Judge Dredd 34 (August 1986)

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Judge Dredd #34

It’s an excellent issue about a vigilante hitting various organized crime guys in Mega-City One. Does it make any sense for there to be mobsters above the Judges? No. It’s sort of weird and has something of a retro vibe–like it doesn’t really star Judge Dredd but his training officer.

Nice art from Ezquerra and Ian Gibson. There’s a lot of precise action in the story–Dredd is sure the vigilante has been trained as a Judge and the vigilante has a couple intricate plans to execute. The art on those sequences is real strong and would be surprisingly ambitious if Ezquerra and Gibson didn’t also take a very grand approach to Dredd himself this story.

It’s big and awesome.

The backup has Dredd fighting a giant ape robot. Ezquerra’s art is inventive, Malcolm Shaw’s script is short and goofy.

That lead story is rather good Judge Dredd.

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner, Alan Grant and Malcolm Shaw; artists, Ian Gibson and Carlos Ezquerra; letterers, Tom Frame and Stan Richardson; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Quality Periodicals.

Judge Dredd 32 (June 1986)

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Judge Dredd #32

Dredd has his showdown with the surviving Angel brothers. It’s an oddly incomplete story just because Walter has a silent but important role and Wagner and Grant never get around to resolving it. At least not in this collection of progs; maybe in the actual 2000 A.D. they got to it in a good amount of time.

There’s some more silly stuff–the rat going to get Dredd at the Hall of Justice–but the showdown is good. Wagner and Grant pace it out well and Ezqerra’s energy is good. The final resolution for the Judge Child is fine; pointless, but fine.

Unfortunately, the second story–with nice, if too comedic, art by Jose Casanovas Jr.–is idiotic. Wagner and Grant try too much for social commentary. And they don’t even have anything to say, they’re often clearly padding out the exposition.

But they do reference the Apocalypse War well.

CREDITS

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

Judge Dredd 31 (May 1986)

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Judge Dredd #31

Besides having some very odd angles from Ezqerra, this issue does pretty well. Even if Wagner and Grant have a really, really silly setup.

The Judge Child, across the galaxy, is able to control minds back on Earth. And I think read minds too. He wrecks havoc as he plots against Dredd. Part of that plot is releasing Fink Angel, the creepiest of them–the one with the pet rat who wears a hat–and that part of the issue works out well.

Unfortunately, then the Judge Child raises Mean Machine from the dead. So he can control minds across the galaxy and resurrect people. It’s silly.

Dredd has a good encounter with Fink; what Ezqerra doesn’t do in detail, he at least breaks out well into panels.

Besides the goofy elements and some wonky art, it’s a rather good issue. Wagner and Grant keep the storytelling precise and brisk.

CREDITS

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

Judge Dredd 30 (April 1986)

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Judge Dredd #30

It’s a tough issue. Not in a bad way, but in a post-Apocalypse War, the future is a tough place, tough issue. Wagner, Grant and Ezquerra do both stories. The writing is better than the art, but Ezquerra does pretty well with it. There’s humor and humanity. Can’t ask for much more.

The first story has Dredd dealing with a robot city’s tyrannical ruler. Wagner and Grant manage to make it silly and still rather affecting; maybe because Dredd seems to be in actual danger after a point. And the handling of the War’s aftermath is fantastic.

The second story–the much longer one–has a fungus outbreak putting the struggling Mega-City One in danger and Dredd has to race to stop it. It’s a rather good story, with Wagner and Grant roaming with the focus for a while.

The toughness never feels overdone or tongue in cheek.

CREDITS

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

Judge Dredd 24 (October 1985)

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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.

Judge Dredd 23 (September 1985)

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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.

Judge Dredd 22 (August 1985)

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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.

Judge Dredd 21 (July 1985)

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Judge Dredd #21

There are some amusing disconnects with Ezquerra’s art and Wagner’s script. It’s like Ezquerra didn’t get the jokes… or if he did, he paced them wrong. Or maybe there’s just no easy way to illustrate jokes amid a story about a nuclear attack.

Wagner figures out a way to both have nuclear attacks but still keep the story on a personal level. There’s both kinds of action, usually with some talking heads scenes between the two opposing sides. The story doesn’t hold much water, but it’s just supposed to move and move it does.

Even though there are some horrific ideas, the issue doesn’t leave much of an impression. It just moves so fast, so towards its goal, there’s nothing else going on. Except in the last few pages, Walter the robot gets some attention again. It’s amusing enough stuff, but just a little too silly.

Even for John Wagner.

B 

CREDITS

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

Judge Dredd 20 (June 1985)

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Judge Dredd #20

Even though Carlos Ezquerra is an odd choice for a future war–Dredd co-creator or not, Ezquerra puts a lot of emphasis on the static parts of images instead of the moving, which is strange here–and even though Wagner goes overboard with some of the symbolism, it’s an awesome issue.

It’s the end of the world and Dredd is trying to keep it going. The action cuts between the Soviets, Dredd and company and general action. The general action is where Wagner does the lame jokes–usually related to a block’s name–and the rest has some real obvious anti-Soviet propaganda regurgitation. It’s amazing no one learned anything between the 1980s and the Dredd time period.

Still, Wagner and Ezquerra keep the situations tense and dire and the comic works out beautifully. It’s a plummeting elevator car more than a roller coaster.

Some nice humor throughout too.

A- 

CREDITS

Writer, John Wagner; artist, Carlos Ezquerra; colorist, John Burns; letterers, Steve Potter and Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

2000 AD 10 (30 April 1977)

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Overall, it’s not a terrible issue. Nothing really stands out as good or bad. The first half of the Dan Dare is okay even–Belardinelli really does do a lot better with space battles than anything else.

