3 out of 5
These were some long-running, not-by-my-favorite-writers tales, during which those not-my-favorite writers continued in a vein which had me not reassessing that descriptor.
Something interesting about this batch of progs is that we didn’t have a long-running Dredd arc. We got a lot of isolated Rory McConville stuff – which you know makes me happy – and some pretty excellent humor-geared strips and passing references to previous writers’ strips, but nothing that really stood out. Dredd very much took a back seat in these progs. It wasn’t the worst thing, I was just fascinated to continually see small 2-, 3-parters or singles; it felt like the Megazine in that sense.
A Survival Geeks D&D send-up is classic for putting one of its characters in a metal bikini (…and not the girl). I know people get tired of the nerd shtick, but Neil Googe’s art is so appealingly energetic, and Rennie keeps finding fun ways to pull off the parody. I’m all in.
Kingmaker II starts off pretty strong, but hits a hard stop after a few thrills (a pretty usual Edginton structural move) to explain some magic basics to us, then redirects during its back half for an endless-seeming battle. I like the LOTR-spin of the characters, and Leigh Gallagher’s art is too awesome, but I can’t get this strip to congeal into a coherent world I care about.
Grey Area ends (?) fittingly but somewhat unceremoniously, making way for… a double dose of Edginton with Scarlet Traces. D’Israeli’s art continues to evolve on his cartoonish style, and my issues with his sense of scope (his large scale stuff doesn’t have weight to my eyes) aren’t a concern for this run, which focuses on some particular survivors of the recent Mars invasion and their joining up with an underground community of humans. As mentioned above, my opinion hasn’t changed on Ian, so while I found the characters in this interesting, and their banter well-scribed, I feel zero interest in the story.
Guy Adams returns from the good-idea, uninteresting-execution Hope for Max Normal’s origin story. Dan Cornwell has a nice, comic-booky art style that’s unique to the prog, but Max’s rhymes are eye-rollingly basic, and Adams’ clunky method of forcing Normal’s story into the present-day tale of a washed up Max trying to fix up the Shuggy Hall he’d haunt as a youth a bumpy read. Add some obnoxious, non-threatening kids into the mix as our only antagonist, and the whole thing feels rather unmotivated.
Future Shocks and 3rillers fill in the rest.