4 out of 5
We’re in a unique position post-bumper prog where almost all the thrills are at about the same story point in terms of beginning / middle / end. I wonder if this will be the plan going forward…?
Regardless, 2017 is off to a great start with several new and interesting titles, with the progs doing that magical thing where I wasn’t especially desperate for the non-Dread thrills (except Kingdom, yee-haw), and then turning me into a page-flipping fiend by month’s end. Though it should be said that almost every thrill here – Kingdom included – has a slight learning / expectation curve. (Put it pays off.)
Our Dredd tale, like over in the Meg, has Michael Carroll following up in his lovely Texas Cit epic: Dredd enlists some TC judges to hunt down a perp, very Dredd-y evasive with the Why, but still in full-on shoot-first Dredd mode all the same. Carroll keeps it moving, though the lack of details are less mystery and more just make the trek aimless – as in it’s not clear if their target is the target or just a link to one – but it gets cleared up soon enough, and the TC judge POV is a good changeup. Tiernen Trevallion’s art is phenomenal; Henry Flint’s angularism with his own sharp, developed style. Awesome to see this in popping color after the black and white of Absalom and the shadow heavy bit he did in the Meg.
Ian Edginton takes his Kingmaker in typically odd, unexpected Edginton directions. This is the plus/minus of his writing. His worlds are fascinating, but the sudden jumps in scope can take it places you may not prefer. Here, the fantasy war against magic goes sci-fi for a chapter to introduce us to an alien race who views the magic as an energy source to harness. And there are giant energy beings. And glamour dimensions. And Leigh Gallagher is a god on art. But, again, Ian’s here-and-there setups can be jarring; thankfully, this premise is seeming like a killer one, with the cascade of ideas more fun than distracting.
Meta Goldtiger creators Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton give us an intriguing magic / noir mash up with Hope. Our titulat lead character chews his dialogue effectively, and the photo tweaked art pretty perfectly sets the tone. The missing kid angle is pure noir, it’s just not yet clear how much magic will be wended into this.
I was hesitantly looking forward to the next entry in Kek-W’s Order. The first entry had a fun competing timeline angle to it, but the second arc had been such a confusing mishmash I was trying not to get my hopes up. Thankfully, time travel aside, this felt more linear, with clear connections to the previous arcs (which felt lacking between 1 and 2). John Burn’s art fits the time period wonderfully, and Kek seems to be erring moreso on the side of quirky – a good thing – with appearances by Cyrano de Bergerac and a Wolfman.
And Kingdom. Let me first call out Richard Elson: His sturdy art has given this thrill the greatest mix of bravado and comic-bookness over several story arcs, and with this newest one he’s learned some new tricks, deepening his emotional range and shading to really ground the world and characters. That being said, it is a slow start for Kingdom, as Gene wakes from a VR sin and then essentially just waits around with Leezee for a couple weeks before shit – in the form of human-guided aux tracking him down – finally hits the fan. But it does so in style. Get whet.
So the month has some ramp-up, but soon turns into legit thrill-power overload, with cover to cover enjoyment.