtorch at Volkhan’s nether regions. Back on his space station meanwhile, he conducts a trial on the General who sent him to bring Volkhan to justice. Zippo/Agent Orange (who appears in all these flashbacks, as does Volkhan) gives the evidence for the prosecution. It’s a very Deadlock touch to have him conduct this trial in secret and sentence the general to a “shuttle accident”. Another nice touch is the Reagan Destroyer robots, basically walking tanks with quiffs that look vaguely like the former US President. Overall, a fun, deeply political episode that keeps the plot moving on nicely.
Caballistics, Inc.: Ashes Part 8. A bit of a disappointment, this. In short, Ravne is despatched with too much ease and none of the Caballistics are given a chance to shine, other than Solomon and Demon Jenny. It’s hard to tell whether this is the end or a new beginning. Either way, most of the main plot lines have now been completed and most characters are dead. I think Gordon Rennie took frit at the thought of these two mega-villains he had created and decided to kill them off as efficiently as possible. Hopefully it will lead onto bigger and better things, but at the moment it feels like a bit of an anti-climax to an overall great series.
Button Man: Book IV – The Hitman’s Daughter, Part 8. Another disappointment I’m afraid, although less so. Adele’s aunt is brutally murdered and her killers nearly dispatch Adele herself. Realising it was her failure to kill Ralph Byrne in part 6, she vows revenge. Again.
The art is still great, but this all seems like a bit of an unnecessary plot twist. It’s already been established that the Voices are well connected vicious arseholes and we don’t seem to be any further forward story-wise than we were a fortnight ago.
Next week: Nate Slaugherhouse kills some Canadians in Dredd, it snows in Stone Island, Volkhan finally escapes the madhouse in A.B.C. Warriors and the story shifts again back to Harry Ex in Button Man. Plus, a new thrill which has not been previewed. Such suspense!