2000 AD (progs #1955 – 1958) – Various

3 out of 5

Some things get better, some things stay the same.

Dredd transitions over to one-shots until 1958, which starts Wagner’s ‘The Beating’ – in which Dredd seemingly doles out an unwarranted perp killing.  We can only hope / suppose that Wag is pulling our leg with a Dredd double in someway, as even a crazy Joe saying lines like “one more smart remark and I’ll explode all over your hairball face” is pretty hilariously off, in a scripted-by-Frank-Miller kinda way.  I mean, we trust Wagner as the purveyor of all things Dredd, so I’m sure the tale will turn out fine.  Excellent Robertson-esque art by Patrick Goddard and colourist Adam Brown.  Prior to that, the one-shots are all great; Alec Worley’s gag on marathoners with ‘That Extra Mile’; Mike Carrol and Nick Dyer’s chuckle-worthy ‘Sleeping Duty’, which could totally end with a ba-dump-ching sound effect; and the same writer with Paul Marshall on ‘Islands,’ which is the only strip to make me wish to be a kid in the time and world of Dredd.

Defoe continues to confuse me (something that I’m supposing might be cleared up by a history with the title), as I feel like the timeline – while actually playing linearly – seems to surge forward in these giant leaps which are actually just scene changes.  But this is an instance of Mills’ creation being so ridiculous – wizard “superheroes” and zombie hunters – that it’s actually pretty fun to read, despite the complete lack of accessibility to a newbie.  And of course awesome art from Leigh Gallagher.

Brass Sun: Edginton stays true to his “meh” cool concept / boring execution style, with my same notes as before of this arc being moderately more interesting because the stakes finally feel somewhat raised.  Sorta.  Even with that mark meant, this still seems to be dragging on.  The change of scenery to the weirdo inner-clock worlds has been nice, though.  I wish I understood the love for this thrill besides the high level niftiness of it.

SinDex: a somewhat underwhelming conclusion, but as also mentioned with the last batch of progs, once the flash-forward / flashback structure became clear, you could go into the strip excited to see how Abnett and Goddard would explain the destruction the police are investigating in the first few panels.  And inevitably it’d be full of action and snark, wonderfully paced and framed.  But there really couldn’t have been much beyond a big bang at the end, and that’s how it goes.  To Dan’s credit, though, he doesn’t linger on it very long at all before setting us up for the strip’s return in the near future.

Bad Company – the same.  And it starts to turn into exactly what Bad Company was before… exploring the line between the destructive forces of BC and the hidden humanity, as filtered by narrator Danny Franks.  It was pretty simplistic back then, and it is now as well, moreso functioning as an excuse for artists Rufus Dayglo and Jim McCarthy to draw splash page pin-ups of Kano.

So it was good to get some shake-ups on Dredd and get into the swing of Defoe and SinDex, but Brass Sun and Bad Company continue to tread water leading into their conclusions.