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Author Topic: Thrill-Coma 2010  (Read 22625 times)

Funt Solo

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #165 on: 15 March, 2020, 06:06:10 PM »


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.




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.





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.




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.




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.




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.


 

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Funt Solo

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #166 on: 20 March, 2020, 05:28:51 PM »


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:




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!




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!




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:




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?




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.




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).




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.




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:




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:




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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IndigoPrime

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #167 on: 20 March, 2020, 09:22:02 PM »
Stick with Brink.

broodblik

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #168 on: 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.

Blue Cactus

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #169 on: 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'?

Greg M.

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #170 on: 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.

Colin YNWA

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #171 on: 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.

Funt Solo

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #172 on: 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.
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IndigoPrime

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #173 on: 21 March, 2020, 05:10:16 PM »
Boo-ee-eh also an option.

Funt Solo

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #174 on: 24 March, 2020, 11:25:39 PM »


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...




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.




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.




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.


 

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.



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Funt Solo

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #175 on: 24 April, 2020, 11:01:34 PM »


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.



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.



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.




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.




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.




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:



...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:


 

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.



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Funt Solo

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #176 on: 23 May, 2020, 11:50:47 PM »


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 ...




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.




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.




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:




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".




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Colin YNWA

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #177 on: 24 May, 2020, 06:58:34 AM »
That is such a strong set of thrills, already a chilling 3 years old!