Shouting robot-headed rotting carcass scarecrows, two people in a onesie, and baseball in space: only at 2000 AD. Dredd is one of those titles that I think people frequently write off as being just a lot of shooting and semi-ironic fascist bravado. I won't disagree that Dredd is more of an action thriller than a deeply intellectual dramatic probe into the human psyche, but a glance at most of the one-off stories reveals a really clever series that is not inept at exploring some "highbrow" concepts while the judges are reloading.
If you don't believe me, just take one look at the current "Dark Judge" saga, which is currently setting up a plot that is going to use the dream of space colonization to deploy the ever-present Dredd theme of how hopeless optimism is in the future Dredd inhabits. Though the dark judges are themselves just a really fun action/horror mechanism, they stand for far more on the Mayflower. I am as excited to see where Wagner takes this thread as I am to see Staples continue to render these characters.
I have been singing the praises of The Order since I first laid eyes on it, and I am going to continue whether you like it or not: this is one of the best things I'm reading right now. Every single thing that you could complain about being cliché is twisted such that it actually leverages the cliché to be interesting. The secret ancient order is literally a bunch of ancient dudes. The usual spry companion who introduces our protagonist to the order is a damn robot head on a rotting corpse. Of course, some characters seem wary of the rough-around-the-edges female protagonist, but not everything is a cliché: sometimes you just have to tell a damn story! I'll save more gushing about Burns' artwork and the effect to which Kek-W manages to leverage it for next week.
I ripped on Savage last week for being a mess pacing-wise, and though I'm still not the biggest fan of short-form comics doing so much speeding up, slowing down, and jumping around, last week's chapter was essentially just a set-up for this week's chapter. Additionally, this week's chapter found some room for some political commentary (however thinly-veiled it might have been) and it's refreshing to see an anthology that deals so often with violence have some stories which make a statement about things like government crackdowns on the right to free assembly. There are some other notes of commentary in here that seemed germane to those in Britain as pertains to their relationship with the US. The on-its-face commentary was geared of course towards US foreign policy, but being on the US side of the pond myself, I might have missed some further nuance there.
In any case, I thought this was the cleverest chapter of Savage I've read in some time. Unfortunately, I think the Ulysses Sweet gag is starting to wear on me a bit, and Orlok is still stuck in first gear. The Prog is still worth the price of admission, but so far this is the weakest overall lineup in some time.
Writers: Various Artists: Various Publisher: 2000 AD Price: £1.99 (Digital) £2.49 (UK) Release Date: 1/14/15 Format: Print/Digital Anthology