4 out of 5
Doubling up on Brink and Kingdom? Yer already ahead of the game. Then complete the Abnett trio with a sprinkle of SinDex, and even managed to get me intrigued in a returning strip – Fiends of the Eastern Front – and… yeah. It was a good series of progs, for sure. (And a George Perez cover!)
Let’s get the one wrinkle out of the way: Freaking Skip Tracer, from James Peaty and Paul Marshall. The previous strip already pulled a fast one by starting out with super-powered sci-fi bounty hunting hijinx before turning into rather boring non-bounty hunting stuff, leaning more into the powers and losing the street-level vibe I liked. This appearance… does the same god damned thing. It starts with a riff on its setup: sort of a Dreamscape bounty, but then introduces psychic spirit badguys and… I dunno. I was really on board, and then I really, really wasn’t.
Rob Williams and Henry Flint return on Dredd to tie together many story pieces Williams had wound through his other Dredds, featuring Judge Smiley, secret assassins, and Joe Dredd being badass. It’s a pretty good covert ops mystery, very gritty, though it maybe starts to move too quickly in its final chapters. But it’s been awesome seeing these pieces come together and to be here for some major payoff.
Brink continues to be excellent, as Bridget now goes undercover as a maid in a hoity-toity business with Junot ties to suss out possible sect stuff. As with Kingdom – also running throughout these progs – Abnett delivers storylines that are sorta kinda the same as what came before (for Kingdom, Gene meets another evolution of Them, runs away from humans, scraps with some other Aux), but he does so in a way that allows his characters to learn and grow, and smartly adds just enough darts and dodges to his central conceits to keep the tales exciting.
In Fiends of the Eastern Front, to which I’m new. we’re apparently flashing back in the history of vampire Constanta, who seems to enjoy mixing with soldiers during wartime. Ian Edginton stays focused for the whole thrill – rather unusual for him – and Dave Taylor offers up wonderfully sparse but detailed wintertime art. It’s a rather somber tail – a soldier reflecting on meeting Constanta – but with a due amount of breaks for bloody vampire action. This was, frankly, fantastic, and I’m looking forward to its return.
SinDex pop up in 2109 and 2110 for some double-sized adventures, and though it’s maybe superficial, the use of much deeper blends of colors (which have previously been very flat in recent thrills) from John Charles do wonders for Yeowell’s loose, quick art style. Abnett has kept up with Finny’s out-loud thinking, which is funny, and we get a caper involving giant sewer creatures. Par for the course with the duo, but I love seeing them stretch out over pages instead of always stuffed into one-off strips.