Quote of the Week: “Bhuu-rrpp! Ugh. Kid was stringier than he looked. Hey, Shockeye, what’s fer dessert? Y’got any more o’that blood custard an’ them sweet pickled twins left?” – Buffalo Bill Cody sings for his supper in Stickleback.
Cover: Brendan McCarthy is back from la-la land, drawing his first 2000AD cover since 1991. And what a great cover it is too. I have to say I prefer the final version compared to the alternate version I found on McCarthy’s website (also pictured). Credit too then to veteran 2000AD designer Steve Cook for the final design.
Contents: Judge Dredd, Shakara, Kingdom, Strontium Dog and Stickleback all continue.
Review in less than 10 words: Everything gets complicated.
Judge Dredd: Emphatically Evil – The Life and Crimes of PJ Maybe part 3. The subplot about Dredd’s quest to relax the anti-mutant laws is all but forgotten as Dredd and Beeny concentrate on tracking down the PJ Maybe copycat killer. The actual murderer is revealed on page 2 – the son of an Ebeneezer Industries employee called JP Buwick, although I suspect there’s more to it than that. Meanwhile, Maybe himself – now the city mayor – divides his time between plotting the murder of his biographer and worrying that his secret has been discovered.
Nice touches this episode: the “Public Facility” building designed to look like a gigantic toilet; the deliberate parallels between PJ and JP; Maybe’s admiration for his biographer’s work quickly turning into thoughts on the best way to murder her.
Shakara: The Defiant, part 6. Shakara takes on the Teknosaurs while Eva Procopio continues to reassess her would-be Nemesis.
As is standard in Shakara, the new villains are quickly dispatched. I have to admit to enjoying the idea of Shakara chopping them all up while they float around helplessly in zero gravity, although it does rather belie the silliness of attacking a killing machine with dinosaurs in a space ship (not that I have anything against silliness you understand).
The final sequence, focusing in on Shakara’s eyes as he approaches Eva is very evocative. While perhaps derivative, the creative team are clearly enjoying themselves and the strip has certainly not outstayed its welcome yet.
Strontium Dog: The Glum Affair, part 6. I should probably stop playing Strontium Bingo with this strip and just enjoy the story. Having speculated about its similarities to Mutie’s Luck and The Rammy, this one has echoes of The Moses Incident, in that it revolves around Johnny’s attempt to redeem himself in such a way that it can only end badly.
For all that said, this is a fun episode, with Johnny and Wulf surrepticiously capturing a series of wanted criminals by playing on their greed. It’s worth pointing out that the three strips that I’ve compared it to are all very different and it is a mark of the strength of the creation that such a wide range of stories can be told within the setting. This is probably the weakest of the strips in the comic at the moment, but that is by no means to say it is a poor strip.
Stickleback: England’s Glory part 6. This episode focuses on William Cody and his circus. Unsurprisingly it emerges that Buffalo Bill himself is some kind of dark’un, as are most of his entourage. Stickleback and his gang arrive to show these American upstarts what for.
I love this portrayal of Buffalo Bill’s Circus, particularly since my great-grandfather apparently worked for him. There are some clear nods to Edginton’s earlier 2000AD strip American Gothic, and it is clear from last week that he has been having fun tying his various 2000AD creations together (see D’Israeli’s blog, particularly his posting about last week’s episode which reveals, among many other things, a reference to Camberwick Green!).
Things seem to be getting tied up quite quickly, but there is at least one more major character to appear in the form of The Empress.
Kingdom: The Promised Land, part 6. Gene helps fight off a band of Them before discovering what is in the hide-rononicks plant.
Not much to add about this episode. It’s well drawn and written, but I had to admit to being a little underwhelmed by the big reveal at the end. A big slab of meat being tended by those tic things in part 1? It’s certainly odd, but Gene’s reaction that it is “full of wrong” seemed a bit over the top. I have to admit I was expecting some kind of atrocity show with lots of dog soldiers having the meat torn off their bones while they are still alive. Clearly I need to get out more. Still, the final line “Bad, Gene, bad.” is great.
Finally, here’s a showreel that I found on Brendan McCarthy’s blog which is quite fun: