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Spoilers => Prog => : Funt Solo 25 June, 2018, 09:28:33 PM

: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 25 June, 2018, 09:28:33 PM
So I stopped reading 2000AD at prog 1683, back in 2010 (due to a temporary lack of funds).  Fast forward eight years, and I was waxing lyrical nostalgia to her indoors (who spends more time out of doors than me by a large margin) about Tooth when she suggested I revisit it.  And lo and behold, what was once a nachtmare (expensive mail-subs from overseas, or online systems that didn't accept $$$) is now as smooth as finely-ground extra-smooth peanut butter.  Thanks, 2000AD shop (https://shop.2000ad.com/).

So, when I left - Judge Dredd was on his Tour of Duty and Mayor Ambrose had just sent his Hershey-headed love droid to assassinate CJ Sinfield.  Damnation Station was looking great but not really thrilling me.  Zombo was trying to be funny, but not tickling me.  Ichabod Azrael was confusing me and making me think I would benefit from a classical education.  And Nikolai Dante was losing the war.

And now I've decided to get caught up, by reading eight years worth of missing progs.  The only spoiler I know about is that something called the Day of Chaos happened to MC-1 and did some serious damage.  I've been at it a couple of weeks and am up to prog 1708. It's a bit weird to realize that's what brand new for me is 8 years old for everyone else.   

In Dredd: Sinfield deposed!  Ambrose/Maybe locked up!  Dredd on the Council of 5!  And a couple of corking horror/procedurals in the form of The Skinning Room (progs 1700-1704) and Skull Sessions (1706-1707).  Tour of Duty had run for 45 progs: does it count as a mega-epic?  I'm assuming that Dredd won't last long on the Council.

In Strontium Dog (The Life and Death of Johnny Alpha) : Johnny's alive!  Okay, I didn't see that coming.  Mostly because I saw him die way back when.  I guess this is a bit of a Dallas maneuver, but done more subtly than "Feral dreamt it in the shower".  And what about Feral's fate - fattened up and then burnt to death?  Was this some kind of a punishment from the writer?  Also, it's not clear exactly how well Johnny is going to be, or what's happened to Middenface (who offered himself in a life-exchange).

In Nikolai Dante: no crest!  No way!  This reminds me of Friday (aka Rogue without the biochips).  I wonder if it's permanent, and I wonder why the writer chose to do it.  Is it for vulnerability, or were they just sick of writing disembodied dialogue?  Is the crest dead?  The stories City of the Damned and The Master of Kronstadt deal with the immediate aftermath.  I feel like this would benefit from a family tree diagram of some sort.  So many characters, and at this point spanning a story that's run for 13 years (with me 8 years beyond that). I'm a bit like "who-they?" everytime someone new comes into frame.   

Low Life (Hostile Takeover) is great - Dirty Frank is perhaps my favorite comedy 2000AD character ever because he makes me laugh out loud.  Like with this exchange from 1704:   

Dirty Frank: "Truly, you have an impressive and capacious weapon, Corrupt Judge Stewart."
Corrupt Judge Stewart: "You don't have to broadcast the 'corrupt' thing, y'know, turdboy."
Dirty Frank: "Who revealed Dirty Frank's secret middle name?"

Sinister Dexter, The Red Seas, Savage and Defoe are all in there: well produced but not my favorite thrills. 

The big new thrill is Age of the Wolf - which blew my mind with the double page spread of the hero being torn apart in the penultimate episode.  I assume this returns for new stories, because it's so good and really serves as just an opener for a larger tale.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 25 June, 2018, 09:52:18 PM
Oh cool so is this going to be an ongoing feature, until you catch up? Nice to see a reading report starting in modern times.
...though Age of the Wolf, interesting!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 04 July, 2018, 05:56:19 AM
I've just finished up the last chunk of 2010: progs 1709-1714, prog 2011 (aka prog 1714.5) and megs 300-305.

In summary: new thrills best, old thrills worst.

Comedy
There's a lot of comedy around - mostly in Dredd (20 Years to Midnight), but also in Armitage.  For some reason, cooking shows feature back to back in Dredd's "Come Die With Me" and a Future Shock titled "Universal Masterchef".

Al Ewing does a great job on the comedy Dredds: remembering to play Dredd straight against a backdrop of lunacy.  "20 Years to Midnight" stands out as it features a brief glimpse at a middle-aged Chopper, and the return (after what seems like a long time) of Walter and Mrs Gunderson (replete with three fanny jokes).  On the other hand, "Bald Ambition" from meg 304 is played too broadly and winks too knowingly at the reader with "gaze into the head of bald".  Cat Sullivan is doing it better with a series of "gaze into" puns quietly rocking Droid Life.

Old Thrills
Defoe has no heart.  It's beautifully rendered, but it's just endless waves of zombies being gunned down in an oddly unfamiliar history.  Steampunk zombies sounds good on the tin, but the protagonist is completely unlikable, and is surrounded by unlikable allies and enemies.

Sinister Dexter has no heroes.  There are laughs to be had (mostly from Charon going nuts whenever anyone say "change") but there's a sense of repetition built into a story that has had to resurrect all of its threats by hauling them in from another dimension.

Armitage starts out gritty but descends into farce.  I've never really liked this story.  Another unsympathetic character.

Anderson doesn't seem to be doing anything new in House of Vyle.  Assuming she was 20 when we first met her, she should be about 50 in this story, but she looks much younger.  Shouldn't she be aging, like Dredd?  It's all tits and ass from an ever-young Anderson.  (The Cadet Anderson story in p2011 worked better.)

New Thrills
Age of the Wolf was just a stunning opener for a new thrill: I hope it returns.   Great art, a horrific penultimate episode, and mad ideas.

Dandridge was quite good fun, and seems to follow in a line of sort-of posh eccentric Englishmen.  One I've hated (Bix Barton), most of them seem like curios (Ampney Crucis, Harry Kipling), but this one seems fresh.  I had to look up Barney to see why it was the "Return of the Chap", and found that he'd first surfaced in prog 1631's Past Imperfect.

Lilly MacKenzie (and the mines of Charybdis) was a wild ride: I really like that you feel like the characters have made a new connection by the end of the story.

Samizdat Squad had a first episode and looks intriguing.  East-Meg stories haven't had much succesful longevity (The Inspectre, Red Razors), so it would be nice for this to work well.

Hondo City Justice had great art and and it was good to get a follow up on Inaba (and mentions of Shimura).

Coming up...
Lots to look forward to:


: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 10 July, 2018, 06:55:40 PM
Early 2011

In order of most favorite to least favorite thrills...

Kingdom: His Master's Voice
Series four continues the adventures of Gene the Hackman, a bio-engineered humanoid canine battling against the giant insectoid Them who appear to be the dominant species on this future Earth. We don't get a major loose end tied up from the previous series, instead focusing on some backstory.  Richard Elson's art is a joy, and Gene's cadence has always been compelling.  I didn't get the "Surfeater Roberts" pun, though: maybe someone can help me out.

Shakara: Avenger
This seemingly simple premise (of a vengeful alien super-being) has stretched itself into a fifth series and remains compelling: although there is a strong implication that it could end here.  Eva Procopio provides some much-needed additional dialog options for the mostly holophrastic main character, as explored in this self-referential aside:

(https://i.imgur.com/tL4MESq.png)

Ampney Crucis Investigates ... The List of Ten
What starts out as Murder on the Orient Express (set aboard a giant zeppelin) twists into something more sinister (somewhat reminiscent of  Leviathan).  Rather than a completely standalone tales, it ties back to previous series and then ends on a cliffhanger.  I enjoyed the beautifully rendered humorous expressions, like here:

(https://i.imgur.com/nMlXJlR.png)

Judge Dredd: In Control
There are lots of JD stories in this part of 2011 (including the eight episode Served Cold), but In Control stands out, as it opens a lid on part of the Dreddverse that's not often fleshed out: what's it like to be one of the Judges at Control?

Necrophim: Civil Warlord
This third series appears to be the last, with a war fought in Hell between Satan and the other denizens.  This has always had a very strong art style and interesting design aesthetic, with Satan presented as an egotistical, unbalanced rock-goth lothario suffering from chronic ennui.

Special Mention: The ABC Warriors Star Scan series by Liam Sharp
I always enjoyed character posters in the prog, and they became super-rare, so this lot was a pleasure:

(https://i.imgur.com/DNJQOm0.jpg)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Dark Jimbo 10 July, 2018, 08:18:35 PM
Kingdom: His Master's Voice
I didn't get the "Surfeater Roberts" pun, though: maybe someone can help me out.

Servitor Robots!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 18 July, 2018, 12:29:42 AM
2011: 2nd Quarter

In order of most favorite to least favorite thrills...

Dandridge: The House That Dripped Devilry
Dandridge is tasked with anchoring his house before it leaks away or is consumed by uncanny forces, whilst also attempting to save a young couple from a malevolent spirit.  This all occurs with a beautiful mixture of humor, terror and style, with the only rather clunky note being the cameo from Postman Pat.  The art is amazing: 
(https://image.ibb.co/dqM3zJ/dandridge.png)

The Memoirs of Nikolai Dante & Nikolai Dante: Bad Blood
The memoirs are something I've been wanting for ages: a recap of the saga so far.  In twelve pages we get a recap of the previous fourteen years (or 1638 pages)!  Impressive.  Bad Blood moves things forward as the story tries to come to terms with Dante minus crest attempting to outmaneuver Dmitri/Arkady Romanov.  In a surprise twist it turns out that Viktor Romanov is still alive - when I thought he'd been crest-zapped into oblivion back in Heroes Be Damned

With the requisite amount of bravado from the heroes, horrific cruelty from the bad guys and back-stabbing galore, the only minor complaint is that it's perhaps a bit repetitive.  Like, sheesh: can't Nikolai catch a break?  Never mind that, though: sit back and feast on the show:
(https://i.imgur.com/Swq4wtx.png)

Cadet Anderson:Teenage Kyx
I thought this was an interesting idea when it turned up in Prog 2011 (aka prog 1714.5).  Thanks for that numbering system, Tharg ... it makes things really interesting.  So, for Teenage Kyx, Anderson's been aged forward to where she's close to graduating, and she goes undercover to take on a psi-fogging perp.  We get a set up for a potential follow up story, which would be good to see.

Going back to Anderson's formative years really freshens things up for me.  You can compare this to The House of Vyle in the Megazine, where it's a haunted house yarn not dissimilar to The Possessed from 1986: even to the extent of retreading the "ghostly hands grope Anderson" quip.  So: this ain't that.

Here, Cassandra (Caz, on the right) faces down her adversary (Melinda Kyx):
(https://i.imgur.com/kHItTHj.png)

Judge Dredd
We get a variety of short Dredds: Persistent Vegetative State, What The Hitler Saw, Caterpillars, California Babylon, How To Get Out Of Debt, The Pusher & Scream.  Dredd seems like a showcase for a variety of talent, and in some ways is treading water until the next epic.  It's difficult to maintain a coherent feel with four writers and seven artists all providing their own vision. 

Standing out from the crowd are What The Hitler Saw, with some truly disturbing art, and Caterpillars, which brought some surprise pathos.  Persistent Vegetative State takes the crazy too far, with a literal walking potato man that talks in television quotes. California Babylon is a bit of a mess, with Dredd doing stupid things in the ruins of Mega-City 2.  I know he's tough, but in this and in Scream he just seems like an idiot.  His compatriots say something like "Shouldn't we call in back-up?" and he says something like "I'm too cool tough to kill", and then gets in totally over his head and manages to win out through sheer luck.  I know he's tough, but why write him as pathologically idiotic?

Of all the amazing art on offer, the most beautiful is by Bryan & Alwyn Talbot in Caterpillars:
(https://i.imgur.com/W8pxYnw.png)

The Red Seas: Gods And Monsters
This is definitely now a part of an ongoing epic, rather than a standalone yarn.  We learn that Jack Dancer is immortal (but not invulnerable), and is up against Satan.  There's a hint that in the next part that God might also have a bone to pick with him.  It's all a far cry from dinosaurs in a hollow earth (The Hollow Land), which I really enjoyed back in 2006.

Consistently great art from Yeowell, good writing and big themes are becoming a bit hollow for me, though.  I don't see Jack Dancer as anything other than a maguffin to move the plot along.  There's so much magic that deus ex machina happens in nearly every episode: death doesn't mean death, defeat doesn't mean defeat, humans are outnumbered by faceless demons and automatons.  It's dragging a bit, basically: like Ace Trucking did when it got boring.  Didn't like Strike at 64pp, how about The Doppelgarp at 84pp?  No?  Perhaps I can tempt you with The Garpetbaggers at 94pp?  NO!  STOP!
(https://i.imgur.com/HSQP5EL.png)

Absalom: Noblesse Oblige
Absalom takes on a new recruit and they become a useful conduit for quite a bit of Basil Exposition, as we learn that the British aristocracy is somewhat demonic.  I was really hoping to like this because I'm a big Caballistics, Inc. fan, and this is a spin-off.

Unfortunately, the lead characters isn't at all sympathetic, which is a flaw that seems to pervade quite a few 2000AD thrills of this era.  Absalom (like Defoe, Sinister, Dexter, everyone in Necrophim, Ichabod Izrael, everyone in Damnation Station, Zombo and Stickleback) is basically a shit-heel.  He's devoid of conscience: ordering an underling to murder a defeated opponent (with no explanation given beyond that he feels like it) and then later bartering the lives of his underlings seemingly without care.  Why are we on his side? 

Isn't there a problem if I'd rather the protagonist got defeated by the villains than otherwise?
(https://i.imgur.com/0us7qdD.png)

Flesh: Texas
This presents itself as a proper sequel to the Flesh stories from early progs: sort of a Book 3.  To summarize the plot: a bunch of drugged up cowboys take absolutely insane risks around giant carnivorous reptiles with predictable consequences.  There's a sub-plot involving a misogynistic preacher.  There is also a magic T-Rex with 666 branded onto its nose.

I don't know how people reacted to this when it was first published in 2011, but I was finding it difficult to comprehend how awful it is.  I mean: why would anyone expect any of the employees to survive when they're all so stupid?  It just comes across as terrible writing.

This is a line of dialog: "This 'Gorehead' will lead us down the steep hillside of depravity, degradation and self-defilement!  Turning us into vile speedos with the stamp of our secret vices on our faces".  Nobody speaks like that.  Nobody would stand still to listen to it.

There's one episode where a female character persuades a male character to go skinny-dipping in a (dinosaur-infested) swamp, whereupon the male is impaled on the beak of a giant dino-heron.  As he is consumed, screaming in bloody terror, she watches on casually (rather than, say, running away for the sake of self-preservation), tells him he deserves it and cracks a joke.  It's unbelievably stupid, for 62 pages.  And it ends on a cliffhanger, which means that there will be more of it.

Trying to find the positive, this wraparound cover is great:
(https://i.imgur.com/NlGNqGc.png)

Special Mention: the Kleggs try to sell us t-shirts in prog 1739
(https://i.imgur.com/wkNT95a.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Dark Jimbo 18 July, 2018, 09:29:43 AM
Dandridge: The House That Dripped Devilry
Dandridge is tasked with anchoring his house before it leaks away or is consumed by uncanny forces, whilst also attempting to save a young couple from a malevolent spirit.  This all occurs with a beautiful mixture of humor, terror and style...

I loved Dandridge. You've only got one more story, though, and that's your lot - a crying shame if you ask me.

Absalom: Noblesse Oblige
Unfortunately, the lead characters isn't at all sympathetic, which is a flaw that seems to pervade quite a few 2000AD thrills of this era.  Absalom... is basically a shit-heel.  He's devoid of conscience: ordering an underling to murder a defeated opponent (with no explanation given beyond that he feels like it) and then later bartering the lives of his underlings seemingly without care.  Why are we on his side?

You're maybe the first person to articulate how I feel about Absalom - adore the strip, but Harry himself's a right sanctimonious prick - and not in the 'loveable old Harry' way that the other characters seem to think.

Flesh: Texas
I don't know how people reacted to this when it was first published in 2011, but I was finding it difficult to comprehend how awful it is...   It's unbelievably stupid, for 62 pages.  And it ends on a cliffhanger, which means that there will be more of it.

Unbelievably, Flesh somehow gets worse each and every time it shows up.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Taryn Tailz 21 July, 2018, 12:42:50 PM
I remember Flesh, of this period, being a very rare example of a 2000AD strip which I gave up on. I usually read the prog cover to cover, even strips I don't particularly enjoy, but I found Flesh so bad that I couldn't bring myself to read it every week.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 21 July, 2018, 01:04:01 PM
I remember Flesh, of this period, being a very rare example of a 2000AD strip which I gave up on. I usually read the prog cover to cover, even strips I don't particularly enjoy, but I found Flesh so bad that I couldn't bring myself to read it every week.

Heh, I loved it!  Just accept that everyone in it is on sanity-blocking drugs (Smileez) and just look at the gloriously drawn dinos munching on cowboys.  That's what it says on the tin after all.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 21 July, 2018, 01:16:39 PM
I remember Flesh, of this period, being a very rare example of a 2000AD strip which I gave up on. I usually read the prog cover to cover, even strips I don't particularly enjoy, but I found Flesh so bad that I couldn't bring myself to read it every week.

Heh, I loved it!  Just accept that everyone in it is on sanity-blocking drugs (Smileez) and just look at the gloriously drawn dinos munching on cowboys.  That's what it says on the tin after all.

I'm with you there. I know it wasn't a popular strip but I really enjoyed it and was sad when it left the Prog... though it had gone down the 7 villianous warriors route by then. Spoilers just in-case Funt Solo is trying to stay unspoiled.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 21 July, 2018, 04:15:36 PM
Spoilers just in-case Funt Solo is trying to stay unspoiled.

Thanks, Colin: I am attempting to stay unspoiled.  The most recent prog I've read is 1749 (meg 314), and I've avoided all the prog and meg review threads beyond that point.

Regarding Flesh: Texas - I'm glad other people enjoyed it.  I got that the Smileez was a narrative device that allowed the writer to throw logic out of the window, but ... maybe I should have read it on Smileez?
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 21 July, 2018, 04:19:13 PM
Probably the best idea!  Loving this thread BTW, Funt.  Very good read.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 21 July, 2018, 07:06:46 PM
2011: 3rd Quarter

In order of most favorite to least favorite thrills...

Judge Dredd: The Further Dasterdly Deeds of PJ Maybe
Wagner's back!  This is masterful, with Wagner weaving in a flashback sequence that takes us through much of the action: beautifully conveyed by Colin MacNeil.  It's not that other writers do a bad job on Dredd but Wagner is just in a class of his own, and it's great to get back to what seems like the meat and potatoes of Dredd.  I don't think it's too much of a spoiler (given the title) to tell you that PJ Maybe escapes from his Iso-Block.  Here's some of the aftermath:
(https://i.imgur.com/wDIYzkm.png)

Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos - Nadia
I've heard rumors that Day of Chaos is a major event for Mega-City One, and the pre-cog visions of Cadet Judge Hennessy seem like a good predictor of what's to come.  The suggestion in this precursor tale are that East-Meg agents are planning on releasing a deadly bio-weapon that could wipe out 99.8% of the population.  Perhaps the most shocking moment here is when a Judge is revealed as an enemy agent and executes a fellow Judge.  The prog 1749 "Dredd - dead?" in-prog cliffhanger was a bit forced, but overall this is a top thrill.  Dredd doesn't escape unscathed:
(https://i.imgur.com/qkUkrgv.png)

Savage: Book 7 - Secret City
There's an unusual decision to dress everyone up as if they're from the 1940s, which is Basil Expositioned into the first episode as a retro craze.  So Bill Savage spends Book 7 dressed up as a Humphrey Bogart gumshoe type. That aside, this is quite a taught thriller about trying to get information out of the country whilst being hunted by the Militsaya.  Pat Mills likes to intertwine his stories, and so one of the enemies we have to contend with is a prototype Blackblood:
(https://i.imgur.com/yC43kiK.png)

Tharg's 3rillers
In this opening salvo, we get three sets of 3-parters.  Quite a novel idea, and quite a mixed bag. 

First up is the very sci-fi The Silver-Tongued Exploits of Cosmo Nibs, which I found garish and irritating.  There's a fairly sick joke about a terminally ill young girl which I failed to find the humor in.  It just came across as mean-spirited.

The best of the three was Six Brothers, mixing a contemporary crime thriller with an ancient Egyptian curse to provide some truly disturbing moments:
(https://i.imgur.com/pzytqLX.png)

Last up we had Wolves, a near-future tale of deadly military experimentation without a happy ending.

I don't know if this format has legs, but it was interesting.  Cleverly, it avoids pigeon-holing itself thematically by not having the words future, time or terror in the title.

Zombo: The Day the Zombo Died
More shenanigans from Al Ewing, in which Zombo goes up against Obmoz, his (evil-er?) twin.  The humor is very broad, very manic and has the dial turned all the way up to 11.  I mostly hate it, but still find myself reading it all and guffawing at points because Al really is a funny guy.  It's as if someone sat down and decided that a mixture of The Doppelgarp, B.L.A.I.R. 1 & Big Dave was a good idea.  Weird: like with each bite I both hate and find highly amusing the marmite sandwich I'm eating.

Contextually, having one of the characters be President Trump might have been funnier in 2011: reading it today it's mostly just nauseating.  It promises another sequel featuring a planet-sized face as an enemy: could that please just be a joke?
(https://i.imgur.com/7Rk7rnp.png)

Sinister Dexter: Apocalypse Shtick
So we find out that reality is breaking down, and only Sin & Dex can save the universe!  This is all explained by some gaudy Basil Exposition ninjas who are sort of multiverse janitors.  Sin & Dex end up killing a bunch of people they already killed ages ago, because these are from that other dimension.

I really don't like Sinister Dexter anymore.  I did, once, when it was just them and Downlode, and there were other characters to care about, like Demi Octavo, and Billi and such.  But now - with all the dimension-hopping and re-treading of dead characters, it feels like it's lost its way.  More than Future Shocks, or Time Twisters or Terror Tales, it just feels like filler. 

I know Dan Abnett could write this from now until the end of time, but should he?  There's a suggestion in the story that their entire reality could just cease to exist!  We could end it there, right?
(https://i.imgur.com/VssAXTc.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 21 July, 2018, 08:51:00 PM
Contextually, having one of the characters be President Trump might have been funnier in 2011: reading it today it's mostly just nauseating

This is so painfully true. I re-read all (most?) of Zombo in the Ultimate Collection just recently, and while I loved it at the time it ran, and really enjoyed the rest this time out too, the Trump bits fell totally flat for me - to the point of genuine irritation. Possibly because Ewing's version appears more balanced than the real thing, almost as if this is a gentle puff-piece meant to reassure.  That's drokkin' scary, that is.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Taryn Tailz 21 July, 2018, 11:13:31 PM
I remember Flesh, of this period, being a very rare example of a 2000AD strip which I gave up on. I usually read the prog cover to cover, even strips I don't particularly enjoy, but I found Flesh so bad that I couldn't bring myself to read it every week.

Heh, I loved it!  Just accept that everyone in it is on sanity-blocking drugs (Smileez) and just look at the gloriously drawn dinos munching on cowboys.  That's what it says on the tin after all.

Bearing in mind that I have never, even as a child, had any interest in either dinosaurs or cowboys, I think it's fair to say that I probably wasn't the demographic for Flesh.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 25 July, 2018, 08:54:12 PM
2011: 4th Quarter

In order of most favorite to least favorite thrills...

Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos (The Fourth Faction, Downtime & Elusive)
The Day of Chaos theme knits itself into all of the stories so that as we follow PJ Maybe's murderous tendencies through Elusive, we also meet up with Cadet Hennessey reporting that Elmore Yurges is still alive (when Justice Department thought they'd eliminated the threat in The Fourth Faction). 

Woven through all is a focus on Dredd's recovery (from being stabbed through the neck) and age, with Downtime discussing the idea of his eventual retirement.  Dredd tells us "I know that I'm going to die out there ... on the streets".

The sequence climaxes with PJ Maybe creating literal hot-seats for a panel of political caricatures:
(https://i.imgur.com/lbMKQ8x.png)


Ampney Crucis Investigates ... The English Assassin
Given the subject matter of earth being invaded by inter-dimensional dark gods (oh, Peter St. John, where are you when we need you?), there's a wonderful lightness of touch, humor and daring-do that buoys us through.  Ampney himself often seems as if he's not really in control and it's more his attitude than his aptitude that gets him through.  Lucky bugger!  The painted art is beautiful, and Larry Niven turns up briefly as a fighter pilot:

(https://i.imgur.com/ITSVkYZ.png)(https://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2009/06/27/article-1195861-00D2063000000190-719_468x286.jpg)


Low Life: The Deal
More laugh out loud adventures with the Deadpool-ish Dirty Frank.  You'd be forgiven for feeling a bit lost at sea as a new reader, with several oddities to contend with.  First, there's Dirty Frank's weirdness, then you might wonder at Aimee Nixon's motivations, references to "The Big Man", the title of the strip being "Low Life", which is referenced as a place but we never visit it because we're going to Hondo: plus there's an apparition of an SJS Judge that's a manifestation of Dirty Frank's ego.

All that to one side, it's a pretty deep tale (and perhaps it's meant to be read in the context of all that's come before), and it's got funny bits (like an enemy being deliberately shoved up the rectum of a giant ooze-zilla, and this):
(https://i.imgur.com/0Cn8erX.png)


Indigo Prime: Everything and More; Anthropocalypse
Strap in!  It may help for context if you were reading 2000AD from 1989 through 1991, because that's where all the Indigo Prime stories were prior to this (mostly).  That series had a large, convoluted cast of characters and some crossover with Tyranny Rex ('88-'94 plus a brief comeback in 2004).  Oh, and Dead Eyes (2008) was a stealth-thrill that had an Indigo Prime reveal in the final episode.

Going back and reading all of that won't help, though: because understanding what's going on is not really the point.  Like in Star Trek when they start to talk about quantum flux capacitors, a lot of what the characters say is just techno-babble.  It's like Star Trek meets E.R: everything is turned up to 11, it's an emergency on top of a disaster twisted around impending doom, and the multiverse is at stake. You're on a trip.  Strap in.  Try to enjoy the ride:
(https://i.imgur.com/31QtxAU.png)


Angel Zero
A brand new standalone thrill with a beginning, a middle and an end.  It's like The Bourne Identity meets Maze Dumoir, sort of.  Follow our bio-weaponized heroine as she flits across the galaxy to escape the evil machinations of some rent-a-baddies and get back to a quiet life in a clone of some quiet corner of 50s USA.  Well, I'll be a...

(https://i.imgur.com/dyf5vBR.png)


Review notes:
I'm limiting the review space to five thrills, so some things fall off the edge of that (like Bob Byrne's Twisted Tales or Future Shocks).  Also, some thrills didn't feel complete enough to review: like The Assassination List (JD - Day of Chaos), because it continues in 2012 or Dirty Deeds Done Cheap (Sin Dex) because it climaxes in the festive prog 2012 (aka prog 1763.5), which I'll review in the next seat-wetting episode of ... Thrill-Coma 2010!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 25 July, 2018, 09:23:53 PM

Angel Zero
A brand new standalone thrill with a beginning, a middle and an end.  It's like The Bourne Identity meets Maze Dumoir, sort of.  Follow our bio-weaponized heroine as she flits across the galaxy to escape the evil machinations of some rent-a-baddies and get back to a quiet life in a clone of some quiet corner of 50s USA.  Well, I'll be a..


I really liked this thrill, it was a quietly done been and gone that was immensely enjoyable. Of course John Burns was a signifient part in this being wonderful BUT its possibly more of note for quietly reintroducing Kek-W who - the also under-rated - Second City Blues aside - hadn't been in the Prog for 10-15 years I don't think. After this he's become a welcome mainstay.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 25 July, 2018, 09:36:07 PM
I did enjoy Angel Zero: like you say it quietly told its story.  It's good to have a thrill where there isn't a tangled web of plot going back several years.

The prog had a really strong line-up this quarter with no duff thrills.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 26 July, 2018, 05:58:04 AM
Angel Zero was one off the first new series I read when I returned from my hiatus. As you said this had a beginning, middle and an end. This was a hugely entertaining series. I would like more of this type of once-off series.

: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 26 July, 2018, 08:52:55 AM
Angel Zero was one I completely missed during a break in purchasing power in 2011, and on acquiring the backprogs a couple of years back I enjoyed it greatly.  Not exactly a beacon of originality, but a satisfying tale with some great art. 

I suppose it's easy to ask for more of these kinds of complete stories (which I often do), but you have to wonder about the long-term return for Tharg: it fills pages for a few months, then it's gone, with limited potential for future content or revenue.  Even the best of these (Cradlegrave, Shadows, Zaucer of Zilk etc) seem to struggle to find reprint space, and when they do it's often in a grab-bag of themes which don't necessarily add value to each other (bundling Colony Earth and Family, anyone?). Doubt the potential licencees are lining up either: better to give Uncle Pat another 60-page run of Anti-Hero Lineup#17 versus Mirrored Villain Lineup#43, keep that IP in circulation.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 26 July, 2018, 09:24:24 AM
I suppose it's easy to ask for more of these kinds of complete stories (which I often do), but you have to wonder about the long-term return for Tharg: it fills pages for a few months, then it's gone, with limited potential for future content or revenue.  Even the best of these (Cradlegrave, Shadows, Zaucer of Zilk etc) seem to struggle to find reprint space, and when they do it's often in a grab-bag of themes which don't necessarily add value to each other (bundling Colony Earth and Family, anyone?). Doubt the potential licencees are lining up either: better to give Uncle Pat another 60-page run of Anti-Hero Lineup#17 versus Mirrored Villain Lineup#43, keep that IP in circulation.

I agree with what you are saying but in many cases not all stories require a sequel or a multiple series. I rather have less ABC Warriors (and few other Mills stories) than a retelling of the same story. Leatherjacket, was a great story on its own (this at least was collected). This is the type of alone standing stories I would like to see more off. 
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Fungus 26 July, 2018, 10:57:19 AM
In this era of collected editions the viability of one-off tales is a problem. When jumping-on progs roll around, they usually trumpet the Return Of X ! Return of Y ! It's not really a selling point...

Skip Tracer is quite odd, here. Readily welcomed as a Brand New Thrill, it's highly generic (but does at least look... nice). Not distinctive in the least. Maybe The Return ! of Skip Tracer will build into something more focussed.

(Because posts that get tied in knots and contradict themselves are the BEST kind 😀)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 26 July, 2018, 05:56:52 PM
Prog 2012 (aka prog 1763.5) Festive Prog

Only reviewing the standalone stories from this 104-page special.

In order of most favorite to least favorite thrills...


Dandridge: A Christmas Ghost Story
Dandridge recounts a festive ghost story about a disembodied hand (reminiscent of a segment of the horror movie Dr. Terror's House of Horrors).  A great one-off by Alex Worley with beautifully evocative art by Jon Davis-Hunt.  More of this sort of thing, please.  It's like one of those old Tales of the Unexpected in comic form, even throwing in a jump-scare:

(https://i.imgur.com/ayTOIWN.png) 


Aquila: Prologue
Jostling for position at the top spot is new thrill Aquila: a sort of mash-up of Assassin's Creed, Blackhawk and Slaine (as a super-powered gladiator goes on assassination missions for a death goddess). 

It's ultra-violent, it's sweeping, it's epic and it's just getting started:

(https://i.imgur.com/sdHt1sN.png)


Sinister Dexter: Now & Again
Sinister & Dexter chase the nefarious Ms. Step through various alternate realities until eventually tracking her to the edge of forever: which turns out to be a blank canvas.  She is abandoned in nowhere land and then Vladimir and Estragon wander off into the white-set.  It's almost as if the writer is admitting that the strip has nowhere left to go, and has decided to end it here, which would be fine.  It's had a good innings.

To get to nowhere land, we have some fun along the way: visiting the worlds of Judge Dredd, Flesh, Rogue Trooper, Nikolai Dante, Strontium Dog and Kingdom.  The most interesting of these is the meeting with Johnny Alpha and Wulf, in which there's a suggestion that they are mirror characters.   Whilst both sets are hired killers, I have more sympathy for Alpha - he's taken up bounty hunting reluctantly and hunts criminals.  Sinister and Dexter are just assassins with no morals.  They leave Ms. Laid to slowly die of thirst (one assumes) in a land devoid of any form that might sustain her. 

If our heroes are evil, then they are not heroes.

(https://i.imgur.com/6v1iUZ5.png)
 

Absalom: Sick Leave
Uhm...Attack the Block meets The Sweeney meets Hammer House of Horrors?  While most of the team take on some demonic hoodies in a council estate, Absalom (who is perhaps a zombie) has a long conversation with an even more zombified version of himself in a Doctor's office.  Perhaps the most interesting thing that happens is that we are told that Jack Regan (from The Sweeney) is not a fictional character in this world.  Well, either that or Absalom is insane.

Great art, but the story and the characters are just too cynical for me to enjoy. I mean, look, they're not enjoying it themselves:

(https://i.imgur.com/o4yehe3.png)


Judge Dredd: Choose Your Own Xmas
This is a comedy festive Dredd  in which you the reader are Jackson Packard (a dweeb cit) and you get to choose which frames to go to in the comic, like those Choose Your Own Adventure books.  Of course, the most amusing thing about those is when the Interwebz decided to change the titles, like this:

(https://i.imgur.com/mtlugHN.jpg)

But, those books were tame.  They weren't cool.  The cool ones were the Fighting Fantasy books, like The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, or the frankly stupendous Lone Wolf series, or the time-traveling Falcon series, or the ninja-esque Way of the Tiger.  The popularity of those prompted the short-lived 2000AD experiment of Diceman (5 issues, 1986), in which you could play your way through a comic adventure as Judge Dredd, Hammerstein, Nemesis, Torquemada, Slaine, Rogue Trooper, the Dice Man (a supernatural private eye) or, uhm, President Ronald Reagan.  And in the prog, we had Slaine's Tomb of Terror, a game / comic that ran for 15 episodes.

Instead of all of that action (where you have life points and its a game, and you can win or lose, and you play an amazing character), you have Choose Your Own Xmas.  You get to be a dweeb.  Guys, that sucks!  And blows.  Both of those in a bad way.

(https://i.imgur.com/Tw516VB.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Pyroxian 26 July, 2018, 06:07:51 PM
The coolest thing about the Judge Dredd story is when you realise that you can also read it a linear comic...
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 26 July, 2018, 06:27:42 PM
The coolest thing about the Judge Dredd story is when you realise that you can also read it a linear comic...

Pretty much everything about that story is cool! I think it's expecting a little much to get an exciting Fighting Fantasy adventure in 10+ comic pages, so I'd have thought that an amusing tale(s) displaying an almost Eisner-level mastery of the possibilities of the comics form should be enough for anyone. Unless I'm wrong this and the contemporary Meg are the last of Ewing's wonderfully bleak Christmas Dredds (and very nearly his last Dredd work), and that's something to be disappointed about.

Great reviews here though Funt, and plenty of them: really enjoying your take, even (especially?) where we disagree.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 26 July, 2018, 06:38:06 PM
I'm very opinionated. 

It clearly did take a lot of skill to put together that Dredd story: and I didn't pay it enough heed to realize that you could read it through straight and have a narrative.  So, I rather missed the point.

But, you can do something pretty cool in 10-ish pages:  there was "You are the A.B.C. Warrior vs. Volgo the Ultimate Death Machine" (Diceman 2, 11 pages).  That was the shortest one, mind you.

My rose-tinted memory specs has those down as being amazing.  But that was 32 years ago.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 26 July, 2018, 06:51:54 PM
I always loved Steve Dillon's work:

(https://i.imgur.com/vFdcXQl.jpg)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Tjm86 26 July, 2018, 07:07:56 PM
The coolest thing about the Judge Dredd story is when you realise that you can also read it a linear comic...

... and the biggest face palm moment is when you realise that you weren't supposed to.   :-[
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Dark Jimbo 26 July, 2018, 07:37:14 PM
The coolest thing about the Judge Dredd story is when you realise that you can also read it a linear comic...

... and the biggest face palm moment is when you realise that you weren't supposed to.   :-[

No, it's t'other way round - the dawning realisation, after trying umpteen times to get through the game and dying every single time, that the only way to make it to the end is read it as a straight narrative. One of the cleverest one-off Dredds ever!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Magnetica 26 July, 2018, 08:16:43 PM
“Indigo Prime: Everything and More; Anthropocalypse.... because understanding what's going on is not really the point”


And that is why I don’t like I Indigo Prime. Just having a lot of ideas isn’t enough for me, I want a narrative I can follow with out having to re-read something 5 times.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 28 July, 2018, 06:46:03 PM
2012, 1st Quarter

In order of most favorite to least favorite thrills...


Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos - The Assassination List
This section of the Day of Chaos arc plays on multiple themes (itself a theme of the entire arc).  We follow the development of the Chaos Bug by the dissident Sov cell run by Yevgeny, the continuing predictions of Cadet Psi-Judge Hennessy and the general chaos of Mega-City One.  As Dredd's investigation moves forward, Judge Wilde (a Sov agent) is key in disturbing their progress.

Climactically, Hennessy (and her empath sister) are assassinated by Wilde (in his final suicide mission) and we learn that the Chaos Bug has been successfully developed.  What's shocking about this is that we have to get to grips with the idea that nobody is safe.  Hennessy was a representation of hope and innocence, and she's been destroyed.  This does not bode well for Mega-City One:

(https://i.imgur.com/ybSJIVl.png)


Nikolai Dante: The Wedding of Jena Makarov
Dmitri Romanov sets to wed Jena Makarov, confident that he can defeat the rebel army opposing him.  His over-confidence turns out to be his greatest weakness.  He should perhaps have killed Dante when he had the chance, but then where would we be?

Dr. Evil: Scott, I want you to meet daddy’s nemesis, Austin Powers.
Scott Evil: What? Are you feeding him? Why don’t you just kill him?
Dr. Evil: I have an even better idea. I’m going to place him in an easily escapable situation involving an overly elaborate and exotic death.

So, Dante escapes imprisonment and literally crashes the wedding by smashing Dmitri's second greatest weapon (the Imperial Palace) into the Romanov's Eagle's Nest.  It's high adventure, with Lulu Romanov trying to outdo Blackblood for most double-double-crossing character in 2000AD.  It ends in both triumph (Dmitri seems defeated) and tragedy (the death of a loved one), and is suitably epic:

(https://i.imgur.com/zwXk371.png)

Slightly annoying was the pun-naming of one of the side characters, which just lifted me out of the adventure and reminded me I was reading a comic. Why did the cosmetic surgeon who was about to castrate Dante have to be named Dr. Igor Skrotumski?  When he's doing a boob job, does he change his name to Dr. Igor Breastlargi?  Or Niptuckski?  Facelifstski?  Boo!  Get off!  Etc.


Strontium Dog: The Life and Death of Johnny Alpha, Chapter Two - The Project
Attempting the record for most convoluted story title ever, and possibly winning.  Man, those muties can't catch a break.  In this arc, we learn that an evil corporation has been secretly sterilizing the mutie population.  They see Alpha as a threat so are trying to kill him.  It's sort of odd, thematically.  The Doghouse has turned into a sort of Bounty Hunters' Celebrity Game-show, and Alpha has a mischievous imp living in his mind that can see into the future.

I always preferred Strontium Dog when it was more gritty, and less comedic.  This version seems like an uncomfortable mash-up of themes.  I miss Wulf.  Oh, and why are the only women at the Doghouse mostly nude "comfort women"?  2000AD's sexual politics aren't winning any awards here.

(https://i.imgur.com/1dfgUFU.png)


Absalom: Ghosts of London
A big stone is being used to attempt to change the past so that fascists can take over Britain.  Absalom and his team stop that from happening.  Absalom himself continues to irritate me by being completely unsympathetic, this time demonstrating the character's xenophobia towards Scottish people.  (I'm aware the writer is Scottish: but open, unchallenged xenophobia just makes my skin crawl.)

The art is great, but there's nobody in this strip to care for and the lead character, well, if he's not going to be nice to anyone he can just... 

(https://i.imgur.com/Pue5QBw.png)


Grey Area: [Series One]
Series one is split into several smaller stories: Meet & Greet, Feel The Noise, The Do, Personal Space and Xenophobia.

Basically, we're following a riot squad policing an alien immigration internment compound.  It's difficult to like anyone here, as they're busy hitting aliens in the face with truncheons most of the time.  A lot is asked of us as readers, as one of the plots involves people's heads exploding due to excessively loud music.  That seems a little bit stupid.  In Personal Space, we spend several pages with the female character (who's been all doe-eyed over a hunky dude on her team) being nude, which seems a bit exploitative.  Narratively, it's really not necessary.

(https://i.imgur.com/kbWBOkf.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 28 July, 2018, 07:22:06 PM
In Personal Space, we spend several pages with the female character (who's been all doe-eyed over a hunky dude on her team) being nude, which seems a bit exploitative.  Narratively, it's really not necessary.

Personal Space is the low point of the series for me, gratuitous hardly covers it - I thought I was done with Grey Area after that. But take heart!  The, errr, strip actually gets better and better from here.  Although you'd probably better get used to the shower scenes...
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 01 August, 2018, 08:45:58 PM
2012, 2nd Quarter

In order of most favorite to least favorite thrills...


Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos
We begin with the core 20-episode section of the Day of Chaos arc: Eve of Destruction.  Throughout this story, what can go wrong does go wrong for the Judges of Mega-City One.  Although they capture their enemy (Yevgeny), it's too late as he's already sown the seeds of their destruction.  Disaster is layered upon disaster: terrorist insurgents take down the Statue of Judgement (and with it, PSU), agents distribute the Chaos Bug, turned Judges betray the city (causing a total breakdown of law and order) and (to add insult to injury) three of the dark judges are released.  The city burns.

The fight-back consists of maintaining a few hard-won safe blocks within the sea of chaos.  Just as the disaster reaches a crescendo, we get a couple of interlude one-offs: Tea For Two (in which Dredd and his niece Vienna fight their way to safety) and Wot I Did During The Worst Disaster In Mega-City History (in which PJ Maybe bottles Fear, Fire & Mortis).

This last highlights the one nit pick we might have with this highly charged page turner of a Dredd epic.  It does start to seem a little bit like all the mega-epics that have gone before rolled into one: especially when the dark judges are added to the mix.  At least the robots didn't revolt.

The completion of the arc is the strong two-part Chaos Day, in which the Academy of Law is destroyed, and most of the city lies in ruins.  Dredd feels very much as if he's failed: and the bookend tale The Days After outlines the cost of that failure:  350 million dead (88% of the city) and 60% of the Judge force gone.

(https://i.imgur.com/KC8yU50.png)


The Zaucer of Zilk
I bet this one was a bit marmite for folks.  The cover of prog 1775 made me think I was going to hate this beyond reason, but it ended up being highly enjoyable.  The writers were clearly having fun, but they were also doing it really well.  Episode 4 sold me completely as the Zaucer has to stalk and hunt his fancy pants, which then have pocket handlebars so you can drive them around.

Also, despite the entirely surreal nature of the worlds we travel through, the story maintains its own internal logic and doesn't ask us to suspend our disbelief.  I wonder if it has any intention of returning: it strikes me that it would be difficult to maintain over time.

(https://i.imgur.com/b39ybJs.png)


Nikolai Dante: The Dante Gambit
With Dmitri dead, John Burns paints us beautifully through the tail end of the battle to tie up some loose ends.  The key event is the funeral of Katarina Dante and a duel between Nikolai and Konstantin Romanov.  The big surprise at the end is that the next adventure is slated as being the final story of the epic: which seems odd: I though it would go on and on (mostly because it has).   A happy ending?

(https://i.imgur.com/zsfFPWL.png)


Age of the Wolf II: She Is Legend
The first series of this just blew me away: it had an original premise, stupendous art and a strong female lead.  This second series is more of a struggle as I'm not clear on what our heroin is trying to achieve (long term), and she seems to lurch from disaster to disaster.  It's not awful: still has great art and great potential: but I'd like to see Rowan more in charge of her own destiny, and to know more about how the setting works.

Harry (and his sister and his gran) are good villains: his racial purity notions are horrific.  His vision of a hyper-sexualized Rowan was a bit much.  I know it was part of his insanity, but it would be nice to have a female lead character who isn't hyper-sexualized (even when it is an apparition that another character is having).

Granny turning wolf was pretty cool, and perhaps I should have seen it coming (what with Little Red Riding Hood and all).  In summary:

More of this, please:Less of this, please:
(https://i.imgur.com/b5RXt9k.png)(https://i.imgur.com/CzE78hA.png)


Flesh: Midnight Cowboys
So: willing suspension of disbelief can only handle so much before it caves in under enormous pressure.  I can handle time traveling dinosaur wranglers: no problem, but episode four just went bat-shit bananas. 

Let me take you through the challenges to my willing suspension of disbelief:
 
It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the writer that the main female character goes on to seduce and betray a male character.

The best thing about this thrill is the art: it's drawn really well.  The story, though: it just asks too much of our credulity, again and again (and has dodgy sexual politics front and center).  Unfortunately, another series is promised that resurrects the villain from the first series.  Let him rest!

(https://i.imgur.com/oX4CJ1c.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Taryn Tailz 01 August, 2018, 09:29:31 PM
At the time, I remember I had much the same reaction to Zaucer of Zilk as you did reading it now. I fully expected to hate it based on that cover image - which was also used to advertise the series in advance - but I ended up loving it.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 03 August, 2018, 04:59:06 PM
2012, Mid-Year Mini-Series

In order of most favorite to least favorite thrills...


Nikolai Dante: Sympathy for the Devil
Billed as the final part of the saga, this tale asks the question of what Nikolai does with victory: the path to ultimate power lies before him.  His love, Jena Makarov, stands ready to marry him and aims to co-lead the empire.  The outstanding loose end is that Jena's estranged father, former Tsar Vladimir Makarov, remains at large: and was responsible for murdering Nikolai's mother Katarina.

The climax involves an unusual confrontation between Nikolai and Vladimir and a poignant, bittersweet end to an amazing saga: The Adventures of Nikolai Dante (1997-2012).

(https://i.imgur.com/4hy03uM.png)


Tharg's 3rillers: 1947
On the one hand, an extended Past Imperfect: this is raised above the bar by a compelling premise.  The British have been elevated to the dominant world power during and immediately following World War II by dint of their alliance with a mysterious extra-terrestrial power, known as The Allies.  In an Orwellian vibe, the alliance with the aliens has brought with it a police state, and a rebel movement is being led by Alan Turing.

Whilst there is a slightly weak "Oh my god: the aliens are yucky to look at!" (as if that should come as a surprise), the stronger threat is that their ultimate aim is to consume Earth's resources.  This could've been done in four pages, but on the other hand it could expand out into a much longer series (as it's quite a similar premise to Savage).

(https://i.imgur.com/I5W0eHJ.png)


Cadet Anderson: Algol
Doing a character's early years has the problem of negating life or death situations.  We know they grow older, so where's the threat?  In Portrait of a Mutant, this was countered by a fascinating insight into the world of Johnny Alpha: answering the dramatic question of how he became a Strontium Dog.  Cadet Anderson doesn't have that same punch, and so feels a bit hum-drum. 

As the character moves between plot beats, it seems as if dramatic situations are shoe-horned in: robot attack dogs and bizarre Lawmaster stunts, to keep what's really quite a low-key story a bit more upbeat.

(https://i.imgur.com/rUCq8rk.png)


Durham Red: The 'Nobody Wants This Job' Job
Following the theme of visiting characters' early years, we get Durham Red's first job as a Strontium Dog, which is a lark.  Oddly, the core premise betrays itself in the final episode.  The man she's hunting returns with Red to the Doghouse because things are getting too hot for him back on the planet Rann.  We are then told that he's escaped and gone back to Rann.  Huh?

There's something of a template for (scantily-clad) female characters in 2000AD stories, where they have to endure a scene in which they prove their metal to a lumbering male bully:

Durham Red:Cadet Anderson:
(https://i.imgur.com/Fq6QXMs.png)(https://i.imgur.com/T7O7S6l.png)


Grey Area: One of Our Own
This follows on from a previous tale where one of the xeno-cops (Bulliet) is revealed as a militant xenophobe, with the agenda of betraying his team in support of a humans-only agenda.  This is made all the more tense by the fact that he's started a relationship with new recruit Birdy.

Things kick off when some aliens and Kymn (team translator) get kidnapped by the terrorist cell Bulliet is a member of (without his having been warned in advance).  Oddly, this exciting premise is quickly sewn up in four episodes: turns out Bulliet is actually a double double agent and still really a good guy.

This is probably the best of this thrill so far, but it's really not my cup of tea.  I end up inserting my own dialog to stay amused:

(https://i.imgur.com/iI4PwmR.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Tiplodocus 09 August, 2018, 10:20:26 AM
This thread has made me go back and reread Grey Area from the start. I actually appreciate more now the characters are more recogniseable to me in the earlyvepisodes (often the case with people in uniform with guns; my second pass at BAND OF BROTHERS which I thought was pretty darned good first time round was improved by identifying some of the lesser characters better)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 11 August, 2018, 10:14:26 PM
2012: 3rd Quarter

In order of most favorite to least favorite thrills...


Aquila: Blood of the Iceni (1792-1799)
Script: Gordon Rennie
Art: Leigh Gallagher
Colours: Gary Caldwell
Letters: Simon Bowland

Aquila, the immortal and seemingly invulnerable titular warrior, slave to a death goddess, takes part in the Iceni revolt against the occupying Romans in ancient Britain.  This is epic storytelling, gory and ultra-violent, that drags you kicking and screaming through the horrors of ancient warfare.  With Aquila realizing he's not the only immortal running around, a quest is borne where he seeks to find a way to confront his mistress and seek his freedom.

There's a poorly played homage to Life of Brian's "What did the Romans ever do for us?" scene, but it's just a blip in an otherwise fascinating tale of gruesome violence.  This is definitely the most fun a history lesson can be:

(https://i.imgur.com/V2HP5iH.png)


The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (and the Dead left in his Wake): Manhunt (1789-1799)
Script: Rob Williams
Art: Dom Reardon
Colours: Peter Doherty
Letters: Ellie De Ville

Ichabod Azrael skips forward through time, manifesting as different people in each era and regaining more of his sense of self has each skip occurs.  He continues to be hunted by an unstoppable foe, assisted by his companions from the first series and in an odd twist, Charon (the ferryman of the river Styx), causes the idea of Ichabod's true love to also manifest (giving him something to yearn for).

It's really weird and entirely compelling: epic poetry in comic form.  It's also very funny in places, as folk from the wild west try to come to terms with piloting a WW2 era bomber, and Charon decides to party like there's no tomorrow:

(https://i.imgur.com/TmO9NbU.png)


The Red Seas: Beautiful Freak (1792-1796)
Script: Ian Edginton
Art: Steve Yeowell
Letters: Ellie De Ville


Any new readers would struggle to decipher what's going on here,
as we're tying together various strands of a plot that mostly takes
place in an era of cannons on the high seas.  Here we're placed in
the modern day where various villains from previous arcs try to send
themselves back in time to upset the plans of characters who we
don't get to see.

Still, it's a well told race-against-the-clock yarn as our heroes (and
their magical tortoise) try to stop The Master (*cough*) from
enacting his nefarious scheme.
(https://i.imgur.com/k1W6FOH.png)


Lenny Zero: Zero's 7 (1792-1799)
Script: Andy Diggle
Art: Ben Willsher
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Lenny Zero gets together a gang of misfits to plan the heist of a lifetime.  One thing this does is borrow heavily from the back catalogue: we get Satelat (Orlok's robotic assistant from Block Mania) and Max Normal (early era Dredd's informer) as part of the gang.  It's well told as a heist, has some good humor with a gas that makes Judges shag each other with gay abandon but ultimately fails to hold together as a serious premise.

Why are we asked to swallow the idea of a suddenly rich ATM machine that gets carved out of a wall and then somehow gets itself to a beach where it drinks cocktails.  I mean: that's just stupid and makes me feel as if the writer either gave up or despises the readers.  The bad Robo-Hunter wasn't as bad as this ending.

(https://i.imgur.com/xbv0mIg.png)


Judge Dredd: Debris (1792-1796)
Script: Michael Carroll
Art: PJ Holden
Colours: Chris Blythe
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

This is a poorly told post-Chaos Day tale that has an interesting premise but clunkingly poor execution.  A block wants to declare independance from the city and has engineered a mass driver cannon to disuade Justice Department interference.  Dredd and some space-Judges reckon otherwise.  Guess what happens? 

The leader of the block shows no foresight: why would the Judges every give up?  How could she ever hope to defeat them over time?
And the space Judges are played as gung-ho morons with big guns that get triggered by minor slights.  It's just awful.  Lots of big explosions and shouting but hardly any logic.

(https://i.imgur.com/QuAHSO4.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: IndigoPrime 11 August, 2018, 10:41:58 PM
“has some good humor with a gas that makes Judges shag each other with gay abandon“

I recall it looking on that favourably at the time, given that it was basically “rape LOL”. An astonishingly tone deaf bit of writing in 2000 AD.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Frank 11 August, 2018, 11:02:51 PM
Lenny Zero: Zero's 7 (1792-1799)
Script: Andy Diggle
Art: Ben Willsher
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Lenny Zero gets together a gang of misfits to plan the heist of a lifetime.  One thing this does is borrow heavily from the back catalogue: we get Satelat (Orlok's robotic assistant from Block Mania) and Max Normal (early era Dredd's informer) as part of the gang.  It's well told as a heist, has some good humor with a gas that makes Judges shag each other with gay abandon but ultimately fails to hold together as a serious premise.

This forum's finest hour (https://forums.2000ad.com/index.php?topic=36754.msg703111#msg703111).


: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 11 August, 2018, 11:45:57 PM
Lenny Zero: Zero's 7 (1792-1799)
Script: Andy Diggle
Art: Ben Willsher
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Lenny Zero gets together a gang of misfits to plan the heist of a lifetime.  One thing this does is borrow heavily from the back catalogue: we get Satelat (Orlok's robotic assistant from Block Mania) and Max Normal (early era Dredd's informer) as part of the gang.  It's well told as a heist, has some good humor with a gas that makes Judges shag each other with gay abandon but ultimately fails to hold together as a serious premise.

This forum's finest hour (https://forums.2000ad.com/index.php?topic=36754.msg703111#msg703111).

Ohhh boys,  I did not need to read that again. No doubt I'll next see it at my eventual trial.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Fungus 12 August, 2018, 01:32:35 AM
I'd go along with those top 2, Funt. Or at least, I picked up the US format mini-series for both Aquila & Ichabod and was very impressed - just missed these progs myself.

No love for Lenny Zero? I have the Undercover Brothers MC volume on the basis of good reports here... not worth the punt, Funt?
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Dark Jimbo 12 August, 2018, 12:47:44 PM
No love for Lenny Zero? I have the Undercover Brothers MC volume on the basis of good reports here... not worth the punt, Funt?

I love it - proper good twisty caper/heist stories, by someone very much versed in Mega-City history packing the stories full of little easter eggs, and splendiferous Jock artwork on the first three tales. More exciting than Armitage, less smug than Simping Detective, funnier than Demarco P.I. That last story was my least favourite of the bunch, but at least it was a proper post-DoC story at a time when there wasn't enough of those.

It's about personal mileage, but personally I thought the audacity of a sentient cash machine robbing the gang blind then jaunting to the Bahamas for sun and sangria was hilarious - exactly the sort of old-school Wagner-Grant Meg madness that's missing from most Dreddworld spinoffs.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 12 August, 2018, 04:21:36 PM
No love for Lenny Zero?

I actually enjoyed it quite a lot.  The art was very good: although I was initially confused by the faded out technique used in the scene where we are outside the cockpit bubble looking in.  The plot moved fairly fast and the actual heist (especially the part with the stub gun) was exciting.

I did think there was a bit of over-egging in terms of utilizing bits of MC-1 history.  Make a list: shuggy, Max Normal, Satelat and stub guns.  One reader's Easter egg is another's fan-wank.  Still: that would be a minor complaint given the strength of the strip.

No: the only thing I felt let down by was an ATM drinking a cocktail.  Where does the liquid go?  You can argue that the final frame of a 48-page comic can't define one's enjoyment of the whole - and that's probably true to an extent.  But it was disappointing.

As regards the historical debate over the "love gas", that's quite an interesting conversation.  Surely the death of the judges blasted apart by the stub gun is a greater crime, though?  There's a lot of death in 2000AD.  Another thing that occurred to me was Willow: Madmartigan consumes the love potion and then is entranced by Sorsha.  I didn't notice anyone walking out of the cinema in disgust.

It is distasteful, what Lenny does to get revenge: but then he loses out in the end.  So: his behavior is not rewarded.

Summary: quite a good thrill, but ATMs don't have the capacity to consume liquids.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 12 August, 2018, 06:14:46 PM
Lenny Zero was a pretty weak series and while the love gas caused quite a fuss I was always happy with the removal of inhibitions leaving Judges particularly open exercising years of sexual frustration hence the consentual (with the stimuli) sex.

Anyway of more note to me the end game Red Seas is really played well.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Frank 12 August, 2018, 07:14:42 PM
Willow: Madmartigan consumes the love potion and then is entranced by Sorsha.

Ghostbusters: Zuul and Vinz Clortho use Dana and Louis as prophylactics; played for sexy laughs.

Big: Elizabeth Perkins's character is tricked into raping or being raped by a ten-year-old boy; played as wish-fulfilment.

All About Eve, Breakfast At Tiffany's, Something Wild, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, Mr & Mrs Smith, Knocked Up, Gone Girl & too many others to list: the right of characters (male & female) to provide or withhold informed consent is violated by characters misrepresenting their identity or through intoxication. Presented as romantic and exciting.


If anyone wants (many) more examples, listen to the very funny Bechdelcast (https://www.bechdelcast.com/), which points out how messed-up all your favourite films are* when viewed from a 2018 perspective.

I agree  Lenny Zero leaned too heavily into the references. I can see why writers do it - in a world where everything's made-up, the only way to invoke authenticity is referencing things someone else has made-up **. The cash machine's fun and silly, like the polar bear.



* My take on it is that most fantasy stories are about transgression - somebody gaining access to something to which they would normally be denied. When that something is a lightsaber, superpowers, or a magic kingdom, it's enchanting. When that something is between another character's legs, someone will get upset.

In the specific case of Lenny Zero, the problem seemed to be that: 1/ the proxy-rapist*** was the narrative's focal character, through whom readers experience events and whose motivations and objectives readers might reasonably expect to share; 2/ the event was depicted as titillation, and 3/ the sex was presented as an act of revenge, rather than the liberation of desires.

** Maybe if the references were to something more recent than the usual touchstone era of Kleggs and Kazan, it would have felt less weary.

*** I don't really buy that interpretation, but that's based on my reading of the nature of the drug, rather than the presentation of the act.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 15 August, 2018, 06:16:40 PM
2012: 4th Quarter

In order of most favorite to least favorite thrills...


Brass Sun: The Wheel of Worlds (1800-1811)
Script: Ian Edginton
Art: I.N.J. Culbard
Letters: Ellie De Ville

In a seemingly impossible clockwork solar system, we find ourselves in the dark ages: the occupants of the planets are ignorant of the technology that built their worlds, and the brass sun is slowing down, so that outliers are freezing over and entropy threatens all.  Wren, our protagonist, holds the clues that might repair the slowing sun, but faces ignorance, prejudice and evil in her quest.

Beauty. Wonder. Terror. Humanity. Hope.  I'm not sure if I've been this excited, intrigued and awe-struck about a new story in 2000AD since The Ballad of Halo Jones.  It's got a female protagonist who isn't defined by her looks and solves problems with brain rather than brawn: so it easily passes the test as a comic I wouldn't be embarrassed for my daughter to read.

(https://i.imgur.com/ej0s7TR.png)


The Trifecta Arc
The Simping Detective: Jokers to the Right (1804-1811)
Script: Simon Spurrier
Art: Simon Coleby
Letters: Simon Bowland

Low Life: Saudade (1805-1811)
Script: Rob Williams
Art: D'Israeli
Letters: Ellie De Ville

Judge Dredd: The Cold Deck (1806-1811)
Script: Al Ewing
Art: Henry Flint
Colours: Chris Blythe
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Judge Dredd / The Simping Detective / Low Life: Trifecta (1812)
Script: Al Ewing, Simon Spurrier, Rob Williams
Art: Carl Critchlow
Letters: Simon Bowland

Something unique in 2000AD, a three-thrill (three-writer) crossover piece that brought together Judge Dredd, Jack Point and Dirty Frank so that their disparate investigations all conclude in the 28-page Trifecta. 

The first few panels of The Cold Deck neatly summarize the plot. In the aftermath of Chaos Day the city is reeling from the worst disaster of its history and the Justice Department is unsure if Mega-City One can survive at all.  The extremists of a shadow organization see this as their chance to neatly take over: with a plan to brainwash the populace and instigate a police state that makes the Judges look like liberal-minded push-overs.

The experiment has to be applauded, and the various threads are compelling. Jack Point hadn't been in the comic since 2007, Low Life looked like it had ended and Judge Dredd had been suffering from some fairly lackluster post-Chaos Day offerings.  So: it was thrilling and exciting to have something vibrant to follow, and with top notch art from everyone on show this was all something of a treat.

On the down side, the end of the story is very Michael Bay, or Marvel.  Giant unlikely thing threatens Earth and is neatly defeated in short order (after lots of collateral damage).  Dirty Frank and Jack Point both suffer from a lot of self-awareness: we're too often reminded that there's a clever author between us and the character.  Jack's more obvious than Frank in this regard - with panels missing where the prose needs to push through.  Of course, Deadpool does this as well (and is popular, and funny), but it's difficult to immerse oneself in the story when the author is shouting "look at my amazing word-play" every second frame.  That's Point as in "I think I've made my", and "Don't belabor the".

Overall, a bravura experiment of the fun you can have when you give Wagner's toys to the newer generation; with the downside that the reader is being pulled out of the flotation tank and given a shake every few minutes, like with this Judgement Day reference:

(https://i.imgur.com/bg4PqYx.png)


The A.B.C. Warriors: Return to Earth (1800-1811)
Story: Pat Mills
Art: Clint Langley
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Beautiful art accompanies us on a Pat Mills diatribe of a plot.  That really sums it up perfectly.  What we appear to be watching is a fantasy where a heavily armed robot guns down a corrupt world leader.   The fact that the robot is Hammerstein is incidental: he's just a vehicle for the author's fantasy rather than a character in a story. 

Apparently, the evil machinations of a shadowy elite can be defeated through targeted assassination.  Frankly, that seems a little too neat and smacks of overly simplistic conspiracy theorizing.  Couldn't Mills just have a blog where he trots out his manic ideas, and 2000AD could be for actual stories?  People who want over-simplified solutions to the world's problems (based on the ideas of a comic writer and not, say, an economist, or a historian, or a sociologist) could go read his blog, and the rest of us could be left in peace to read exciting sci-fi and fantasy.

At one point, Mills goes so far as to stop providing a comic at all, and just throwing up some highly questionable statistics: he states (as if fact) that 3-8 million Germans were "killed through allies ethnic cleansing of germany post-1945".  That's a bold (and highly contentious) statement to make without any data reference, and I don't understand why Rebellion allowed it.  Do your own research (http://"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_and_expulsion_of_Germans_(1944%E2%80%9350)") and come to your own conclusions.  For shame, Pat.

The author's allegorical solution to the world's problems:

(https://i.imgur.com/3uuExPi.png)


Grey Area: This Island Earth (1800-1804)
Script: Dan Abnett
Art: Lee Carter
Letters: Ellie De Ville

An untrustworthy violent sadistic alien gets summarily executed by a decent white human.  Another pile of questionable politics on show here.  I'm glad these are short: because they're difficult to stomach.

(Also, having cups of tea and standing around in board rooms is not exciting.)

How should we deal with immigrants (the strip asks)?

(https://i.imgur.com/BONw9BR.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: IndigoPrime 15 August, 2018, 07:12:16 PM
It's curious to see your responses to Grey Area. I've not read it from the beginning in ages, but it's a really solid strip now. I'm intrigued to see what you think of it over the coming (Prog) years.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: I, Cosh 16 August, 2018, 08:47:17 AM
Really enjoying these posts. It's definitely the way I approach the Progs myself nowadays rather than as individual issues.

Like IP, I haven't reread the early stories but that's definitely not the direction or tone which Grey Area has now or in my mind.

By the way, I think it was you who used to have an Excel style Prog story index on your own website. I've been keeping that alive in my own offline version since you left. Maybe I'll make it available to the people again one day.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: sheridan 16 August, 2018, 01:05:39 PM
The author's allegorical solution to the world's problems:

(https://i.imgur.com/3uuExPi.png)


What's that a picture of?
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 16 August, 2018, 01:27:35 PM
The body of assassinated POTUS Dick Quartz.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 16 August, 2018, 01:33:55 PM
Just realised that when we meet Hammerstein 'again' in Nemesis Book IV he's being used by Torquemada to do much the same thing as the UN has him do in Return to Earth - to assassinate the Gothic versions of Vicky & Bert. Interesting.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 16 August, 2018, 04:39:09 PM
an Excel style Prog story index on your own website.

Yep: that was me.  My website has gone the way of the dodo, and I'm currently six years behind (due to my thrill-coma) on my indexing, but I keep track in two ways.

First, I like to map out prog structure, so I do stuff like this:

(https://i.imgur.com/rVygSgI.png)


And I wanted something that filled in the few gaps (the amazing) Barney has, so I also do stuff like this:

(https://i.imgur.com/pgFWcNB.png)


I also have a column (not shown) for localized (prog, meg, annual) reprints, and have started to add in creator data: but that will take a while.  I've started to review my collection to add in peripherals such as text stories, star scans, collectible pamphlets and so on.

It has occurred to me that a database would (ultimately) be more efficient but my spreadsheet is easier for me to work with at the moment.  I like the overview I get that it's difficult to achieve from the other sources that exist.

I cross-reference with my own collection, Barney (http://www.2000ad.org/?zone=prog&page=profiles) & Touched By The Hand of Tharg (http://www.2000ad.org/thrillpower/).
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 16 August, 2018, 07:45:03 PM
Like IP, I haven't reread the early stories but that's definitely not the direction or tone which Grey Area has now or in my mind.

It'd be great (from my perspective) if I could enjoy Grey Area more.  I just can't seem to escape the allegory, and it's an unsettling one.  Replace "alien" with "immigrant" and "Earth" with "Britain" (or Europe or the US) and it all seems a bit suspect.

The immigration police in the story are at least all non-black and at most all-white.  The aliens are all dark-skinned and aggressive and need to be beaten up.  Why, they're more like wild animals than sentient species!

1st: "Grawlix": hyper-aggressive dark-skinned alien
2nd: Nivopantamians: "hyper-aggressive" dark-skinned aliens
3rd: Swirk: untrustworthy, uncaring dark-skinned aliens
4th: "The Do" insect species: rioting hyper-aggressive dark-skinned aliens
5th: "Doog": child-like, aggressive, invasive force
6th: Farhoomi: first peaceful race - seeking asylum
7th: Ambassador Uuveth: sadistic serial killer.  Black.

And the cops regularly overstep their bounds.  In one episode they joke around about the use of excessive force (whilst using excessive force) and in the last episode of "This Island Earth", Bulliet summarily executes a suspect in a murder investigation (Ambassador Uuveth) and then faces no negative consequences.

I think the Xenophobia story (prog 1774), which suggests that what we're seeing isn't extremism, is just clouding the fact that what we're seeing is a support of dangerous right-wing views on immigration: painting all immigrants as dangerous, sub-human criminals who need to be violently put down.

And don't get me started on the dodgy sexual politics of Personal Space (1771-1773): that's another kettle of ideologically unsound fish.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Frank 16 August, 2018, 08:24:36 PM
I think the Xenophobia story (prog 1774), which suggests that what we're seeing isn't extremism, is just clouding the fact that what we're seeing is a support of dangerous right-wing views on immigration

Bulliet Affleck spends two pages calling the assembled Nazis fascist, xenophobic bastards who are guilty of hate crimes!

