That in mind, every Monday I’ll be looking back on the previous week’s issue of 2000AD, to see what’s currently going on in the Dredd story; which creators are currently in control; and if it’s any cop.*
*Hahahahaaa!!!!!!! Such japes.
2000AD #1851 is the second part of New Tricks, by Michael Carroll, Paul Davidson, Chris Blythe and Annie Parkhouse.
So in this story, which has a strange whirr of Futurama surrounding it, Dredd and two cadets head underneath the city to investigate claims that a small army has been amassed by a figure calling himself ‘The Goblin King’. Both an investigation and chance for Dredd to assess the cadet’s abilities, the story sees him holding back whilst the other two make most of the progression in the case.
The most impressive thing about Judge Dredd is how well the character suffers being transferred from writer to writer. Carroll has as much a grasp on the speaking style and nature of Dredd as every other writer who has written for the series, and it’s an undeniably difficult character to get right. Whether this speaks more to the strength of the writers 2000AD hire or to their editor, it’s hard to tell.
There’s a really neat sequence halfway through here which illustrates that – the Judges walk into a hostage situation, but the kidnapped victims and tied and gagged and hidden. There’s nothing particularly on the scene which indicates that there’s even a hostage crisis going on as they walk around – but Dredd ALREADY KNOWS. And he doesn’t say anything because he’s waiting to see if the cadets act.
This isn’t spelled out for readers, but is instead conveyed solely through Davidson’s excellent artwork. Dredd is a mask of a character: even with the helmet on, his mouth doesn’t move from a default grimace, meaning artists have to try loads of other things in order to get his intentions across to the reader. Here Davidson has Dredd staring directly at the hostage scene, Dredd in the foreground and the kidnapper in the distance. He doesn’t move from that spot even when the cadets realise what’s happening and start a fight. He doesn’t move an inch – that’s the kind of body language which distinguishes the character so uniquely, and the creative team totally nail it.
It’s a well done story, which lets all four of the creative team have their own standout moments. Annie Parkhouse’s letters, in particular, are exceptionally well done. There seems to have been a recent tradition in 2000AD in handing off tricky, fiddly assignments to the letterers, and Dredd has been especially guilty of this. But, in Parkhouse, they have a rock-solid storyteller on-hand, who keeps things moving quickly and effectively.
Obviously you should start the story with issue 1850 – but so far the first two parts of this storyline have been a fun new direction for Dredd.