Johnny Woo: A Bullet in the Head (pkgd. w/ JD Meg # 401) – Gordon Rennie

2 out of 5

Lord knows I love my lil’ I’ve-written-nine-billion-progs Gordon Rennie, and I’d say that the idea of a Sino-Cit double agent judge / gangser who’s made in an, ahem, none-too-subtle John Woo mode should be plenty fine fodder for a Mega City-adjacent Dreddverse entry…  But alas, there’s just not enough to the titular Johnny Woo (or Liu Chan Yeun) when he’s not squaring off against Joe Dredd.

Following an intro included in last month’s floppy, A Bullet in the Head collects (I think) the remaining appearances of Woo, first with a Patrick Goddard-drawn followup to that bit in which Dredd comes to Sino-Cit and experiences the interesting approximation of justice administered there (in which crimes and gangs are interwoven into things but Joe isn’t allowed to wield a weapon or kill perps), and then with two PJ Holden arted entries that try to add to Woo’s thin background.  The Dredd team-up is fine; Dredd out of his element and forcefully getting his way is generally a good time, and Rennie writes it well, using Woo as a good, smirking foil to Joe’s stiffness.  The subsequent entries are really boring, though, or rather just undefined: without another solid character to bounce off of, Woo isn’t particularly interesting.  Holden’s art should be a highlight, which it is in the second of his two included offerings, as he’d more established his hatched style there, but the middle sequence of the collection is early in his career and it’s a bit more generic; combined with the similarly generic story, it’s a bit of a slog.  Still, given an opportunity to dig in to Sino-Cit’s politics more, there might be a worthwhile story, but Rennie switches away from that to something swirling with mysticism and spirits and it’s an odd mash-up.