If the writer who gave us the Trump-like baddie Grell and his BEMtard catchphrase is a closet Right Hounourable Member For South Thanet, he's going the wrong way about it.

Did you catch the last few weeks of collective grief at the (apparent) death of Resting Bitch Face? *


* The strip's most popular character by far
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: I, Cosh 16 August, 2018, 08:49:42 PM
Short response. Think you've got the allegory right but it's direction completely wrong.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 16 August, 2018, 08:54:42 PM
Bulliet Affleck spends two pages calling the assembled Nazis fascist, xenophobic bastards who are guilty of hate crimes!

And then (appears to) join them.  As a standalone story, it appears to sympathize.  Anyway, actions speak louder than words and a few episodes later Bulliet summarily executes a suspect.

If the writer ... is a closet Right Hounourable Member For South Thanet, he's going the wrong way about it.

I don't think (and haven't said) that the writer is deliberately creating an ideologically unsound story: only that the story seems ideologically unsound.  (This could be accidental, and my reading of it may be over-sensitive to issues I focus on.) 

Did you catch the last few weeks of collective grief at the (apparent) death of Resting Bitch Face?

I haven't read any 2000AD beyond 2012 (but am trying to catch up) so I don't know about current plot threads.  As other posters have indicated, I may need to wait until the arc plays out over time to be able to appreciate where its heart ultimately lies.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Frank 16 August, 2018, 09:24:11 PM
... I may need to wait until the arc plays out over time to be able to appreciate where its heart ultimately lies.

Try reading Grey Area in the same frame of mind you'd use watching Starship Troopers (https://film.avclub.com/starship-troopers-1798220409).


: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Tjm86 17 August, 2018, 09:04:30 AM
I haven't read any 2000AD beyond 2012 (but am trying to catch up) so I don't know about current plot threads.  As other posters have indicated, I may need to wait until the arc plays out over time to be able to appreciate where its heart ultimately lies.

IIRC it elicited some similar feelings when it first came out.  The fact that it has solidly given you such uncomfortable feelings suggests to me that it has been effectively written. 

Plus, what Frank said ....
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 19 August, 2018, 02:41:10 AM
Top Five Covers of 2012

Age of the Wolf (1772)
John Davis-Hunt
(https://i.imgur.com/CfKqqY8.png)   

Nikolai Dante (1773)
Neil Roberts
(https://i.imgur.com/VaVSjf2.png)

Judge Dredd (1776)
Chris Weston
(https://i.imgur.com/WAtiAGa.png)

Ichabod Azrael (1795)
Clint Langley
(https://i.imgur.com/SWQzebU.png)   
Trifecta (1812)
Cliff Robinson & Dylan Teague
(https://i.imgur.com/Odj7Sml.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 24 August, 2018, 09:55:50 PM
2013: 1st Quarter

In order of most favorite to least favorite thrills...


Savage (1812.5-1823)
Script: Pat Mills
Art: Patrick Goddard
Letters: Ellie De Ville

The allies are advancing to liberate London, and urge the resistance groups to rise up against the Volg occupiers.  Savage's group are tasked with taking and holding the last bridge across the Thames but become increasingly embattled as the allied push stalls.

The analogy with the Warsaw Uprising (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsaw_Uprising) of World War II is clear and name-checked in the strip.  Here, the Americans play the part of the Russians, with the suggestion being that the push is being deliberately stalled in order to have the resistance groups eliminated prior to the end of the war.

What this does well is present a squad-level view of the combat, where each side demonizes the other in order to make the killing easier:

(https://i.imgur.com/H6YyQQP.png)

Gritty and unforgiving, the only downside is some heavy-handed conspiracy-theorizing from the author, where it is suggested that some shadowy global organization invents wars for continuing profit.  The war robots checking house prices before causing collateral damage is an amusing conceit but jars in an otherwise believable depiction of brutal urban combat.


Judge Dredd (1813-1823)

Heller's Last Stand (1813-1815)
Chaos Day Rating: 0 [it's as if it never happened]
Script: Robbie Morrison
Art: Peter Doherty
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Judge Heller (a senior Judge of Dredd's vintage) is under investigation by Dredd.  A good story, well told.

Sealed (1816)
Chaos Day Rating: 5 [it's an intrinsic part of the story]
Script: Michael Carroll
Art: John Burns
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

A kind Dredd saves a child from (posthumous) domestic abuse whilst dealing carefully with trigger-happy looters.  I really liked this: it's one of the key reasons that this Dredd arc is getting second place ranking in the thrill-list.

Closet (1817)
Chaos Day Rating: 5 [it's an intrinsic part of the story]
Script: Rob Williams
Art: Michael Dowling
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

A young man comes out as gay whilst telling his story of familial prejudice.  It was nice to see this, as the last story I'd seen that mentioned LGBT issues was the terrible The Guile Show in the Megazine (321-322), which presented transgender issues as exploitative comedy fodder.

Witch's Promise (1818)
Chaos Day Rating: 0 [it's as if it never happened]
Script: Alan Grant
Art: David Roach
Colours: James Offredi
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Easily winning first place for Most Convenient Placement of a Cat, this quick thrill follows the ongoing misadventures of Toots Milloy, and also neatly sets up a future Tales From the Black Museum with the apprehension of a dragon's foot.  Clearly, it's sorely missed:

(https://i.imgur.com/vtlRDRh.png)

Save Him (1819)
Chaos Day Rating: 3 [it's part of the text, but the city looks fine]
Script: Rob Williams
Art:Simon Davis
Letters: Ellie De Ville

A crazy psi tries to murder Dredd as revenge for causing Chaos Day.

Wolves (1820-1822)
Chaos Day Rating: 4 [city in ruins, but family unaffected]
Script: Michael Carroll
Art: Andrew Currie
Colours: Chris Blythe
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Chief Judge Hershey has been replaced by an 18-year old Jimp, but nobody notices.  The Jimp then orders all citizens of previous Sov nationality to be repatriated in exchange for food aid.

Apart from the depiction of Hershey as just having left school, this is a good story, but seems to be setting something up for the future.  Dredd makes a mysterious statement at the end.

Black Kisses (1823)
Chaos Day Rating: 1 [it gets hinted at in a text box]
Script: T.C. Eglington
Art: Karl Richardson
Letters: Annie Parkhoused

The worst of this set: a self-replicating kissing tattoo is killing cits!


Ampney Crucis Investigates The Entropy Tango (1812.5-1822)
Script: Ian Edginton
Art: Simon Davis
Letters: Ellie De Ville

We're well and truly down the rabbit hole now.  Ampney is perhaps in an alternative reality, but possibly it's just an altered reality where he hasn't altered.  There are friendly martians (like from War of the Worlds, but passive), cyborg cultists and assassins, and possessed relatives attempting to resurrect a long-dead god-race. 

It's a lot of fun, a little confusing, and opens up more threads than it closes.  It doesn't have an ending, which is a downside in a story.  Ampney, perhaps quite sensibly, forgets all about it.  As always, beautifully painted:

(https://i.imgur.com/pmXR1g7.png)


The Red Seas: Fire Across the Deep (1812.5-1823)
Script: Ian Edginton
Art: Steve Yeowell
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Philosophically quite fascinating, this (apparently) final tale in the saga openly asks the question of how all the different mythologies (Satan, the Norse pantheon et al) can all coexist in one universe.

Story-wise: Jack and his crew (and various allies) go up against Satan and his army of all the dead, in an attempt to reunite Cerberus with his body. 

It's not bad: but there's no jeopardy as we don't know the rules here.  Anyone who dies that we care about is immediately resurrected.  Fitting then, that it should end.  Perhaps it was all just a tale told in a tavern over a few mugs of ale.

(https://i.imgur.com/JaMwqZ5.png)


Strontium Dog: The Life and Death of Johnny Alpha, Chapter Three - Mutant Spring (1812.5-1821)
Script: John Wagner
Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Letters: Simon Bowland

Having discovered that the mutant population of Britain has been stealthily sterilized by norm supremacists, Johnny starts a (second? third?) mutant rebellion.  The norms react by sending in the military, who aim to eliminate all mutants.   

Another story that ticks a lot of boxes (great art, good storytelling, lots of action, betrayals) but lacks something.  I don't know if it's just more difficult for me to take seriously something where someone has a face on their knee.  Or is it that we already did the rebellion back in Portrait of a Mutant?  Or that the norms already tried to wipe out the mutants (again) in The Final Solution?  Or that Johnny died.  Or that I miss Wulf.  I don't know: it's good, but not great.  Oh my poor heartses, I just don't know what to think.  Maybe I have a problem with Alpha being too militant:

(https://i.imgur.com/UJdLxeu.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 26 August, 2018, 07:58:12 PM
Cypher (2013: progs 1824-1825)
Script: Michael Carroll
Art: Inaki Miranda
Colours: Eva De La Cruz
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


Michael Carroll continues world-building, with this story following on directly from Wolves (progs 1820-1822), where MC-1 cits of East-Meg heritage were shuttled to Mega-City Two (rather than being repatriated to East-Meg Two under a food aid deal). 

This was confusing for long-term readers for two reasons.  On the one hand MC-2 was accidentally depicted as being soviet by the artist (and the mistake not caught by editorial).  On the other hand, the last time we'd seen MC-2, it had been a nuked out wasteland (in California Babylon, progs 1731-1734), having been destroyed by Dredd during Judgement Day (progs 786-799).  So, it seems like MC-2 has been (at least partially) rebuilt, although it's not clear by who.

All that aside, this tale covers a secret high-level meeting between Chief-Judge Hershey and the East-Meg envoy Larionov.  There follows an assassination attempt by a high-tech cyborg and a dramatic chase involving Dredd and East-Meg Judge Caterina Tanechka Pax, who ends up defecting to MC-1 as part of the denouement.

Taking Wolves and Cypher together, it's unusual to note that perhaps the only person in the city of East-Meg heritage will be Caterina Pax.  Also of note is that Dredd often gets bested these days, and has his fat pulled out of the fire by younger bucks (or does, as here):

(https://i.imgur.com/sd89wpI.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 08 September, 2018, 02:44:26 AM
In Spring of 2013 I'm liking all the thrills, but I like these best in this order:


Tharg's 3rillers: Survival Geeks (progs 1824-1826)
Script: Emma Beeby & Gordon Rennie
Art: Neil Googe
Colours: Gary Caldwell
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

A wonderful melding of ideas: this is Spaced crossed with Big Bang Theory by way of Quantum Leap, and it knows it.

(https://i.imgur.com/NroiCQO.png)

The general setup is that four nerds are trapped together in a dimension-hopping house, but to say that doesn't really do the strip justice - you should stop reading this and go and read it.  It's just SO much fresher than anything else in the prog, seemingly effortlessly cool and far and away the best Tharg's 3riller so far.   

Melding geekdom with modern sexual politics in a wry manner, this begs (nay, demands) to be turned into a longer series.

(https://i.imgur.com/1zpfz93.png)


Dandridge: The Copper Conspiracy (progs 1824-1831)
Script: Alec Worley
Art: Warren Pleece
Letters: Ellie De Ville

These are the continuing adventures of a ghostly investigator made corporeal by a magic jacket and armed mostly with savoir fu (which is a bit like super-chutzpah for any Paranoia fans). 

This is beautifully light, and manages to engross even when our hero is ineptly (& drunkenly) trying to escape (with a bounty of champagne) by riding a statue of a dolphin to freedom, or when his only hope is the disembodied head of his trusty (golem) sidekick.

(https://i.imgur.com/OBR7GzM.png)


Judge Dredd: Suicide Watch (progs 1826-1829)
Script: Emma Beeby & Gordon Rennie
Art: Paul Davidson
Colours: Chris Blythe
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

This is an affecting tale where Psi Judge Hamida (and her sidekick, Dredd) go up against an evil Jinn which has adopted a suicide cult (lead by Richard O'Brien) that feeds it victims who wish to be erased from reality.

Whilst exploring the devastation left in the wake of Chaos Day, this also expands on the character of Hamida (who I think first showed up in Scream back in 2011), demonstrates Dredd's recurring fallibility and manages to be genuinely spooky.

(https://i.imgur.com/GbhM5eM.png)


Tharg's 3rillers: Gunheadz (progs 1830-1832)
Script: T.C. Eglington
Art: Boo Cook
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

A tale that harks back to a simpler time - partly this is presented as a story from 70s 2000AD, although it never was - and partly as the modern story of a comic fan turned sleuth who solves a desperately sad generational mystery.

One of the most enjoyable parts of this is how it gets the full support of the prog by taking over the cover in issue 1830.  Boo Cook does a fantastic job of presenting the decades old comic parts alongside the modern era story (which is dingy & putrid), until a frightening, fiery climax in which the two merge.

(https://i.imgur.com/BzvBDKv.png)


Tharg's 3rillers: The Ghostship Mathematica (progs 1827-1829)
Script: David Baillie
Art: Inaki Miranda
Colours: Eva De La Cruz
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

This generation-spanning space opera poetically takes us on the saga-like adventures of a wannabe space pirate on a search for the long-lost and almost mythical Earth, with an art style reminiscent of Fiona Staples work on Saga. 

(https://i.imgur.com/TvognLh.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 08 September, 2018, 04:42:53 AM

Tharg's 3rillers: Survival Geeks (progs 1824-1826)
Script: Emma Beeby & Gordon Rennie
Art: Neil Googe
Colours: Gary Caldwell
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

A wonderful melding of ideas: this is Spaced crossed with Big Bang Theory by way of Quantum Leap, and it knows it.

The general setup is that four nerds are trapped together in a dimension-hopping house, but to say that doesn't really do the strip justice - you should stop reading this and go and read it.  It's just SO much fresher than anything else in the prog, seemingly effortlessly cool and far and away the best Tharg's 3riller so far.   

Melding geekdom with modern sexual politics in a wry manner, this begs (nay, demands) to be turned into a longer series.


Well you will not be disappointed with the Geeks already appearing in their own series. 
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 08 September, 2018, 06:52:36 AM
I'd forgotten that Survival Geeks started as a 3riller. What is it about Rennie and co writers that gets his strips commissioned as ongoing, both Survival Geeks and the current Mecha-thingie. When we have two examples of wonderful, better imho strips reviewed just here which didn't.

Now whether these were set up to continue is another discussion, but there's been plenty og other examples that I would have prefered to make the grade.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Blue Cactus 14 September, 2018, 03:16:21 PM
Cypher (2013: progs 1824-1825)
Script: Michael Carroll
Art: Inaki Miranda
Colours: Eva De La Cruz
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


Michael Carroll continues world-building, with this story following on directly from Wolves (progs 1820-1822), where MC-1 cits of East-Meg heritage were shuttled to Mega-City Two (rather than being repatriated to East-Meg Two under a food aid deal). 

This was confusing for long-term readers for two reasons.  On the one hand MC-2 was accidentally depicted as being soviet by the artist (and the mistake not caught by editorial).  On the other hand, the last time we'd seen MC-2, it had been a nuked out wasteland (in California Babylon, progs 1731-1734), having been destroyed by Dredd during Judgement Day (progs 786-799).  So, it seems like MC-2 has been (at least partially) rebuilt, although it's not clear by who.

All that aside, this tale covers a secret high-level meeting between Chief-Judge Hershey and the East-Meg envoy Larionov.  There follows an assassination attempt by a high-tech cyborg and a dramatic chase involving Dredd and East-Meg Judge Caterina Tanechka Pax, who ends up defecting to MC-1 as part of the denouement.

Taking Wolves and Cypher together, it's unusual to note that perhaps the only person in the city of East-Meg heritage will be Caterina Pax.  Also of note is that Dredd often gets bested these days, and has his fat pulled out of the fire by younger bucks (or does, as here):

(https://i.imgur.com/sd89wpI.png)

There's more to the history of MC2 than this, and someone with better memory than me will surely fill you it. It was a wreck, but Hondo took over for a while I think and did some rebuilding, I think there was a (somewhat rubbish) Supersurf set there in a Chopper story, and then later there was a story where it was explained why the Sovs were there. I cannot remember the details, but in Cypher this wasn't a writer/editorial slip up - it's part of the continuity. Possible an earlier Michael Carroll story set this up?

Anyone?
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Steve Green 14 September, 2018, 09:23:19 PM
Gunheadz was great, but I don't know if it would work over a longer series.

I guess it could get a bit self-indulgent and impenetrable to new readers if it was mining that seam of old comics.

Nice to see the old logo back for a special appearance too, I keep hoping for a one-off bog-paper version of the prog. Or at least something like that brief spell with the nicer paper in the early 100s.

I would have loved to have seen that done for the 40th.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Dark Jimbo 14 September, 2018, 09:43:37 PM
There's more to the history of MC2 than this, and someone with better memory than me will surely fill you it. It was a wreck, but Hondo took over for a while I think and did some rebuilding, I think there was a (somewhat rubbish) Supersurf set there in a Chopper story, and then later there was a story where it was explained why the Sovs were there.

The first Hondo takeover officially never happened - Tharg announced as much in response to a letter published during the California Babylon story. There was also a much later attempt to do the same by the Tanaka corporation during a Shimura story, which was never 'disavowed' as such, but simply never subsequently mentioned - so presumably that didn't happen either.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: IndigoPrime 14 September, 2018, 09:53:26 PM
Supersurf 13 was rather pointedly excised from the Dredd Hachette collection.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 16 September, 2018, 07:08:29 AM
The first Hondo takeover officially never happened - Tharg announced as much in response to a letter published during the California Babylon story.

I went looking for that:

(https://i.imgur.com/1DBnfob.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Greg M. 16 September, 2018, 08:24:49 AM
From what I remember, despite that response from Tharg, Michael Carroll did eventually include an explanation: something along the lines of Hondo-Cit having given up the reconstruction as a bad job and left it half-done.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: sheridan 18 September, 2018, 09:25:48 PM
From what I remember, despite that response from Tharg, Michael Carroll did eventually include an explanation: something along the lines of Hondo-Cit having given up the reconstruction as a bad job and left it half-done.

Definitely my preference - one of the USPs of 2000AD is that it doesn't (usually) have the magic reset buttons and rolling continuities of USA comics...
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 22 September, 2018, 02:01:07 AM
I'm still in Spring of 2013, but with a different batch of thrills.  Longer-running thrills have me forgetting the who's who and wondering if I should re-read the decade up to 2010 in order to appreciate them more. 

Also, I'm definitely going through a phase where I want to be able to root for the main character: and this era of 2000AD is unfortunately filled with unlikable characters.  Not just anti-heroes (like Dredd), but definitely horrible characters with no moral compass.

Take Johnny Alpha as an example of how to do it right: he's a bounty hunter, so that's the negative.  He kills for money.  But the people he kills are bad people.  They deserve it.  Nobody's going to weep for Stix (or his brother).  And so he's more like an avenging angel: he kills bad people.  He tries to do what's right.  Wulf's the one that's always going on about the money.  Ach, Johnny, ve only break even!

Now: what good did Stickleback ever do? Zombo? Finnegan Sinister? Defoe? Absalom? What good are they fighting for? It's all just so gloomy.  I can name as many heroic characters in 2000AD that I love (to read about) even if their methods are sometimes harsh: Judge Dredd, Savage, Dirty Frank, Slaine & Gene the Hackman.  Talking of Dredd...


Judge Dredd: The Forsaken (progs 1830-1835)
Script: Michael Carroll
Art: P.J. Holden
Colours: Chris Blythe
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

So, this character Dolman turned up in Debris (progs 1792-1796), just after Chaos Day, and it was clear that I should know who it was, but I had no idea.  I've since figured out he's a Dredd clone but I have no idea when he was introduced.  Like: Rico is a an ex-Judda, right?  And maybe Dolman turned up sometime around Origins as a younger clone?

The Forsaken follows Dolman and Dredd as they track a group of cadets that went rogue during Chaos Day.  The tale is heavily structured, with each episode following a different member of the group, until a final showdown in Uranium City.

Despite the notion that we never see Dredd without his helmet, all the clones we have running around now kind of put the kibosh on that:

With helmetWith beardWithout Y
(https://i.imgur.com/2HBC6LK.png)  (https://i.imgur.com/1N0bqZu.png)  (https://i.imgur.com/Xm5BkJK.png)


Sinister Dexter: Witless Protection - Malone Again (progs 1832-1835)
Script: Dan Abnett
Art: John Burns
Letters: Ellie De Ville

We find Finnegan Sinister in a witness protection as the character Malone (initially a surprise reveal from 2006's Malone - progs 1500-1506).  In the best joke on offer, he tries to get an assassination job only to find out that he's been hired as a literal cleaner replete with mop and bucket.

Of course, his past is never far away, and before long the mop and bucket are left behind as he begins a quest to find the absent Dexter.  The puns are now so important that they've become part of the dialog just in case we miss them:

(https://i.imgur.com/Nra949k.png)


Zombo: Planet Zombo (progs 1825-1834)
Script: Al Ewing
Art: Henry Flint
Letters: Simon Bowland

Oh god!  Uhm ... wtf.  Al's a funny guy.  And a bit disturbed.  It's like you met a funny drunk guy down the pub who's just come up on some amphetamines and is just going off on one on this story about a relatively polite zombie.  It's a stream of consciousness without a conscience.  So, on the plus-side it's a funny, entertaining yarn featuring John Lennon as a psychopathically violent Scotsman.

On the downside, there's no main character, and the laughs are hit and miss.  Story-wise, uhm, well...that's not really the point.

(https://i.imgur.com/W02QDlX.png)

 
Judge Dredd: Skulls (prog 1836)
Script: Rob Williams
Art: Trevor Hairsine
Colours: Chris Blythe
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

A bizarre one-off in which a bunch of beefcakes in Judge helmets do things like catch heat-seeker bullets in magic gloves, and replace all their 'S's with 'Z's for no narrative reason.

In part of the Chaos Day aftermath, some SJS turn up in a firefight to assist Dredd, but one of them who we're supposed to know from a past story doesn't like Dredd and vows to bring him to justice for ... causing Chaos Day.  Quite interesting if that plot point ever comes back. 

Dredd's a bit mad at the moment (the story, not the character), with so many different writers. We're at June in 2013 and so far this year there's been seven different writers.  So, it's a bit like Dredd has become Future Shocks, except it's filled with characters I can't remember.

(https://i.imgur.com/leATnEZ.png)


Stickleback: Number of the Beast (progs 1824-1835)
Script: Ian Edginton
Art: D'Israeli
Letters: Ellie De Ville

I love lots of Edginton's work but Stickleback stands out as a notable exception.  The great D'Israeli art and the fascinating backdrop can't help make the main character anything other than a twisted thug with a weird back.  I've never been able to get around the fact that his back is this weird unreal thing that defies reality.  What is it supposed to be?

Plot-wise, a reptilian army in the sewers of London threaten to cut short Stickleback's recent resurrection.

(https://i.imgur.com/Rw0rfcb.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 22 September, 2018, 06:58:03 AM
The last Zombo (one off aside) was five years ago. That and the recent Al Ewing interview suggesting we're a way off from seeing it return make me sad.

While I defo see the point about some of the protagonists not striving for 'good' the moral ambiguity of its leds isn't really a new thing. While the Prog at this time has just lost two classic heroes in Dante and Dancer, the wide range of motives and morals has always made Tharg's parishs the most interesting.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 22 September, 2018, 10:14:45 AM
You're a bit hard on Defoe, Funt!  He fights to stop the zombie hordes from overwhelming London, and secretly works to keep the nobs in line. In between he provides valuable public transport services.

(And Absalom is playing a long game).
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 22 September, 2018, 10:41:56 AM
Zombo I struggled to get into. I felt that Flint's talent could have been utilized elsewhere
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 23 September, 2018, 04:38:37 AM
You're a bit hard on Defoe, Funt!

After I wrote that review, I read the first two episodes of Defoe: The Damned (progs 1836-1837) and it does present him in a far more sympathetic light, with a troubled past of regrets at wrongs committed and a tragic end to a happy family life.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 07 October, 2018, 03:31:26 AM
Summer of 2013, in order of publication...

Cadet Anderson: One In Ten (progs 1833-1839)
Script: Alan Grant
Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

A disturbing procedural in which Anderson and her fellow cadets investigate a criminal organization that is using human meat (some harvested from orphaned babies) to satisfy a rich clientele's appetite.  The secondary theme is the pressure that Judging has on psi cadets.  Ultimately it all falls a bit flat with too many difficult to distinguish (character-wise) cadets doing too much talking heads in Psi-Div dormitory hallways. 

Ezquerra's shot of the cadets reflected in the Roll of Honour is impressive:

(https://i.imgur.com/LOroLY3.png)


Sinister Dexter: Witless Protection - In Plain Shite (progs 1836-1840)
Script: Dan Abnett
Art: John Burns
Letters: Ellie De Ville

Sinister enters into a contract with Frontal Loebe so that he can get help smuggling himself closer to Dexter (to warn him about something dangerous to do with constant bugbear Moses Tanenbaum).  There's a running gag about why Sinister spends the entire time breaking the fourth wall (as it's clearly noticed by all the other characters as well).

The morality's all over the place, as usual.  Sinister assassinates a huge long list of targets purely on the say so of his chosen employer with no questions asked just so that he can get something he needs and then balks when asked to execute an attractive young woman.  A heartless assassin ... with a heart of gold?!

(https://i.imgur.com/P0et1jq.png)


Judge Dredd: Wastelands (progs 1837-1841)
Script: John Wagner
Art: Dave Taylor
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

A compelling procedural in which a property developer hires a gang to scare off investors so that he can buy in at a lower price.  Things don't go according to plan and it becomes a race against time as a couple of assassins (Waldo and Mutch, who I think we've met before) try to eliminate loose ends before Dredd can follow the threads back to the puppet master.

We're treated to a Chris Weston cover to kick things off, and Dave Taylor does a great job of presenting the (post Chaos Day) wounded Mega-City One.  The now rare treat of a Wagner Dredd makes me wish he was writing all of them.

(https://i.imgur.com/6s7FPdz.png)


Sinister Dexter: Witless Protection - Last Rights (progs 1841-1843)
Script: Dan Abnett
Art: Simon Davis
Letters: Ellie De Ville

Dexter and Weld are living happily ever after as a vanilla suburban couple under witness protection, but the arrival of Marshal Art (cue running joke) foreshadows their collective past rapidly catching up with them.  I do love the work of John Burns (who did the art for the previous two sections of Witless Protection), but Simon Davis's work here is a real treat.

Ultimately, this is just a set up for the next series, so it doesn't do much except reunite Ray and Finny (although it does so with aplomb).  Check out the wonderful framing:

(https://i.imgur.com/Zy99IHn.png)


Judge Dredd: Scavengers (progs 1842-1844)
Script: Rob Williams
Art: Carl Critchlow
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Someone has taken over Luna-2 (now on the sea floor of the Black Atlantic) and is threatening to nuke MC-1, so Dredd and a small team go in to sort things out.  There's some great art from Carl "Thrud" Critchlow, and the welcome return of Rear Admiral Sensitive Klegg.

It's a little frustrating that the writer feels the need to break the narrative fourth wall so much.  Can't we just have a story (to immerse ourselves in) without the author popping his head up and waving at us and shouting.  We could find the thematic metaphors without being told explicitly to "Please note the thematic metaphor".  Perhaps this is the other side of the coin that gives us Rear Admiral Sensitive Klegg.

(https://i.imgur.com/x2FRoYb.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 07 October, 2018, 07:27:21 AM
A compelling procedural in which a property developer hires a gang to scare off investors so that he can buy in at a lower price.

I remember enjoying this but now it sounds like Scooby Doo!

Sinister Dexter is a thrill I'm always happy to extol and this period seemed to help folks getting feedup back on board. It moved to wrap up many of the Multiple Moses storylines. For me the only problem S&D has its as time has gone on we seem to be seeing less and less of it. Given how exceptionally good Dabnett's output has been of late I just wish he was tackling this, his archtypal strip, with a same gusto as he did in the past - though having a regular artist like Steve Yeowell seems to be helping these days?

This period is also blessed with some glorious art. I'm glad you mentioned John Burns' art on the strip as he always seemed like such a perfect fit for the series, though it was nice to see Simon Davis get another swan song on the series.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 17 October, 2018, 01:49:14 AM
In 2013, the lead up to prog 1850 brought some impressive long-form thrills:

Defoe: The Damned
(Progs 1836-1847; last seen in 2010)
Script: Pat Mills
Art: Leigh Gallagher
Letters: Ellie De Ville

I've not been much of a fan of Defoe: all that driving around in a car when cars didn't exist reminds me too much of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie. And the previous outing (A Murder of Angels) consisted of a collection of complete and utter bastards (the Dirty Dozenne) peering over battlements and blethering about the author's research findings.

But I really liked this series.  First of all, the art is amazing.  This opening shot of the zombie horde lurching forward for another assault on the Tower is stupendous (even in this cropped and shrunk version):

(https://i.imgur.com/ncmsyRy.png)

Additionally, the story has more movement in it.  We go back in time to get some historical perspective on Defoe's state of mind, and then we also have some of the characters leaving the Tower for the first time in a series and a half.  In this flashback shot, we have the terrible foreshadowing and disturbing off-kilter perspective that suggests an awful answer to Defoe's question:

(https://i.imgur.com/3toV1TW.png)

The story is rounded off with some amazing inventions (a zombie-powered paddle boat), some egotistical upper crust superheroes, and a quiet scene in Mrs Miggins Pie Shop.  And if all that's not enough to entertain you, there's always Gallowgrass's astounding couture:

(https://i.imgur.com/pKB5Sce.png)


The Ten-Seconders: Godsend
(Progs 1836-1849; last seen in 2008)
Script: Rob Williams
Art: Edmund Bagwell, Ben Willsher (9 & 10)
Letters: Simon Bowland

With the five year gap, the review in the first episode was very welcome.  Everything gets quickly turned up to 11 with a Jupiter-sized spaceship enveloping Earth and casually destroying the Moon (so casually, in fact, that it never gets mentioned - only shown):

(https://i.imgur.com/Qv558Yv.png)

Gentleness, such as that displayed by the brutish Damage, is not rewarded and the story focusses more on stripping each character down to expose their weakness.  It's not really clear, as we reach the climax, if humanity has any hope in this universe.

I enjoyed this third series a lot as it provokes thought, has a crazy pace, bizarre characters, a quiet sense of humour and it looks amazing:

(https://i.imgur.com/ks2djEN.png)


Age of the Wolf III: Wolfworld
(Progs 1840-1849; last seen in 2012)
Script: Alec Worley
Art: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colours: Gary Caldwell
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Series #1 was "28 Werewolves Later", Series #2 was Wolfenders and this is Planet of the Werewolves.  That's quite a jump, which visually is quite shocking as the more standard giant wolf beasts of the first two series are replaced with a more anthropomorphic species. 

As it leaps forward in time, a sort of magically accelerated evolution has taken place and we witness a world filled with new beasts and a harnessing of new moon-powered tech (used by the wolf species in a bid to finally exterminate the human race):

(https://i.imgur.com/fU9fSXw.png)

Rowan has aged and become a notorious dervish: a grey witch that powers her way across the land and through any obstacle (herself as much a beast as any of the wolves) in her bid to defeat the curse that has taken over the planet:

(https://i.imgur.com/4bMUddV.png)

Ultimately, it all sews itself up in a tricky third act: my assumption is that this ends the story.  If you're doing a re-read you could safely skip the second series as the weakest of the three and you'd be doing just fine. 

All in all, a great time to be reading the prog, and I haven't even reviewed the best bit...
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Fungus 17 October, 2018, 10:21:17 AM
This was my introduction to Defoe and The Ten-Seconders, amazing Thrills. Thanks for the reminder of that jaw-dropping Defoe spread, it speaks for itself. Yet, my top Thrill at the time was Ten-Seconders. It was wildly over-the-top entertaining and Bagwell's art was glorious. Yum.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 21 November, 2018, 08:37:13 PM
The Book of Scars: 30 Years of Slaughter
Progs 1844-1849
Script: Pat Mills
Art: Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry, Clint Langley, Mick McMahon (with Star Scans by Dave Kendall & Nick Percival)
Letters: Ellie De Ville


A six-part celebration of the 30th anniversary of Slaine and a major event in the comic, accompanied by three covers (or five if you count the variants), two Star Scans and a Megazine article.

The premise is beautifully constructed: Slaine is sent back in time by the Guledig to fight battles he's already won, except that now they know he's coming and are ready for him.  The first episode does a transition from full color art by Langley into the black and white world of The Bride of Crom.  With no Belardinelli to call upon, Langley provides his best impersonation.

After that, the original artists from Sky Chariots (McMahon), Time Killer (Fabry) and The Horned God (Bisley) redraw the (re-imagined) major conflict from those tales before Langley returns to round out the book with his own reinterpretation of Moloch.

It was amazing to see those old tales revisited and to compare the artists original work with their newer renditions (or, in the case of The Bride of Crom, to see Langley do Belardinelli). 

The Bride of Crom:
Belardinelli, 1983Langley, 2013
(https://i.imgur.com/1RCay6O.jpg)(https://i.imgur.com/uxv3OQZ.png)

Sky Chariots by Mick McMahon:
19842013
(https://i.imgur.com/F9mSZ0k.jpg)(https://i.imgur.com/jplLUoK.png)

Time Killer by Glenn Fabry:
19852013
(https://i.imgur.com/gdBEcqu.jpg)(https://i.imgur.com/VQM6RXb.png)

The Horned God by Simon Bisley:
19902013
(https://i.imgur.com/y3IWsCg.jpg)(https://i.imgur.com/KDHqa2s.png)

Moloch by Clint Langley:
20022013
(https://i.imgur.com/zSpBoBY.jpg)(https://i.imgur.com/6pVtlEf.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Magnetica 24 November, 2018, 10:31:55 PM
I bought the book....but I have to say I prefer the art in the original stories in every case.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 24 November, 2018, 10:58:00 PM
I bought the book....but I have to say I prefer the art in the original stories in every case.

