Category Archives: carlos ezquerra

The Top Comics of 2009 countdown! Number 5 – The Boys (Dynamite)

A quick summary of the years activity on this title. It’s on my pull list, has been for a couple of years and so was always going to make the top 10. Here are my thoughts;

They got it superbly right with the X-Men piss-take that-had-a-gob-smacking-ending, ‘We Gotta Go Now’ & the almighty dust-up that was ‘The Self Preservation Society’. It was great to see Carlos Ezquerra doing some art on the latter storyline, where he made Billy Butcher look more East End thug than Robertson has ever managed. If I had to choose the storyline of the year, it would be the latter. You got to see Butcher really lose it, and it made for some gripping entertainment.

The origin issues towards the end of 2009 have been hit and miss – a Hit for the first part of MM’s story, the second part was less so, but The Frenchman’s back story was insubstantial, and felt like filler.

Then there was Herogasm, the first Boys spin-off, a huge in-joke about the big summer crossover events. Maybe it was an excuse for Ennis to insert (*ahem*) lots of porn all over the issues. I cannot really remember what The Boys themselves were doing there – my attention was usually elsewhere, on various configurations of Supes getting off together, on their own etc… Was Herogasm a success? As far as I am concerned, no. It could have been wrapped up in 2 issues, but the 6 parts it occupied felt like a bit of a trial by the end of it.

‘The Boys’ is in good health – none of the main characters show any signs of appeal fatigue, there is enough in the background to suggest that 2010 will bring more conflict between The Boys & The Supes. A well deserved Top 5 finish. And the covers for the main title have been magnificent this year. Bravo!

Ezquerra & Dredd + 2000AD = a magnificent cover (2009)

I think Ezquerra is the definitive Dredd artist for me. More so than Ron Smith or Bolland or McMahon or whoever else you can care to mention. He captures the inscrutability, the slight swagger and determination of Dredd (as well as giving him a near comical chin). This cover of Dredd and Rico from the current epic ‘Tour of Duty’ is pure spirit of Judge Dredd. Absolutely brilliant!

Carlos Ezquerra Concept art for Judge Dredd

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.

Review – The Boys #32 (DE, 2009)

Okay – so I wasn’t so kind to the other Ennis title this week. However, The Boys is no post-apocalyptic tale of when everything goes very very wrong. The Boys is a title that rarely gets it wrong, and this current arc, ‘The Self-Preservation Society’, is incredibly exciting.

The Boys, the small group of CIA-backed, non-costumed super-powered individuals who keep the costumed Heroes in check, are currently, for the first time in the titles run, on the defensive. The Superheroes are fighting back against the perceived arrogance and immunity that The Boys enjoy. So far, the Female has been badly beaten and isout of the picture. This time around, the super team ‘Payback’ has been despatched (as seen in The Boys: Herogasm #2) to deal with Butcher, Hughie, M.M and Frenchie.

It lives up to expectations – a bruising, bloody, incredibly tense battle, especially when Terror, Billy Butcher’s dog, gets involved, and finds himself in peril. Visceral and rousing, this is how to stage a big bloody puch-up. If you read The Boys, and you know what Billy Butcher is capable of, then this issue delivers. This is his show, and the rest of The Boys (those that are functioning) have to step back (or in some cases, get carried away). Carlos Ezquerra does another great job with the panels, handling the bruising fight sequences with aplomb (what do you expect from a man who drew Judge Dredd for years?).

Annie is also in this issue, with a dig at the endless ‘origin’ iterations that seem popular in Superhero titles. Her outfit is what you might expect Ennis to imagine for her if he was the tailor to the Supes. Which in a way, he is.

Another brilliant issue, with a final panel that *damnit* makes me wish I waited for the trade, so I could read it right now.

Review – The Boys #31 (DE, 2009)

First off, let me say that Carlos Ezquerra fits right in. He brings that Dredd and Strontium Dog nostalgia, but proves he can still summon up some great panels – an example being the full page blow out of violence and gore on page 5. Also, personally speaking, he seems to imbue Billy Butcher with a bit more of the football thug that has obviously been struggling to come out these past few years – there is something of the Jimmy Pursey about Billy Butcher…

The story? It is fantastic. Kicking off ‘The Self Preservation Society’ arc, we have some amazing violence to start with (the Boys in full flow), and then in the aftermath we get Hughie letting off steam, feeling disillusioned, discovering he does not like his job that much and just wants to take his girl and run as far away as possible. Who hasn’t felt like that? So we connect with Hughie, like we usually do, because Hughie is a little bit like us. The nice, good guy. The ‘supes’ plot and scheme against their tormenters and finally strike, and it is devastating in a Tarentino True Romance (thinking – Arquette and Gandolfini) / Kill Bill type of showdown. It looks like it hurts. Its brilliant. Just dont touch the dog. Though judging by the cover of issue 32, not everyone is on-message.

The best ever stories in 2000AD part I – Judge Dredd ‘ The Executioner’ (1982)

The Executioner, 4 episodes, 2000 AD progs 291-294 (11/20/82 to 12/11/82). Story by “T.B. Grover” (Wagner & Grant), art by Carlos Ezquerra (source – http://www.2000ad.org/thrillpower/judgedredd1980s.html

‘Justice is done’

Part 1
The murder of reputed crime kingpin Hebby Swarf.A mysterious hooded figure. A note left by the bosy simply reads ‘Justice is done’. Judge Dredd is on the scene and believes (correctly) that a vigilante is on the loose.