The Invasion entry has decent art from Eric Bradbury and a nice reveal at the end. Finley-Day’s dialogue’s moronic, but it’s always moronic.

Studio Giolitti does a little better on the Flesh writing. Boix continues to draw dinosaurs rampaging well. The Harlem Heroes has a great panel or two from Gibbons. Again, dumb but not terrible–the story’s plotted okay.

M.A.C.H. 1 rips off some Bond moments as the protagonist hunts a fugitive. Mills does better with the action than the quiet epilogue.

And then there’s Dredd. Good art from Ezquerra helps things a lot. Wagner writes weak dialogue and the end’s way too heavy handed. Otherwise, nearly okay.

CREDITS

Invasion, Dartmoor, Part One; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Eric Bradbury; letterer, John Aldrich. Flesh, Book One, Part Ten; writer, Studio Giolitti; artist, Boix; letterer, Aldrich. Harlem Heroes, Part Ten; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare, Part Ten; writer, Kelvin Gosnell; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterers, Jack Potter and Peter Knight. M.A.C.H. 1, On the Roof of the World; writer, Pat Mills; artist, Enio; letterer, Tony Jacob. Judge Dredd, Robot Wars, Part One; writer, John Wagner; artist, Carlos Ezquerra; letterer, Aldrich. Publisher, IPC.

2000 AD 5 (26 March 1977)

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It’s a distressingly tepid issue. Even with Judge Dredd fighting a giant robot gorilla–or maybe because of that emphasis on absurd bigness. The Dredd story does look good though–Carlos Ezquerra bakes dry humor into every panel.

The opening Invasion story is a bore. Finley-Day’s just writing dialogue for action scenes and he’s not particularly good at it. Sarompas’s art on the story is lacking.

At least the art on Flesh is good. Nothing happens in the story except dinosaur rampage (including raptors before anyone knew to call them raptors). Sola’s artwork is beautiful, which makes up for a lot. But it’s still pointless.

Harlem Heroes finishes the first game and then Tully speeds up the overall plot. The plot’s more interesting than the game coverage, but not much.

Dan Dare and M.A.C.H. 1 are both lame, but M.A.C.H. 1 is much worse. It’s exceptionally bad this programme.

CREDITS

Invasion, The Resistance, Part Five; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Sarompas; letterer, John Aldrich. Flesh, Book One, Part Five; writer, Studio Giolitti; artist, Ramon Sola; letterer, Bill Nuttall. Harlem Heroes, Part Five; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare, Part Five; writer, Kelvin Gosnell; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterer, Jack Potter. M.A.C.H. 1, Probesnatch; writer, Nick Allen; artist, John Cooper; letterer, Jack Potter. Judge Dredd, Krong; writer, Malcolm Shaw; artist, Carlos Ezquerra; letterer, S. Richardson. Publisher, IPC.

The Boys 34 (September 2009)

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And the Ezquerras are back for the finish. It’s an awesome finish for with the Super Nazi going down–though, really, Hughie getting queasy over them attacking a super-powered Nazi is a real problem. Maybe with a vaguely sympathetic superhero it’d be different, but not this guy. I assume Ennis knows what he’s doing with it.

Vasili (from Russia) pops in for a bit and it’s good to have him back in the book. He puts Butcher and Mother’s Milk pleasantly off-guard, which they never are otherwise.

Great resolution with the Female too. Even if Ennis doesn’t want to concentrate on her, he sure does know how to use her for a good laugh.

The unfortunate part is how contrived the non-Boys storyline is getting. Ennis is always coming up with convenient turns of events to speed things along. It’s too commonplace.

The rest makes up for it.

CREDITS

The Self-Preservation Society, Conclusion; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Carlos Ezquerra; inker, Hector Ezquerra; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 32 (July 2009)

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My bad, the Female doesn’t die. I thought she did (and I took it, as a reader, in total stride).

But she makes it. And then the Boys get into a big fight with a second-rate super team. Lots of violence, but with the Ezquerra art it’s all very digestible.

A couple things stand out this issue. First, Annie gets a new costume and new origin story. While the costume appears to be a dig at Marvel’s costumes for various female heroes, the rape-centered origin is straight out of DC. The Ezquerra’ art on her subplot is awful but Ennis writes it very, very well. Her anger’s palpable.

Second, Hughie’s turned into a whiny pest. Almost to the point he’s no longer likable. He whines and complains instead of paying attention. Makes one think Ennis doesn’t have a fully developed arc prepared for him.

Awesome issue though. Awesome.

CREDITS

The Self-Preservation Society, Part Two; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Carlos Ezquerra; inker, Hector Ezquerra; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 31 (June 2009)

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Holy crap. Ennis kills one of The Boys (or so it seems). It’s a strange occurrence for a few reasons. First, it doesn’t seem like a big change in the series. Ennis has already done a lot of jarring things, so killing off a lead doesn’t faze as much as it could.

But it should, right? Killing off a lead didn’t even seem possible before this issue. And, now, after reading it, I’m disconnect from it. It makes me question how invested I am in the characters versus Ennis’s storytelling.

It probably helps Carlos and Hector Ezquerra are on the art. Not just because the rough fight scenes are more comical under their pens and pencils, but because it doesn’t feel like The Boys proper. The art’s already a disconnect, the character’s death is coming after it.

Besides too much time on Annie and Hughie, it’s still a good issue.

CREDITS

The Self-Preservation Society, Part One; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Carlos Ezquerra; inker, Hector Ezquerra; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.