Yep. The art is a curiosity,  although the McMahon and Bailey pages are so different as to be intriguing in their own right,  but some of the story ideas are actually pretty good: it's just a shame Pat seems to have largely dropped them. For example, what's Slough Gododdin's beef with Slaine if he and Pops kissed and made up in the end?
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 24 November, 2018, 10:58:33 PM
Bailey = Bisley + autocorrect
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 25 November, 2018, 05:58:41 AM
I assume it was a really interesting task for the artists - perhaps bitter sweet?  I enjoyed it as a celebration: like a best of but with a new narrative.

I think Langley does a good job providing a homage to Belardinelli.  McMahon's style has utterly changed over time.  Glenn Fabry is the first to provide a different layout.  In all those cases, I can't help but prefer the originals, but I love that they've given the new rendering a try out.

In the case of Bisley, the two styles are different but I love both versions: I can't really pick a favorite.  As I was looking over Book 3 of The Horned God, I was finding it a bit slow.  I don't think I've ever re-read it start to finish.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: IndigoPrime 25 November, 2018, 10:07:47 AM
Bisley's old stuff seemed more fitting and filmic for this particular strip. (His new style could work nicely with Dredd though.) McMahon, though, can do no wrong in my eyes. I wish he'd get more strip work in 2000 AD – his work just has so much energy and dynamism.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 25 November, 2018, 11:39:52 AM
Its interesting to hear the different views on the changing styles of the artists and I disagree with some, agree with others, for example don't get on with Da Biz's new stuff at all (mind I've lost a lot of love for his old stuff, through no fault of his own its so of his time, though in his case its cos he did so much to define the art of the time at least!), but find McMahon's styles over the years equally enthralling.

If nothing else it makes revisiting these stories an interesting experiment into the subjective views we hold on art.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Magnetica 25 November, 2018, 01:10:41 PM
McMahon is a strange one for me. At the time, on Judge Dredd I preferred Bolland and Ron Smith, but have now come to love his Dredd, in the era around the mid to late 100s up to Block Mania.

On Slaine I know the majority view seems to be that Sky Chariots is the best thing ever but I prefer stuff like Night of the Shoggy Beast.

But I can’t get on with his “newer” stuff at all...and I include Howler, the 3rd Element and the very recent Dredd in that.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 25 November, 2018, 02:09:46 PM
I never really liked McMahon take on Dredd but I just loved his work on Slaine.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 27 January, 2019, 05:38:55 AM
The last of 2013, in order of maximum thrillocity:

Aquila: Where All Roads Lead (1851-1855)
Script: Gordon Rennie
Art: Patrick Goddard
Colours: Gary Caldwell
Letters: Ellie De Ville

A smaller five part chunk of bloody mystical mayhem set (if you didn't guess by the title) in Imperial Rome.  This is fascinating stuff, with my only complaint being that I didn't want it to end so soon.  It transpires that the titular immortal killer is being hired to do a sort of "Seven Heads for Hekate" style quest, neatly setting things up for future installments.

(https://i.imgur.com/Gtnu4uS.png)


Brass Sun: The Diamond Age (1850-1861)
Script: Ian Edginton
Art: INJ Culbard
Letters: Ellie De Ville

This is quite episodic, in that the narrative brings a particular part of the wheel of worlds to crisis point before our heroes decant to some other world. It's wildly creative, though, and each new world suggests a scope of history and scale of conflict that we're only touching upon.  The art reminds me of Steve Yeowell's work, which of course means it's glorious.

(https://i.imgur.com/MqQbWuT.png)


Judge Dredd: Ferals (1858-1861)
Script: Emma Beeby
Art: John Burns
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

This is interestingly barmy: sort of Lord of the Flies meets Being John Malkovich.  A gang of street juves are being stalked by something, and Dredd helps to solve the mystery whilst also acting as a father figure.  There's the usual "we can't send any help, we're stretched thin" stuff we've been getting since Chaos Day that allows the writer to leave Dredd to face various threats without being able to magic in vast support.


Damnation Station [2nd arc] (1850-1861)
Script: Emma Beeby
Art: John Burns
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

The first arc of this series (progs 1677-1692) ran back in 2010 and was episodic in nature, with various artists.  This time around we still get episodic titling, but the narrative thread is stronger and we're treated to a single artist.  The structure in the original is built upon until it seems clear who the threats are and how to defeat them.  Ultimately, we get a satisfying (but incredibly dark) conclusion and some pretty exciting, galaxy-spanning pulp sci-fi.

The Space Invaders metaphor at one point becomes a bit too literal:

(https://i.imgur.com/a9YzKsW.png)


Judge Dredd: New Tricks (1850-1854)
Script: Michael Carroll
Art: Paul Davidson
Colours: Chris Blythe
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Michael Carroll continues character and world-building with a jaunt into the Undercity.  It's a bit of a juggling act as Dredd is supervising two new Judges of foreign stock: Caterina Tanechka Pax (former Sov) and Fintan Joyce (formerly of Murphyville) and we get introduced to Judge Kilgore (an Undercity long walker).

It sets itself up as a major threat, with Manta tanks and Sov nukes in the hands of an Undercity army, but soon damp squibs into the climax of literally a weak pun taking a dump.  The art is entertaining and dynamic but not served well by the the large prose sections.  (Hint: it's supposed to be a comic, not a book.)

Comic Not Comic
(https://i.imgur.com/KldiVTD.png) (https://i.imgur.com/Z9UH84P.png)


Judge Dredd: Prey (1855-1857)
Script: T.C. Eglington
Art: Karl Richardson
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Mysterious disappearances are occurring near to an enigmatically grumpy yet clearly domineering doctor from off planet. Could there be a link?  Watch as highly trained scientific personnel wander into darkened ruins alone armed only with a flashlight when they know there's a killer on the loose. It's quite good fun to watch, but dumb as a bag of hammers.


Flesh: Badlanders (1850-1861)
Script: Pat Mills
Art: James McKay & Lee Townsend
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

I kinda resent this being in the prog.  It's like I ended up stuck at a bar being ranted at by a simmeringly aggressive mysoginistic drunk conspiracy theorist. Adding well drawn dinosaurs just doesn't help alleviate that enough. I've been trying to figure out whose side we're supposed to be on, and I think it's Vegas Carver, who successfully enacts a plan to have a bunch of children eaten by a Tyrannosaur.  To it's merit it does win the 2013 prize for most unlikely line of dialog:

(https://i.imgur.com/IlQWumd.png)

In the final episode it has the out and out bat-shit crazy balls to claim that it's based on actual factual logic by listing a "science consultant".  Well, I've just got to pop to the loo, Pat ... *sneaks out emergency exit*
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 27 January, 2019, 05:46:27 AM
Oops, I did a copy pasta and mis-credited Damnation Station - it should have looked like this:

Damnation Station [2nd arc] (1850-1861)
Script: Al Ewing
Art: Mark Harrison
Letters: Simon Bowland


: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 27 January, 2019, 05:57:07 AM

Aquila: Where All Roads Lead (1851-1855)
Script: Gordon Rennie
Art: Patrick Goddard
Colours: Gary Caldwell
Letters: Ellie De Ville

A smaller five part chunk of bloody mystical mayhem set (if you didn't guess by the title) in Imperial Rome.  This is fascinating stuff, with my only complaint being that I didn't want it to end so soon.  It transpires that the titular immortal killer is being hired to do a sort of "Seven Heads for Hekate" style quest, neatly setting things up for future installments.


It is one of those new thrills which was just awesome but for some reason it just disappeared into the cracks the last few years. It might be a case  where Rennie got bored with the character, but I really would like this to return.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 27 January, 2019, 10:40:14 AM
There's so much stuff here I'm looking forward to getting to in my re-read but its so damned far off.

Aquila was a story I wanted to love but just couldn't make myself do so - mind as broodblik says its a shame its another one that drifted away as its deserves the ending it seemed we were close to. Frustrating when this happens.

Flesh was a story I wanted to love and managed to make myself do so... it will be interesting on re-read to see if it holds up. I know I'm dreading the 7 warriors bit! Shame James McKay didn't work out as I really enjoyed his work.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Dark Jimbo 27 January, 2019, 10:44:50 AM

Aquila: Where All Roads Lead (1851-1855)

It is one of those new thrills which was just awesome but for some reason it just disappeared into the cracks the last few years. It might be a case  where Rennie got bored with the character, but I really would like this to return.

Rennie certainly has form in the 'I got bored' field. I find it a bit hard to invest in new stories by hin and Ian Edginton - who knows when (or if) they'll ever be concluded?

Maybe we'll find out what happened this Wednesday - Aquila is the next Ultimate Collection volume. Can't wait to read the back-up stuff and find out.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: IndigoPrime 27 January, 2019, 10:49:36 AM
It's like I ended up stuck at a bar being ranted at by a simmeringly aggressive mysoginistic drunk conspiracy theorist.
That's as good a summing up of that series as I've ever read.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 27 January, 2019, 10:52:48 AM
Maybe there is a competition between Edginton and Rennie to see how long they can drag out a story before concluding it. We only got the last episode of Caballistics 11 years later. So I have still hope for Helium
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: CalHab 28 January, 2019, 03:08:45 PM
Didn't Edginton promise some sort of conclusion to that in a Thrillcast?
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 26 May, 2019, 06:42:03 PM
2014 (1st quarter)

In order of most to least thrilling:


Tharg's 3rillers: After The Vengeance
(1871-1873)
Script: David Baillie
Art: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colours: Gary Caldwell
Letters: Ellie De Ville


The freshest thing in a 13-prog run is this 3-parter about a gang-ridden London following a violent economic collapse.  Great concept, beautiful art, disturbing themes and a clever twist to round it off.  The only thing wrong here is that it was all over so quickly: and the twist doesn't really allow for this to be a launch pad for a longer series.

(https://i.imgur.com/eMIlapJ.png)


Strontium Dog: The Life and Death of Johnny Alpha; Chapter Four; Dogs of War
(p2014 & 1862-1870)
Script: John Wagner
Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Letters: Simon Bowland


It's quite odd trying to get to grips with Strontium Dog as purely bleak.  It's always explored dark themes, but does best when those are balanced with the light humor evident in earlier stories.  Wulf was a great foil, as he stuck a sock in Schicklegruber's gob.  In the midst of the The Killing, the Osmunds provided slapstick humor.

Here we have an all-out war, where the norms have irreversibly sterilized the mutant population of the UK.  Alpha is set on total war and seems okay with the idea of executing civilian prisoners, but is held in check by Middenface's morality.  This really changes Alpha's character: so it seems like resurrected Alpha isn't morally trustworthy.

Still: these themes are interesting (if a bit of a re-tread of Portrait of a Mutant), and we get to see a bunch of racist Nazis get their comeuppance.  The end suggests the death of a main character which I assume will get reversed in a future tale. 

(https://i.imgur.com/ZL06vpc.png)


Judge Dredd: Titan (& Fit)
(1862-1869 & 1873)
Script: Rob Williams
Art: Henry Flint
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


This opens as a mini-epic with a beautiful splash of Titan orbiting Saturn but takes odd turns until we end up with a convoluted plot that has Aimee Nixon (once of Low Life) continuously torturing a captured Dredd and shouting at Hershey on the vid phone.

I always felt it was a shame that Nixon (who I thought of as central to Low Life) eventually became a side-villain to Dirty Frank's adventures.  And now she's twirling her (metallic) moustache and screaming of injustice as she flails at everyone and everything. 

In true Die Hard fashion, Dredd seems to bleed his way back to Earth and ride his Lawmaster from the spaceport to a Sector House, his uniform still smoldering (see the first frame of Fit in prog 1873) to declare that he needs some medical assistance.  This is weird for many reasons but especially as between Titan and Fit, he managed to be perfectly well and riding his Lawmaster along a giant worm to make it eat itself in Squirm!  (Which is also weird, of course, for all its own reasons.)

(https://i.imgur.com/HnjtTnc.png)


The A.B.C. Warriors: Return to Mars
(p2014 & 1862-1866, 1868-1873)
Script: Pat Mills
Art: Clint Langley
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


Or we could have not returned to Mars.  This bamboozles me, plot-wise, because of the flashback structure.  I think it starts on Mars, then flashes back to the atomic wars.  Then it flashes back to Shrapnel on Mars, where he dies, and the Warriors bury him.  The flashback then has him come back to life years later to fight some zombies (but it's still a flashback) in a different art style.  The Shrapnel flashback then segues into a Warriors flashback, in which they return to Mars (but I'm not sure when), but Shrapnel doesn't want to hang out with them.  The flashback art now changes back to the first style, so I think we're back (time-wise) in Flashback A.  Are you following?  I'm not.

For some reason, the art changes again and we are told the tale of Tubal Caine (which is Shrapnel) adopting a human boy, only for Howard Quartz (who's never really been part of the Warriors, because he was a more childish one-note character present in Ro-Busters) to turn up and be all super villain.  This takes us (in the final episode) back to the opening scene (and out of all the flashbacks).  The series ends with Hammerstein saying he's going to look in his memory files - and we get as the final splash page another flashback, indicating that the next series of The ABC Warriors will actually be a Ro-Busters ... flashback.

Talk about being stuck in the time wastes.  It's like Pat just keeps remixing all the same ingredients.  I lost track of how many times Shrapnel dies, only to not be dead.  So, death is meaningless in this strip.

(https://i.imgur.com/4R2JXel.jpg)


Ulysses Sweet: Centred
(p2014 & 1862-1869)
Script: Guy Adams
Art: Paul Marshall
Greytones: Chris Blythe
Letters: Ellie De Ville


Another weird choice in which the only vaguely likeable character is a poodle.  Trying for broad laughs, this descends too readily into horrible sexism by allowing Ulysses to be abhorrent to everyone.  I had fond-ish memories of an amusing couple of one-off tales from 1987: so it's a bit odd for this character to show up with his own series in 2014, but okay.  The other thing that makes this an unusual choice is that it's sort of Big Dave ('93-94) in Space, and that's known as a bit of a touchy subject.  So: why?  Is it Zombo's fault?

(https://i.imgur.com/fxJcdo7.png)


Grey Area [4th arc]
(1863-1873)
Script: Dan Abnett
Art: Patrick Goddard, Mark Harrison
Colours: Abigail Ryder, Mark Harrison
Letters: Ellie De Ville


Well-drawn and bearable for that.  I just find it difficult to see past the fact that Birdy's entire character is petulant jealous girlfriend to the noble Bulliet.  "He's talking to another woman?  But ... I need him ..."  Ooh wah, slarty var. 

The central premise of Grey Area has always bothered me as well: why do all these aliens rock up at Earth knowing that they're not allowed in and have to live in what's basically a fascistic airport?  The adventures are all a bit Future Shocky - with luggage that's really aliens.  And money that's really aliens.  That this is still running as a modern thrill (although I haven't read past this point) bamboozles me, but lots of people have said it improves with age. Perhaps not my cup of tea, then.

(https://i.imgur.com/UzLvrZI.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 26 May, 2019, 09:58:07 PM
Grey Area definately improves with age and alas is the scenario you describe for its premise is horribly familar for the poor folks herded into camps at Calais and so is a very chilling realisation of modern problems, Solidly 2000ad in my mind.

: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 13 June, 2019, 02:16:24 AM
2014 (2nd Quarter Kick-Off)

A really strong line up of thrills (three of the old guard, one new and one spin-off) feels fresh after the previous quarter languished too heavily in the past.

The cover of prog 1874 lines them up for us: Slaine, Dredd, Sinister Dexter, Outlier and Jaegir.  In order of most to least thrilling...


Judge Dredd: Mega-City Confidential
(1874-1878)
Script: John Wagner
Art: Colin MacNeil
Colours: Chris Blythe
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


A beautifully wrought thriller from Wagner in which he deftly juggles the Justice Department as fascist surveillance operation with Dredd as partly just a cog in the machine.

Colin MacNeil renders a noirish nightmare where almost everything is framed askew and Justice is a dark silhouette preying on the citizens.

The only bittersweet part of such a top notch thrill is the knowledge that Wagner is writing less and less Dredd: nobody else can quite grasp the blend of cop procedural and noir nuance that is modern Wagner Dredd.

(https://i.imgur.com/lxlBaBk.png)  (https://i.imgur.com/30uKg33.png)


Slaine: The Brutania Chronicles: Book One: A Simple Killing
(1874-1886)
Script: Pat Mills
Art: Simon Davis
Letters: Ellie De Ville


Slaine returns with mutton chops and beard, looking a bit more middle-aged than in previous incarnations and therby providing a sense of time (in a tale that has sometimes seemed stuck in a cycle).  The drune lords and their skull sword troops are back as a threat, and Slaine finds himself on a quest to save Sinead (a recent aquaintance) from their evil clutches.

The art from Simon Davis is absolutely belting, and Mills does a good job of keeping the action moving (even if, a bit like the norse myths, his Slaine tales lack some continuity).  There are also hilarious moments, like when a nonchalantly peeing giant asks Slaine if he is stuck because he hasn't run away yet.  It's really difficult to choose an image to show, because the art throughout is just a joy, but here's Slaine panicking as Sinead is infected by evil magic that turns her into a twisted version of a mermaid:

(https://i.imgur.com/jV7Ddbv.png)


Jaegir: Strigoi
(1874-1879)
Script: Gordon Rennie
Art: Simon Coleby
Colours: Len O'Grady
Letters: Simon Bowland


Just when you thought it was safe to take off the chem mask, Kapiten-Inspector Atalia Jaegir of the Nordland State Security Police suddenly kicks back open the door to the Rogue-verse with a darkly atmospheric horror story about once proud warriors mutating into homicidal monsters.

Historically, we've been bereft of a series set in this universe since The 86ers (2009), so this was unexpected and a great surprise.  Simon Coleby does a (spookily) beautiful job of bringing it to life, whether rendering Nort hoppers against leaden skies or enraged bears in gloomy forests.  Top thrill!

(https://i.imgur.com/0raxmdn.png)


Outlier
(1874-1883)
Script: T.C. Eglington
Art: Karl Richardson
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


This sci-fi thriller has us following Carcer, a sort of intergalactic private eye (with magic ... eyes), who finds himself up against an unstoppable hi-tech assassin bent on revenge.  Because of the back-story, the only flaw here is that the protagonist takes something of a back seat and serves more as a mugaffin than a hero.  That's probably fine if this is just a one-off thrill: but it would be difficult to see why we'd want the follow-up adventures of Carcer.

Karl Richardson does an amazing job of depicting all the intergalactic mayhem and body-morping.

(https://i.imgur.com/8St8HN0.png)


Sinister Dexter: The Generican Dream: Gun Shy
(1874-1879)
Script: Dan Abnett
Art: Smudge
Letters: Ellie De Ville


A strained allegory, increasingly forced puns and shallow characters mostly fail to land and so struggle to propel this shaggy dog story as it stupidly wags from scene to scene.

I'm not sure what can be done to revive Sinister Dexter: it used to be quite compelling - and one of the key characters was the city of Downlode.  But then the Moses plot got stretched out over years of drip-fed plotting, bringing in and then dismantling multiple dimensions until it felt like it had truly run its course.  Now it feels like the tail end of Ace Trucking: running on fumes.

(https://i.imgur.com/QGHV78K.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 13 June, 2019, 06:15:43 AM
Wow has it really been five years since we got so excited about Simon Davus taking over in Slaine! Doesn't time fly and all that. And to think it all started so well...  but.... well I need to do a read - I'll get there eventually, but being up to Secret Commonwealth in my re-read this was certainly a step up.

I really enjoyed Outlier and think the subsequent two books took the story to interesting places. Again a re-read is called for but looking forward to this one.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 13 June, 2019, 08:27:08 AM
Funt's periodic Thrill Coma updates are one of the highlights of this forum.   :thumbsup:
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: IndigoPrime 13 June, 2019, 09:03:20 AM
Outlier got better and reads well collected. Sadly, The Brutania Chronicles did not, wasting the goodwill from that broadly excellent first series to mire itself in turgid, slothful plotting, retreads, and LOTS OF SHOUTY SPEECH BALLOONS.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 17 June, 2019, 06:52:58 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2014 (Mid Year Cement)

As the longer thrills of the 2nd quarter (Slaine and Outlier) finish up, and the scheduling for a prog 1900 jump-on starts to kick in, we get a mix of Tharg's [F]illers (which, to be fair, are often REALLY good), vari-sized Dredds, some shorter thrills (Grey Area & Sinister Dexter) and the return of Indigo Prime.

A selection of those, in order of most to least thrilling...


Judge Dredd: The Heart is a Lonely Klegg Hunter
(1888-1889)
Script: Rob Williams
Art: Chris Weston
Colours: Michael Dowling
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


Non-Wagner Dredd sometimes suffers by comparison, but here's the proof that it can be done, and done blindingly well.  We follow a day in the life of Sensitive Klegg (a periodically recurring character) and find that things aren't going well for him and seem to be getting worse - even to the extent that he might be in danger of giving in to his baser desires.

This is not just a beautiful tale by Rob Williams, but sublimely realized by the real treat of Chris Weston on art duties.  Here's a thrill that makes us feel bad for all the non-Squaxx out there who just don't get to experience it.

(https://i.imgur.com/nBPT8CN.png)


Tharg's 3rillers: Colony
(1880-1882)
Script: Kek-W
Art: Vince Locke
Colours: Adam Brown
Letters: Ellie De Ville


A cross between John Carpenter's The Thing and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Colony is set in the harsh world of a soviet gulag.  It's a blend of bleak dystopian hardships and pulp sci-fi one liners ("T-They're all over me!  Imperialists from outer space!") that works really well in this short format. 

(https://i.imgur.com/mA6C5Rf.png)


Indigo Prime: Perfect Day
(1880-1887)
Script: John Smith
Art: Lee Carter
Letters: Simon Bowland


You can't accuse it of being dull - either in terms of action or art (and Lee Carter's art is beyond compare), but Indigo Prime suffers from a sense of impenetrability which seems as if it's probably deliberate (no spoon-feeding here) yet also perhaps a side effect of having such a large cast spread out over multiple realities.

Not to spoil the plot but there's a blend of Nazis and dark gods that sets up a cliffhanger threat (so that this entire series is just a preamble): which might set one to think that it's an easy fix for Indigo Prime - just shut down the reality that's having the problem - but then only Smith knows how this multiverse operates, so perhaps it's some kind of omni-threat. (Most thrills don't involve us asking questions this bizarre.)

While trying to follow the dimensional shenanigans, it was jarring to accept the switch to Monty Python level comedy with OAP combat robot pilots complaining about their lumbago and absent-mindedly wondering if they left the oven on (whilst still trying to care about the fate of the IP operatives who are in mortal danger). 

Summary: it's beautiful to look at but sometimes frustrating to follow.

(https://i.imgur.com/U9ngsqJ.png)


Judge Dredd: Shooters Night
(1879-1882)
Script: John Wagner
Art: John McCrea
Colours: Chris Blythe
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


The ambiguity of the missing titular apostrophe drives the plot forward as Dredd attempts to solve a case and thereby stop a planned mass shooting.  Generally the art serves the tale well, but there are a couple of confusing compositions (like a sudden draw down at the end of the second episode that seems to come out of nowhere, or an entire page framed against Dredd confronting a perfectly well perp that was bleeding out in a previous frame).

Summary: a great build up with a tricky third-act that is hampered by some unusual storytelling.

(https://i.imgur.com/Im3zs35.png)


Grey Area: Nearer My God To Thee
(1884-1888)
Script: Dan Abnett
Art: Mark Harrison
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


New employee Birdy, having started a sexual relationship with her line manager (Adam Bulliet), is finding it difficult to adjust when he gets a promotion to head of department.  She becomes increasingly jealous as a new and glamerous female CEO (Lyra Hallard) seems to be taking up a lot of Adam's time.  Birdy becomes convinced that they're having an affair and (despite planning to keep their relationship a secret from the rest of the team) she spends a lot of her work day complaining to her colleagues about feeling sidelined.

When Adam finds out about her continual jealous digs to colleagues he decides to resolve the problem by passionately kissing Birdy in front of all the other employees, then expletively berating her ("Now get your shit in order...") before getting on with the day's business (of nuking an interplanetary god-being intent on the destruction of Earth).

The series ends on a cliffhanger, as we don't know whether Birdy will attain feminist enlightenment, lodge a complaint with HR or feel economically and societally restrained to continue in the role of subserviant chattel.  (Plus, it seems as if the team might have died in a nuclear inferno.)

(https://i.imgur.com/zMwdqqi.png)


---

One line mini-reviews:

Judge Dredd: A Night in Sylvia Plath - a jolly romp featuring Walter and Mrs Gunderson.
Judge Dredd: Traumatown - a solid 5-part thrill reminscent of The Haunting of Sector House 9.
Terror Tales: Done Deal - an exceptionally wrought setting (high-rise, working class) with a despairing twist.
Tharg's 3rillers: In Seconds Flat - fun, fast moving time twister that's as dumb as a bag of hammers.
Future Shocks: The Name of the Law - an intriguing tale of dark assistance hampered by a smelly closet reveal.
Tharg's Time Twisters: Burping Hitler - uhm ... there's something distasteful about making Hitler fun.
Sinister Dexter: The Generican Dream: Congo - Sin & Dex continue to circle endlessly around Moses Tanenbaum.
Judge Dredd: Student Bodies - a mean-spirited tale of mutie prejudice with a gloomy resolution.
Tharg's 3rillers: Voodoo Planet - unrelenting horror and the elimination of hope makes for a bit of a bummer. 
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Frank 17 June, 2019, 07:29:59 PM
Judge Dredd: Student Bodies - a mean-spirited tale of mutie prejudice with a gloomy resolution.

Depends how you voted in the referendum.  You sure do write purty.


: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 17 June, 2019, 09:02:20 PM
You got a logic. I wish I had a logo.

I'm jealous of your logo.

So I'm not going to comment on your wonderful post.

I'm petty like that logo boy...
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 17 June, 2019, 10:29:17 PM
I'm jealous of your logo.

 :) I was jealous of the Letters Us Entertain You logo.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 30 June, 2019, 01:07:14 AM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2014 (3rd Quarter)

With a staggered start, the 3rd quarter molds itself into a powerful five-thrill line-up that's almost five for five.

In order of most to least thrilling...


Jaegir: Circe
(1893-1898)
Script: Gordon Rennie
Art: Simon Coleby
Colours: Len O'Grady
Letters: Ellie De Ville


Atalia Jaegir is hired by a body-swapping gangster to track down the cause of a genetic mutation that has turned his comrades into mindless beasts.  As the blind-siding plot wends a twisted route towards a violent resolution of sorts, we find outselves in a dystopian present constantly haunted by a nightmarishly violent past. 

This is disturbing stuff: brought masterfully to life by Coleby and O'Grady's artwork as the city is bathed in red from the glow of fires, the countryside in darkness is lit only by the flames of a burning house and between it we flashback to the chem clouds and violent conflict of Nu Earth's endless war. 

Still, maybe an old face can help brighten things up:

(https://i.imgur.com/sWzRqjr.png)


Brass Sun: Floating Worlds
(1888-1899)
Script: Ian Edginton
Art: INJ Culbard
Letters: Ellie De Ville


Part way through this third book of the epic, we get an explanation of how the Wheel of Worlds came to be: effectively a wandering diety (a bit Q-like, for the Trekkies) happened along our solar system, accidentally mostly destroyed it (akin to carelessly knocking over some toys) and rebuilt it as a clockwork imperfection.

As Wren tries to follow AI clues left behind that might repair the structure (and thus save humanity) an implacable opponent comes into frame: a sort-of AI virus that aims instead to destroy the wheel.  This is good for the narrative, because if the only roadblocks were to be found confined to individual worlds the saga could get too repetitive (like the levels in a sequential platform game).

Culbard does a good job of realizing a mostly gaseous world (partly reminiscent of the novel The Algebraist by the late, great Iain M. Banks) in which the humans' airships are often mere minnows:

(https://i.imgur.com/g8GwoEm.png)

 
Aquila: Carnifex
(1890-1899)
Script: Gordon Rennie
Art: Leigh Gallagher
Colours: Dylan Teague
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


Carnifex brings to a close an arc started in December 2012 in the special Prog 2013 (Quo Vadis, Domine?), where Aquila got tied into the real history of Emperor Nero's persecution of early Christians in Rome.  In Where All Roads Lead (2013: progs 1851-1855), Aquila becomes a killer for Nero: who is seeking to propel himself to divine status through the execution of various key figures.

As Nero's plans tend towards the end game, we follow various characters through Rome's occult underbelly and are left with a conclusion of sorts which frees Aquila for further adventures (further afield) whilst not allowing him to resolve his own personal mission to confront the Goddess he serves.

Leigh Gallagher succeeds in providing a blend of epic scope (chariot races at The Circus of Nero), the sudden and bloody violence of the melee and the undead horrors of the Roman crypts:

(https://i.imgur.com/JDD5gSU.png)


Black Shuck
(1891-1899)
Script: Leah Moore & John Reppion
Art: Steve Yeowell
Colours: Chris Blythe
Letters: Simon Bowland


A brand new fantasy epic very much reminiscent of The Red Seas (partly unavoidable because of Steve Yeowell being on art duties) provides an epic Norse setting: here be Trolls, witches, zombies and werewolves!  The structure is told partly in flashback, as the titular Black Shuck comes into his inheritance as son of King Ivar only to discover that the Kingdom is cursed by an undead Jotnar king intent on the recovery of his stolen treasure horde.
 
It's evocative and action-packed but perhaps missing some sympathy for a main character who at times seems driven by the tumult of fate rather than anything more compelling.  Very Norse, that. 
 
 (https://i.imgur.com/CQghC2p.png)


Judge Dredd: Cascade
(1894-1899)
Script: Michael Carroll
Art: Paul Marshall
Colours: Gary Caldwell
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


An intriguing opening premise (a space explorer and brilliant scientist from the pre-Judge era returns to Earth) descends into Mark Millar-esque levels of posturing nonsense as Michael Carroll carelessly rummages around in the Wagner goodie bag and pulls out the Lawlords.  They were a short-lived idea from 2001 (Megazines 3.76-3.79) that expanded on the Judge-system across Earth notion (itself a bit of a stretch) and invented aggressive, giant, alien space Judges at an intergalactic Judge convention. 

Now they've come to shout loudly at Earth until Dredd flies a space hotrod (no, really) up to their orbiting ship and punches them in the neck, which solves everything.  It's all just so ... superheroic: the Lawlords even look a bit like mini-Galacti (that's the plural of Galactus) and provide the same sort of cheap exo-threat.  Not really Dredd at all.

The best thing about all of this is the art: especially the splendid cover to prog 1897 by Alex Ronald (http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/mediumres/1897.jpg).

(https://i.imgur.com/Oy1SVXJ.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 30 June, 2019, 07:28:20 AM
Arh Brass Sun is pure fried 2000ad gold. I worry for it as apparently INJ Culbard has an ongoing coming out soon from ... some publisher... maybe one I imagined? Sure I read that but can't find reference to it? Anyway its not present the way it was which is such a shame.

While I didn't think Black Shuck was the best on seeing this I did miss it and wondered if it'll be back, which I guess not?
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 30 June, 2019, 07:33:34 PM
So Brass Sun hasn't been completed?  Okay...

From back here in 2014-land, it seems relatively fast-paced: a series in each of 2012, 2013 & 2014.  If it kept up that pace it would mean that it's had at least four more series and still isn't complete.  My guess is that it must have slowed down it's publication rate a bit.  (I know I could just check Barney (http://www.2000ad.org/?zone=prog&page=profiles), but I'm enjoying not knowing too much of what's still to come.)

I'm sad that Black Shuck never made it back for a second series: it certainly set some stuff up at the end that could have allowed another go.  If you're into your Norse mythology you might check out Neil Gaiman's aptly titled Norse Mythology.  Shuck wasn't perfect in terms of the flashback structure or the glossed over characterization but it played well atmospherically, I thought.  I definitely thought it belonged in the prog.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 30 June, 2019, 07:44:27 PM
I'm sad that Black Shuck never made it back for a second series: it certainly set some stuff up at the end that could have allowed another go.  If you're into your Norse mythology you might check out Neil Gaiman's aptly titled Norse Mythology.  Shuck wasn't perfect in terms of the flashback structure or the glossed over characterization but it played well atmospherically, I thought.  I definitely thought it belonged in the prog.

I enjoyed Black Shuck. This is for me  series that could have had more that it got.

All I can say is keep on reading.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 30 June, 2019, 07:57:47 PM
Its not that it didn't get a second series...
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 06 July, 2019, 08:19:27 PM
I've been reading The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (and the dead left in his wake): One Last Bullet, and I thought "Fuck me: that's a long title - probably one of the longest titles in 2000 AD history".

Here's the top 10 in reverse order:

10: A surprise entry and a blast from the past, at 71 characters we've got the fondly remembered kascade of kolorful konundrums that was Kola Kommandos: Is Your Life an Okay Life? Hector Doldrum's Used To Be! (1992: prog 777)

9: Judge Dredd has some strong contenders with the likes of the argumentative The Ballad Of Toad McFarlane ('Cept It's Not A Ballad) or the sub-sub-sub-titling of The Mega-Rackets, Crime File 7 - The Stookie Glanders, but beating both of those into submission with a trusty day stick is the 72 character wonder that is Judge Dredd: They Shoot Deejays, Don't They? (Or At Least They Ought To). (1987: prog 506)

7=: Skulking out of the dark shadows of the Megazine and fueling our nightmares, at 73 characters of doom-laden prophesying we have Tales From The Black Museum: The Unfortunate Case of High-Altitude Albert. (2011: meg 317)

7=: Swaggering in from the Judge Dredd Annual and brushing dust from his dapper suit, with 73 characters of Shuggy skills and sass there's Max Normal: The Pinstripe Freak (He's Dredd's Informer!) - The Max Factor (1983: JDA '84)

6: Aiming for the top spot with a number four cartridge we leap to 80 characters with a true Matryoshka doll of a title in Strontium Dog: The Life and Death of Johnny Alpha: Chapter Three - Mutant Spring (2013: progs 1812.5-1821)

5: Just when you thought it was safe to trust the mayor of Mega-City One, PJ Maybe returns with the only mildly dyslexic 84 characters of Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos - Wot I Did During The Worst Disaster in Mega-City History (2012: progs 1786)

4: Only in 4th place despite being the unholy inspiration for the list, gunning his way through hell and back with a grumpy sneer there's The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (and the dead left in his wake): One Last Bullet with 87 characters. (2014: prog 1901+)

3: Back when Johnny was dead, other Dogs took up the reins and Maeve didn't just have many arms - she also claimed many characters (89 to be precise) with Strontium Dog, Tales From The Doghouse: Maeve The Many-Armed - Niall Of The Nine Sausages. (1989: progs 636-638)

2: In second place, confirming the unwritten rule that it's not really a Time Twister unless Hitler's in it, defeating the opposition with a stomping jackboot at 93 characters we have Tharg's Time Twisters: The Absolutely And Utterly Authentic Story Behind "The Hitler Diaries". (1983: prog 328)

1: You're not really a Squaxx if you didn't already know that the Russian rogue who's too cool to kill was sitting here waiting, quaffing from a vintage bottle of Champagne as he carelessly tosses out (the 106 characters of) Nikolai Dante: How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life (2005: progs 1428-1431)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 07 July, 2019, 10:39:51 AM
That list needed to exist long ago and I'm very happy you've done it. I always assumed (wrongly it would seem) that Ichhy Bod's would have long winded the say.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 12 July, 2019, 05:16:13 AM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2014 (4th Quarter)

A strong and stable line-up takes us from the numerically significant prog 1900 to the end of the year.  It's an interesting blend, with more modern thrills leading the pack against the stalwarts of yesteryear (or their strange offspring).