Meanwhile, an attractive woman (rendered with some great art from Carlos Ezquerra, really capturing the beauty of woman with a futuristic look) books a table at the ‘Highlight Rooms’, as the TV news plays out in the background with its depressing list of despair and death. Later on, at the Highlight Rooms, the woman explains that she is waiting for her husband, then slips out, as the hooded ‘Executioner’ to deliver justice to ‘Mr Beauty’, a racketeer, and his henchman.

Again, the calling card is left.

Part 2
With the racketeer, Mr Beauty, and his henchmen dead, ‘The Executioner’ returns, plain clothed, to the Highlight Rooms. She explains to the Maitre D, as she leaves, that her husband will not be joining her for dinner. At the crime scene, Dredd leans (literally) on a witness to the vigilante murders. Despite the Judges being ‘Judge, Jury and Executioner’ in Mega City One, Dredds view of vigilante ism is clear;

‘Murder is murder, no citizen can be allowed to take the law into their own hands’.

The investigation quickly progresses with a photofit of the suspect for the Judges to work on. In another plot development we see that the woman (aka ‘The Executioner’) has 2 children. As they watch the news of the killing of ‘nightclub owner and suspected racketeer’ Jack Beauty, the son tells his mother that Beauty was one of the ‘skunks who’.. but his mother hushes him before we learn ‘what’ exactly.
In the City itself, the mood of the citizens is firmly with the vigilante, if we can believe the vox-pop carried out on the tv news. The mother / Execuioner makes her excuses to leave to tend to their fathers affairs. The son and daughter, visibly upset, wish those that caused their Fathers death, dead.

The mother, listening from behind a door, vows to make it so.

Part 3

A TV poll shows only 1% of the population is against the actions of The Executioner. Following the photo fit breakthrough, Judge Dredd harasses a female judge, De Gaulle, who looks similar to the photo fit and could be the ‘perp’. She denies this accusation, and lie detector tests confirm that she is telling the truth. Dredd is called to a suspected Executioner slaying, but a clumsy ‘justice is dun’ note reveals it to be a copycat killing. The copycat proudly owns up to being the ‘executioner’ (which he isn’t), and for his trouble gets thirty years prison time.

Continuing her bloody retribution, The Executioner goes to ‘Chivo Bros Discount Depository of the Semi Dead’, where she books a suspended animaiton vault place for a Nicholas Tatum. As one of the Chivos Brothers recognises the name, the vigilante steps back and blasts him. Rafael Chivo, the other brother, realising that he is in grave danger, but fails to escape. He is knocked out, and when he regains consciousness he finds himself in a vault. Chivos is seen pleading that he did not kill Tatum, and the hooded figure agrees that he didnt pull the trigger, but he was responsible for the death of her husband. With that, she slams the vault shut, and Chivos is quickly overcome by liquid nitrogen fumes. Another ‘justice is done’ note is left at the scene.

Part 4

The Judges find the bodies of Mo and Rafel Chivo. We learn that they were body sharks – so, like the other victims of the vigilante, they were ‘villains’. When Dredd is informed at the scene that rookie Judge had found the bodies, Dredd realises that the killer must have been a rookie at some point, as he had already checked all Judges as possible suspects.
Quickly, Dredds bike computer confirms it – the Executioner is a Blanche Kominsky, a rookie who was expelled for an illegal liason with a non-judge. She later married, and became Blanche Tatum. Her husband, Nicholas, had recently killed himself after getting into trouble with loan sharks. The financiers of the loan were Swarf, Beauty and the Chivos brothers. Elsewhere, the mother and children have a tearful farewell, with the mother ordering the children to go to their grandmothers. It seems as if the children understand that this may be the last time they see their mother.

Judge Dredd, on the trail of Tatum, runs a check on any other people who may have been involved in the loan deal – and Dutch Sagans name comes up. The story then cuts to Sagan, who, fearful for his life, tries to call a henchman, who is already dead at the hands of the Executioner. She catches Sagan, who tries to escape, just as the Judges arrive in force. Blanche Tatum manages to hold off the judges while she corners Sagan, and as he cowers, she kills him, completing her revenge.

As she emerges from killing her final victim, Dredd tells her that it’s all over, to which Tatum agrees. She is brandishing her gun. Dredd responds quickly, shooting her and Tatum drops to the floor.

We learn that her gun wasn’t loaded. She obviously wanted to die, having got her revenge.

This is one of the great Dredd stories in my opinion. Very much a product of the times, when vigilante fiction was mainstream with the likes of the ‘Death Wish‘ sequel and the ‘Guardian Angels‘ were a very real representation of people power, this tale retains its emotional power today. Not because it is epic in scale, which it isn’t (though Mega City One is still coming to terms with the aftermath of The Apocalypse War). It is because the story is small scale and a very human tragedy. It deals with a family torn apart by death. A woman and a mother gets her revenge, but pays with her life. What happens to the children? Is revenge a valid course of action in a world where there are self-appointed Judges, who dispense instant justice? The story is taught and tinged with sadness, such as in the scene at the Highlight Club where Blanche announces that her husband will not be joining her, or when the children are seen, clearly affected by the death of their father. The final twist, where Tatum is revealed to have no bullets in her gun when she confronts the Judges, is a sombre one. Why did she want to die? To be with her husband? Because she couldn’t bear her children seeing her in prison?

The art, from original Dredd artist Carlos Ezquerra, is wonderful, whether it is capturing the idiotic posturing of the ‘wannabe’ Executioner, the tragic beauty of Blanche, or the final desperate moments of Rafael Chivo and Dutch Sagan.

A dark and sombre tale, and in my view, a classic from 2000AD.