A great week to jump on, an entirely new slate of stories starts this week, including the return of one of my favorite new serials from last year, Survival Geeks.
If you've ever looked at the Progs and had the lingering thought of, "man, you know what would be great in this wacky sci-fi context? Meddling teenagers." then you too will be a huge fan of Survival Geeks. The worlds that Rennie and Beeby give Googe to draw are reminiscent of Through the Looking Glass, but gone even more awry and with 100% more pot smoking. Wait, didn't that giant Alan Rickman bug smoke? Okay, so, similar amounts of smoking, I guess? But you get what I mean: there's an irreverence here that is completely earned and a ton of fun to read.
More than just being imaginative, the images are wildly emotive at all times. Googe pairs two strengths that, typically, don't come in a single package. He is able to draw exaggerated emotions on the faces of his characters that manage to carry entire story beats, and he is also able to draw tediously detailed sci-fi fuckery, from steampunk goodies to armies (literally, as in, the armed forces of some nation) of rodents. Caldwell's colors make Googe's details seem natural and almost simple: the two make a killer pair. The final page of this one is a lot of fun, and it's the kind of chapter where there is a great payoff if you've been reading the series, but it's not so complicated that you can't pick it up right here.
One series that hasn't been in the Progs since I first started reviewing them is Aquila which makes what I would count as a triumphant return. Rennie's sense of humor and comedic timing carries over to this script as Aquila watches a gladiator match unfold and gives some betting advice. Paul Davidson's bold lines come together to form some very fun character designs, despite the fact that those characters, you know, mostly die in a gladiator match. Aquila is at its best when it mixes reality and myth, and it's easy to get a feel for both when the creative team delivers such an attractive approximation of a secutor and his armor. One of my favorite colorists in the Progs, Len O'Grady, does a stellar job of standing up to Davdison's inks and, more importantly, in giving us effectively bloody finishes.
Tainted brings us beck to the realm of the Dark Judges. I was hard on the first of the comics to take place in Deadworld last year because Dave Kendall's art lent itself to set-pieces that didn't necessarily come together as a narrative as well as I might have liked. At times that was fine because Deadworld is something no reader had been allowed to explore up to that point, so the visuals were generally more interesting than any story could have been. When the story at times became more character-driven, though, things felt a little more stilted and a lot less like Kendall's big indulgent panels were doing me favors.
Anyway, Tainted appears to be a story much closer to the ground now that we've had some introduction to what Deadworld is already like, and the visual storytelling reflects that much more now. Through the lens of a family of farmers, Deadworld in this story reflects a reasonable dystopian future of our own world in which natural disasters are a more regular occurrence than sunshine. These parallels feel intentional but not heavy-handed since the allegory can only go so far: we don't have weird necrotic monsters roaming the land seeking to make death a new status quo. Well, not unless you count Trump supporters, I guess. *Rim Shot*.
Kendall's super-duper-finely inked panels have a unique feel because they lean so heavily on the darkness inherent in Deadworld without relying on the solid blacks that most comic creators would use to depict similar themes and scenes. Kendall instead mostly relies on a general dark blue blotted throughout his scenes, which is far more natural than pure black inks and, for that reason, a lot more disturbing. You can actually imagine yourself experiencing horror in this kind of lighting.
[button btn_url="" btn_color="teal" btn_size="large" btn_style="default" btn_outlined="no" link_target="self" link_rel="" icon_left="Score: 4/5" icon_right="Score: 4/5"]Score: 4/5[/button]
2000 AD - Prog 1973 Writers: Various Artists: Various Publisher: Rebellion Price: £2.55 Print / £1.99 Digital Format: Print/Digital Website