Review: 2000 AD – Prog 1958

Let’s talk Bad Company this week, in an issue where Dredd sputters and this Terror Tale is truly creepy. Dredd had a rare case of being a little overwhelming on the art side.  This title more than most benefits from a clusterfuck of colors and textures, representing the many visual and cultural layers in the Meg.  But the artist still has to have a command over how that gets presented both sequentially and on the page as a whole.  Goddard draws and Brown colors some outstanding set pieces, but even some of the better moments (such as Dredd's arrival and a moment where he gets all up in someone's grill) are made awkward by busy colors.  The problem with the busyness of the colors is that it adds too many contrasting elements on each particular page which, when combined with pencils and inks that are already fairly dense, make the comic a bit of a frustrating read.

2000-AD-Prog-1958-1Bad Company doesn't disappoint this week with its spreads.  I've been quiet about the series since initially praising it upon its return to the Progs, but it's one of the most visually interesting series I've been reading lately.  For one thing, I'm weirdly obsessed with almost any use of halftone these days (halftone refers to the black dots that get crammed together in different spacing to simulate shading).  You still see it once in a while, but often it’s used to explicitly give something a retro tone.  In Bad Company, the halftone augments the aesthetic that Dayglo and McCarthy are going for, rather than being a nod to anything retro.

And what is that aesthetic?  I think the best way to explain it is if you took Liefeld and jammed him together with someone who was more interested in the anatomy of weapons than people, you'd have this style of art.  That's not to say that the weaponry is the star of this series; far from it, in fact.  What makes Bad Company such an interesting read to me is that the designs of the characters are focused on a level of technical detail so angular that the members of Bad Company sort of blend seamlessly into the weapons they carry.  Kano's design is the most obvious example of this, but you can see it in character's like Mad Tommy Churchill as well.  Kano is very Frankenstein's Monster, but they all have aspects of that going on in how they're presented.

Another title I've been quiet about for the last run is Defoe.  At first, I just wasn't that crazy about it.  Zombie's aren't my jam, and the initial layouts were often claustrophobic, making the comic move really slow for me.  Diving in further was hampered by the fact that I had no previous exposure to Defoe, and it's simply the case that some comics come back into the Progs with good jumping on points, and others don't.  Anyway, I really enjoyed this chapter, since the climax at hand is pretty easy to follow even if I hadn't been trudging through the earlier chapters. My biggest problem remains that something about these inks feels overdone to me.  Despite Defoe being a black and white comic, it feels far too black; the comic often comes across as too dark when I'm reading it.  It's possible this is just an odd reading preference I have based on how I read comics, and I’ll see if I have the issue with anything similar, but the manner in which the black dominates the pages makes them feel the exactly opposite of empty, yet in an equally problematic way.

Score: 4/5

2000 AD – Prog 1958 Writers: Various Artists: Various Publisher: Rebellion Price: £1.99 (Digital) £2.55 Release Date: 11/25/15 Format: Weekly; Print/Digital