ADVANCE REVIEW! 2000 AD #1763 will go on sale in the US Wednesday, December 21, 2011.
The end (I think) of Angel Zero. Some crazy shit in Indigo Prime. Guns, lots of guns in Sinister Dexter. And building up to a showdown in Judge Dredd. That's what's in store for you in the latest prog of Britain's long-running sci-fi magazine 2000 AD.
I've said it before — and odds are I will say it again — but anthology formats are always a mixed-bag. I have yet to read an anthology book where every single story was excellent, and 2000 AD runs about 50/50 nowadays. One of the big problems with 2000 AD is that it is all serials. The companion magazine, Judge Dredd Megazine, is much easier to get into as a new reader because they always have at least one self-complete story each issue. Readers need that anchor, a complete reading experience, to give them something to hold onto between reading all of these slices of individual stories. My all-time favorite anthology magazine, Marvel's Epic Illustrated, always maintained a good balance. 2000 AD is sorely lacking that balance.
This issue has only four stories, including the last chapter in Angel Zero. I am going to miss that story, but I am also looking forward to starting a new story from the first chapter. Judge Dredd continues to be the other storyline I enjoy, while Indigo Prime and Sinister Dexter just don't do it for me.
The chapters are:
JUDGE DREDD: "THE ASSASSINATION LIST"
Script: John Wagner Art: Carlos Ezquerra
Part 6 of this series is still the best story in 2000 AD. Dredd and his fellow judges are hunting a murder they know nothing about, based on a psyker's vague prediction. Her visions of future murders are coming true without fail, but so far the Judges have only arrived on scene to confirm the accuracy of her predications and have been unable to stop them. This issue dropped some bombshell clues and ended with a nice twist that left me in the lurch for the next issue like a proper serial should.
I love seeing Carlos Ezquerra's art in this story. Ezquerra is an old-school Judge Dredd artist, who drew Mega City-One's main lawman back when I was reading the Eagle comic American reprints in the '80s and '90s. He knows how to draw Dredd's bulky costume and skinny body just right, and his art has only improved over the years.
SINISTER DEXTER: "DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP"
Script: Dan Abnett Art: Anthony Williams
Part 3 of this series. Unlike the other serials, I have been following Sinister Dexter from the beginning, but I just don't think I am ever going to dig it.
Both the art and story come off as amateurish. Abnett seems to be trying too hard to capture that action-movie style with a sort of Tarantinos-meet-The Matrix vibe, but what works well on the screen is tired and clichéd on the page.
Or maybe I am just bored with this kind of storytelling.
INDIGO PRIME: "ANTHROPOCALYPSE"
Script: John Smith Art: Chris Weston
The eighth installment in this serial, Indigo Prime is the other series I just can't get into. If Sinister Dexter is derivative of action films, then Indigo Prime is derivative of the "wide-screen" — comics style of Grant Morrison. Writer John Smith peppers his sci-fi with made-up words like "Anthropocalypse" and "Nth Dimensional Explosion/Implostions" that tries to trip you out, but it just falls flat.
Chris Weston's art has a problem I have been seeing lately; beautiful backgrounds, with stiff, unconvincing figures. His big splash pages and such are pretty good, and he draws a mean in-dimensional space, but when he has to have people talk to each other… no expression, no emotion.
ANGEL ZERO: PART 13
Script: Kek-W Art: John Burns
This story, on the other hand, is all good. Good story. Good art. Accessible and easy to jump into in the middle. I will be sorry to see Angel Zero go. I came into this story midway, but I have enjoyed every chapter and would love to read the whole thing in a collected edition some day.
John Burns' art is especially pretty, and the prettiness is a nice contrast to much of the starker and bleak art of 2000 AD. The bright, painterly art is easy on the eye, and Burns' characters come to life with verve and emotion is the same way that Chris Weston's don't. I think this is the last chapter. It reads like the last chapter. if Angel Zero has to end, it was ended very nicely. Well done.
Hopefully next prog the replacement story for Angel Zero will be one I like, otherwise the balance will shift from 50/50. And that is also the nature of an ongoing anthology piece. If you don't like a certain set of stories, just wait long enough and you will get a new crop. I would love it if every story was bursting at the seams with awesome, but for that I go to the Judge Dredd Megazine.
Zack Davisson is a freelance writer and life-long comics fan. He owned a comic shop in Seattle during the '90s, during which time he had the glorious (and unpaid) gig as pop-culture expert for NPR. He has lived in three countries, has degrees in Fine Art and Japanese Studies, and has been a contributing writer to magazines like Japanzine and Kansai Time-Out. He currently lives in Seattle, WA with his wife Miyuki. You can catch more of Zack’s reviews on his blog Japan Reviewed or read his translations of Japanese ghost stories on Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai.