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Author Topic: Prog 2108 - Germ Warfare  (Read 2890 times)

Timothy

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Re: Prog 2108 - Germ Warfare
« Reply #15 on: 21 November, 2018, 09:19:30 am »
The horse will sort everything out next week.


Frank

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Re: Prog 2108 - Germ Warfare
« Reply #17 on: 21 November, 2018, 11:01:06 am »
I'm finding it a bit hard to swallow that there was a whole epic about booby trapped lawgivers, and Dredd knows how deep Smiley goes, that he would not consider that outcome.

I can take characters being a little dim up to a point, but this was a step too far for me, just so Frank could turn

I suppose it's more credible than Zombie Frank getting the drop on The Best Judge Ever.

I'd just have had Frank bushwhack Dredd, but nobody's ever asked me to write Suicide Squad. I suppose using a protocol that's (presumably) almost a century old* is consistent with a character who's been around forever and knows all the secrets.


* Predating Dredd himself, which makes it more credible that this specific backstop is something Dredd wouldn't be aware of, even if he and everyone else thought they'd addressed the manual override problem following Doomsday. A bit of old code nobody ever got rid of.

TordelBack

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Re: Prog 2108 - Germ Warfare
« Reply #18 on: 21 November, 2018, 05:35:08 pm »
Love, love, love that cover - it made me smile when I saw it blazing out of the newsagents shelf.

And Infestinauts itself has been a treat. I confess that I barely remember the original tale, but this three-parter has been perfect, packet to bowl. The addition of scatology, fake adverts and space truckers to the Banzai Battalion formula makes this more than the sum of its parts, and the already-impressive PYE-01 rises to new heights depicting it.  More please, Tharg!

Dredd, I dunno, it seems to be dragging on a bit: the art is a pure pleasure that makes this a great read, but I'm not really feeling the plot now. Apparently Dredd had a magic bandana after all, and Smiley's top-secret layer is just behind some plasterboard and a suspiciously judge-sized corridor.  I was hoping for something more pocket universe/interdimensional to explain the general improbability of his long-term survival.

The Lawgiver override is almost irrelevant (and not a bad idea really - maybe it's a solution that was introduced to override the kind of override Narcos used; the Solomon codename doesn't mean he came up with it...), since this is a Rob Williams story and in those even mind-controlled one-eyed nutters smelling of wee can beat Dredd easily, and the endgame is always Joe beaten/burned/bleeding-out on a floor/horse somewhere.  I think I want a bit more from a story that positions itself as momentous than it is actually delivering. 

See there I am complaining about things dragging on, while the slow-paced torture of Brink sets my nerves a-jangling. This is just a great story, brilliantly serialised, with just enough info being dripfed and just enough happening to make every Next Prog a cliffhanger.

For the first time in Kingdom's history, I'm finding it a bit difficult to distinguish between the characters - big bulky Aux from three 'factions' may be too many for my ageing eyes.  I'm also not sure the nuke was as impressive a visual as it could have been.  That said, I love this strip, and I wonder how this is going to play out - I wodmer  how less war-beasty Leezee and Pause fared in a nuclear explosion.

Skip Tracer ends its second run with far more credit than its first, but I'm still not sure how much of this is down to the MacNeil factor. But does that really matter? Stylish and striking is as stylish and striking does. I don't think Nolan or his world have established a particularly distinctive identity yet, but I'm pleased Tharg is giving it a fair shake.  We'll see.


norton canes

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Re: Prog 2108 - Germ Warfare
« Reply #19 on: 22 November, 2018, 10:17:50 am »
That cover's a proper zinger! Love the way the middle monocycle is flying through the air, it gives the scene a fantastic sense of action and pace. In fact Infestinauts has been thoroughly brilliant, script and art. The 'evacuation' panel is absolutely one of 2000 AD's all-time comic high points. Hope the strip gets at least a couple more runs (definitely NO pun intended), as Arthur Wyatt clearly has ideas for it.

The Small House continues to pose more questions than it answers; I can see why Rob Williams is leading on the proposed JD:MCO series, this is precisely the sort of thing that would play out grippingly over multiple episodes. That shot Dredd takes, though - it has to have blown away at least a couple of vital organs, no? Maybe the 'clone' comments have more significance than we think...

Skip Tracer unfortunately trails out a little disappointingly. Nolan Blake's trip into the surreal world of his brother's mind gave the arc a much-needed kick but it's been a bit by-the-numbers since then. Oh well, at least we won't have to wait long 'till we find out where it goes next.

And in Brink and Kingdom Dan Abnett just keeps on doing the Dan Abnett thing, thank goodness.

Dandontdare

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Re: Prog 2108 - Germ Warfare
« Reply #20 on: 22 November, 2018, 01:35:53 pm »
That shot Dredd takes, though - it has to have blown away at least a couple of vital organs, no?

