Arrived on my iPad app just as the weather turned nasty. A classic summer special for a classic British summer, and a chance for Tharg to give some new names a run out in a friendly match and see who might be ready for the first team. Jumpers for goalposts and three and you're in.
Cover is by James Biggie and it has come in for a lot of criticism already but I quite like it. Looking at Biggie's American covers and his design prints on his website gives a fairly clear idea of the images he produces. I'm sure Tharg did this and knew what he was asking for so it seems like a conscious decision to go for a more abstract representation of the characters. I suspect this cover is not really aimed at us, Rebellion know that all the regular readers will buy this as soon as it hits the shelves or digital platforms. This could be another attempt after the Free Comic Book Day issue to attract some new readers, and this stylised mondo cover might just be the thing that stands out. It would certainly make me look twice if I wasn't already picking up the prog. I do like the colours and the weird head shots. Controversial but challenging.
Judge Dredd: Jinxed! By Emma Beeby, Eoin Coveney, John-Paul Bove and Annie Parkhouse
An amusing little tale of Mega-City mayhem as Dredd tries to return the cursed artefact. My problem with the writing is that we're back to dumb Dredd again. He should be smart and experienced, and he has dealt with the supernatural on many occasions. So when it becomes obvious that the artefact brings terrible luck to whoever holds it why does he take it back? At the bottom of the fourth page the statue has passed out of his hands and brought disaster down on another unfortunate. Dredd does not have to pick it up again but he does and the high jinks ensue. Grim and gritty Dredd would have called in some tech team to isolate and transport the bogey without touching it. And yet this could have been fixed by a couple of lines from the writer, just have the guy who gets squished throw the artefact into Dredd's hands as he expires, then he would be stuck with it and the rest of the story can continue as is.
Art wise this is lovely stuff and Coveney and Bove can turn up in the main prog any time for me. I'm not convinced by the writing and think Beeby has done better stuff in the prog already.
Robo-Hunter: The Bodj Job by Alec Worley, Marc Simmons and Ellie De Ville
Loved it all. Great story and fantastic artwork recalling Mr Gibson himself but doing something new as well. Having been stuck in one of those furniture store nightmares myself this really hit home, and I had some laugh out loud moments when the shop went mobile and became an AT-AT, or should that be an IK-IK?
Nice work by Worley and Simmons and this could make the jump to the prog as well, and hopefully quite soon.
Future Shocks: The Expose by Jody Leheup, Jefte Paolo and Simon Bowland
Writing a future shock is a tough gig and probably the only way to break into 2000AD these days. This one does the job quite nicely with an almost unexpected twist ending and stylish black and white artwork. The panel layout is really good. Another one which I would have been happy to see in the prog.
Star Scan of Psi Judge Anderson by Fay Dalton.
Let me quibble and say her hair looks a bit wiggy and that drawing the helmet and gloves may not be Dalton's strong points. But no matter because there is plenty to distract us, not least of which is a beautiful rendition of the Lawmaster. And it's raining which is perfect for a British summer special.
Durham Red: The Calling by Robert Murphy, Duane Redhead, Kirsty Swan and Ellie De Ville
I still don't really get Durham Red and this story has done nothing to convince me. The artwork on the various mutants is pretty good and coloured nicely, but Durham Red doesn't look even remotely sexy and her costume just annoys me. This one can stay on the subs' bench for the time being.
Orlok: Agent of East-Meg One by Arthur Wyatt, Jake Lynch and Annie Parkhouse
This is OK but nothing for me to get too excited about, apart from that final page panel showing Dredd on Luna 1. The black and white art beats the script but neither are top thrills by a long way.
Rogue Trooper: Dregs of War by Guy Adams, Darren Douglas and Simon Bowland
A classic bit of Rogue a trooper future war with some creepy body horror moments. The reanimated zombie foot soldiers were very nasty looking as was the machine itself. The panel of Rogue crouching to fire, with the rounds spreading across the foreground is particularly good.
Like Robo-Hunter this is one strip that could make the transfer to the prog whenever you're ready, Mr De Tharg.
Star Scan of Slaine by Ben Willsher is as good as ever. Is there anything he can't do?
Pick of the Prog is actually a tough call between the two Rs but I'm going to go with Robo-Hunter for nostalgia and comedy value. Now roll on the winter special and I hope Tharg keeps these specials as testing grounds for new creators and old characters.