In order of most to least thrilling...


The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (and the Dead left in his Wake): One Last Bullet
(1900-1910)
Script: Rob Williams
Art: Michael Dowling
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


Did you ever wonder what you'd get if you crossed High Plains Drifter, Preacher, Dante's Inferno and, erm, Dirty Frank from Low Life?  Well, it might end up something like this.  To hazard a guess, this thrill might be Marmite for the Squaxx at large, given that it breaks the fourth (and fifth, and sixth) wall with alacrity and reads a bit like beat poetry (from the 14th century).

If you're looking for a clean, clear and obvious narrative structure: look elswhere!  As one of the character's themselves opines as they meet their demise:

"Behold my finite narrative ends.  I, the hunter, am killed. This is not correct. If anything it should have been him who slayed me as befits my stature as prime antagonist. An ending proper must have its roots established at the beginning. Story, form... decays around us..." 

Dirty Frank is resurrected here as a talking horse and lands many of the best lines.  Certainly, it seems as if the author is having a ton of fun as he provides Ichabod with what seems to be his final chapter.  We are given an ending, and dramatic events unfold prior.

(https://i.imgur.com/dyLQwKY.png)


Kingdom: Aux Drift
(1900-1909)
Script: Dan Abnett
Art: Richard Elson
Colours: Abigail Ryder
Letters: Simon Bowland


The fifth book of this long-running series (last seen in 2011) sees Gene find another group of survivors: this time what seems like an equal status mixed group of humans and Aux.  As usual, Them (the dominant Insectoid race populating the Earth) are not far behind and there is much scrapping.

Richard Elson's depiction of Gene's decimated world and the deadly combat he gets into on a regular basis is amazing to behold as the action punches out of the frames, but there is now something repetetive about Gene's journey (insofar as each series after the first has had Gene arrive at a destination, find out it's not a bed of roses and thereafter continue on his walkabout).

To counter that complaint, there are hints back to previously dangled threads (Leezee and the orbiting Masters), a new commander caste Them to worry about and a bit of a stepping stone to what seems to be a well organized survivor population.

(https://i.imgur.com/i4VAOpp.png)


Stickleback: The Thru'Penny Opera
(1900-1911)
Script: Ian Edginton
Art: D'Israeli
Letters: Ellie De Ville


In some ways Stickleback can seem more design aesthetic than story, with D'Israeli's depiction being so definitive, and there being a sense that the world is difficult to define: almost a mirage, rather than a reality.  Whilst that sense remains, we're suddenly grounded in the opening scene of this fifth series by the revelation that the stickly back of the titular protagonist is part of an elaborate costume.

As we lurch through a threatened London under seige by the machinations of ancient dark gods, Stickleback finds himself firmly on the back foot and (for those that love the character) there awaits what might be a terrible disappointment in the final reveal.  It's difficult to know if the series can survive such a jarring shift in approach.

(https://i.imgur.com/0yhgxUJ.png)


Judge Dredd: Block Judge
(1900-1909)
Script: John Wagner
Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


A solid Dredd tale by the old masters that's reminiscent of classic procedurals such as The Graveyard Shift (335-341) or Sunday Night Fever (416-418), whilst also having the limiting factor of being set within a single block: itself somewhat like the classic The Pit (970-999).

Perhaps the only complaint we could level here, then, is that this very serviceable story is unavoidably derivative.  Dredd is grumpy at a younger Judge, but only because he needs the best from everyone. Whilst ultimately Dredd wins out, it's against a city that has an endless supply of crazy citizens to throw back at him.

There's a great sequence in which the wounded and outnumbered Judge Corrigan has the lights switched off, masterfully realized by Ezquerra:

(https://i.imgur.com/uZhRYDv.png)


Greysuit: Prince of Darkness
(1901-1911)
Script: Pat Mills
Art: John Higgins
Colours: Sally Hurst
Letters: Ellie De Ville


Whilst the art is undeniably fantastic (as you'd expect from Higgins), the story is at the ranty, polemic end of the Mills oeuvre.  It would be safe to assume that Mills hates upper class privelege, but in painting his enemies as monsters in need of justified extermination, he ambles too easily into hyperbole and starts to become the beast in need of tranquilising (that he paints his targets as).

As beasts create murderous beasts, we're left in a bloody, muddy field with nobody to root for: a world populated only by the hateful.  It begs the question of who this is for, apart from the author.

The most memorable scene is where the main character injects his enemy with a drug that forces him to beat his own brains out against a wall - but it's just a bit sickening, and so doesn't need to be repeated here.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: IndigoPrime 12 July, 2019, 10:03:34 AM
"It begs the question of who this is for, apart from the author.”

That… is a really superb summation of that story – and, sadly, far too much Mills output in recent years.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 19 July, 2019, 04:41:43 AM
Top Five Covers of 2014

1900: One of those Dredd covers that has nothing to do with the story, this is amazing work from Greg Staples: perhaps it's Dredd just before he battles Orlok during Block Mania.
 
(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/hires/1900.jpg)


1904: This cover by Alex Ronald takes the internal story further than the prog itself: the untold story of Dredd's encounter with an unruly class during his stint as Block Judge.
 
(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/hires/1904.jpg)


1869: The return of Ulysses Sweet after a 26 year hiatus (from a two-episode thrill spun off a Future Shock) definitely earns the 2014 WTF award.  The best thing about this frenzied assault on woke-nicity is a wonderfully disturbing cover by Alex Ronald:

(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/hires/1869.jpg)


1908: Greg Staples gives us another amazing Dredd cover: this time the cover text tries to attach it to the internal story.
 
(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/hires/1908.jpg)


1897: Another odd turnip from the refuse pile of history would be the Lawlords from Lawcon, having taken thirteen years to hatch a nefarious plot to invade Earth. Their tactic of shouting the plan at everyone during prime time demonstrated their level of intelligence, but this third cover from Alex Ronald (taking the hat trick) again makes a poor story look great:
 
(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/hires/1897.jpg)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Jim_Campbell 19 July, 2019, 08:52:02 AM
More speech balloons on covers, I say.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 19 July, 2019, 08:08:26 PM
There's a very clear clean style in all those covers! Something you get the impression Tharg likes too.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: JayzusB.Christ 20 July, 2019, 04:20:05 PM
It's incredible, isn't it? His old pen-and-ink stuff was much less precise and clean, and I wasn't much of a fan (though Alan Craddock's colours didn't help).

His new stuff is absolutely outstanding; and I can't get enough of it. More Craddock, please, Tharg.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Jim_Campbell 20 July, 2019, 09:18:54 PM
His new stuff is absolutely outstanding; and I can't get enough of it. More Craddock, please, Tharg.

I don’t think that’s the sentence you meant to type…
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: JayzusB.Christ 21 July, 2019, 06:04:00 PM
His new stuff is absolutely outstanding; and I can't get enough of it. More Craddock, please, Tharg.

I don’t think that’s the sentence you meant to type…


 :lol:

Oops...
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 20 September, 2019, 05:05:07 AM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2015 (1st Quarter)

In order of most to least thrilling...

Judge Dredd: Dark Justice
(p2015-1921)
Script: John Wagner
Art: Greg Staples
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


The art by Greg Staples is just top drawer, out of this world, banana-balls amazing, as the four Dark Judges wreak havoc once again. It's a good story, essentially trapping Dredd, Anderson's daughter and their foes in a colony ship out in space and seeing what happens.

There are some issues in terms of the amount of knowledge expected of a long-term reader: like where Judge Death has been, why his cohort were in a wine bottle and the fact that one of the characters in the story is actually PJ Maybe. Seems tricky if a new reader needs a PHD in Dreddverse lore just to figure out what's happening. To be fair, there is an attempt to fill in some of the background in a clever bit of Basil Exposition from Anderson's daughter.

Thematically, it's difficult sometimes to marry the out and out horror of Judge Fear executing a child with the deadpan quips from an Arnie-u-like Dredd: "Hang around!" he exclaims as he hangs Mortis on a meathook. "The sentence is ... corn mash!" he shouts as he throws Judge Fire into a threshing machine. The Dark Judges have suffered sometimes from switching from terrible nightmares into vaudeville routines (see: Judgement on Gotham), and this doesn't help with that.

Perhaps, then, it's just as well that this is an eleven-episode smash and grab. That art, though...

(https://i.imgur.com/W9XmOQA.png)     (https://i.imgur.com/faqhgiU.png)


Survival Geeks: Steampunk'd
(1918-1923)
Script: Emma Beeby & Gordon Rennie
Art: Neil Googe
Colours: Gary Caldwell
Letters: Simon Bowland


First appearing in the best of the Tharg's 3rillers to date in 2013, a full series of this is very welcome: it's basically a bunch of youthful geeks in an out of control house-sized Tardis.

The characters provide a great balance of motivations, from stoner ennui to scientific enquiry, and the character of other-dimensional Evan provides a sort of Lord Flashheart-style veiled antagonist to drag everyone into trouble.

There's so much here to enjoy, so that just beyond the foreground battle between giant MechaZilla and Cthulhu (a la King of Tokyo), there's a lot to be thrilled at in the idea that we've missed a bunch of adventures since we last saw the characters (see the "End of World Scenarios Visited" in the final episode). Oh, and Sam wins...

(https://i.imgur.com/5jHygkV.png)


The Order
(p2015-1922)
Script: Kek-W
Art: John Burns
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


In medieval Europe a young warrior woman seeks information on her missing father, only to discover his old friends are a gang of ancient adventurers whose task is to stop evil worm-things from invading Earth from another dimension.

Each of the gang has specialties (like a pet wolf, or being good with firearms, or hallucinating an actually useful spirit guide), but the stand out is Ritterstahl, a robotic Knight's head that can be attached to corpses to hitch a (smelly, decomposing) ride. If I had one criticism it would be that there were perhaps a few too many "WURRRRMS!"

(https://i.imgur.com/hH2fpBP.png)


Savage, Book Nine: Grinders
(p2015-1923)
Script: Pat Mills
Art: Patrick Goddard
Letters: Ellie De Ville


It's pretty amazing that the character of Bill Savage went from being the opening thrill of the comic, then latterly an object of satire in Tharg's Head Revisited ('86) and Armoured Gideon's The Collector ('94) before resurfacing as Savage in 2004's Taking Liberties. There's a piece here where Bill looks back over his career as a freedom fighter, and there's the definite sense that he enjoys fighting: it's what he's good at - and he truly is savage.

Now, in its ninth series, we're post Volgan occupation of Britain and more strongly than ever tied into the wider Millsverse as we learn how
Howard Quartz became the brain in a robot body that we first met in Ro-Busters (in 1978's Starlord).

On the plus side, tales of body hacks and drone oppression are modern themes, expertly realized by Patrick Goddard. On the down-side, leaving the design of Quartz in place as using 1970s style phones seems anachronistic. We get to move on in some ways but perhaps wallow too much in the past in others. Is it tied to a desire from the author not to create new characters?

(https://i.imgur.com/HZWLpbz.png)


Orlok, Agent of East-Meg One: Eurozoned
(1912-1917)
Script: Arthur Wyatt
Art: Jake Lynch
Letters: Simon Bowland


Quite an arresting story has Orlok betray his masters for a pouch of diamonds, which leads to the title of the strip changing in the second episode to Orlok, Agent of East-Meg One Himself. Given that he's always been totes loyal, it's a development in need of investigation.

The art is a bit hit and miss, with sketchy giving in to messy in places and an incongruous visual homage to Princess Leia's donut hairstyle. Most distracting is a two-page sequence that upsets the rules of comic story-telling by screwing with the standard panel layout. When the reader is forced to have to figure out what the fnord's going on with the panel layout, you've pretty effectively removed them from their flow state:

(https://i.imgur.com/ETY3iH8.png)


Ulysses Sweet, Maniac For Hire: Psycho Therapist
(p2015-1917)
Script: Guy Adams
Art: Paul Marshall
Greytones: Chris Blythe
Letters: Ellie De Ville


A low-brow, gross-out attempt at broad humor that's effectively a series of oddball assassins failing to kill Sweet over and over again until the end, which is thankfully only seven episodes from the beginning. Why, Tharg? Just why? So many underpants. So much gross sexual stuff. So much stupid. Why does a flamethrower disintegrate someone's head in a nanosecond? Why does a pistol round decapitate someone?

Like the previous series, there's the sense that this was hilarious down at the pub, but we shouldn't need three pints with chasers and a lobotomy to be able to enjoy the comic. Big Dave was the height of good taste and intellectual wit compared to an assassin couple who are constantly shagging in a onesie. I wish the main character would just die, and whoever the villains are would win.

Next time Viz and Brain Damage have a baby: please don't adopt it.

(https://i.imgur.com/Ym0rxVC.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Frank 20 September, 2019, 01:36:56 PM
Anderson's daughter

ARF!


Anderson's daughter is good friends with Orlok's son, Kazan's clone, Vienna, Rico 2, America Beeny, The Hitman's Daughter, and Giant's son (who was himself Giant's son)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 20 September, 2019, 02:58:23 PM
I must agree on your take on Ulysses Sweet, Funt. My question is just why does this strip exists ? I find it the worst since the "fabulous" run of Big Dave.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: dweezil2 20 September, 2019, 03:22:56 PM
I must be in the minority (moronity?) as I actually enjoyed Ulysses Sweet and was sad of its seemingly premature demise.
It felt like a natural evolution of D.R & Quinch to me in the sense of anarchic storytelling and subversion of genre.
But there's no accounting for taste, I liked Big Dave too! :lol:
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Dark Jimbo 20 September, 2019, 04:52:06 PM
I liked Ulysess Sweet too. Knockabout fun that offered something a bit different to anything else at the time.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 20 September, 2019, 07:12:35 PM
This is why I love 2000 AD: there's something for everyone. And the art on Sweet was great, the storytelling top notch, dialogue well written, the characterization true to itself: a really top quality product (that wasn't my favorite).
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Dandontdare 20 September, 2019, 09:28:26 PM
I must be in the minority (moronity?) as I actually enjoyed Ulysses Sweet and was sad of its seemingly premature demise.
It felt like a natural evolution of D.R & Quinch to me in the sense of anarchic storytelling and subversion of genre.

This comment made me realise who Ulysses reminds me of - he's basically Pulger!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: DrJomster 20 September, 2019, 10:50:26 PM
Was Dark Justice really 2015? Time flies!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 21 September, 2019, 10:17:50 AM
I must be in the minority (moronity?) as I actually enjoyed Ulysses Sweet and was sad of its seemingly premature demise.
It felt like a natural evolution of D.R & Quinch to me in the sense of anarchic storytelling and subversion of genre.

This comment made me realise who Ulysses reminds me of - he's basically Pulger!

Good take! I enjoyed Sweet too, the first of the new stories more than the second. Top Marshall art and bad-natured silliness.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: dweezil2 21 September, 2019, 12:24:00 PM
I must be in the minority (moronity?) as I actually enjoyed Ulysses Sweet and was sad of its seemingly premature demise.
It felt like a natural evolution of D.R & Quinch to me in the sense of anarchic storytelling and subversion of genre.

This comment made me realise who Ulysses reminds me of - he's basically Pulger!

Good take! I enjoyed Sweet too, the first of the new stories more than the second. Top Marshall art and bad-natured silliness.

Glad to here that I'm not the only one to have responded to it favourably!  :)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Tjm86 21 September, 2019, 12:52:21 PM
...  Time flies!

Thought that was 1989?  No?
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 21 September, 2019, 12:58:36 PM
...  Time flies!

Thought that was 1989?  No?

You, out; you're barred.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 13 October, 2019, 11:43:09 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2015 (2nd Quarter)

A really solid phase for old Tooth with every thrill a production of the highest standard. Scripts are one thing, but check out the artists we've got here - a jump-on cover to prog 1924 by Brian "Be Still My Beating Heart" Bolland, Carlos Ezquerra on Stront, Richard Elson, Henry Flint, Simon Davis and Jake Lynch. Scoop your jaw from the floor, Dear Reader. Scoop.

In (very tight) order of most to least thrilling...


Judge Dredd: Breaking Bud
(1929-1933)
Script: John Wagner, Art: Richard Elson, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


A sequel to 2014's Dead Zone (M350-M355), at the end of which a hi-tech, weaponized stealth bracelet from the future has fallen into the hands of the Justice Department. It allows the wearer to teleport, turn invisible, force people to tell the truth and also serves as a disintegrator (just in case those other powers don't quite cut it).

This, then, is the tale of a citizen who's had enough of being beaten down by a society that doesn't care, and suddenly finds himself in the position of being able to do something about it. Seemingly effortless procedual work from Wagner, supported by top notch art from Richard Elson marks this out as a top thrill. 

(https://i.imgur.com/igsjaYH.png)


Slaine: The Brutania Chronicles, Book Two - Primordial
(1924-1936)
Script: Pat Mills, Art: Simon Davis, Letters: Ellie De Ville


Slaine has rescued Sinead from the Drune lords, but her spirit is broken and she's been purposefully addicted to opium, which speaks to the wider theme of this Book as being one of spirituality and mental health. The Drunes serve as reverse psychologists: rather than trying to cure people they seek to enhance mental illness and have their victims serve them as reliant puppets. It's pretty deep and delves far back into the saga: all the way to the death of Slaine's mother, and how that has shaped him.

I could see a frustration here if it's read as an action thriller: not that there isn't any action - it's knee deep in gore - but ultimately Slaine ends up pretty much where he started after a lot of running around. There's two key things I love here: one is the stupendous painted art by Simon Davis and the other is that it's thought-provoking. An entire episode is pretty much given over to Slaine trying to deal with Sinead's depression. (It could have been a bit more progressive if Slaine had been rescued by Sinead, but you can't have everything.)

(https://i.imgur.com/mZmN4x0.png)


Grey Area: [The Homeworld Arc, sequence 1]
(1924-1931)
Script: Dan Abnett, Art: Mark Harrison, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


I've consistently rated Grey Area as least thrilling in all my Thrill Coma posts so far: five for five, it's always been at the bottom of the pack. And people have been telling me it's got legs, that there's something there I'm either missing or haven't got to yet. I wasn't convinced - but here it's definitely turned a corner.

All they had to do to get my attention was get out of their own Grey Area and into the G.A. of the Harmonious Free, an inwards-focussed alien race who don't believe there's a giant god-star on the way to devouring their planet because they just don't, like, feel it, man.

Through a sequence of tales (Another Day on the Job, Just Routine Questions, Locked In & Talk Down) we get the situation laid out with a vein of dark humour and some crazy-beautiful art from Mark Harrison. The only bum note is that there's no explanation for how the main characters we've been following suddenly know so much about the god-star network and feeding mechanism: it feels like something that happened to them, so I'm not sure how they figured out the how (rather than just the what).

(https://i.imgur.com/AnUcSSh.png)

Extra points for Birdy and Bulliet's relationship not being mentioned at all, even once, but there's still a scene where guys look at naked women in showers and go "phwoarrr". Talking of Carry On...


Strontium Dog: The Stix Fix [or Carry On in North Korea]
(1924-1933)
Script: John Wagner, Art: Carlos Ezquerra, Letters: Simon Bowland


If the question is how racist can you be and still get published in 2000 AD in 2015, this does a good job of answering it. Comedy Koreans who can't speak English properly: check! They also eat dog: check! They're paranoid about being short: check! A central joke is their hilarious naming conventions: check! Blakee Pentax from 1982 has nothing on this. (Don't get me started on the sexual politics.)

Despite Wagner trying his best to outdo Team America and Jim Davidson (and Darkie's Mob), there's quite a strong tale in here of crosses and double-crosses as Alpha tries to solve a case and find his own way to freedom.

(https://i.imgur.com/x4pxSNu.png)


Orlok, Agent of East-Meg One: The Rasputin Caper [or Carry On Down Under]
(1924-1929)
Script: Arthur Wyatt, Art: Jake Lynch, Letters: Ellie De Ville


It's an odd mix of motifs: the ruthless determination of Orlok (the straight guy) played out against giant spider-themed codpieces and broad, very thinly-veiled homages to Tank Girl, Crocodile Dundee and Mad Max. Plot-wise it's chase the McGuffin, which takes the form of a psychic who can sense the future of places: but when that future is too hard to bear, the tragedy is that nobody believes him.

(https://i.imgur.com/iiUxmPK.png)


Judge Dredd: Enceladus, New Life
(1924-1928)
Script: Rob Williams, Art: Henry Flint, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


Stylistically powerfully delivered, but confusingly told: we're back with the invincible Aimee Nixon and her demented hatred for Mega-City One. I've never bought it, thematically, so for me it falls flat (more Star Trek: Nemesis than Wrath of Khan).

There are some chilling, dramatic moments, and an even frostier postscript that suggests worse trouble to come...

(https://i.imgur.com/vWedJmO.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 14 October, 2019, 09:03:34 AM
I've never understood the Stix Fix. This is a post-apocalyptic world where there are tropical jungles in Antarctica, a mutant free-state in Africa, an Intergalactic Crime Commission, time-travel, routine FTL and actual magic, and this story uses a parodic contemporary North Korea. Why?

Why isn't this some sort of made-up futuro-place where Wagner can cut loose with the silly names and cannibalistic royalty? Its not like it works as satire. A very, very odd misstep.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Tiplodocus 15 October, 2019, 07:53:44 AM
Reading back on the prog review threads of all those years ago,  a few people call out accusations of casual racism in Stix Fix and some let it slide with "Get a sense of humour you nanny-state, pc-gone-mad, do-gooders!"
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 15 October, 2019, 09:52:47 AM
2015, eh? Like messages from a lost world.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: IndigoPrime 15 October, 2019, 10:39:44 AM
I don’t recall the responses from the time, but I wonder how much acceptance on a curve there is because Wagner.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 15 October, 2019, 03:26:33 PM
Reading back on the prog review threads of all those years ago,  a few people call out accusations of casual racism in Stix Fix and some let it slide with "Get a sense of humour you nanny-state, pc-gone-mad, do-gooders!"

Putting gently aside obvious defensive reactions about the attack-dog nature of that kind of response: my litmus test for whether something's OK is whether or not I could show it to my high school class and feel safe that I wouldn't find it difficult to defend that decision.

I really loved a lot of the Bill Hicks material I saw: but he was terribly homophobic. Should I just not mention that? Does noticing his homophobia mean I'm someone who needs a sense of humour upgrade? Or that I want to nanny people? Or that I'm insanely driven by political correctness? I don't believe so.

Likewise, I find the creators of The Stix Fix to have done tons of great work over their careers. I could wax lyrical about their stupendous achievements. But drawing Koreans with big buck teeth sneering evilly at us and talking about eating dog? Hey: everyone's free to make their own minds up about how that makes them feel. I know how it makes me feel.

"And you will stop us if you think it's getting even the teeniest bit racist?" (https://youtu.be/Rl76rTxIyzI) (Remember: no laughing!)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 12 December, 2019, 03:42:48 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2015 (Summer Six-Pack)

A powerful line-up where even the misses are hits, so here's a (very tight) run-down of most to least thrilling...


Helium
(1934-1945)
Script: Ian Edginton, Art: D'Israeli, Letters: Ellie De Ville


Giant sky-ships ply their trade above an expanse of poison gas that has covered old England: but something lurks below! Another ripping yarn from Edginton and D'Israeli: it's full of action set pieces that never let us rest for too long. Each episode layers in another facet of this strange, mostly unexplained world - be it another faction, or a revelation of a character's mysterious past. Wonderful and creative, it leaves us begging for a second series.

(https://i.imgur.com/7WHMr0u.png)


Jaegir: Tartarus
(1937-1944)
Script: Gordon Rennie, Art: Simon Coleby, Colours: Len O'Grady, Letters: Ellie De Ville


It's Scooby Doo meets the internal security apparatus of a galactic totalitarian state as Atalia Jaegir (and her easily identifiable crew) investigate the worst excesses of the Nort regime (this time in the form of the infamous Kashan Legion) by ... visiting the kitchens. Yoicks! (Despite my puerility, this is really good stuff: atmospheric, disturbing and compelling.)

(https://i.imgur.com/u2o36uv.png)


Judge Dredd: Blood of Emeralds
(1934-1939)
Script: Michael Carroll, Art: Colin MacNeil, Colours: Chris Blythe, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


I'd not been convinced by Carroll's Dredd up to now, but here it really shines. An assassin attempts to murder Fintan Joyce, which leads us to Murphyville and the uncovering of a dangerous conspiracy. This gets points for ditching the constant references to potatos that marred (mashed?) Emerald Isle (Ennis, 1991), setting a grittier tone whilst still providing a believable sense of place. The unkillable assassin is a great foil: hope to see more of him.

(https://i.imgur.com/LWow4Zw.png)


Judge Dredd: Enceladus - Old Life
(1940-1947)
Script: Rob Williams, Art: Henry Flint, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


This marks the final part of Rob Williams' multi-part stealth-epic, bringing in Aimee Nixon from Low Life as a psychotic belligerent, and SJS Judge Gerhart (from Skulls, prog 1836) as the bionic sidekick who's too tough to die. In Titan (1862-1869), Aimee went full ASBO as she staged a revolt so's she could beat up on Dredd and shout at Hershey over space-Skype. In Enceladus - New Life (1924-1928) she was feeling all hard-done-by because siding with the yakuza and being a psycho hadn't panned out well (go figure), and she got apparently blown to smithereens for her trouble.

Now we learn that something on Enceladus survived and has returned to Earth hell bent on revenge. Despite my dislike for psycho-Aimee and her endless blind rage, this part of the mini-saga plays out well: particularly the slowly chilling city and the atmosphere of dread, ramping up to crazed panic as the pieces start to fall into place.

I dunno: it's a brave Dredd writer that goes anywhere near Titan after the Inferno debacle. I'm not sure of the validity of Justice Department continuing to rebuild it. Wouldn't it be cheaper to do something like drop them into a live volcano? Certainly less trouble, as things have panned out.

Still, if there's one thing The Dark Knight Returns taught us, it's that our heroes look cool riding horses in inclement weather:

(https://i.imgur.com/P854iiV.png)


Outlier: Dark Symmetries
(1935-1944)
Script: T.C. Eglinton, Art: Karl Richardson, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


Lots of pulp sci-fi blended with cyberpunk body-swapping as a man with alien eyes is remote-controlled by an alien agent who's being remote-controlled by the mind of a captive human remote-controlled by some aloof aliens. It works on an action level, but there's maybe one too many relatives to rescue and protagonists to care about as the sequel gets set up before I've figured out how this one's climaxing. Did anyone win? Is that woman left drifting in space doomed, or just sequel-fodder? 

(https://i.imgur.com/xobHWEC.png)


Absalom: Under a False Flag
(1934-1942)
Script: Gordon Rennie, Art: Tiernen Travallion, Letters: Simon Bowland


He kicks puppies into ponds for no reason and he's a racist, xenophobic, murdering Scunthorpe that mows down bicyclists for fun. So, is giving the bastard offspring of Alf Garnet and Jim Davidson (and, if I'm allowed three fathers, Inspector Morse) his grand-kids back really such a good idea? Maybe they'd be better off with the demons? And don't even get me started on the blatant parkour. It's all a bit like an upmarket Big Dave. Balance: great art and a very well-written story with a great plot. (I'm just a curmudgeon about the main character being such a curmudgeon.)

(https://i.imgur.com/XKerMGe.png)


(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/mediumres/1936.jpg)
---------------------------------------
(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/mediumres/1937.jpg)
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(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/mediumres/1940.jpg)
---------------------------------------
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: IndigoPrime 12 December, 2019, 04:12:41 PM
"Wonderful and creative, it leaves us begging for a second series.”

Mm.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 13 December, 2019, 05:17:23 AM
"Wonderful and creative, it leaves us begging for a second series.”

Mm.

Guessing that means you either didn't like the first series, or that you were disappointed by the second.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Dark Jimbo 13 December, 2019, 07:59:19 AM
"Wonderful and creative, it leaves us begging for a second series.”

Mm.

Guessing that means you either didn't like the first series, or that you were disappointed by the second.

When we get that second series, he'll be able to tell you!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: IndigoPrime 13 December, 2019, 08:46:02 AM
I liked it. I’m not overly keen on the gap.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 13 December, 2019, 03:17:45 PM
Typical that both my guesses were wrong. I wouldn't have assumed there was a 4+ year gap on that one. Tempts me to do some data crunching on the average gap between series - I figure it's longer than golden age because there are so many plates being spun at once.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: JayzusB.Christ 13 December, 2019, 04:41:46 PM
I totally agree that Michael Carroll seems to have upped his game on Dredd since that period of progtime.
I was gutted that Dredd had lost Al Ewing, who absolutely nailed it, but Michael has proved to be a slow-burning but very decent addition to the series.  Stories focused around citizens with suitably funny names, robots with hilarious tics, and an intelligent and articulate Dredd who doesn't say things like 'You gotta be some kinda meathead!'.

Also, while I was far from offended by Ennis' Emerald Isle, I found it a bit lame.  Michael did a fine job of giving my city a far more interesting future.  And it's just occurred to me - I was amazed to note that Mike already knew who I was when I met him years ago; and I wonder if Chief Judge Walsh is called after me? Most probably not, it's the third most common Irish surname. But you never know; erstwhile boarder Johnnystress cropped up as a Dredd villain in the past.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: ming 13 December, 2019, 04:44:01 PM
Helium was great and I'd forgotten there'd been such a long intermission since the first series ended; I wonder if/when it'll be back?
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Bolt-01 13 December, 2019, 04:47:54 PM
I believe there is a new series in the works with Tiernan Trevallion on art duties. Looking forward to seeing it.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: ming 13 December, 2019, 04:53:24 PM
I believe there is a new series in the works with Tiernan Trevallion on art duties. Looking forward to seeing it.

Ooh, that sounds good.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 13 December, 2019, 07:03:40 PM
When the horse steps out of the chaos of a destroyed cityscape to rescue and resuscitate a wounded Dredd: I knew it reminded me of something...

(https://i.ytimg.com/vi/43mi4KbsAzc/hqdefault.jpg)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 13 December, 2019, 08:56:02 PM
I believe there is a new series in the works with Tiernan Trevallion on art duties. Looking forward to seeing it.

Even that's been a while coming though now. Seem to remember that was first mentioned maybe a couple of years ago now... certainly over a year. Would love to get it back some time. ...

...actually know I'm getting  a bit ahead of myself when was the last time we had any Brass Sun, feels like a while.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 16 December, 2019, 06:45:05 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2015 (Late Summer Shorts)

Leading up to the prog 1950 jump-on, there's a sequence of shorter, punchier thrills: reviewed here in order of most to least thrilling...


Dreams of Deadworld
(1946-1949)
Script: Kek-W, Dave Kendall, Letters: Ellie De Ville


Presented as four separate tales (Fire, Mortis, Fear and Death), this dares to reimagine four of the most iconic characters in the history of the Dreddverse. Set on Deadworld, before the time when Death first visited Mega-City One, this gently retcons Young Death by sidelining the Sisters of Death and introducing a much wider cast of dark judges. What this short series does is succeed in making the dark judges truly disturbing.

Judge Fire obsesses over a lost passion as we visit the undersea citadel of Sister Despair. Mortis toys with visiting aliens, subjecting them to his dead fluids wine, but seems tied to his toys: his watch and his machines. Judge Fear suffers from his own power: consumed by the memory of a victim who he could not cow. And finally Judge Death judges not only the living, but also his undead comrades if he feels that they are not being respectful enough of the order he has imposed.

(https://i.imgur.com/6nnp4oY.png)


The Alienist: The Haunting of Hex House
(1944-1949)
Script: Emma Beeby, Gordon Rennie, Eoin Coveney, Letters: Simon Bowland


A blinding opening episode sees the usual suspects (seers, mystics, sceptics) install themselves in a haunted house to fathom its mysteries. Things start to go terribly wrong almost immediately, and then a mysterious double-act show up and seem to offer a possible salvation. This is a blend of mysticism and alien horror that sets up an interesting investigative duo in the form of Madelyn Vespertine and her sidekick Reggie. It's not without flaws (the baddie tends to do a lot of posturing and pontificating to no effect) but hopefully will get a chance to refine itself in a follow-up series.

(https://i.imgur.com/GaUhN92.png)


Grey Area
(1945-1948)
Script: Dan Abnett, Mark Harrison, Letters: Ellie De Ville


Continuing the Homeworld arc from earlier in the year, Bulliet and his stranded ETC squad persuade the Harmonious Free that all their warnings about a malevolent god-star descending from space to consume their planet is true. Now it's just a case of getting them to step up and defend themselves. It's a bit like "how do you persuade a planet of introspective hippies to pay attention", and Abnett has a lot of fun with it, even having a flyer that's powered entirely by a meditating psychic ringing little bells.

