judge-dredd eagle

Judge Dredd 28 (February 1986)

Judge Dredd #28

It’s almost a great issue of Dredd. The opening story, with Wagner and Grant sending Dredd into the Cursed Earth (no longer called Mutieland) with a bunch of cadets for a test, is awesome. Smith’s art is good, the story has a nice flow and the supporting cast of cadets is good. It’s probably the best mix of narrative and Wagner wanting to expound on the judges’ rigorous training.

Unfortunately, the second half of the issue has two Judge Anderson stories and neither of them is particularly good. The first one at least has good art from Kim Raymond. Raymond gives it almost a horror comic vibe, which is appropriate given Anderson is fighting a demon.

The last story, with too busy art from Ian Gibson, is really lame. Grant and Wagner write the final one together, with Wagner writing the first Anderson alone. So he’s worse with help, apparently.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artists, Ron Smith, Kim Raymond and Ian Gibson; colorist, John Burns; letterers, Tom Frame, Tony Jacob and Steve Potter; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

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wool

Wool 6 (August 2014)

Wool #6

The last issue reveals Wool doesn’t just have a pacing problem or a perspective problem, it has a scale problem. Palmiotti and Gray never make the silo society seem real enough. They never show the silo in a way to make one believe anyone besides the cast lives there.

It’s not imaginative enough in how they’re adapting the comic. Sure, Broxton’s art is a little claustrophobic, but there’s no opportunity for it to be anything else.

Without a sense of the society, the writers don’t give the characters a setting, so their implied back stories and histories have less–or no–resonance. It hurts the comic immensely and could have been easily fixed.

It’s a fairly good final issue. The tension is honest, the plot twists are not. They never get enough time, but Gray, Palmiotti and Braxton are all professionals. Wool ends competently, but without anything special about it.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist, Jimmy Broxton; letterer, Bill Tortolini; editor, Matt Hoffman; publisher, Jet City Comics.

judge-dredd eagle

Judge Dredd 27 (January 1986)

Judge Dredd #27

It’s an uneven issue. Except the art, of course. Smith does a great job on the art. And Wagner and Grant do have some highs. The issue opens with the low–and the only time there’s a lot of forced symbolism about Dredd and the law. I think it comes up later, but the writers actually counter it.

The highlight of the issue is about Dredd being on graffiti detail. It’s not a violent story at all and it sort of just shows regular life for a kid in Mega-City One. Because Grant and Wagner open with it being a Dredd story, then switch the protagonist, it feels expansive, something these short stories usually don’t.

There’s a so-so story about a cult and then a murder mystery. The latter tries too hard with future details, but it’s solidly written. Wagner and Grant have a good tone this issue.

B 

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artists, Ron Smith and Robin Smith; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

war stories

War Stories 3 (November 2014)

War Stories #3

If Ennis had just started out with the story he finishes telling in this issue, it would have been a much more satisfying story arc. He doesn’t want to seem too sentimental, I guess. But he starts narrating it in the past tense, directly referring to the war being over, so his protagonist clearly makes it.

Only the protagonist isn’t really telling his war story. Ennis has this interesting thing–a war story where the narration doesn’t engage with all the visuals, the protagonist has forgotten the details, they’ve ceased to be the important thing about this period of his life. It could have been an awesome little story.

Instead, Ennis tries to correct it all this issue and he rushes through it and it doesn’t work. It’s well-written, it’s just obvious and desperate.

And Burns’s detail on the war battle can’t make up for his terrible human beings.

B 

CREDITS

Castles in the Sky, Part Three of Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Keith Burns; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

judge-dredd eagle

Judge Dredd 26 (December 1985)

Judge Dredd #26

There’s a lot of imaginative Ron Smith art this issue. He does an excellent job mixing action with setting detail, especially since all of Wagner’s stories have something to do with Mega-City One, whether with the block architecture or with the people.

Unfortunately, Wagner’s stories of Dredd and the general public, even when they’re good, are too much of Wagner trying to play up Dredd’s ideals. The first story has a minor crime turn into a major, the second has Dredd showing compassion (while appearing not to show compassion), the third and fourth are Walter stories.

