Saturday, October 07, 2006
Finally got around to picking up prog #1508, and discovered it was actually quite noteworthy.
For a start, the Judge Dredd multiparter ORIGINS rumbled on ominously. Funny how all the best Dredd stories feature The Cursed Earth so prominently, and John Wagner seems to be offering a mature rumination on the violent nature of his native country - always one of his best themes.
Next up was part two of Simon Spurrier's CHIAROSCURO. Saying that this has been my favourite work by Spurrier may seem quite the faint praise, like saying "this dose of the clap has been my favourite STD by far!". Really, I've thought the guy's previous work to be normally pretty idiotic, so the fact that I'm finding this strip to be actually bearable is kinda really surprising. It reminds me of the Terror Tales that filled out Quality's old HOUSE OF HAMMER comic. That said, those used to be given a level of legitimacy as they were drawn by top pros, guys like Dave Gibbons. This Smudge guy is no John Bolton. He's pretty crappy.
Then: the two page Tom Frame tribute spread. Now, when I was reading this issue, I had a helluva hangover, and was therefore feeling a little bit teary. My critical apparatus is always effed up by booze, but I found so many 2000AD greats coming back to pay tribute to this silent hero very moving. The only problem was that the centre spread of a magazine sized comic still didn't seem big enough for the image. I'd happily shell out a few quid to Marie Curie for a poster of this. The list of contributors was so complete, so star-studded, that a couple of big names were instead conspicuous by their absence (no Bolland, but then his glorious cover to #1505 was tribute enough; but no Cam Kennedy seemed a damned shame - we see little enough of his work these days; no original 2000AD gangster Kev O'Neill; no original Megazine gangster Sean Phillips even). Some noteworthy contributions: Mick McMahon's great Slaine and Ukko, the only character who appeared twice, thanks to a Glenn Fabry cock-up; Dom Reardon's Dave Stewart-esque colours on Chapter and Verse after I've bleated on for years about how CABALLISTICS, INC should be in just such a muted palette rather than black and white; returns to 2000AD for so many long-lost sons that it seems unfair to pick out any for special mention, but fuck it - Steve Dillon! Jamie Hewlett! Alan Davis! Ash Wood (who really must get knocked up for a full Dredd strip some day, he's came a long way since he last worked for 2000AD, baby)! Brendan McCarthy! Jock! Glynn "thought you were dead, mate" Dillon!
Then it's THE 86ERS, back for more Nu Earthy dogfightiness. This is a good thing, 'cus I love PJ Holden drawing space ships like I love Tayto Spicy Bikers. And Gordon Rennie is the most under-rated Toof writer of his generation.
SINISTER DEXTER is back, too, after punning maestro Dan Abnett pulled a DEAD MAN with the recent MALONE, a strip I enjoyed mightily. I tend to like this strip more when it holds tightly to its maudlin grander arc rather than its occasional diversions into pure humour, so it's looking good. Plus, Anthony Williams - always appreciated.
The second surprise was the Future Shock, Spaceland by Al Ewing and Edmund Bagwell. Nothing shocking about the script, the standard "reveal: B.E.M. in the last panel" plot that has been the F-Shock stock-in-trade since it began. The surprise was seeing Bagwell's art. I predicted that he'd be the breakout artist from Liam Sharp's EVENT HORIZON anthology, and I'm still on track to be proven right. His work is great, and none the worse for emphasizing the ligne claire this time over the digital rendering he's often used. As a digital artist, he's comparable to Adi Granov. With a pen, he's a bit D'Israeli, a bit Moebius, a bit Chris Sprouse. And entirely good. Editors - commission this man! Save him from the thankless saltmines of video game production!