Oh, and by the way….the music was amazing…
It’s another origin story (in the best tradition of Ennis trashing the tropes of Superhero fiction….)
THE BOYS #37
Covers: Darick Robertson
Writer: Garth Ennis
Penciller/Inker: Darick Robertson
Colorist: Tony Avi?a
Publication Date: DECEMBER, 2009
Format: Comic Book
Age range: 16+
High in the French Pyrenees lies the little mountain village of Franglais, as quiet and peaceful a place as you could imagine… until her favorite son comes home. The Frenchman’s origin is finally revealed, in a pulse-bounding tale of seething passion, vile betrayal and classic Gallic melancholy. Who is Black Pierre? Why is the lovely Marie not there to welcome her beloved Frenchie home? And how can one croissant change everything? Find out in The Boys 37!
As you may well know, Rebellion (the owners of 2000AD) have been putting out a series of books showing, sequentially, all of Judge Dredds tales in 2000AD, from his debut in prog 2. I have recently had my interest reawakened in 2000AD, with the likes of Cradlegrave, and as a result, have wanted to revisit my youth and rediscover the Dredd tales of my youth, and continue it on from where I left off, which around 1989. I plan to do a review on each ‘Case File’ – I have 4 up to now – as and when they get read by me. This is my impression of the Complete Case Files 01.
This initial title clearly shows the difficulty the creators and all the creatives had in finding a voice, tone and style for Dredd. Within 5 years you have epic tales that are (justifiably) well remembered – tales like ‘The Apocalypse War’, and sooner than that you have other Dredd classics like ‘The Judge Child Quest’. Within a year or so of his debut, Dredd is taking vaccines across the irradiated wastelands of ‘The Cursed Earth’ on a desperate mercy mission. But unitl then, you have the early stuff.
Let me burst the bubble – early Dredd is not that good.
With some of the most laborious plotting (The Robot Wars – the proto Dredd ‘epic’ is just a one issue story streeeeetched over 6 issues, and boy does it feel like it) and lashings of poetic justice / ironic endings (an example – Criminals on the verge of killing Dredd getting struck down by a Sword wielded by a Statue representing Justice). Some of the endings can be telegraphed a mile off, and that makes the whole thing feel very corny in parts – because it is very corny in parts. Also, Maria (the astoundingly generic Italian Mama) the Housekeeper, and Walter the (bloody) Wobot are pointless and painful at times (and there are even some ‘Bonus’ Walter strips crafted by Brian Bolland towards the back of this book, not that they are really worth the time or effort).
However, aside from some of the stories, and the dialogue being very much of its time, you get some exquisite and exciting art from some brilliant artists – Bolland, Ezquerra, McMahon. For example, on this page, you do get the antique dialogue (“Your money mister – and no jive!”) but also the astounding visions of what a Mega City over 100 years in the future would look like;
There is enough in this volume to keep you amused – there are some good tales here. There are Death Races (the Mega City 5000, with Bolland making his debut and a very different Spikes Harvey Rotten making his first appearance, prior to his makeover for the Cursed Earth storyline), Deadly Game Shows, Morris Minor Thieves (you see? The Seventies produced Dredd and its all over these early strips) and (probably) the best story in the strip – the ‘Return of Rico’. And as I stated before, the art is stunning throughout. The book as a whole is well thought out, with some of Dredds covers from early 2000AD at the back of the book as a bonus. Of greater interest is the prototype Dredd adventure from 2000AD’s ‘issue zero’, entitled ‘Bank Raid’, where Dredds methods are brutal – he is literally a Judge, Jury and Executioner. The strips tone was altered ready for its debut in prog 2, but it is interesting to see what might have been – Mega City One would have been an even more brutal, unforgiving place.
How can I sum this all up? Case Files 01 is great at conveying a City seeped in madness, despair, forever teetering on Chaos – and it appears that only the Judges are able to keep a lid on it. Dredd comes across as a bit of a dick in these early issues, trying to be more a traditional comic book hero, but with an arrogance and swagger that just makes him unlikeable. This aspect of his character is something that is, thankfully, dispensed with as time goes by. The problems with these strips in this first compilation are all teething problems, and they do not go away with Case Files 02 or 03 either, but they are more obvious here. Sometimes it was a chore getting through this (Elvis the Killer Car is awful) but other times it was interesting, and occasionally it was fun. If you ever got the American reprints of early Dredd;
you will understand.
And this is how it all starts – with the tale of a criminal called ‘Whitey’ (how very Seventies a name is that…), with that Iconic figure astride his ‘Lawmaster’
THE WALKING DEAD, VOL. 11 TP
Written by Robert Kirkman, art and cover by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn.
No one is safe in the aftermath of the most shocking Walking Dead storyline yet. The remaining survivors continue the road to Washington DC, but not everyone will make it out alive. Collecting issues 61-66 of the New York Times best-selling series! Collects The Walking Dead #61-66.
136 pages, black and white, $14.99, in stores on Dec. 23.
THE WALKING DEAD #68
Written by Robert Kirkman, art and cover by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn.
Another stranger is encountered on the way to Washington. The information this man brings could change everything for the survivors.
32 pages, black and white, $2.99, in stores on Dec. 9.
Looks like the ‘Safe Zone’ arc may be starting up by the end of the year…
Finally – after a year, and numerous delays between each issue, and none longer than the wait for this finale – we get to the conclusion of Old Man Logan. It does not disappoint. The saying goes that ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’, but to be honest, I prefer my revenge fiction to be played out in the heat of anger and rage, subsuming the grief by spilling the blood of the enemy, smiting the perpetrators. Logan does a lot of this in this oversize edition, as he takes out the dreadful progeny of Bruce Banner in a post-apocalyptic hell where all the Heroes are dead, and the innocent are prey to the hunger and desires of the corrupted. The pages are awash with the slashing fury of Wolverine as the panels are sprayed with blood, like a Lone Wolf and Cub movie transferred to blood soaked print. The influences abound – you can see the debt to the Spaghetti Western, to Mad Max, to Lone Wolf and Cub. The fact is though, that it takes all these influences and makes the story one of the better Wolverine stories, and that is a considerable compliment when you consider the sheer weight of stories about this character that have been produced in the last 25 years. Old Man Logan is fun, furious, bloody and brutal. It’s like the best B-Movie revenge thriller that was never made (think Mad Max 2 meets The Exterminator) and I will be getting the Hardcover collection of this when it gets released towards the end of the year. Apart from the disjointed release schedule, Old Man Logan has been a total success as far as I am concerned, and this final issue did justice to the tale as a whole, which was something of a relief, and made for a fearsome few minutes of reading.
Finally, Mark Millar has written a great revenge tale and a re imagining of the Wolverine story, but thanks and tributes have to go to McNiven (pencils), Vines and Morales (inkers) and Hollowell (colours) – your work was splendid, bringing life to this tale with your vision of a fallen America.
Prior to my review of the first of the Judge Dredd Case Files, I thought it would be nice to look at some of the original concept art, devised by Carlos Ezquerra. He had the whole design nailed, didn’t he? That sketch with Dredd on the Lawmaster looks amazing – and it is interesting to note that the helmet that the Judge is wearing is more like a motorbike helmet, with visor. In the second picture, the helmet looks more like another of Ezquerra’s character designs – that of Johnny Alpha, Strontium Dog. The final design shown here is the blueprint for Dredd.
Judge Dredd Complete Case Files 01 review to follow in the next few days.