The final story, from Alan Grant and Kelvin Gosnell, is this way too conceptually big, but way too small in terms of pages–and Smith’s scale–story of a runaway mobile traffic thing.

These Mega-City One details, even with good art, are really hard to take one after another. There’s no story.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner, Alan Grant and Kelvin Gosnell; artist, Ron Smith; colorist, John Burns; letterers, Peter Knight and Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

wool

Wool 5 (July 2014)

Wool #5

Wool is a frustrating comic. Presumably to stick with the narrative structure of the source novel, Gray and Palmiotti constantly waste time and pass up opportunities for a better structure.

This issue has protagonist Jules on a mission where she’s diving (in her environment suit) to the bottom of the silo. It’s flooded. It could be a great sequence, but it’s actually a waste of time because all it does is introduce a second sidekick for her. It doesn’t need the emphasis if all it’s going to do is bring in another character.

Or they could have used it as a framing device for the issue. But no.

Then the comic cliffhangs with her previous sidekick, now working for the evil information technologies department, chatting with her on the radio. Yet another possible wonder framing device for the whole series.

It’s got its plusses, but Wool is way too loose.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist, Jimmy Broxton; letterer, Bill Tortolini; editor, Matt Hoffman; publisher, Jet City Comics.

judge-dredd eagle

Judge Dredd 25 (November 1985)

Judge Dredd #25

Smith handles the art on both stories.

The first story is about an ugly clinic (people go to get plastic surgery to look ugly). It’s a little silly, but it does get more interesting as it goes along. The problem is writers Wagner and Grant want to basically do some future musing and they don’t really have a narrative to it, much less a reason for Dredd to get involved.

It’s a really weird ending too, because Dredd wants to shut down the ugly clinics and has to figure out a way to do it legally (in Wagner and Grant’s terms of legal). Only… I couldn’t figure out why he cares so much.

The second story has a community group worried about the judges being too harsh. Does the shrill harpy change her mind about her shallow, liberal affectations when confronted with actual criminals?

Besides being obvious, it works out.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artist, Ron Smith; colorist, John Burns; letterers, Peter Knight and Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

birthright

Birthright 3 (December 2014)

Birthright #3

It’s a particularly interesting issue because Williamson never talks about the big secret–the big gimmick, the big deception, the big unknown. There’s stuff related to it, but he never identifies why he’s on these topics. It would be a bad jumping on issue.

There’s some good stuff with the parents. Not together so much, because Williamson is moving quickly. He doesn’t slow down for things he would need to stop and work with. The issue is kind of sprinting, actually. The mom has her good scenes, the dad has a couple scenes where it could lead somewhere better.

Then there’s the brother. The older brother who becomes younger but still somewhat wiser–at least in the ways of Earth. His scenes are good too; probably the best in the issue.

But Williamson is still soft booting the series with every issue. He still hasn’t found the Birthright’s sustainable tone.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

judge-dredd eagle

Judge Dredd 24 (October 1985)

Judge Dredd #24

The Apocalypse War saga ends. There’s some silliness–like Wagner and Grant referring to Dredd’s “Apocalypse Squad”–but most of the comic works out, at least as far as narrative.

Dredd’s got to take care of the enemy’s mega city, which proves easy thanks to Anderson (who the writers use to get out of plotting difficulties), and then he heads home to win the war.

There’s a little bit too much exposition and it doesn’t work because Wagner and Grant are overextending themselves. They’re giving more information than the story needs to succeed and it weighs down a lot of sequences. The subplots don’t really provide any additional texture, they just fill pages.

And those pages have really bad art. Ezquerra is worse than he was in the previous issue. His composition is worse, his detail is worse. It’s a hideous looking comic.

But the writing is effective. So… yeah.

B 

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artist, Carlos Ezquerra; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

wool

Wool 4 (July 2014)

Wool #4

The issue starts with the protagonist narrating. The fourth issue and Gray and Palmiotti have finally settled on having the protagonist. And on having her narrate. Only she doesn’t narrate for long and the focus soon shifts back to the subplots.