(https://i.imgur.com/VKGfmZs.png)


Judge Dredd: Ghost Town
(1948-1949)
Script: Ian Edginton, Art: Dave Taylor, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


A great premise and some astounding world-building: this story has it that the Mega-City (suffering from years of city-wide disasters) has shrunk down around the central sectors, leaving huge swathes under-populated and rife with opportunistic crime. Into that: a new cadre of rangers are sent out to be tested, with Dredd in charge of deciding the fate of the nascent program. In that regard, it's a bit like the set-up to The Hotdog Run.

The trouble starts when Dredd begins behaving like a run-of-the-mill corporate bad guy. Some writers get Dredd, and some of them just don't. Sending the muties back into the Cursed Earth didn't make any sense: sure, Dredd follows the law, but he also sometimes follows his own judgement - and sometimes those are at odds (which is why the character is interesting). This just didn't ring true. From that moment on, it's not like I'm reading a Dredd story at all: I immediately went to check the writer, because I knew it wasn't Wagner.

(https://i.imgur.com/LHaeHzw.png)


Tharg's 3rillers: Apocalypse Anonymous
(1945-1947)
Script: Robert Murphy, Art: S. O'Conner, J. Lynch, Colours: Abigail Ryder, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


The Predator meets The Blob: a team of gung-ho holy warriors drop into war-torn Aleppo to take down some hellspawn. The punchline is that the damage done to humanity by the hellspawn is difficult to discern from what's being done by humanity to itself. True dat.

(https://i.imgur.com/7qqKycn.png)


---

(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/mediumres/1944.jpg)
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(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/mediumres/1946.jpg)
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(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/mediumres/1949.jpg)
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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: sheridan 16 December, 2019, 08:23:44 PM
And it's just occurred to me - I was amazed to note that Mike already knew who I was when I met him years ago; and I wonder if Chief Judge Walsh is called after me? Most probably not, it's the third most common Irish surname. But you never know; erstwhile boarder Johnnystress cropped up as a Dredd villain in the past.


Bad news - Walsh has slipped to fourth place - I see that my own surname (Kelly (https://www.irelandbeforeyoudie.com/ranked-top-100-irish-surnames-and-meanings/)) has remained in second place, the same as two centuries ago (https://www.irish-genealogy-toolkit.com/Irish-surnames.html#IrishSurnames-Kelly)!  One day we'll get ahead of the Murphys!



: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: JayzusB.Christ 17 December, 2019, 12:35:50 PM
And it's just occurred to me - I was amazed to note that Mike already knew who I was when I met him years ago; and I wonder if Chief Judge Walsh is called after me? Most probably not, it's the third most common Irish surname. But you never know; erstwhile boarder Johnnystress cropped up as a Dredd villain in the past.


Bad news - Walsh has slipped to fourth place - I see that my own surname (Kelly (https://www.irelandbeforeyoudie.com/ranked-top-100-irish-surnames-and-meanings/)) has remained in second place, the same as two centuries ago (https://www.irish-genealogy-toolkit.com/Irish-surnames.html#IrishSurnames-Kelly)!  One day we'll get ahead of the Murphys!

I thought your surname was Wilde!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 19 January, 2020, 07:39:08 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2015 (Fourth Quarter)

Taking us up to the end of 2015 there's a strong reliance on well-established stories, with Brass Sun's fourth series being the baby as a three year old thrill. Defoe's sixth series comes eight years after launch. Sinister Dexter turn twenty with their latest Generica-set piece. Old hands Bad Company hobble into view at a stately twenty-nine and Dredd dimly recalls his childhood after reaching an age only possible through the use of repeated visits to the rejuve clinic: thirty-eight. In order of most to least thrilling...


Judge Dredd: Serial Serial
(1950-1954)
Script: John Wagner, Art: Colin MacNeil, Colours: Chris Blythe, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


Wagner writing a PJ Maybe thriller, with Colin MacNeil on art: it's top quality before a page is turned. Here, PJ sets himself up as Dredd's assistant, drip-feeding information that leads to another serial killer: one who throws the Judges off the scent by updating his modus operandi after each set of eight kills (the serial serial killer of the title). PJ himself remains elusive (for us and Dredd, who finds the entire charade demeaning).

The final twist sees a patsy brain-washed to believe he is PJ, and locked up in a psycho cube. Of course, this gives Wagner the possibility of releasing a wannabe PJ into the wild at a future date.

(https://i.imgur.com/cwAxDUc.png)


Brass Sun: Motor Head
(1950-1959)
Script: Ian Edginton, Art: INJ Culbard, Letters: Ellie De Ville


This fourth series starts out bleak, with Wren captured and regularly tortured in an attempt to force her to reveal the secrets of the Blind Watchmaker: the AI remnants of a god that lives in her mind. There's something Brazil-like about her attempts at freedom and resistance in the face of surreal and implaccable foes. Ultimately, it's the decency of downtrodden folk that provide a spark of hope.

(https://i.imgur.com/yXYmobr.png)


Defoe: The London Hanged
(1950-1960)
Script: Pat Mills, Art: Leigh Gallagher, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


The sixth book of Defoe sees the interesting characters of his wife and son soon sidelined as a new zombie outbreak leads Defoe to investigate the Vizards (aka Superior Heroes), who serve as utterly evil upper class perverts for Mills to vicariously beat up on. Wonderful art from Gallagher, strong storytelling and a compelling alt-history setting (grounded in strong research) lift this above the foundation of maniacal class war fantasy.

(https://i.imgur.com/XoJLeho.png)


Sinister Dexter: The Taking of the Michael
(1951-1956)
Script: Dan Abnett, Art: Patrick Goddard, Colours: Eva de la Cruz, Letters: Ellie De Ville


On the positives: it's got great art and an interesting storytelling structure where most of the tale is told in flashback from the perspective of the investigation of a crime scene. Otherwise: it's not got much going for it. Sin & Dex are morally vacant glyphs with no arc who are so superhuman that their mistakes (allowing themselves to be spotted stalking their target) go unpunished: their skills so outstripping those of their opponents that they're effectively invulnerable. Perhaps, like Laurel & Hardy, the appeal is supposed to be that the characters themselves (deliberately arc-less) are so entertaining that to witness them at all is the prize. Probably this is best enjoyed by fans of The Fast and the Furious franchise, and Ocean's n.

(https://i.imgur.com/FAHdmkY.png)


Bad Company: First Casualties
(1950-1961)
Script: Peter Milligan, Art: Rufus Dayglo, Jim McCarthy, Letters: Simon Bowland


Hugely disappointing, given the source material. It's got Boris Johnson in it: reason enough to cancel any comic (even in 2015). It makes not one iota of sense, any of the time. Example: the head of a psychiatric clinic allows all of her patients to roam around heavily armed. When they kill people, there's no comeuppance. An insane general then ties the head psychiatrist (Doctor ... Malarkey - *groan*) to a chair so that they can shout at each other during moments that require exposition. It's just utterly, bafflingly bad: for seventy-four pages.

The plot is turgid nonsense: all the characters that died (or became alien god-beings) in previous outtings are now all living together in a retirement village. Danny Franks is still wearing the same hat and has the same haircut as during the war. Kano has a large chunk of open-air head and a wound that literally passes through his entire body, but still walks and talks. Maybe it works on some level as a comedy, but I don't think that's the intention.

(https://i.imgur.com/8onKt9F.png)


---

(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/mediumres/1954.jpg)
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(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/mediumres/1956.jpg)
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(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/mediumres/1959.jpg)
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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Buttonman 22 January, 2020, 10:12:40 AM
They really should install 'like' buttons on here. This thread you'd get 'thread of the year' hands down. Well, top three at any rate.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 22 January, 2020, 03:40:38 PM
Thank-you, oh Buttonman of impeccable taste. Congratulations, by the way, on your letter centennial. I've considered writing in, but as I'm still a few years behind there's only so much mileage I could get out of "letters from the past".

"Dear Tharg, I really enjoyed something you published four years ago. Etc."

About "likes": I do check the number of thread views to try and ensure that I'm not just whistling into the wind.

I'm looking forward to 2016: it's got prog 2000 in it (you know, the real one).
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Fungus 22 January, 2020, 05:02:52 PM
It’s a top thread!
Nice dissemination of recent past, always pithy and on-the-money summaries. Pics are welcome too 👍

Eg. First Casualties... It did just limp on, infuriatingly. Never did make its point. Maybe that’s reflective of War. Who cares!?!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 22 January, 2020, 09:16:06 PM
I'm going to leave my previous defense of NuBad Compnay here. I really enjoy it... as I do Funt Solo's glorious musings as others have said.

(https://i.imgur.com/GDUBOyR.jpg)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 22 January, 2020, 09:17:40 PM
I'm going to leave my previous defense of NuBad Compnay here. I really enjoy it... as I do Funt Solo's glorious musings as others have said.

(https://i.imgur.com/GDUBOyR.jpg)

Err okay that's annoying was preparing a post for my thread and clearly had the wrong address copied. SORRY! Let's try that again.

(http://i.imgur.com/fqfNOqG.jpg)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: DrJomster 22 January, 2020, 11:14:12 PM
They really should install 'like' buttons on here. This thread you'd get 'thread of the year' hands down. Well, top three at any rate.

This. Good thread.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 23 January, 2020, 03:14:30 PM
Hey Colin - I love your Calvin & Hobbes inspired "Danny and Kano". My wife helped me with the fact that it's an homage to an actual C & H strip (as opposed to just the style) as she's a big C & H fan.

Also: great reading of Bad Company (First Casualties): it's a sort of metaphysical war poem in comic form. That sort of depth often escapes me: I'm quite a dullard when it comes to deep poetry.

It made me think of bands that have great success and then start doing more experimental music, losing lots of their original fans in the process who don't get the new stuff. A friend once said Metallica had gone too "twiddly", for example.

I can listen to Dummy and Portishead for days on end without a break and still be in a state of bliss. Third left me cold, though.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 23 January, 2020, 03:37:26 PM
Yup. Funt thread is best thread.

I too bounced straight off the last few Bad Companies. I really, really tried to embrace the metabouttery of it all, and I never tire of looking at Rufus' vibrant art, but ultimately for me they didn't work as sequels or as standalone stories. The non-explanations of character resurrections -not to mention that of Earth itself -  the by-now clichéd Min Town false flag shenanigans, the improbable rampaging about and endless psychoactive wotsits... just didn't amount to anything for me.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 27 February, 2020, 10:00:08 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2016 (First Quarter)

A heavy reliance on established thrills continues, with mixed results. The high production quality throughout, and the never less than wonderful art lift up some tales that are somewhat lacking in consistent thrill-wattage. In order, then, of most to least thrilling...


Judge Dredd: Undercover Klegg
(1969-1972)
Script: Rob Williams, Art: D'Israeli, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


After the seriousness of the preceding Ghosts (see below), it took a moment to switch into full blown comedy Dredd mode for this tale of dangerous diplomacy with those masters of slicing and dicing, the Kleggs. Having a window into Dredd's mind, and his almost constant desire to murder Sensitive Klegg, produces a great throughline as their Odd Couple is waylaid on the way to the peace summit.

The final episode, where Sensitive Klegg descends into a song so interminable that it causes the opposing factions to unite against him, was tested for thrill-power by my singing it out loud to the resident seven-year old, who was chuckling away.  Test passed!

(https://i.imgur.com/2wH2sMG.png)


Kingdom: Beast of Eden
(1961-1972)
Script: Dan Abnett, Art: Richard Elson, Letters: Ellie De Ville


Always a favorite, this has been around long enough that it's in danger of running into its own cliches, but still manages to drive forwards as a beautiful mixture of Mad Max, Damnation Alley and The Omega Man. A bit of shame that Clara Bow gets relegated to Her Indoors status, but perhaps that's allowing a later thread to flourish.

Here we see the return of the Masters, popping down from orbit (somewhat suicidally) to study the effects of their attempts to neutralize the dominant insectoid Them that have taken over Earth. Once again, as we pass another chapter, some questions are answered and more are opened up.

(https://i.imgur.com/LRlDbe6.png)


Judge Dredd: Ghosts
(1963-1968)
Script: Michael Carroll, Art: Mark Sexton, Colours: Len O'Grady, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


This has a hugely powerful opening set-up but soon becomes derivative and, for something that seems almost city-shattering, gets sewn up too fast for us to revel in the potential threat. Like an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where everything gets reset at the end.

The idea of hidden shadows of Justice Department seemed acceptably twisted and just about buyable with The Judda, but when Smiley popped out of a secret office in the wall during Trifecta that was just hokum. Did he sneak out of a secret door at night to raid the snack machine? Now there's another gang of parallel Judges that have supposedly been hanging out in the city undetected since before Prog 2.

And why does Dredd summarily execute his prisoner at the end? I can count on one hand the number of times Dredd just up and executes someone who's at his mercy - and usually we get some reasoning (Griffin during The Apocalypse War, and some traitors in the same conflict) or it's just not Wagner (I can think of Grant doing it years ago, then Edginton recently with Ghost Town). Surely questioning this guy would be more useful?

(https://i.imgur.com/svIhm9a.png)


Strontium Dog: Repo Men
(1961-1971)
Script: John Wagner, Art: Carlos Ezquerra, Letters: Simon Bowland


You can sort Strontium Dog adventures into three types: the dark post-apocalyptic apartheid analogy, the bounty hunter western and the shaggy dog caper. The latter is my least favorite of the three, and Repo Men sits clearly in that space - literally having a character named Shaggy who it turns out is at the centre of the entire caper.

That being said, it's a tale well told, even though there's a lot of talking heads and much of it is set on a deliberatly unremarkable planet. This is one of those cases where Wagner is in relaxed form and it's Ezquerra's remarkable art (always just so consistently great) that lifts things up.

I know Kid Knee is supposed to be irritating: the trouble being he really is. It's a rare moment as a comic reader where I want an [ignore] feature for a character.

(https://i.imgur.com/cNx2z4q.png)


The A.B.C. Warriors: Return to Ro-Busters
(1961-1972)
Script: Pat Mills, Art: Clint Langley, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


The first episode is dementedly highly entertaining as the Ro-Busters freak the hell out of a learner driver whilst trying to warn them away from impending disaster. Unfortunately, this then segues quickly into a standard Mills tale (or re-tale) of the workers against the evil suits, riffing off The Fall And Rise Of Ro-Jaws & Hammerstein (from progs 103-115).

As is too often the case with Mills' oeuvre, too much author polemic overshadows the plot. Sometimes the work manages to overcome it (Savage, Slaine, Defoe, Nemesis) but at other times the ranting is too powerful (here, recent Flesh, Greysuit, Finn) and the plotting recedes. I appreciate that 2000 AD gives their creators a lot of freedom, and that's a good overall policy, but this re-hashing of tales from the 70s with added layers of conspiracy theory leaves me cold.

(https://i.imgur.com/9aHCH0b.jpg)


The Order: In The Court of the Wyrmqueen
(1961-1972)
Script: Kek-W, Art: John Burns, Letters: Ellie De Ville


I really enjoyed the first series, and we were introduced to those characters at a good clip: so there was a danger of not being able to tell them apart in the chaos. This follow-up series turns the volume up to 11 and made me feel as if I'd been dropped into someone else's steampunk GURPS campaign in about year three.

Mostly I was just confused. Lots of shouting, something about a robot consciousness, big worms on fire: too many characters to track. The End. It probably deserves a third series, but on the strength of the first one: not this chaos. And motorbikes: no! (Balloon contraptions acceptable.)

There is also the problem that the main enemy is lots of worms. Not much personality there.

(https://i.imgur.com/MVV1smM.png)
 

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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 15 March, 2020, 06:06:10 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2016 (Spring Boarders)

After a somewhat predictable start to the year, the Spring jump-on feels much fresher, with a raft of newer strips and what looks like the beginning of a new, chained, non-Wagner Dredd epic. In order of most to least thrilling...


Survival Geeks: Geeks Fatales / Lord of the Ringers
(1973-1981)
Script: Emma Beeby & Gordon Rennie, Art: Neil Googe, Colours: Gary Caldwell, Letters: Ellie De Ville


Whilst this strip was borne of the high concept format of shows like Time Tunnel, Doctor Who and Quantum Leap, it manages to avoid the episodic repetetiveness of its inspirations in favor of squaring the high concept and turning the volume up to 11.

We're dropped straight into Neil Googe's beautifully rendered, manic action in Geeks Fatales but thrown an immediate curveball as we find ourselves meeting the gender-opposite dimensional versions of the cast, who are soon united with the regulars in a short-lived team-up. If there's a criticism here, it's only that you need to be a regular reader to get the joke: with the last series in the prog being about a year ago.

Lord of the Ringers brings in a past threat to provide a throughline and ramps up the comedy with various fourth wall breakages deliberately invoked to play with exposition. Whether any of this has any kind of long-term arc is perhaps a superfluous question. This is clearly fun to make and it's equally fun to read.

(https://i.imgur.com/CPMMzKs.png)


Tainted: The Fall of Deadworld
(1973-1981)
Script: Kek-W, Art: Dave Kendall, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


Following on (thematically, and with the same creative team) from 2015's four-part Dreams of Deadworld, this tale is set during the Dark Judge's takeover of their Justice system, but mostly told from the perspective of a farming family who are trying to make sense of a world riven by plagues and extreme weather events of biblical proportions.

With the spread of the dead fluids and the apocalyptic tone of a society descending into murderous chaos, there's a sense of homage to the zombie genre here, with scenes reminiscent of Romero's Night of the Living Dead series of movies.

It is muddled in places: with the Sister Psiren sub-plot somewhat difficult to fathom as it relates to Judge Fairfax. Her switch from companion to dark judge seemed to come out of nowhere. Still: a sense of dark mystery and unease pervades the entire tale.


(https://i.imgur.com/KDpM2ga.png)


Judge Dredd: The Grindstone Cowboys
(1973-1977)
Script: Michael Carroll, Art: Colin MacNeil, Colours: Len O'Grady, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


An odd fish here as we get Carroll's first foray into chained mega-epic territory. On the one hand, there's the impeccable timing of a prog-shattering climax in prog 1977 and on the other there's some confused storytelling as Dredd and Rico get sent on a mission together and it ends up being quite difficult to tell them apart. Prog 1975's cover suggests a Judge's death that's not apparent in the story itself.

The grander scheme of political machinations (seeming to foreshadow difficulties to come) plays out well against the foreground of the mission against raiders in the Cursed Earth who are threatening the city's supply lines. The main villain - a masked giant who seems to have stepped out of a computer game (Splatterhouse from 80s arcades) - is a characterless foil who continually lumbers away around corners like a faceless McGuffin.

(https://i.imgur.com/bvkUV3q.png)


The end clearly isn't, and we're told to keep reading in the Megazine, giving us our first prog / meg crossover since 1999's War Games / Doomsday. In summary: we have some storytelling flaws in a very compelling deeper plot that seems set to shake the foundations of Dredd's world.

(https://i.imgur.com/DZGTikq.png)


Aquila: Charon's Mercy
(1973-1978)
Script: Gordon Rennie, Art: Paul Davidson, Colours: Len O'Grady, Letters: Ellie De Ville


Entertaining Grand Guignol where Aquila's sidekick starts to play as more of a D&D rogue style character (Ukko with bite) as the pair enter an evil necromancer's tower and do devilish deals in order to gain information to move their quest forward.

It's got dark comedy (focussed on the necromancer arguing with his long-term captives - who he experiments on endlessly for his own amusement) and lots of combat gore and action, but seems to have strayed so far into the cartoon villainy that the drama it began with has filtered away.

(https://i.imgur.com/H2pVGWE.png)


Tharg's 3rillers: Repossession Orders
(1973-1975)
Script: Eddie Robson, Art: Jake Lynch, Letters: Simon Bowland


A spooky but sparse tale of haunted yuppie-dom. I'm a big fan of the 3rillers format (after all: it launched Survival Geeks), but this one feels like a stretched out Terror Tale, and one of the weaker ones.

(https://i.imgur.com/hVfvvo6.png)
 

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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 20 March, 2020, 05:28:51 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2016 (Summer Sagas)

The major event here is a bravura prog/meg crossover that started with The Grindstone Cowboys (see last post) then winds its way into the Megazine and back into the prog covering an eighteen week stretch and weighing in at 148 pages with four different artists (and two colourists). Added to that we get three follow-up thrills (of unfortunately fairly low wattage) and one new space saga. In order of most to least thrilling...


++SPOILER ALERT++


Judge Dredd
Script: Michael Carrol, Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Dust to Dust (M371-M373), Art: Henry Flint
The Lion's Den (1978-1985), Art: PJ Holden, Colours: Adam Brown
Reclamation (1986-1990), Art: Colin MacNeil, Colours: Len O'Grady
From the Ashes (M374), Art: Carlos Ezquerra

In the opening salvo of The Grindstone Cowboys, Dredd & Rico tracked a group of marauders who were threatening MC-1's Cursed Earth supply lines, but the leader (the protagonist from 80s arcade classic Splatterhouse) kept evading them. At the climax Dredd is first badly wounded and then his medivac shuttle mysteriously explodes! All the squaxx are like "Michael! You can't kill the title character!"

Publishing order, by the way, goes like this:

(https://i.imgur.com/dadYXj3.png)


The meg's Dust to Dust sees Rico join up with Major Eazy Judge Koburn and some stereotypical native americans (feathers, savage nobility, mystic powers: check!) to track Splatterhouse: only to find that he's a pawn of ... but wait!

(https://i.imgur.com/OvNDneB.png)


In The Lion's Den, Judge Joyce is handed over to Brit-Cit to stand trial for the Murphyville Spaceport massacre (clue: he's innocent) and finds himself a target of some shady undercover types. Turns out Brit-Cit has a rogue high level cadre bent on the destruction of MC-1. Oh, and Dredd's alive! He was teleported out of the med shuttle! Armitage gets roped in on the goodies side while in MC-1 Hershey does a deal with Texas City to bring some of their Judges in to shore up their strength. She's like Lando in The Empire Strikes Back, because the deal keeps getting worse. Turns out that Brit-Cit are just acting as the pawns of ... but wait!

(https://i.imgur.com/5wngx1G.png)


In Reclamation it's revealed that Texas City has planned the entire debacle in an attempt to run a quiet coup on MC-1 and commit mutie genocide (and beat up on Judge Giant). He's having none of that, and (see title) the fight back begins:

(https://i.imgur.com/fjFWCjn.png)


Finally, From the Ashes provides an interesting denouement to the saga, where *new psi-Judge I don't recognize* is going to get installed as the new CJ of TC. It's been a grand old saga with some impeccable timing, but this part seems weak: just because their coup fails I don't see why they're going to accept Hershey installing a new CJ in TC (from MC-1). I mean: why?

(https://i.imgur.com/njXwvSv.png)


Grey Area: End Game
(1982-1987)
Script: Dan Abnett, Art: Mark Harrison, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


The Homeworld saga has been my favorite part of Grey Area and here we get the climax (they don't all die) and the denouement (they get to go home) that we've been expecting (more or less). I've always detested Birdy's relegation from the first character we meet, to Bulliet's whimpering squeeze, so the focus on their wedding, and him being all macho and her being all girlie makes me get all triggered. And the Bitch joke, whilst on the one hand vaguely amusing the first time, now seems just like an excuse for the writer to call women bitches and get away with it - which is going to continue now that Resting Bitch Face is going back to Earth with them. It's all pretty misogynistic, but using humour as a blind.

(https://i.imgur.com/vwiFF5X.png)


Black Shuck: Sins of the Father
(1983-1992)
Script: Leah Moore, John Reppion, Art: Steve Yeowell, Colours: Chris Blythe, Letters: Ellie De Ville


An odd mixture of history, a Fortean Times article and an episode of Vikings. I feel like this should be much more exciting than it turns out to be. One of the storytelling issues I struggle with is the amount of folk with long dark hair that I can't tell apart: including the hero and the antagonist (which is problematic).

(https://i.imgur.com/vkPCvKd.png)


Slaine: The Brutania Chronicles, Book Three - Psychopomp
(1979-1988)
Script: Pat Mills, Art: Simon Davis, Letters: Ellie De Ville


We all celebrated when Nemesis and Torquemada fought their way across several pages of beautiful Kevin O'Neill illuminations back in the day. And here we have beautiful painted art by Simon Davis with amazing colour palettes.

But: the end of the previous book had a 2-episode confrontation which now continues with a further 4 episodes of the same confrontation. That's 36 pages of one fight - and most of it consists of Gododin blathering on and winding up Slaine as he gets beaten well beyond a pulp. What: is he trying to bore him to death? Beautiful art is one thing: but you can't polish a turd.

Thankfully, we do eventually get to see some other locations - and the Macha flashbacks are quite interesting - but overall this type of story where the bad guy just shouts at the hero for pages and pages and pages, even psychically when they're not actually in the same place (and often seemingly as an excuse to witness the author's extensive research) is boring. Beautiful to look at, but boring to read.

(https://i.imgur.com/5BfVAFz.png)


Brink
(1978-1992)
Script: Dan Abnett, Art: INJ Culbard, Letters: Simon Bowland


You know something's gone terribly wrong when the title character gets bludgeoned to death and nobody cares. I have no idea how this ended up as a comic, because it's clearly a book: way too much talking heads. Look at them sit around and talk - witness the extensive prose:

(https://i.imgur.com/2wftWMf.png)


And you're supposed to show, not tell! It's a visual medium. Having little boxes (explaining your extensive world-building) subdues my willing suspension of disbelief. Out of the flow I am dragged, by the little yellow boxes:

(https://i.imgur.com/YM6KfwO.png)


It does pick up a bit in the second half, but it was a long road. On the positive: I think it's an interesting world, and the overarching plot is intriguing, but (as I've said) I struggled mightily with the chosen methods of storytelling.
 

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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: IndigoPrime 20 March, 2020, 09:22:02 PM
Stick with Brink.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 21 March, 2020, 05:37:43 AM
Be patience with Brink, it can be that it takes a little longer to build to the climax but it is worthwhile the read.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Blue Cactus 21 March, 2020, 12:20:40 PM
I'm kind of with you on Grey Area. Didn't like the way Birdie, initially our main character and the one the story was designed to get us invested in, was sidelined, didn't like the episode where she was naked the whole way through, and increasingly unfomfortable with 'Bitch'. Otherwise I really like this story.

Does anyone know how to pronounce 'Bulliet'?
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Greg M. 21 March, 2020, 12:38:22 PM
I have no idea how this ended up as a comic, because it's clearly a book: way too much talking heads. Look at them sit around and talk

I agree completely with this, and personally find Brink amongst the dullest stories Tharg's ever run, wildly unsuited to the weekly format - though saying that here makes me feel like Anthrax Ghoulshadow, shaking my titanium claw at a Brink-loving mob who will shortly thereafter see me beheaded.

However, I acknowledge the strip's objective quality, and suspect you will grow to enjoy it in a way that I cannot.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 21 March, 2020, 03:03:41 PM
I always delight in the diversity of opinion in the fans of the Prog. Its what I think has been a massive contribution to why its lasted so long and been so rich. A board set of opinions means that the Prog by necessity is a mixed bag and all the richer for it.

The fact that some folks don't warm to Brink is such a fine example of that. While most of us (rightly) lord it for its glorious storytelling, its compelling dialogue and ability to carry a complex story so well though a series of staccato scenes is so fresh and engaging. Yet for all its brilliance we wouldn't be 2000ad without folks struggling and going what's all that about, but turning to the next thing and loving it.

Its a kind to me really not liking original Rogue. I know full well I'm in a minority there but wouldn't have it any other way.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 21 March, 2020, 04:06:20 PM
Does anyone know how to pronounce 'Bulliet'?

I do it like the French (*cough*). Bool-ee-A. It could be Bool-ee-ette, but he's too macho to have an ette, I figure.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: IndigoPrime 21 March, 2020, 05:10:16 PM
Boo-ee-eh also an option.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 24 March, 2020, 11:25:39 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2016 (Autumnal Adventures)

A bit of masterful shuffling from the Thargmeister provides us with five vari-length thrills that all reach their respective conclusions just in time for the two thousandth prog. In order of most to least thrilling...


Scarlet Traces: Cold War
(1988-1999)
Script: Ian Edginton, Art: D'Israeli, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


Scarlet Traces has been interesting to follow: the entire first series first showed up in the Meg in 2002 (after what turned out to be an abortive online launch), and then there was a follow up series (The Great Game) in 2006 (published by Dark Horse). Both of those were fascinating sequels to H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, and Cold War is a very welcome third outing with the same creative team.

In this reality, Venus isn't quite as inhospitable as physics would suggest, and has been invaded by the martians (who aren't actually native martians anyway). The locals, consisting of a couple of different sentient races, have been subjugated: with many of the dominant species having escaped to Earth as refugees, where they live as second class citizens and are frowned upon by the white majority.

Questions of race are threaded throughout the series - with the martians themselves having a caste system that seems to demonize their humanoid form brethren in favor of the pure caste. That all of these broad questions of racial and economic inequality don't overburden what's also an inter-planetary ripping yarn is testament to the prowess and depth of Edginton's script, well supported by some crackingly dynamic art from D'Israeli.

Altogether now...

(https://i.imgur.com/tBs38Fb.png)


Judge Dredd: Ladykiller
(1991-1998)
Script: John Wagner, Art: Carlos Ezquerra, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


Wagner and Ezquerra on a PJ Maybe eight-parter seems like an automatic goal, and this doesn't disappoint, with Carlos providing seemingly effortless visions of the crazy citizenry of the Mega-City.

There's a sense early on that Maybe's getting close to the edge, with information that he's had so many face changes that his skin won't take another: and so he's resorted to disguises - most of which involve crossdressing. I can't tell if that's supposed to be telling us something about his fracturing character (as he's never shown any sign of either crossdressing or bisexuality before now) or if it was just an excuse to draw lots of sexy women.

The fracturing continues as he starts to argue with his inner self (going full Gollum) and things spiral out of control: a dance of death between Maybe and his nemesis Dredd.

It seems as if this is the very final chapter for Maybe as he ends up a gooey stain in an explosive finale, but it's testament to his character that I suspect he's somehow gotten out of it. Of course: there's always the character he hypnotized into believing he was also Maybe (at the end of Serial Serial) to carry on the intermittent saga in some fashion.

(https://i.imgur.com/TXOJnAZ.png)


Jaegir: Warchild
(1996-1999)
Script: Gordon Rennie, Art: Simon Coleby, Colours: Len O'Grady, Letters: Simon Bowland


Jaegir's atmosphere is like a hopeless, waking nightmare: but, y'know, in a good way. There's a sense of brooding despair oozing from the page as Natalia wrestles with dredging up a way of caring about the father she hates, even as her every waking moment is consumed by the need to hunt down and kill representations of her last vestiges of hope. So bleak. So good.

(https://i.imgur.com/dgrE8FA.png)


Outlier: Survivor Guilt
(1990-1999)
Script: T.C. Eglington, Art: Karl Richardson, Letters: Ellie deVille


This third book is an odd fish: presenting what were the male heroes of parts one and two as pointless dreamers (or cogs). It's the betrayed female commander and the rescued wife (both from the second book) that are the only drivers of sanity here: but their attempts to steer a path of logic are but motes in the eye of the macho military machine that brings down the wrath of the Hurde on humanity.

Certainly, this feels like a final chapter.

(https://i.imgur.com/VWS56nA.png)
 

Anderson Psi-Division: The Candidate
(1993-1999)
Script: Emma Beeby, Art: Nick Dyer, Colours: Richard Elson, Letters: Ellie deVille


Quite a compelling puzzle box of a story: I'd be interested to see how well I'd like it with a different artist. I was confused at times what the drama was trying to convey: and I'm not sure who to blame - maybe it's me.

(https://i.imgur.com/YL79yEz.png)

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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 24 April, 2020, 11:01:34 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2016 (Fourth Quarter)

A tightly-packed fourth quarter has the six-pagers jostling for position in a line-up that's four-fifths
old school. In order of most to least thrilling...


Judge Dredd

Three thrills of three progs each treat us to three very different tales...

The Cube Root of Evil (2007-2009) S: Arthur Wyatt, A: Jake Lynch, C: John Charles, L: Annie Parkhouse

The best of the bunch: slightly reminiscent of great thrills such as those featuring Oola Blint, but with a Delicatessan twist. That this sets itself up for sequels feels like a treat for the future (and that the cubes seem to be terribly morish makes this all the more fun). R2-D2's cousin was a bit distracting, though.

(https://i.imgur.com/ttXVuV8.png)

Act of Grud (2004-2006) S: Rob Williams, A: Henry Flint, L: Annie Parkhouse

A really well told story lets us know what happened to Judge Sam after the Enceladus sequence, and sets up an investigation of a conspiracy within the Justice Department (featuring Ninja-Judges, which is cool). It's fairly clear that this involves the odd fish Smiley that was central to the Trifecta plot. Trifecta has always felt a bit alternity, though, which throws up the odd feeling that Rob Williams has a Dreddverse that's not quite coherent with Michael Carroll's Dreddverse (where Ghosts, earlier in the year, told almost this exact story). How many secret, underground Justice Departments are there? Quimby from Acc-Div won't be pleased with all these budget irregularities.

(https://i.imgur.com/hK4Bqy3.png)

Get Sin (2001-2003) S: Rob Williams, A: Trevor Hairsine & Barry Kitsun, C: Dylan Teague, L: Annie Parkhouse

Playing out slightly smugly as the Apocalypse Squad (2138 version) take revenge on the Sov's slaughter of penal Judges back in the Enceladus sequence. Eventually descending into scenes reminiscent of meat-grinder levels in an FPS game, this is nevertheless fun and has a great opening sequence.

(https://i.imgur.com/3a7sXTK.png)


Savage: Book Ten - The Marze Murderer
(2001-2010)
S: Pat Mills, A: Patrick Goddard, L: Annie Parkhouse


Great art and dark characterization propel this forward through some vibrant action sequences. Nika Volodina (a visual clone of Ukranian politician Yulia Tymoshenko) is an interesting character who suffers in the boy's club of the Russian Volgan secret police, run by a soviet version of Jonathan Steed. The depth of characterization lets this off the hook (sic) when it tries things that don't quite work - such as the attempts to get across atmospheric music in a comic format (tricky to get right) and the odd choice to blend Decepticons into Savage's world.