Ah, but the Law of Comic & Movie Gunshot Wounds states that any shot that isn't to the head or heart is just a flesh wound that will only disable the hero for as long as the plot demands and can then be completely ignored (although we've seen Dredd shot right through the head before, and that barely slowed him down!)

Small House is gripping, it's been a while since I've spent the week anxiously waiting to find out what happens next.

Brink and Kingdom continue to be amazing, I don't need to repeat what's already been said.

Not read infestinauts yet because I misplaced my copy of prog 2106 so I'm going to read 'em all in one.

Skip Tracer skips out of the prog and out of my memory without leaving a trace. It had lots of (over)familiar elements but I just never managed to get to know or care about the characters or the world.

broodblik

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Re: Prog 2108 - Germ Warfare
« Reply #21 on: 22 November, 2018, 03:05:22 pm »
This for me is the best Dredd story the last few years (and this it has been regularly my favorite in the prog). Dredd has been solid as always but not really standing out.

CalHab

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Re: Prog 2108 - Germ Warfare
« Reply #22 on: 22 November, 2018, 03:15:12 pm »
I think the success of the story, apart from the outstanding art, is in the fact that it actually seems like there are real stakes at play. That's something that has often been lacking in Dredd, as the "Musings on The Small House" thread discusses.

TordelBack

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Re: Prog 2108 - Germ Warfare
« Reply #23 on: 22 November, 2018, 03:59:45 pm »
I keep hearing about these high stakes in The Small House, but I'm not sure I know what they are.

Dredd will get the stomm kicked out of him, but survive. Frank will survive, but may disappear for a while. Giant will survive, and never refer to any of this again. Gerhart will survive, because he's part of the Pin storyline. The characters' relationships may change, there may be a new Chief Judge soon, we may learn the Apocalypse War could have been averted (transferring some of Dredd's guilt?) but Justice Dept will amble on, still riddled with conspiracies and powerplays and basically unchanged.

Titan/Enceladus was operatic in its extremes, Dredd physically and mentally broken, spitting teeth and kill-orders in a single mouthful, the City virtually overrun by an alien invasion (for the first time, unless you count the Kleggs or the Gribligs!) - but what actually changed?  What were the stakes, apart from losing a great character in Nixon and passing Sinfield to the Sovs. Bent Judges still go to Titan, the ice thawed, Dredd got better (except when Rob is writing him, when he appears to be suffering PTSD) and hopefully Beauty got some oats and a nice rub-down.

Now that Kazan Jr and Sam are dead (how Sam was alive at all is another matter), Smiley, Maitland, and various ninja factions are the only potential casualties.  Despite the inclusion of Wagner (Giant), Ewing (Maitland) and Rennie (Kazan Jr) supporting characters, I still don't get any great sense that anything of wide-reaching significance is going to happen, other than the likely dethroning of Smiley, and we only ever see him in this handful of Trifecta-adjacent stories so that's not really a very big deal. 

It's skilfully done: Williams is a strong and distinctive writer with a good ear for inner monologue and a solid line in tension, Flint is simply a living god, the characters are (mostly) memorable and intriguing.  It's a good story, I enjoy reading it (especially the Dirty Frank bits), and I find it interesting to speculate about. 

But it's not gripping me in the way it seems to be engaging so many others, and I don't understand the 'high stakes' thing at all.

Hoping, as ever, to be proved wrong!

BPP

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Re: Prog 2108 - Germ Warfare
« Reply #24 on: 22 November, 2018, 04:15:14 pm »
Oh well. You’ll always have Mike Carroll.
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Frank

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Re: Prog 2108 - Germ Warfare
« Reply #25 on: 22 November, 2018, 05:19:27 pm »

Originally published July 3, 1998, in Comics Buyer’s Guide #1285

The illusion of change.”

That’s what Stan Lee always said was the secret to Marvel storytelling. Make it seem as if things were changing in the life of a character… but, in point of fact, have them remain exactly the same. It’s a terrific theory, and creators and publishers still abide by it.

However, at this point it’s hard to convince readers that anything matters anymore.

There is, of course, something to be said for maintaining the illusion. Why commit oneself to genuine change when by simply pretending to change things, one doesn’t have to risk finding oneself stuck with a character who has lost those elements that made him appealing in the first place.

Look, for example, at Peter Parker.

Originally, he started out as a student with girl problems, a sickly aunt, and money difficulties. Over the years, Stan and Steve (and later John) put him through changes. But when you get down to it, they satisfied the concept of illusionary change.

That was why there was so much internal resistance to the concept of Peter Parker getting married. “It can never be undone,” said one spider-writer. “He can never be single again. If we kill off Mary Jane, he’s a widower. If they get divorced, he’s a divorced man. Spider-Man will be irretrievably older in the eyes of the fans.”

The illusion had been shattered.

So The Powers-That-Be did the comic book equivalent of cracking open an odometer and rolling back the mileage: They came up with the clone. Free of any of the baggage the character had accrued since the death of Gwen, he was supposed to reconnect the audience to Spider-Man.

The problem is, all writing is a magic trick. You try to pull fast ones on the audience so that they don’t look too closely. Because fans don’t like to be treated as if they’re stupid. That’s the problem with illusion of change.

The illusion of change might be ideal when dealing with characters that are the properties of large companies and have to be kept nice for whoever might come next. What becomes problematic is mustering any continued fan interest in the fates of these characters, because it’s becoming perceived that there is no fate that is irrevocable, no development that cannot be undone inside of twenty-two pages.

Look at Alan Moore’s take on Swamp Thing, for example. As the character was conceived, he was a muck-encrusted Alec Holland. Moore changed that irrevocably. Alec Holland, said Moore, was dead. Gone. Had been for a real long time.

A writer at the time commented that he didn’t see the point of it; that it seemed a simple sleight of hand that had no real meaning. He mistook genuine change for the illusion of change, and consequently didn’t see why everyone was making a big deal about it since it just seemed business as usual.

Except it wasn’t. Moore was so thorough in his presentation of the material that there was simply no going back. Fans didn’t read those stories wondering how the status quo was going to be restored; they read them knowing that they were seeing the inevitable and permanent evolution of the character, and wondered about all the possibilities that Moore was presenting.

Contrast that with virtually any other of the major superheroes, and you see the difference. Batman’s back breaks, but we know he’ll be back. Superman dies, or becomes an energy being, but we know that–sooner or later–he’ll be back the way he’s always been. Fans perceive the changes simply as an array of gimmicks concocted to maintain interest in characters who have as much growth potential as Garfield.

The illusion of change has raised the threshold of what will grab and hold an audience. Genuine change becomes extremely problematic because in order to make it really stick, you have to do something drastic just to get the reader’s attention.

The illusion only works for so long. The problem is that on the one hand fans want real change, want a sense that something has long-term meaning; on the other hand, creators are boxed in.

Things intended as changes in the status quo are seen only as the latest in an endless succession of unconvincing and temporary morphs, unless they’re dramatic enough that they can’t possibly be undone… at which point the fans go nuts and demand not only the reinstitution of the status quo, but the heads of everyone who had anything to do with the change.

What’s the answer to it all?

Well… the only thing that comes to mind is that all the current incarnations of the characters are yanked out of existence and the characters are completely rebooted into all-new, anything-goes versions of ... Or we could clone all the …

Ah, forget it.  That trick never works.

(Peter David, writer of stuff, can be written to at Second Age, Inc., PO Box 239, Bayport, NY 11705.)

https://www.peterdavid.net/2012/12/24/the-illusion-of-change/




TordelBack

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Re: Prog 2108 - Germ Warfare
« Reply #26 on: 22 November, 2018, 05:36:08 pm »
Yeah, that's a good piece, and I take the point - but there have been plenty of strips in the comic's history that toyed effectively with my readiness for self-deception, even while I knew that everything would have to more-or-less reset afterwards.  This just isn't one. For me.

That isn't to say it isn't a good story, well-told. It just isn't delivering the desperate-rush-to-the-shops thing that others report.

As every Irish schoolchild's favourite poet Patrick Kavanagh would have it:

"We have tested and tasted too much, lover
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder."

And this was before Roger linked to the Goatse!

Frank

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Re: Prog 2108 - Germ Warfare
« Reply #27 on: 22 November, 2018, 06:09:00 pm »
Yeah, that's a good piece, and I take the point - but there have been plenty of strips in the comic's history that toyed effectively with my readiness for self-deception, even while I knew that everything would have to more-or-less reset afterwards.  This just isn't one. For me.

That isn't to say it isn't a good story, well-told. It just isn't delivering the desperate-rush-to-the-shops thing that others report.

Sorry, that was my inept way saying I feel exactly the same. Can't fault the craft of anyone involved*

You can stop reading me poetry, though.  I'm not putting out.


* They're the best creators in the comic and everyone's on absolute top form

BPP

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Re: Prog 2108 - Germ Warfare
« Reply #28 on: 22 November, 2018, 06:26:13 pm »
Williams does have a commendable history or tearing down his worlds - he killed of the whole lowlife ensemble including Aimee Nixon, he ended shakara which had massive scope and he’s already downed some Dredd sizeable figures in this story. He’s clearly a man about the destination rather than sustaining beloved characters.
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broodblik

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Re: Prog 2108 - Germ Warfare
« Reply #29 on: 22 November, 2018, 06:33:26 pm »
It essence it does matter because Dredd will always be there, the supporting cast well that is a complete different story. We will read Dredd next week and year after that and so forth. Normally with these “epics” it is the supporting cast that bites the dust. A new chief Judge might be on the horizon. Hersey might go to Titan because she new everything or not. Frank might be done for. As I said this Dredd was one of the best in recent history. Let us see what happens next week and in the epilogue.