4 out of 5
The shtick is no longer a shtick: the all-ages Regened are established; they have their own particular feel; and Matt Smith is smartly using this as a place to try out some alternate-2000 AD art and story styles that veer toward the younger audience.
Case in point – although I think it’s the only downbeat from the prog – Luke Horsman’s Bachalo-esque looseness on a Michael Carroll Cadet Dredd tale. This is a solid story that feels like it “earns” the appearance of Dredd and Rico instead of just reading like a regular Dredd story featuring his junior self – the duo step in on a hostage situation when the way of sneaking in and taking control is only, natch, small enough for some non-adults – but Horsman’s stretch and squish characters give the whole thing a silly tone that doesn’t quite match the more grave-faced affect Carroll writes it with. This makes some final Joe-isms fall a little flat and seem out of place.
But: the remainder of the prog is solid, and often fantastic.
Roger Langridge – a dude I always want to love and then end up being disappointed by half the time – introduces Mary Poppins-y thief “Pandora Perfect” and is writing for the other half of the time: when I find his work hilarious and a straight-up joy. Artist Brett Parson is an ace, energetic match for the comedy pacing, with Pandora taking a babysitting job just so she can steal something of the kids’ parents… and is helped out by the kids. Great stuff.
Another Finder & Keeper from John Reppion and Davide Tinto, and now that F & K seems set as a recurring bit, the strip relaxes into a Ghostbusters hijinx style strip, and is sufficiently entertaining as a result. Meera and Eliot are on a class trip to the museum; the Egyptian wing is closed down due to an “accident” that the two overhear may be due to a curse… So’s, y’know, they investigate, and put ghost goggles and traps to good use.
Karl Stock and Tom Newell on a Future Shock that I was worried was going to be another “oh no we’re trapped in a video game” story, which it is, but Stock manages to give it several sufficient tweaks to make it interesting and fun, and Newell’s style – maybe just ’cause of the subject matter – reminded me of Neil Googe, which is a good thing: lots of character, good pacing, good choreography.
And the danged best for last, and my hopes for either the next graduate to the big leagues, or at the very least a strip that needs to come back for more Regeneds: Rory McConville’s Department K: Justice Department’s interdimensional warriors. In this first episode, there’s a Judge named Kirby, and the inter-dimension to which we’re treated has some giant Fourth World-looking types… That’d be fun enough, especially when arted by P.J. Holden, but McConville takes it beyond yer normal comics nod by seeding in some I-want-more hints of subplots and other threads to explore, and also adding what may be a bit of commentary on the cross-pollination of ideas in comics, if I’m not reading into it too much…
I should probably write in and tell Matt Smith to make Department K a legit thing.