The sheriff–I can’t believe it, I remember her name is Jules–is in another silo and her world view is being broken. Luckily there’s some guy in the other silo who’s been there for thirty-four years alone and he’s rational enough to explain everything to her.

Meanwhile, the regular silo and the somewhat familiar supporting cast–lots of supporting cast members have died off in Wool and it’s hard to bother getting too involved with the new ones–are planning a revolt. Perhaps it will succeed. Perhaps it will fail. It’s hard to actually care.

It’s a good issue, but Wool’s too insubstantially constructed to succeed.

B 

CREDITS

Writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist, Jimmy Broxton; letterer, Bill Tortolini; editor, Matt Hoffman; publisher, Jet City Comics.

judge-dredd eagle

Judge Dredd 23 (September 1985)

Judge Dredd #23

From the start, Ezquerra’s art is off. His figures are weak, his composition is worse. Maybe he just burned out on all the war stuff–there are constant empty backgrounds, like he’s trying to do less work. It actually feels like someone doing an Ezquerra impression and and a rushed one.

As for the writing… Wagner and Grant have two things to do in the issue. First is to resolve the Soviet brainwashing of the Chief Judge. Dredd has to infiltrate and take him out, which doesn’t cause Dredd any consternation because the Chief Judge knows he’s been brainwashed and wants to die. What that plot lacks in dramatic impact, at least the infiltrating should be interesting (and the extraction).

Sadly, Ezquerra’s weak art hurts it a lot.

Ditto the second plot point, the judges waging war against the Soviets. Or getting ready to.

The art significantly impairs the issue.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artist, Carlos Ezquerra; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

Robocop-Boom

Robocop 6 (December 2014)

Robocop #6

It’s a bridging issue. An undercover cop goes after Killian–in one of Williamson’s most unexpected moves, the character (who everyone is accusing of being an undercover cop) turns out to be an undercover cop just in time for the cliffhanger. Robocop gets beat up by the new ED–209, which has a silly name I can’t remember. And Anne Lewis gets into a yelling match about how she’s not going to back down from her job (with another female detective).

And Robocop gets new legs. He can run now. Not quite a jetpack, but… a running Robocop.

Next time, because this issue is a bridging issue.

It’d probably be okay if it weren’t for some real compositional laziness on Magno’s part. He’s wasting a lot of space, with angles intended to fill space with blah content. Without anything particularly good in the narrative, the art pitfalls hurt the issue.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

judge-dredd eagle

Judge Dredd 22 (August 1985)

Judge Dredd #22

It’s the war comic I’ve been expecting from Wagner for a while now. Dredd and the judges with him have a mission and they try to carry it through. There are changes, but minor ones. It’s just a war comic, even during the bewildering sequence where the judges have to knock down the supports on a giant highway system to stop the invasion.

It all looks too simple. Ezquerra has some nice panels but he never establishes the lack of reality in the set pieces. Instead of it being fantastic, Ezquerra instead goes for cheap thrills.

But the big silly action sequences are still mostly successful. Wagner writes them well, silly or not. The only drawback, other than the major problems, is Walter and the comic relief. Wagner goes too far with the comic relief, which leads to some lame jokes.

It’s fine enough, it’s just a little bit tiresome.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, John Wagner; artist, Carlos Ezquerra; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

escape-from-new-york

Escape from New York 1 (December 2014)

Escape from New York #1

I’m trying to figure out how to describe Escape from New York to those unfamiliar with the movie. You wouldn’t buy the comic on a whim, without a familiarity, because if you paged through it, you’d be immediately lost. Writer Christopher Sebela doesn’t really do an introduction, he does a direct sequel to the movie… then immediately invalidates it.

But, let’s say you stuck with it for a few more pages. And then you wondered why Diego Barreto is drawing the main character so blandly. And why is the dialogue so terrible? Sebela rips off a line from Terminator 2. In a sequel to a movie from eleven years before T2. It feels weird. But not totally awful yet.

It gets awful a few pages later with Sebela’s first “I thought you were dead” line from a diner waitress. It’s a terrible sequel; bad, officially licensed fanfic.

It’s wretched stuff.

D- 

CREDITS

Writer, Christopher Sebela; artist, Diego Barreto; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.