(https://i.imgur.com/DHpHmhd.png)


Hunted
(2001-2009)
S: Gordon Rennie, A: PJ Holden, C: Len O'Grady, L: Simon Bowland


A slightly odd fish that inserts an untold Tale of the Traitor General into what we thought we knew of the Nu Earth story, marking him as the protagonist. It works well as a story, and it's interesting to experiment with the idea that the out and out villain of Rogue Trooper had motives beyond simple self-interest. It also finds time to be a Jaegir flashback / crossover story, whilst also featuring Rogue and the biochips.

(https://i.imgur.com/4TFdJVU.png)


Flesh: Gorehead
(2001-2010)
S: Pat Mills, A: Clint Langley, L: Ellie De Ville


Fair to say I haven't been enjoying the modern Flesh saga, and in particular the character of Gorehead, who I find too iconic. Flesh has always played with the idea that the terrible beast (e.g. Old One Eye) has designs beyond the merely instinctual, but branding "666" on a tyrannosaur's face and making it both invincible and able to teleport at will seems to be over-egging the cake. And these are pterodactyl eggs: which are huge. But then Langley does this:

(https://i.imgur.com/Z4kboKh.png)

...and I'm all, like, woah! This is amazing! And, visually, it is amazing. The characters are all insane in a Shakespearean way. You could make this a movie and have people like Nicholas Cage, Emma Stone and Christopher Walken chew up the scenery. It's clear that Mills is thinking about movies as he directly channels The Good, The Bad and The Ugly with this homage:

(https://i.imgur.com/8i0c2LM.png)
 

Counterfeit Girl
(2000-2008 & 2010)
S: Peter Milligan, A: Rufus Dayglo, C: Dom Regan, L: Ellie De Ville


This one smells heavily of Marmite, in that I can imagine it making the top of people's lists just as readily as it made the bottom of mine. I guess I'm just not into this much psychedelia (but then I rated the Zaucer, so I'm not sure it's that). I just didn't want to read any more of it after about three episodes, so not my cup of nano-tea. Summary: it's like a cross between Johnny Mnemonic and 1990's Shadows.

(https://i.imgur.com/Zx2IKGq.png)

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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 23 May, 2020, 11:50:47 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2017 (First Quarter)

In order of most to least thrilling (but it's a tight field in a strong quarter)...


Hope...for the Future
(2011-2016)
S: Guy Adams, A: Jimmy Broxton, L: Simon Bowland


The noir occult turned up before in the briefly flowering form of Diceman (1986), but never rendered in such a disturbingly effective form. Need ... more ...

(https://i.imgur.com/ukZfoSa.png)


Kingmaker
(2011-2022)
S: Ian Edginton, A: Leigh Gallagher, L: Ellie De Ville


My initial thought was that this was too derivative, as the opening scene seemed to be going beyond homage as it depicted only a slightly altered Lord of the Rings, but then the spaceships turned up. I just ate this up: it's a bit like Firekind meets LOTR.

(https://i.imgur.com/j1VOeUp.png)


Judge Dredd: Deep in the Heart
(2012-2019)
S: Michael Carroll, A: Tiernen Trevallion (1-4), Henry Flint (5-8), L: Annie Parkhouse


Suffering a little from overlap with Rob Williams' secret Judge force, Carroll's MC-1 goes on a tour of TC to track a fugitive. It seems odd to have a group of secret Judges who are so clearly opposed to the existing Judges. Fighting amongst oneselves: not very wise. Great art and a wonderful scene where an arrest goes badly lift this above its shaky foundations.

(https://i.imgur.com/eoIJ9qB.png)


Kingdom: As It Is In Heaven
(2011-2022)
S: Dan Abnett, A: Richard Elson, L: Ellie De Ville


There are some strong story beats here (the Leezee reveal, for example), but they're stretched too thinly over the twelve episodes. The humans are so dense it's a wonder they've survived any length of time on the station. The backgrounds tend to boring, with far too many gradient fills in place of detail. So, I was glad when this happened:

(https://i.imgur.com/8JS151v.png)


The Order: Wyrm War
(2011-2022)
S: Kek-W, A: John Burns, L: Annie Parkhouse


My favorite bit was where Cyrano de Bergerac and the wyrm woman were flirting in a pool. I think otherwise I need to reduce the speed on my life by about half in order to be able to take this all in. I get to the end of a series of The Order and am always thinking "some colourful people I don't know very well chopped up some worms and shouted a lot".

(https://i.imgur.com/yE9eBEh.png)


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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 24 May, 2020, 06:58:34 AM
That is such a strong set of thrills, already a chilling 3 years old!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 07 June, 2020, 05:22:09 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2017 (Second Quarter)

A really strong quarter, in order of most to least thrilling (in a super-tight field)...


The Fall of Deadworld: Cursed (https://shop.2000ad.com/catalogue/GRN619)
(2023-2033)
S: Kek-W, A: Dave Kendall, L: Annie Parkhouse


Judge Fear was always a great idea, but it's only now that he's become truly frightening. The amazing thing about Dave Kendall's rendering of Kek-W's horror is that it's just so atmospheric. There aren't many comics that send a shiver up my spine and make me feel genuine threat - it's something that horror movies (with their spooky music and jump-scares) can do more readily. Arkham Asylum's the only obvious comparison, although its level of abstraction serves as a safe remove, whereas here there's just no escape.

Playing out like Dawn of the Dead, there's a sense in which the humans, under seige from an unstoppable (and highly contagious) foe are at times their own worst enemy. Certainly, our protagonist is under threat from them almost as much as from the undead poised to take over the planet.

I wonder how this plays for any reader who's not familiar with Young Death from the early Megazine, as the flashbacks entwine this version of Deadworld with that one to a greater extent as each chapter of The Fall is produced.

(https://i.imgur.com/SuheNJk.png)


Scarlet Traces: Cold War [Book 2] (https://shop.2000ad.com/catalogue/GRN622)
(2023-2034)
S: Ian Edginton, A: D'Israeli, L: Annie Parkhouse


There's a sense for me that this is set in the same universe as the original Dan Dare, in that it harks back to a different time in Britain's history. It's a powerful story, with three main threads as we follow the Earth fleet, the Martian agent who's having human thoughts and the Venutian agent who's our protagonist.

It's a wonderfully dense twelve episodes with stupendous art from D'Israeli: from space fleets to drooling martians to embryos in ultrascan.

Suffering slightly from Star Trek-itis, where every alien is ultimately a humanoid (including the progenitor martians), there is (though) a foreshadowed sense that somehow that could be explained later by some kind of "seeding the stars" sub-thread.

In summary: an excellent slice of the wider saga, to be savoured over multiple re-reads.

(https://i.imgur.com/5Avm213.png)


Brink: Skeleton Life (https://shop.2000ad.com/catalogue/GRN637)
(2023-2040)
S: Dan Abnett, A: INJ Culbard, L: Simon Bowland


This is so much better than the first book, which suffered from the title character being a beyond bland baloni sandwich. Things improved immeasurably when he was clubbed to death. Now we're still on the brink, but focussed on the far more compelling character of Bridget Kurtis.

The plot circles around mysterious suicides aboard a partially built space habitat and dovetails into corporate machinations (although the cultish xeno-threat of the first chapter simmers just beneath the surface). Whilst the art can be breathtakingly atmospheric, there's something of a reliance on detail-free, background gradient-fills that leaves things feeling empty at times.

The yellow callout boxes still clutter the frames, providing mostly redundant exposition. I can't quite fathom their purpose - sometimes it feels like the author just wanted to provide all their deep research, or they were worried that the plot would be too complex without them (it's not: see Blade Runner's infamous voice over). At the beginning of part #5, it seems as if they might be overlays that the characters are seeing projected somehow. At any rate, I've learned to ignore them in much the same way that pop-up ads on web pages get ignored.

The graphical design choice complaints are minor issues in what's a wonderfully atmospheric space opera that plays as haunted house and murder mystery, and is a lot more entertaining than a lot of filmic, cerebral sci-fi thrillers.

(https://i.imgur.com/2dXOkVJ.png)


Judge Dredd: Harvey
(2024-2029)
S: John Wagner, A: John McCrea, C: Mike Spicer, L: Annie Parkhouse


Like a giddy fanboy I got really excited when I saw a Mechanismo follow-up was on the way. There's the occasional allusion in Dredd to robot auxiliaries, but here Wagner comes back to the core question of whether a robot Judge should have complete autonomy. The key twist is that these Mechanismo units have an AI-learning routine that is specifically engineered to make them more sympathetic to the plight of the citizens.

Asimov's Three Laws are completely out the window as Dredd assesses the titular Harvey and finds him effectively perfect at the job (of blowing perps bones away). However, Dredd's instinct and experience tells him that the potential threat is too high and so he fails Harvey. And this is where the tale starts to disintegrate.

Hershey, who had promised (https://youtu.be/aplSQGHPmvI) to abide by Dredd's decision, immediately reneges. The trouble is, I always thought Dredd and Hershey were allies. How can they maintain an allied relationship with this level of mistrust? The other key issue here is that it's a repeat of the relational plot from the first Mechanismo, and therefore feels a bit superfluous.

(https://i.imgur.com/H6tT9u5.png)


Defoe: Diehards
(2026-2039)
S: Pat Mills, A: Colin MacNeil, L: Ellie De Ville


There are interesting ideas in here (like the sub-plot of a male author whose work is actually penned by talented female ghost writers), but ultimately it feels too much like navel-gazing research and not enough like a plot. Certainly not an 84-page plot.

The wonderfully atmospheric art can't stop this from being an oftentimes dull story that was a struggle to read compared to the rest of the anthology. Smug, archaic poetry readings probably have their place, and perhaps were a joy for other readers.

Over half way through its 14-prog run, it does pick up a bit and can perhaps be considered a more grown up version of the Alec Trench story.

(https://i.imgur.com/dNvX500.png)


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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 07 June, 2020, 06:54:23 PM
Over half way through its 14-prog run, it does pick up a bit and can perhaps be considered a more grown up version of the Alec Trench story.

Goddammit man, some of us are trying to drink beer while reading this.  :lol:
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: norton canes 08 June, 2020, 09:48:17 AM
(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/mediumres/2016.jpg)

Ah, the prog that marked my return to 2000 AD after 27 years. WH Smiths had started getting the comic again and for a couple of months I'd flick though their copies, wondering whether to take the plunge. It was Alex Ronald's that finally did it for me, and fortunately, there were five thrill-packed stories waiting for me inside.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Judge Olde 14 June, 2020, 02:52:04 PM
Just read this thread from the beginning & up-to-date, stopping to re read various stories along the way. Now will need to wait for more. Great stuff!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 19 June, 2020, 01:27:25 AM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2017 (Mid Summer Glue)

Between a strong line-up starting the second quarter, and a fairly stable finish to the third, some thrills have the job of pasting it all together as mid summer glue. These are them, in order of most to least thrilling...


Judge Dredd: The Fields
(2035-2036)
S: Rob Williams, A: Chris Weston, C: Dylan Teague, L: Annie Parkhouse


SJS Judge Pin frightens the fuck out of me! Oh my god! This is a perfect blend of backdrop investigations (with amazing Chris Weston art) that allow us to meet the real, horrific threat. That it ends after only two episodes with Pin still active only serves to up the ante: it's as if part of the horror has seeped into the real world. Rob Williams: what have you set loose?

(https://i.imgur.com/BulFzvn.png)


Grey Area
(2035-2044)
S: Dan Abnett, A: Mark Harrison, L: Annie Parkhouse


This marks the return of the ETC team from the Harmonious Free, and one of the key story developments is that Resting Bitch Face and Compelling Male Musk Odour have returned with them on a sort of cultural work exchange. (It's odd that nobody really thanks the team for saving the Earth, but hey-ho. That probably wouldn't make a very good story.)

The "Bitch" joke is old like "fork handles / four candles", and it's much more interesting either when she's the focus (as a fish out of water), or when the story moves on to the conflict between Bulliet's crew and that of a xenophobic, murderous rival who's more of a threat that any of the aliens.

(https://i.imgur.com/RmBMYzx.png)


Judge Dredd: The Wrap-Up
(2040)
S: Arthur Wyatt, A: Tom Foster, C: Chris Blythe, L: Annie Parkhouse


A perfect little monster-mash one-off with gorgeous art by Tom Foster and an old school vibe, with Dredd even getting a "one chance..." line.

(https://i.imgur.com/t8o1Qgu.png)


Hunted: Furies
(2034-2043)
S: Gordon Rennie, A: PJ Holden, C: Len O'Grady, L: Ellie De Ville


If I had to quickly summarize, the main problem is that this comes across as latent fanfic. Jaegir has always succeeded well for me on two counts: it avoids treading on the toes of existing canon and it's got an entirely different vibe - less gung-ho heroics and more the dreadful nightmare of constant war.

Hunted shoulders into the extant narrative, which forces us to question how well it fits. In the original Rogue Trooper, we never heard of an instance where all the troops layed down their arms en masse due to information about aliens secretly running the war. In fact, the aliens stuff is what got us into the risible Hit sequence, so repeating that's like opting to play bum notes during your piano recital.

By the end, it feels like the aliens have just been a macguffin anyway, as that loose end seems to burn out in favour of soap opera-like melodrama (although the family betrayal is suitably ruthless). Fundamentally, we know this sits somewhere between the Quartz Zone Massacre and the eventual demise of the TG, so there's also a sense that nothing can happen.

The cast of thousands approach left me baffled: the doctor from the first series I thought was actually Jaegir. I don't understand why Venus Bluegenes is here at all, except to provide some wow factor. Summary: love Jaegir, wanted to love this but couldn't.

(https://i.imgur.com/DfqmgC4.png)


Judge Dredd: Ouroboros
(2041-2044)
S: Michael Carroll, A: Paul Marshall, C: Quinton Winter, L: Annie Parkhouse


WTF? Kill Vega. (https://youtu.be/k3J8FYKZ52w) I do not understand what this is. It's not Judge Dredd - it's been mis-labeled. Non-ironic superheroes don't get to play in 2000 AD. No giant Cursed Earth puppies! Go directly to the cubes. Do not pass GO, do not collect 200 creds. (This could just pass muster for 2000 AD Regened.)

(https://i.imgur.com/mkMSnf2.png)

Y'see, when I saw that ^, I couldn't help it but to see this:

(https://i.imgur.com/Jlz72z8.png)

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The three best covers from this sequence of thrills:
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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 19 June, 2020, 06:30:03 AM
Grey Area has developed from what I felt was filler into a very strong series driven by strong characters. The fact that Dabnett and Harrison pushed on from the previous epic storyline into new and different spaces was fantastic. It just what Dabnett is repeating with Phil Winslade on Lawless.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: AlexF 24 June, 2020, 03:46:28 PM
This could just pass muster for 2000 AD Regened.

Do you know, that's a great idea. Clearly you're not keen on Paradox Vega, and she is kind of annoyingly too competent (but still gets caught a lot), but I think she'd be a great Regened character. Dreddworld spinoffs for the young and reckless, giant puppies and all - why not?

(Alternatively, you could stick Judge Pin into a Regened Prog and see how many nightmares result...)

I've been doing a bit of a re-read of some Michael Carroll Dredds and while I think they're good I am tiring of his contstant setting up of story threads and characters and then not going back to them very often. Or, when he does, giving very little in-story reminders of who what where and why we should care.

Still waiting for the Psi Judge who's posing as Chief Judge of Texas City to do something interesting.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 06 July, 2020, 07:20:37 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2017 (Late Summer)

Late summer thrills all set to end just before the prog 2050 jump-on. In order of most to least thrilling...


Hope...for the Future [part 2]
(2044-2049)
S: Guy Adams, A: Jimmy Broxton, L: Simon Bowland


A disturbing film comic noire with a powerful art style that allows it to get under the skin and haunt the psyche. As with the best noire, the flirting is outrageous, but the outlook is desperately, desperately bleak.

(https://i.imgur.com/in3lI2M.png)


The Alienist: Inhuman Natures
(2042-2049)
S: Emma Beeby & Gordon Rennie, A: Eoin Coveney, L: Ellie De Ville


A spooky thriller that mashes together horror, time travel and alien invasions whilst still managing to maintain a period feel. There's an air of mystery and a drip-feeding of details about who the characters are, what ultimately motivates them and what the end goals or origins are, which can be slightly frustrating, but then that's probably fundamental to the feel of the piece.

(https://i.imgur.com/UdtllJf.png)


Tharg's 3rillers: Mechastopheles
(2045-2047)
S: Gordon Rennie & Lawrence Rennie, A: Karl Richardson, L: Annie Parkhouse


Another 3riller format tale that kicks it out of the park and cheekily refuses to wrap itself up in three episodes, instead serving as an obvious introduction to a longer series. At any rate: I hope there's a follow-up. Giant mechanized demons battling Godzilla-sized, city-smashing monster demons is pure gold: especially with Mechastopheles serving as a sort of Howl's Moving Castle for the band of heroes trying to rescue their world from a demonic takeover. More, please.

(https://i.imgur.com/v4G5Bjb.png)


Judge Dredd: War Buds
(2045-2049)
S: John Wagner, A: Dan Cornwell, C: Abigail Bulmer, L: Annie Parkhouse


I found this entirely disappointing and a rare miss from Wagner, who I knew was the writer but kept having to double check anyway to make sure. This dispenses with the canonical idea that Judges don't really retire. In the past, they've either gone on to teach at the Academy of Law or taken The Long Walk (either into the Cursed Earth or the Undercity). This has it that they can just take a pension and hang out in bars reminiscing about that time they nuked East-Meg 1.

The other key flaw here is that Judge Dredd stands out as a terrible anachronism, because everyone else on The Apocalypse Squad has aged and retired, but he (when he was probably the oldest Judge back then) now seems like the youngest. Aren't all the Judges getting rejuve jobs? So, this story takes a pick axe to the foundations of Dredd's world. And then they put on sombreros.

(https://i.imgur.com/WfO3VX1.png)


Greysuit: Foul Play
(2040-2049)
S: Pat Mills, A: John Higgins, C: Sally Hurst, L: Ellie De Ville


Well, at least it's the final one. I dislike government corruption as much as the next person, but I really dislike conspiracy theories because they undermine efforts to investigate actually corrupt practises. This insults our intelligence again and again, and has as the solution to imagined crimes the response of punching people's faces off. Or keeping heads in fridges. That's the hero doing that. The hero of this story is a serial killer. (On balance, there is an amusing throughline where the guy whose head ends up in the fridge keeps doing malapropisms for modern 'Net speak.)

(https://i.imgur.com/AJO4m0I.png)


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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 06 July, 2020, 07:25:13 PM
Mechastopheles like Survival Geeks is another Rennie 3riller that will get its own series.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 27 July, 2020, 06:35:15 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2017 (Fourth Quarter)

Taking us out of 2017 we get a blend of old and new, highs and lows. Two of the signature strips are the worst things in the prog, with a lot of established characters coming across as tired and worn as they stretch my willing suspension of disbelief beyond breaking point. Still: there's a lot to love. In order from most to least thrilling:


Indigo Prime: A Dying Art
(2050-2058)
S: John Smith & Kek-W, A: Lee Carter, L: Simon Bowland


What was a seismic shift for fandom (Kek-W replacing John Smith on scripting duties part way through the series) is a seamless shift in the story, as we follow some crisis management from Indigo Prime after the events of Perfect Day (from 2014), where a psychic shock has knocked out most of the operatives the organization relies on.

One of the significant markers of many Indigo Prime tales (and much of John Smith's oeuvre) has been a sense in which you're reading more of a poetic narrative. The trick is to allow some of it to wash over you. You will not be spoon-fed the plot points, and the exposition, rather than revealing an easy set of stepping stones to get you from one side of the river to the other, tends to muddy the waters.

Even if that seems a bit ephemeral, there's always the idea that the Nihilist needs to be stopped somehow because otherwise: peril! In the midst of all this, there are rewards for long-time readers in the form of an unexpected Revere crossover, and even a callback to prog 490's Future Shock (A Change of Scenery), in which the nascent Indigo Prime was known as Void Indiga.

Lee Carter's art is simply magnificent:

(https://i.imgur.com/cFqBJxE.png)


Grey Area: Homeland Security
(2050-2053)
S: Dan Abnett, A: Mark Harrison, L: Annie Parkhouse


Grey Area's gone from being bottom of my picks to almost nabbing the top spot. Mark Harrison's art doesn't hurt, but there's also something very compelling about following the team on their most recent mission. It all gets quite Aliens in this one, in terms of the squad tactics and gung-ho action. Probably my favorite character is now Resting Bitch Face, because fish out of water schtick is good schtick. Better believe my truth!

(https://i.imgur.com/9KQ5OYT.png)


Absalom: Terminal Diagnosis
(2053-2060)
S: Gordon Rennie, A: Tiernen Trevallion, L: Ellie De Ville


The more that Smug Harry is sidelined in favor of Tragic Harry, the more I get to enjoy this strip. The narrative tension is ramping up nicely beyond monster of the week and towards some kind of crescendo that (following the very clear foreshadowing) should mean the end of the strip.

Tiernon Trevellion's art is stupendous throughout and there's a real sense of animation during scenes where magic spells are being cast:

(https://i.imgur.com/7dM1XNV.png)


Slaine: The Brutania Chronicles, Book Four - Archon
(2050-2060)
S: Pat Mills, A: Simon Fraser, L: Ellie De Ville


Beautiful art from Simon Fraser and, of course, some very interesting ideas from Pat Mills, but the saga suffers under the weight of the diatribe. On the one hand, it is interesting to wonder about one's family history - and, the idea that a villain would attack Slaine's ego rather than just attack him physically is a cunning plot device. But, it's being stretched too thinly over too many pages.

The disembodied GOD SHOUTING dialogue is oppressive: not just for Slaine but also for the reader. And there's a sense of magic villainy that doesn't serve us but only the plot. The villains teleport to where Slaine and Sinead are accessing Macha's spirit, but there's no real sense of whether they're inside or outside, or where God/Archon is. It's just a scene that needed to play out - it could be happening on the moon, or inside a magic bubble dimension.

I feel like Sinead gets used as a vessel too much: she's a vessel for Macha, then a vessel for Danu. And all to serve Slaine. So, on the one hand, it's quite progressive (strong, warrior women who choose their own partners), but on the other hand there's too much focus on Slaine's needs. I probably wouldn't focus so much on that if it weren't that the narrative suggests that women do have power and should have power - but then it's all about their reflected value from Slaine's perspective.

It all improves immensely when God/Archon stops shouting, and Gododin (already defeated too many times) exits stage right. After that we're back to having a sense of place, and a plot that revolves around humans with human motives. Perhaps the best bit in the entire book is the people shouting their message from place to place. Also, I miss Ukko.

(https://i.imgur.com/edzz4pQ.png)


Tharg's 3rillers: The House of Gilded Peak
(2058-2060)
S: Eddie Robson, A: Steven Austin, C: Gary Caldwell, L: Annie Parkhouse


I almost placed this above Slaine, as it has so many interesting ideas and a plot that zips along. There's a weakness in never getting to grips with the real motivations of the down-at-heel Sir Aranchet: he seems both a wastrel and then noble, but with no explanation.

This is a world I would like to see explored more, and would have fit quite well as a Tale of Telguuth. Very D&D.

(https://i.imgur.com/sC0r3fH.png)


Judge Dredd: Black Snow
(2055-2060)
S: Michael Carroll, A: PJ Holden, C: Quinton Winter, L: Annie Parkhouse


A handcuffed, arrow-pocked Dredd surfs a dead wolf down a lava chute. Leather armor stops bullets. Spears beat guns. Meteorites are aimed at human targets with enough precision to kill them but leave everyone else in the room unscathed (when earlier in the same story it's been made clear that you have drop those big bastards miles away in a lake for it to be safe). Yak dung.

I know Dredd has its ups and downs, but - whoo boy - this is a serious down for what's supposed to be the comic's signature strip. It's like The Marshal blended with Inferno. Yellow Snow, more like. 

(https://i.imgur.com/zXt7a4f.png)


Sinister Dexter
(2050-2052, 2054-2057 & 2059)
S: Dan Abnett, A: Steve Yeowell, Jake Lunch & Paul Marshall, C: John Charles & Dylan Teague, L: Ellie De Ville, Annie Parkhouse & Simon Bowland


Billi No Mates (prog 2059) stands out as having great art (Paul Marshall) and an interesting (even if still frustratingly magical) plot. But then Sin Dex was always more interesting when it had a wider cast, and some oestrogen.

Otherwise, this is a dire span of tales. The forced puns are turned up higher than even eleven: all the way to eleventy-stupid. And there's no sense of danger whatsoever - the main characters just magically dance around bullets. Sinister even has a magic cannon that's about the same size as him but somehow isn't difficult to lift and has no recoil. What's the point of this? It's not funny. It's not dramatic. It's not interesting. Perhaps it's popular?

(https://i.imgur.com/zunmDHC.png)


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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 27 July, 2020, 07:39:27 PM
Hi Funt I believe it was Simon Davis whom was the artist on Slaine and not Simon Fraser
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 27 July, 2020, 08:30:06 PM
Hi Funt I believe it was Simon Davis whom was the artist on Slaine and not Simon Fraser

Old brain getting its Simons mixed up. Thanks for the correction.

(I also did a typo on Jake Lynch and called him Jake Lunch by accident.)

: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 07 August, 2020, 03:57:00 AM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

Judge Dredd: Echoes
(2018: progs 2061-2064)
S: Michael Carroll, A: Colin MacNeil, C: Chris Blythe, L: Annie Parkhouse


Following on directly from Black Snow, Dredd is trying to get back to MC-1, when a Sov bomb causes their H-wagon / Manta hybrid to crash. Only Dredd (badly wounded) and Salada survive, but as they try to find their way to some kind of civilization they come under attack from some form of malevolent psychic threat that can possess the living, the dead and even defunct droids.

This plays well as a bleak horror and makes good use of the backdrop of the nuked out remains of East-Meg One. Crippling Dredd works to up the suspense, and the technological explanation that gets blended into the mysterious threat provides an ending imbued with bitter pathos.

(https://i.imgur.com/moAExpu.png)


Judge Dredd: The Shroud
(2018: progs 2065-2068)
S: Michael Carroll, A: Paul Davidson, C: Chris Blythe, L: Annie Parkhouse


Serving as the third chapter after Black Snow and Echoes, this sees Dredd sold into slavery somewhere in Sov territory. Tasked with capturing giant, carniverous squidipedes, and with no equipment and no friends, Dredd must somehow survive and calculate an escape. 

This struggles to work well, immediately falling back on a supervillain as an enemy: Maul is a giant, bearded hulk with cloven hooves and horns, wearing nothing but underpants in sub-zero temperatures, shouting all the time and smacking people around. Turns out he's invulnerable to everything due to magical super-strong skin (and eyeballs, it later transpires - as blowing his head up has no effect).

Even if you manage to swallow Maul, the artist has chosen to draw Dredd as Stallone, which (kindly) is ill-advised. Lots of different plot elements then feel shoe-horned in: a villain from 2013 that I don't remember (Luka Shirokov), a woman who keeps talking in incongruous football references and a really forced method of removing Dredd's clothes but keeping his helmet on.

(https://i.imgur.com/4ACQQ9w.png)

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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 07 August, 2020, 04:17:41 AM
These Dredd stories was not my favorite. I felt that for too long period we getting Dredd stories outside of MC-1.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: norton canes 07 August, 2020, 12:01:11 PM
The Alienist: Inhuman Natures
(2042-2049)
S: Emma Beeby & Gordon Rennie, A: Eoin Coveney, L: Ellie De Ville


A spooky thriller that mashes together horror, time travel and alien invasions whilst still managing to maintain a period feel. There's an air of mystery and a drip-feeding of details about who the characters are, what ultimately motivates them and what the end goals or origins are, which can be slightly frustrating, but then that's probably fundamental to the feel of the piece

I really enjoyed The Alienist. Hadn't clocked that it was a Beeby/Rennie gig.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 07 August, 2020, 12:24:38 PM
The Alienist: Inhuman Natures
(2042-2049)
S: Emma Beeby & Gordon Rennie, A: Eoin Coveney, L: Ellie De Ville


A spooky thriller that mashes together horror, time travel and alien invasions whilst still managing to maintain a period feel. There's an air of mystery and a drip-feeding of details about who the characters are, what ultimately motivates them and what the end goals or origins are, which can be slightly frustrating, but then that's probably fundamental to the feel of the piece

I really enjoyed The Alienist. Hadn't clocked that it was a Beeby/Rennie gig.

I would also like to see the return of this series. Just as I really started getting intrigued by it,it disappeared from the radar.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: TordelBack 07 August, 2020, 02:49:42 PM
These Dredd stories was not my favorite. I felt that for too long period we getting Dredd stories outside of MC-1.

The globe-trotting sequence from 'Ouroboros' to 'The Shroud' was pretty much Carroll's weakest run of Dredd stories, IMHO, despite following threads from the not-too-bad Sector Zero stuff. I wonder if he felt this too, because not long after this he starts his loosely-linked street-level gangland stories and these are far stronger, including such modern gems as 'The Long Game' and more-of-this-sort-of-thing-please 'Fall of Barbarara Grimm'. I'm really hoping to get back to this storyline once we're out of summer blockbuster season...   
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 07 August, 2020, 03:08:24 PM
Yes , I also want to see him continuing his 'gangster/mafia/mob' thread he started but it looks more like we are going to get a story where Judge Dredd deals with the aftermath of the Four Horseman as a chaotic city picks up the pieces in “Carry the Nine”.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 12 August, 2020, 05:48:55 AM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2018: First Quarter
Unfortunately, one of the most disappointing spans of 2000 AD in quite a while. Saying that: the art quality is superb throughout. So, it's disappointing for something that's got incredibly high production standards. In order of completion...


Savage: Book 11, The Thousand Year Stare
(2018: progs 2061-2071)
S: Pat Mills, A: Patrick Goddard, L: Ellie De Ville


Bill Savage teams up with Yulia Tymoshenko Nika Volodina to investigate the source of hi-tech futuristic weaponry being employed by the Volgans.

Great art suffers alongside a leaden script that relies too much on poor research, real-world conspiracy theories and the unhelpful intertwining of characters from the writer's decades-old (and unsurprisingly dated) stories.

It spirals eventually into a terribly obvious male fantasy pissing contest as Howard Quartz literally launches his phallus in order to capture the female prize, who Savage then wins back in a final battle (as she blithely abandons her strongly held moral imperatives).

(https://i.imgur.com/mILS7Eo.png)


Judge Dredd: Live Evil
(2018: progs 2069-2072)
S: Ian Edginton, A: Dave Taylor, L: Annie Parkhouse


A very atmospheric alien ghost story. Contextually (on a meta level), because the Dredd writers keep swapping out for long periods of time but introducing their own sets of side characters to tell stories with, I'm not sure who two of the key characters are, but it works well despite that. (Edginton last wrote Dredd two years prior to this.)

There's a slightly bum note when the ghost of someone recently deceased is all winks and smiles when you'd think there might be a touch of trauma about having just died.

(Is it "live evil", live rhymes with dive, or live rhymes with shiv?)

(https://i.imgur.com/CeY8JyP.png)


Bad Company: Terrorists
(2018: progs 2061-2072)
S: Peter Milligan, A: Rufus Dayglo, C: Pippa Mather & Dominic Regen, L: Simon Bowland


There's a plot, as Bad Company try to track down the commander who was in charge during the Min Massacre, which was staged to start the war with the Krool. Beyond that, this doesn't marry up well with the original story but doesn't probably intend to.

There's a sense that the creators are having fun at the expense of the readers, even going so far as to fart at them out of a giant sphincter. I hope someone gets some enjoyment out of this sort of thing, but I would be happiest if it never got another series. It doesn't work as comedy - because it's not funny. It doesn't work as drama - because the plot's incoherent. It would have sat nicely in Toxic!, I suppose. But then that experiment didn't work. I think if you just openly disregard the readers then it's probably not much of a surprise if it doesn't work well.

If every character in The Young Ones were Rik and he was scripting it.

(https://i.imgur.com/Y8p6fWj.png)


The A.B.C. Warriors: Fallout
(2018: progs 2061-2072)
S: Pat Mills, A: Clint Langley, L: Annie Parkhouse


The A.B.C. Warriors get betrayed by Blackblood, again. They all get destroyed, again, but rebuilt, again. They're on Mars, again.

Great art cannot save this spiral of repetitive bickering from coming across as dated and repetitive. Again.

They used to go on missions. They used to visit other planets. There really isn't a plot anymore - just some characters who don't develop, in a setting which doesn't develop. It's another situation where I'm wondering what it's supposed to be and not finding a box (e.g. comedy or drama) to fit it into.

(https://i.imgur.com/Yh4t6Bu.png)


Brass Sun: Engine Summer
(2018: progs 2061-2072)
S: Ian Edginton, A: INJ Culbard, L: Ellie De Ville


This series has always reminded me of Saga, which happens again here as the plot jumps forward dramatically in time, splitting Engine Summer into two halves and defying easy expectations of the narrative. It ends on a cliffhanger, though, so we need a follow-up series to explain the many dangling threads.

Plot-wise, the sun remains in decline, and world-spanning conflict remains the norm as the secret to reversing the solar death of the system remains hidden. The only duff note is the stupendous coincidence by which two characters stumble upon one another again, given the many worlds on offer.

(https://i.imgur.com/UwRodv0.png)


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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 30 August, 2020, 07:13:07 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

2018: Spring
A selection of stories from progs 2073 to 2081, in order of most to least ghafflebette...


Jaegir: In The Realm of Pyrrhus
(2018: progs 2073-2078)
S: Gordon Rennie, A: Simon Coleby, C: Len O'Grady, L: Ellie De Ville


This is gobsmacking future war spectacle from start to finish: spacecraft are decimated as they exit the black hole above Nu Earth - bodies tumble lifelessly in vacuum - giant, aircraft carrier-sized tanks hove into view - then we're in the trenches - now we're flying a Nort hopper - now we're in a tunneling submarine. The art throughout is astounding - beautifully lit and dynamically framed.

As for Jaegir, she appears to have been demoted back to front line life-or-death-in-the-blink-of-an-eye duties, and there are hints that it's all a cover for a greater mission (but that's the over-arching plot and this just a stepping stone towards it).

(https://i.imgur.com/YOcTR79.png)


Judge Dredd: Nans of Anarchy
(2018: progs 2079-2080)
S: Alec Worley, A: Karl Richardson, L: Annie Parkhouse


The hydra that is modern Dredd carries on with stories from Rob Williams (the Pin thread), Rory McConville (humorous one-offs) and T.C. Eglington (the Booth thread). I chose Alec Worley's Nans of Anarchy because it's not buried in its own long-form mini-continuity, and it's a highly entertaining comedy with superb art from Karl Richardson.

The characters of the aging Valkyries biker gang are well constructed. Their leader (a cross between Rosie the Riveter and Robin Hood) allows us to root for them as they launch a raid on a hipster enclave, only to encounter Dredd.

(https://i.imgur.com/wrfQFBO.png)


Sinister Dexter: The Gangbusters
(2018: progs 2079-2081)
S: Dan Abnett, A: Steve Yeowell, C: John Charles, L: Annie Parkhouse


Preceded by a couple of one-offs and The Devil Don't Care (which sews up the Devil sub-plot that's been chugging along for a while), The Gangbusters is a real breath of fresh air and both an homage and a comedy critique of 70's WWII war comic production mores. This is the first time I've actively enjoyed a Sinister Dexter story since Malone in 2006.

Making not much sense, our heroes enter an Augmented Reality game that behaves like a WWII dog-fight, at which point we get sidebar boxes explaining what we can already see happening either visually or from the character's speech. Dexter starts to argue with his newly aquired thought bubbles (which are frowned upon in modern comics), and there's a suggestion that he might take them back with him to the "normal" strip, and Sinister keeps verbalizing all of his own sound effects. It's just a sort of comedy heaven, and the most fun this strip's been for about fourteen years.

(https://i.imgur.com/Gy8ZPzK.png)


Strontium Dog: The Son
(2018: progs 2073-2081)
S: John Wagner, A: Carlos Ezquerra, L: Ellie De Ville


This introduces a son of Wulf: Kenton Sternhammer - a mutie with a preternatural sense of smell, who ends up partnered with a reluctant Johnny Alpha. Alpha's reluctance to take on Wulf's son boils down to a fear of history repeating itself, which Johnny ends up discussing with the ghost of Wulf.

There are a couple of story fluffs involving a historical misquote (it's "Sternhammer Silencer") and some forgetfulness over which planet the characters are on ("by which time Earth has moved on"), but it's a heartfelt introduction of a new character and seems to have brought Alpha back to his pre-death self.

That this story about the loss of a lifelong friend turned out to be the last complete story from Carlos Ezquerra is incredibly poignant. In many ways, a very strong end to the series, if that's what it turns out to be, and a powerful message of trust in friends from a great creative team.

(https://i.imgur.com/pPuGXVd.png)


Anderson Psi-Division: Undertow
(2018: progs 2073-2080)
S: Emma Beeby, A: David Roach, Mike Collins & Cliff Robinson, C: Jose Villarubia, L: Simon Bowland


I have very little idea of what actually happened here (except for the vaguest overview) as it struggles to coherently tell us a story. Some power is taking over Psi-Division's judges and making them behave erratically. Anderson gets a team together to investigate. Lots of things go badly. The end result is a much-reduced Psi-Division.

One of the issues is figuring out who's speaking when everyone's doing psychic-speak. Even with color-coding, it's a bit baffling and, honestly, it would work better with standard tails (or whatever you call those bits that connect the speaker to their speech). Even here, the solution changes over time: Echo starts out as red text to Flowers' grey. In the next part, it's decided that it's the bubble's background color that needs changed, so Karyn (see below) gets a soft pink (except when she's having one of her turns, because then it's black), Anderson gets yellow & Echo switches to blue. It's a lot to track and adds confusion to what's already quite tricky to follow frame to frame.

Psi-Judge Karyn turns up but I just don't remember how she got in the state she's in. The last time I think she showed up was in 2005's Descent. I don't remember it, and there's not even a little *Tharg-note* to help us out. Then Tempest turns up, but it's not Tempest - it's Hondo-Cit Judge Kazuo, who's a psi-blank with magic psi-blank weapons that do *something* when a psi touches them. What?! Then an old lady turns up - and she's the antagonist - but this is in part five - who is she? Everyone will die if they do Thing A, which they do, but then nobody dies. What?! Aaaargh! What happened to the old lady? How is that key character alive at the end after being killed? Why does she have manicure issues still? So many questions: so little story cohesion.

(https://i.imgur.com/2S9ljUn.png)


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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 31 August, 2020, 11:02:49 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/234WxQP.png)


May 2010 - May 2018
Well, it's taken me a couple of years, but I've read eight years worth of progs and managed to catch up to where everyone else was when I started the project. (So, yeah, you're still a couple of years ahead of me, but I've reached a milestone.) Here are some of the highlights...


The Greatest Danglers
Ian Edginton wins the hat trick here, leaving us dangling precariously on the edge of three enormous cliffhangers - the earliest of which parked its carefully weighted bus full of money (https://youtu.be/HZCaSyid4m0) back in 2014!

 - Stickleback's last episode in prog 1911 stated "The game's afoot ... and just beginning!"
 - Helium's finale left us pondering in prog 1945 and promised that "Helium will return..."
 - Brass Sun ran out of saga in prog 2072 but promised the next segment was "Coming soon!"
 
 
Future Shocks! [SPOILER WARNING]

In the not quite completely titled The Life and Death of Johnny Alpha, Middenface McNulty argues with some rock gods (literally gods made of rock, not Maiden) and persuades them to resurrect Johnny Alpha (twenty of our years after he was disintegrated by a flying demon)!

Nikolai Dante and his weapons crest were inseperable, but in the climax of Heroes Be Damned (prog 1684), Dmitri Romanov (now bonded with his own son) uses his powers to destroy Nikolai's crest, which leaves him as vulnerable to death as any other normal human.

Three stories, all set in the Dreddverse: The Simping Detective (Jokes to the Right), Low Life (Suadade) and Judge Dredd (The Cold Deck) are all running in the prog at the same time. Then, in prog 1807, Dredd kicks down the door in his final panel, and we see the results in the first panel of The Simping Detective! As the three threads reveal their connections, it all comes together by taking over prog 1812 as Trifecta.


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Top Ten New Thrills
In no particular order, the best of new thrillage:

Grey Area: a slow start with a high concept eventually becomes a compelling long-form serial after flip-flopping the original premise and making the greatest threat to humanity be your fellow humans.

Aquila: inspired by (the Tornado version of) Blackhawk from 1979, in some ways this also threatens Slaine for the "mystical warrior from an alt-history" slot.

Survival Geeks: borne from a Tharg's 3riller, this is a mash-up of Spaced and Doctor Who that merges deft characterization with nerd-centric comedy to serve up a delightful interdimensional trope-fest.

Dandridge: a drunken lothario (in the Jack Sparrow mould of heroes) that just happens to get involved in paranormal adventures (when he's not attempting to ride inanimate objects to freedom).

Jaegir: realizing that the Norts are more interesting than the Southers (and perhaps that Rogue's thread is too frayed to play with), this focusses on Atalia Jaegir's quest to root out corruption in a society that seems to thrive on it.

Age of the Wolf: a bit like 28 Days Later but with werewolves, the heroine is a witch who's first a victim, and then humanity's only hope of survival.

The Alienist: a paranormal investigator up against shadowy dark gods hell bent on the domination of humanity, but atmospherically like Tales of the Unexpected: it's much better than my description of it.

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Brink: a dense, challenging space opera that blends dark whispers of alien madness with police predural detective work ... out on the edge of space with the floating remnants of humanity ... on the brink!

Hope...: horror noir that blends the dark Hollywood of James Ellroy with the pulp characterizations of Raymond Chandler and a side helping of H.P. Lovecraft.

Kingmaker: Lord of the Rings has an outside context problem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3AOutside_Context_Problem) as hi-tech space invaders easily dominate a fantasy setting. Can Gandalf, a wandering orc and a dryad princess turn the tables on their new alien overlords?

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Top Ten Great Moments in Thrill-Power
In no particular order, the greatest thrilling moments that deftly teleported my self-darning socks to another dimension:

The Book of Scars: 30 Years of Slaughter
An astounding celebration of a long-running character, bringing in four strip artists (and an homage to the much missed Belardinelli), five covers (one variant from Simon Davis) an accompanying Meg retrospective and five posters (adding another three artists).

Day of Chaos
The disaster this time is everything, and Dredd loses and hangs his head in shame. Woah! If only they'd told all the other Dredd writers what was happening.

Judge Dredd: The Heart is a Lonely Klegg Hunter
A top-notch blend of comedy Dredd and pathos from Rob Williams and Chris Weston: this stands out in what's quite a crowded authorial field these days. Yes, it uses an established sub-canon character, but it doesn't rely on us recalling details from three years prior.

Indigo Prime
There was Killing Time in 1991, then Dead Eyes as a stealth-Prime strip in 2008 - but it had been a long wait for John Smith to rock up and give us an actual series: here (in 2011) we get Everything and More.

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Kingdom
Of course this started back in 2006, but it's the one stand-out series that whenever a new segment begins in the prog I'm cheering inside because I just love it. It's got the quotability of Aliens, the high concept of The Omega Man, the pulp sensibility of Them! and stupendously beautiful art from Richard Elson. Always, always: more, please!

Judge Dredd: Dark Justice
A real event story - this saw the dark judges set loose on a passenger spacecraft with predictable results. Dredd and Anderson team up on what seems like a suicide mission. Suffering slightly from Arnie-isms, you can still just savour the Greg Staples art over and over again.

Dreams of Deadworld & The Fall of Deadworld
Kek-W and Dave Kendall team up to reinvent the Dark Judges as something from your darkest nightmares. Borrowing tropes from zombie apocalypse movies, we're left to wonder, as we wander a bleak hellscape, what the point of it all is. I mean, if everyone's destined to die then isn't it hopeless? Shouldn't we just give in? Or is that just Fear talking?

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Scarlet Traces: Cold War
Managing the tricky art of making their 2007 sequel (The Great Game) just as compelling as their 2002 opener, Ian Edginton and D'Israeli make it a hat trick with the two-book Cold War: deftly blending race politics with interplanetary war.

Judge Dredd: The Fields
It's another Rob Williams and Chris Weston winner, as they manage to concoct a character (Judge Pin) that threatens all the other Dredd villains in existence for the title of most creepy.

Tharg's 3rillers: Mechastopheles
Something I love about the 3rillers format is the potential for a new series to come a-knocking, and this one felt like it was written on the cards almost from the first panel. A great high concept, with the title describing a mech from hell, which turns out to be our heroes' house.

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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 01 September, 2020, 05:34:21 AM
Some great new series started during this period. We can also add Scarlet Traces as anew series although it started outside the borders of the prog.


Both The Alienist and Mechastopheles I would like to see more off in the prog.  Even Jaegir should get more regular appearances in the prog. I really like the rich, unique world Rennie created in Mechastopheles.


Kingmaker and Hope both are instant hits for me different takes on magic. interesting article in the meg related about Jimmy Broxton. Hope was original poised to be more Bladerunner like but it was changed since another series had the same concept.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 01 September, 2020, 06:31:11 AM
An interesting fact is that the first appearance of The Alienist was not in the prog but rather in the 2000AD Winter Special 2014. The series debut in prog 1944.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: AlexF 01 September, 2020, 10:10:05 AM
Funt, what a joy to see such a thorough celebration of the 2010s in 2000AD! Of course I don't agree with all of your choices for favourites (Kingmaker is rubbish! There i said it) but if anything that makes it even more fun to read.

And big second to Broodblik for more Alienist and Mechastopheles. Rennie is one of those droids who gets better and better over the years - although in those two cases praise should also be given to his co-writers.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: norton canes 01 September, 2020, 11:50:49 AM
Thirded! Maybe one day Tharg could publish a nostalgic 2010's strip Special featuring new instalments of these stories.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: norton canes 01 September, 2020, 11:52:14 AM
(or just return them to the regular prog :))
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 01 September, 2020, 08:47:33 PM
And big second to Broodblik for more Alienist and Mechastopheles. Rennie is one of those droids who gets better and better over the years - although in those two cases praise should also be given to his co-writers.

I'm assuming that Lawrence Rennie is Gordon's son (and demonstrably a chip off the old block) - but I have no idea.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: AlexF 03 September, 2020, 10:04:23 AM
Yes that's my assumption too, although I suppose he could be a demon that Rennie exorcised from himself and keeps in a little robot jar on a shelf above his writing cubicle.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 27 October, 2020, 09:14:43 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/J4MLSFj.png)

2018: Summer
A selection of stories from progs 2081 to 2092, in order of most to least ghafflebette...


Survival Geeks: Geek-Con
(2018: progs 2082-2086)
S: Emma Beeby & Gordon Rennie, A: Neil Googe, C: Gary Caldwell, L: Annie Parkhouse


Even though they're ripping into the sacred cow of Doctor Qui?, they're doing it with such bonhomie and pinache that it just works beautifully. Probably the most engaging thing about this series is how effortlessly it seems to produce such high quality, and never seems to be anywhere predictable - having managed to scribble all of that on a notice board as a throwaway gag in an earlier series. If this was a long-form television series, you'd expect it to just do a Quantum Leap style reset for each mini-series, as we visit another locale with approximately the same adventure beats, but either the format allows it not to or the authors have insisted - or some combination - so it manages to avoid the cliche pitfalls but still revel in the tropes (and still end up with the house drifting off into the nether for the next instalment). Definitely having its cake and eating it.

(https://i.imgur.com/L2xThnd.png)


The Fall of Deadworld: Damned
(2018: progs 2081-2092)
S: Kek-W, A: Dave Kendall, L: Ellie De Ville


It's a bit like being inside every amazing sci-fi/horror movie ever made as we jump from scene to scene bumping into tropes like old friends at a disturbingly hallucinogenic party. We've got to track the machinations of the Sisters within the rapidly corrupting Justice Department, freedom fighters on a suicide mission, Death's distrust of his subordinates, an aging McGruder-like cop taking to the streets for one last hurrah and a couple of other strands of broken loyalty. Like a descent into madness, it doesn't seem like anything good can be waiting, and there's a tendency, either as the reader or as one of the characters, to give in to utter despair. As action horror goes, it's amazingly well done.

(https://i.imgur.com/3k8ePuV.png)


Judge Dredd: Elevator Pitch
(2018: progs 2088-2089)
S: Rob Williams, A: Chris Weston, C: Chris Blythe, L: Annie Parkhouse


Chris Weston on art duties for a Rob Williams Dredd is a winning formula (see prog 2011's Boxing Day, the Pin sequence and The Heart is a Lonely Klegg Hunter), and now they turn their sights on the Ape Gang. Cue death by terminal velocity banana, Judge Giant wondering about his "grandpappy", apes waxing lyrical while the humans utter banalities, and a Wally Squad operative with a ridiculous belt gadget. It's a barrel of fun, but perhaps a little too knowing.

(https://i.imgur.com/dBd7Sks.png)


Durham Red: Born Bad
(2018: progs 2082-2089)
S: Alec Worley, A: Ben Willsher, L: Ellie De Ville


A stylish western that dares to explore the preternatural hunger and associated guilt that drives Durham Red to try to do good even though she's doomed to do evil. The frustration with early Durham is that she was played as a cipher - the threat of badness without ever exploring what that meant. Of course, that left her palatable, so perhaps was the wisest choice. In this tale, there are times where you could forgive her what happens during the "red mist", but there are other moments where she seems to choose to do murder. It's not clear enough that the villains deserve their fate, especially as one begs for his life.

(https://i.imgur.com/ttXlK2G.png)


Skip Tracer: Heavy is the Head
(2018: progs 2081-2089)
S: James Peaty, A: Paul Marshall, C: Dylan Teague, L: Simon Bowland


Probably the best you can say about this is it's a bit like Bad City Blue, and the worst you can say is it's too much like Dry Run. On the face of it, there are strengths - it's a cyberpunk dystopia, with minotaurs - the hero eats noodles in neon, like in Blade Runner. But, the lead is a second-rate Stallone devoid of anything approaching a personality - and if the lead character is the keystone upon which the entire edifice relies, that's a problem. Perhaps Pat Mills is onto something when he says that one of the rules of great comic strip creation is to name the strip after the main character - because I don't know his name. He's a bit like Korben Dallas from The Fifth Element, which had the same problem of not really giving the lead any positive characteristics. And he's drawn with a permanent villainous sneer. Also: the portmanteau "Consociation" is annoying to parse.

Looking into my crystal ball, I can see this crops up for another three series, which hopefully improve more than various online mutterings suggest.

(https://i.imgur.com/NhQ47Dw.png)


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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 28 October, 2020, 02:57:53 AM
Survival Geeks are one of those thrills that grows on you;it took me awhile to warm-up but Googe's art gets better with each series.

Skip Tracer is one of those trills that if you do not like the first series I do not think you will like the next and the next and the .........  The second series is still the best (you will not have to wait too long Funt it is almost upon you).
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 13 December, 2020, 10:55:15 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/J4MLSFj.png)

2018: Late Summer
A selection of stories from progs 2090 to 2099, in order of most to least ghafflebette...


Mechastopheles:  True Faith
(2018: progs 2092-2099)
S: Gordon Rennie, Lawrence Rennie, A: Karl Richardson, L: Simon Bowland


Or "Satan's Moving Castle, Part Deux". Mechastopheles stomped into the comic and captured our hearts (prior to some sort of sacrifice) in the form of a Tharg's 3riller back in 2017. We all know the old adage "there's no keeping a demonically possessed titan down", and that holds true here as the murderous mech, somewhat steered by a rag-tag crew of medieval misfits, heads for an unlikely sanctuary city, hoping that they'll be willing to do a deal with the devil.

The hellscape serves as the backdrop for a plot that sprouts threads like a betentacled dark god until, in the final episode, rather than a culmination, we're enveloped and dragged, screaming with perverse delight, towards the next series.

Mechastopheles shows a demononic city-lure the error of his ways:
(https://i.imgur.com/CYN9cZU.png)


Survival Geeks: Slack N' Hash
(2018: progs 2096-2099)
S: Emma Beeby & Gordon Rennie, A: Neil Googe, C: Gary Caldwell, L: Ellie De Ville


The format shows the first signs of a partial drop-off in quality, as the tale becomes a little too knowing for its own good in a world taken over by slasher movie tropes. Scream was self-aware, but it's a tricky row to hoe. In particular, the fact that the gang don't get scared by anything (on the basis that they've survived in the past) is worrying as it removes jeapardy. Us knowing they'll be okay is different than them knowing.

Can the gang escape from a horde of slashers? Mechastopheles faces off against a demonic horde:
(https://i.imgur.com/DLd6RxG.png)


Grey Area: [The K.I.A. arc]
(2018: progs 2090-2098)
S: Dan Abnett, A: Mark Harrison, L: Ellie De Ville


Leave your brain at the door for some shoe-horned plotting that pulls the rug out from under us in an odd way, then replaces it a few episodes later. It could have worked if there'd been a convincing set-up, and a convincing revelation, but nothing makes much sense here. In a James Bondian sequence, people are suddenly given jobs they're not really qualified for (here, janitor, fly this copter over to the grocery store and pick up some milk, would you?) and then the equivalent of hiring peace protesters to be your goon squad (at great expense, no less) is served up. Mutton dressed as lamb. Pretty good mutton, though.

An enormous vagina-alien spits gobbets of death! Mechastopheles under pressure:
(https://i.imgur.com/WrPwhUa.png)


The Order: The New World
(2018: progs 2087-2099)
S: Kek-W, A: John Burns, L: Annie Parkhouse


I've only got the vaguest sense of who the characters are and what their various conflicting motivations consist of - which isn't helped by the fact that the speed dial is always set to eleventy-stupid as we drop through portals hither and thither. And, for some reason, Armoured Gideon has been pinched from a few decades ago, given a crappy makeover and de-brained. I mean: why? There were two things that strongly defined that character: the art design and his implacable nature. Neither are here. So, the name and vague shape have been taken. Just invent your own robot.

My crystal ball tells me this comes back in 2020, but ... maybe it's going to stop then?

Wurms! A dark bargain awaits in the heart of Mechastopheles:
(https://i.imgur.com/OubBULz.png)


Judge Dredd: The Booth Conspiracy
(2018: progs 2095-2099)
S: T.C. Eglington, A: Staz Johnson, C: Abigail Bulmer, L: Annie Parkhouse


It's fair to say I've not been a big fan of the Sons of Booth arc. It reflects current affairs, but it doesn't feel like something that naturally fits within Mega-City One. The boss is an almost character-free "Mr. Big", who, despite always being one step ahead of Justice Department, at the climax here it feels like he's an out-of-depth amateur.

The idea of resurrecting The Stupid Gun is a good one, but then the pay-off is weak sauce, as we get some background shots of some affected Judges. As money shots go, it's a damp squib.

Bouncy purple action! As Mechastopheles approaches the city, a drunk artist paints his muse:
(https://i.imgur.com/dEt1fbr.png)


(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/mediumres/2096.jpg)
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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 14 December, 2020, 03:06:08 AM
The first full series of Mechastopheles was great spin-off and hopefully Rennie and team can bring this back (and please lets not wait another 5 years)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: IndigoPrime 14 December, 2020, 08:36:07 AM
Armoured Gideon has been pinched from a few decades ago, given a crappy makeover and de-brained. I mean: why?
Mm. I get that thematically it sort of works to roll in that character. But the redesign is just weird and removing one of the main things that made the character memorable was as much of a misstep as having the Daleks no longer yell Exterminate!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 02 January, 2021, 03:35:39 AM
(https://i.imgur.com/J4MLSFj.png)

2018: Fourth Quarter
A selection of stories from progs 2100 to 2110, in order of most to least ghafflebette...


Brink: High Society [part 1]
(2018: progs 2100-2110)
S: Dan Abnett, A: INJ Culbard, L: Simon Bowland


Brink makes such a dense narrative impact that this feels as if we're much further along than just a third series. First, there were hints of a murderous cult, then came the revelation that they were organized enough to alter the geography of new build infrastructure in an attempt to accelerate the awakening of some kind of dark god. The trail has led the main character (Kurtis) to go undercover in an elite corporation.

Despite some clunky, distracting storytelling choices (research narrative cluttering up the frames and black-box censored real-world swearing), the rest of the story is so superbly realized that those are forgiven as the tension ramps up towards murder and disaster. The foreshadowing is masterful (an early corporate shooting pays off twice) and, as we reach the halfway point, everything has slotted into place to leave our protagonist in deep do-do.

The only slight logical flub is the idea that the same people who feel secure talking in private if the staff are behind a hologram then themselves hide behind holograms to overhear people. So: the holograms aren't soundproof. Everyone should behave as if they have that knowledge.

This seems like it could (should) be a television series - with most of it set indoors (despite the space setting), there's every sense that it would be manageable on a (relatively) modest budget.

(https://i.imgur.com/8HVbiAc.png)


Kingdom: Alpha and Omega
(2018: progs 2100-2110)
S: Dan Abnett, A: Richard Elson, C: Abigail Bulmer, L: Ellie De Ville


This eighth series of Kingdom doesn't mess around with distractions and dives straight ahead with the main thrust of the plot. It does feel odd that the build up of Clara Bow and the pups was just ended off screen while Gene was messing around up in space. Talking of space - how do the masters deal with the need for water and oxygen up there?

What began as Masters vs. Them has morphed as the series has gone on: now the factions bleed into one another, and there are Masters (in space or planet-bound survivors), Aux (pure bloods and not, loyal or not), Them, Augmented-Tick-Them and finally Original-Tick-Infested (including humans, Aux and Them).

Gene tries to remain neutral - sick of being tasked with choosing a side. The end of this sequence suggests that it might be the last for a while. Gene walks off into the sunset and is given a coda. The eternal war of evolution and species carries on, with the final frame mirroring the opening of the first series: a small squad of warriors, equipped for battle, defeats their enemy in close combat. Only now it's super-evolved Them rather than pure-blood Aux.

The art style seems to have gone through an ink-splatter filter, which has the effect of making it look like something went wrong at the printers but (I assume) was meant to provide a patina of grit.

(https://i.imgur.com/aUgI7uQ.png)


Tharg's 3rillers: Infestinauts Are Go!
(2018: progs 2106-2108)
S: Arthur Wyatt, A: Pye Parr, L: Pye Parr


Spinning off from the first Regened issue (which was FCBD 2018), this takes the one-page Intestinauts, puts them into (relatively) giant combat mech suits and has them go to battle against acid-spitting skin lice.

This is all highly entertaining and should win some kind of Kevin O'Neill award for the most disturbingly 2000 AD-like thing in the prog for 2018. Like an insane mash-up of the hair-dwelling sub-plot from early Shakara (recall the horror of the "pubic depths") and Banzai Battalion, it's running on the same fuel as The Young Ones. Funny but smelly.

Looking forward to the scratch 'n' sniff sequel: I could see this as a short-form hit in the same structural vein as Captain Klep.

(https://i.imgur.com/QYnhjZ0.png)


Fiends of the Eastern Front: 1812
(2018: progs 2100-2105)
S: Ian Edginton, A: Dave Taylor, L: Annie Parkhouse


The original Fiends (1980: progs 152-161) was a masterclass in horror comics from Gerry Finley-Day and Carlos Ezquerra: relocating European vampires to the warzone of World War II. In 2006 they were resurrected (in the Meg) by David Bishop and Colin McNeil, shifting us over to Stalingrad. And 2016 saw a one-off arise in the FCBD, where Fodder took the metaphor of blood-sucking to war-torn Vietnam.

1812 (naturally) takes us back in time, to where a youthful Constanta is involved in Napolean's failed invasion of Russia. As a premise, it's super-exciting, but it becomes problematic as an episode in the wider series when it mashes its myths together (a la Hellboy) and introduces zombies and Baba Yaga. Not that we shouldn't have a story that blends these myths - but it wasn't what this series did, so it feels out place.

For all that, this is highly entertaining and incredibly well produced, and has researched the strategic aspects of the war impeccably.

(https://i.imgur.com/2uo7NIE.png)


Judge Dredd: The Small House
(2018: progs 2100-2109)
S: Rob Williams, A: Henry Flint, C: Chris Blythe, L: Annie Parkhouse


The Low Life Dreddverse is an odd place that sits alongside the other versions but doesn't integrate well. There are cool set-pieces, gritty dialogue and inventive, interesting concepts - and great art - but it's just not really Judge Dredd (he's overly emotional and too heroic), and the central plot is flawed and retconny.

Smiley asks too much of us: he's a character brought in from British spy thrillers (like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and desposited here with his little tea set, magic room and department within a department that's become a Dredd-world trope and cliche. For a master manipulator who's lasted this long, he, in the end, is egotistical, lacking in foresight and far, far too hands-on.

File under: fun, but flawed. I don't believe that dead character is really dead, either.

(https://i.imgur.com/rNY5Gdo.png)


Sinister Dexter: The Sea Beneath the City
(2018: progs 2109-2110)
S: Dan Abnett, A: Steve Yeowell, C: John Charles, L: Ellie De Ville


An entertaining "What if Sinister Dexter were Bond?" that could sit almost anywhere in the timeline without disrupting anything else. Ridiculous 70s robots alongside a villain who's part-Nemo, part-Goldfinger give us the backdrop for some great setups, which somehow include a workers' revolt sparked off by a plight-of-the-everyman conversation between two minor employees of the resident megalomaniac.

(https://i.imgur.com/5GQmPId.png)


Skip Tracer: Legion
(2018: progs 2100-2108)
S: James Peaty, A: Colin MacNeil, C: Dylan Teague, L: Ellie De Ville


Turgid weak-sauce that turns all the lights to amber on the dull-ometer. Somehow, even maestro MacNeil on art duties can't enliven this macho libre ham-fest of overwrought melodrama dressed up as cyberpunk. It's missing the punk, is the problem. It's cybercorporate by way of jocksville, as brooding muscle-man with special "get away from me" powers does no skip tracing whatsoever and instead goes to psychic war with his equally brooding muscle-man brother. (Except they're all being exploited by the Associament. Sorry, the Governiety. The Fellowgarchy. Something.)

You will be sent an automated email: it will say "We value your feedback. In providing super-charged Thrill-Power, tell us how you think Skip Tracer did with it's new Legion adventure story ... choose from Awesome, Really Awesome or Fairly Awesome!"

(https://i.imgur.com/sOoAj7d.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 02 January, 2021, 03:36:31 AM
(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/mediumres/2101.jpg)
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: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: AlexF 04 January, 2021, 11:47:05 AM
I'm gearing myself up for a big Skip Tracer re-read, but I don't think I'll every be able to top your scathing summations! Like the corn-based snack it's (not) named after, it delivers a tiny sizzle on the tongue before melting into nothingness.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: norton canes 04 January, 2021, 01:09:03 PM
And I seem to recall 'Legion' being by far the best-received chapter of Skip Tracer on this board!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Colin YNWA 04 January, 2021, 01:43:35 PM
And I seem to recall 'Legion' being by far the best-received chapter of Skip Tracer on this board!

Yeah I really enjoyed 'Legion' and it gave me hope that the first story was just a slow rev up and this was going to be more like it. Alas the next couple didn't see that hope through. I will say that the latest outing was much better again. Maybe not quite as good as Legion (I'd have to re-read them to be sure) but certainly a step up. I'm intrigued to see what any next one is like as much due to these contrasts as anything else!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 04 January, 2021, 03:12:30 PM
I think my response to Skip Tracer goes back to the anthology aspect of the comic: it's not that it's objectively poor - it's got great art, an interesting milieu, very high production values and good dialogue. It's just that it doesn't click with me. I assume the long-term continuation of the character is down to a strong fan base who don't fanny around on forums in their spare time.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: broodblik 04 January, 2021, 04:08:12 PM
Skip Tracer has not been a forum favourite so I believe the fan-base is not the folk that roams these pages. The second one for more has been the best to date. I do not mind that we have Skip Tracer. Since its debut we already had 5 series and would in some cases rather have more Brass Sun and Jaegir.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
: Funt Solo 07 February, 2021, 02:08:13 AM
(https://i.imgur.com/J4MLSFj.png)

2019: First Quarter
A selection of stories from progs 2111 to 2122, in order of most to least ghafflebette...


Brink: High Society [part 2]
(2019: progs 2111-2118)
S: Dan Abnett, A: INJ Culbard, L: Simon Bowland


A masterful story that continues to tread a fine line of mystery between the ideas of mythic dark gods and unknown fauna. Woven into this enigmatic threat is a suite of mind-altering drugs, so that we're left at the end still guessing, despite having found our way inside a central conspiracy.

The double-length climax in prog 2116 is jaw-dropping and marks one of the most thrilling, chilling scenes in 2000 AD history.

(https://i.imgur.com/rYsA2VP.png)


Jaegir: Bonegrinder
(2019: progs 2117-2122)
S: Gordon Rennie, A: Simon Coleby, C: Len O'Grady, L: Annie Parkhouse


The relentlessly grim battlefield juxtaposed with Natalia's negotiations (in which she tries to escape the most recent betrayel she's found herself subject to) is utterly compelling. This is masterful action storytelling that often surpasses the source material, to the extent that the recent Hunted felt like an interruption.

(https://i.imgur.com/4FM88I5.png)


Judge Dredd: Machine Law
(2019: progs 2115-2122)
S: John Wagner, A: Colin MacNeil, C: Chris Blythe, L: Annie Parkhouse


Eastenders meets Mechanismo, as Logan takes over the Queen Vic from an ailing Babs Hershey. The idea of a robotic bartender makes Joe Mitchell furious, but even he won't stand for a pub takeover when he's given a last minute warning from plucky newcomer Beeny.

This is good - it's got tension, drama, sacrifice and stoicism, and great art. The odd is that I don't really recognize this Logan against previous depictions, and it's difficult to marry his initial reticence to change his mind with a later about face. Ultimately, he comes across as terribly weak, which casts a shadow on Dredd and Hershey's initial decision.

Where it becomes increasingly difficult to follow the relationships is when you hold a mirror up between Wagner's depiction of Dredd and Hershey and that of Rob Williams. In the latter case, Dredd is openly hostile towards Hershey - in such a way as to entirely undermine her command. Such a relationship seems untenable, and it's not Hershey who would need to bend or buckle.

(https://i.imgur.com/GZtF0Ky.png)


Fiends of the Western Front
(2019: progs 2111-2115)
S: Ian Edginton, A: Tiernen Trevallion, L: Annie Parkhouse


A dark romp that throws in an alt-mythology for the origin of vampires, and pits giant bat monsters against bi-planes. The bookend characters are lightly drawn, so there's a need to re-read in order to get things straight.

There's a great action sequence where one character seems helpless until they decide to play their hand.

(https://i.imgur.com/l6hL8GO.png)


Grey Area: Whistleblower - Shoot To Kill
(2019: progs 2118-2122)
S: Dan Abnett, A: Mark Harrison, L: Ellie De Ville


Continuing from the K.I.A. thread in 2018, this sees Kym and Bitch enacting a dangerous exit strategy in an attempt to get away from Grell's dark ops megalomania.

The tension is somewhat spoiled by a comedy cameo from an alien-ified Stan Lee, and the coda is a grid-like talking heads piece that seems inescabably dull, and uses what (for this sequence) has been the most pointless character on the team.

(https://i.imgur.com/N0ChlQF.png)


Skip Tracer: Louder Than Bombs
(2019: progs 2111-2122)
S: James Peaty, A: Paul Marshall, C: Dylan Teague, L: Ellie De Ville


This Strontium Dog reboot continues to explore Johnny's Nolan's new-found mutant eye powers, as he investigates a false flag plot to cover up an attempted genocide committed by his father the Associament Governiety Fellowgarchy Contrafibularity.

Whilst the lack of a bearded Viking sidekick or a cute alien medic seems like an obvious own goal, this does provide some action momentum as it chugs along to the unlikely climax of defusing a bomb by throwing a taser at it (using ESP). Just another day in the cube.

(https://i.imgur.com/4gwP7jI.png)


(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/2000ad/mediumres/2112.jpg)
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