3 out of 5
All-female creators issue.
How do we do? Well… it’s the writers who’ve already done some time in the mag – Emma Beeby, Laura Bailey, Alex De Campi – who drop the best strips, with the newcomers not quite glomming to the style super well, and a particularly unfollowable Future Shock. Short takes on the strips follow.
While I’m not keen on artist Babs Tarr’s take on the Dreddverse, and Emma Beeby’s deigned to, regrettably, call her strip The Feels, it’s a fun bit of Dredd escalation and resolution, and I do like Tarr’s coloring job, though I can’t figure out how I would’ve matched it to more preferable line art, i.e. her colors look good, and her colors match her style, but her style ain’t a match for JD. Watcha gonna do?
Pretty sure that Katy Rex was only given the Tyranny Rex strip because of that last name. Rex 3D models… something, and I have no idea what the point of this strip was. Artist Liana Kangas’ work lacks definition and character; one of the weakest strips in the special.
De Campi brings humor to Rogue Trooper, which, in the strips I’ve read, is unique, and by making the sort of one-note character a side character to a Nort troops travails, she wrings out a quality strip, very effectively packed into its pages. Artist Sam Beck is a find; while there’s a sort of squished element to things that looks “indie,” there’s also an old school pulp vibe to the layouts, which are well suited to Eva De La Cruz’s dusty colors.
A wordless Future Shock by Tillie Walden. I don’t feel like talking about this one, because it’s not very readable, in part because it’s not very interesting. Let it suffice to say that if you’re going to do black and white and minimal / no dialogue, you have to be an ace at visual communication, and that wasn’t happening here.
Leah Moore celebrates heavy metal music in a Judge Death strip. While I think this had some callbacks to previous Death stuff that I haven’t read, this was nonetheless sorta silly fun. Death possesses an old metal tape; a struggling band plays it; lead singer gets obsessed and starts talking and acting like The Judge. The strip moves in fits, and ends really abruptly, but that makes artist Xulia Vicente and colorist Pippa Mather an effective match, as the former has a loose, sketchy style and the latter a scattered, pop-colors-plus flat-blacks look; both a sort of improvised, punky stewed visual that syncs with the topic. Quirky, but it works.
Laura Bailey’s Demarco, P.I.’s twisted dissected bodies mystery has a snappy, fun rhythm, smoothing it over Dani’s Frank Miller-tribute art that directs the eye oddly – as in, somewhat away from the focus – when things heat up.
Olivia Hicks uses a framing technique excuse to write a Terror Tale that is completely, 1000% removed from the world of Dredd. Works for a horror anthology mag; not sure about its place here. Artist Abigail Bulmer has a Neil Googe-cartoonishness that would be good to see reapplied elsewhere, though.
Lastly, an Anderson tale my Maura McHugh which is a great idea – rooting out the spirits trapped in Cass’ thoughts – but feels like too big of an idea for a short, rendering it, unfortunately, underwhelming. Emma Viecelli and colorist Barbara Nosenzo make for a slick art team: solid figures, good direction, emotive coloring. These are creators I’d definitely like to see return, but maybe (in regards to the writing) with some more room to stretch out.