The last Prog before the next jumping on point and two Nick Percival covers provide a good opportunity to revive some head to head reviewing.
Covers. Nick Percival's Mean Machine vs Howard Quartz.
Two fantastic images from a master of creepy covers. Howard Quartz is great and we all love speech bubbles on a cover, but that Mean Machine face with the ghostly image of the boy he was floating above the title is just heart breaking. My views are coloured by the story it accompanies but that face really tells the tragic tale of what was done to Mean. Best Megazine cover of the year so far.
Result: 1-0 to the Meg.
Judge Dredd: Perps, crimes and videotape by Alec Worley, Carl Critchlow and Annie Parkhouse vs The Cop by Al Ewing, Ben Willsher, Adam Brown and Simon Bowland.
I am really enjoying what Al Ewing and Ben Willsher are building with their Megazine story. I like to see Dredd using his detective skills and the Synthi-Caf moment is a nice touch. But over in the Prog we have visitors to a zoo terrorised by Megalodon Sharks with robotic legs. Come on, we all love 2000AD for stuff like this and Carl Critchlow renders it beautifully. It's a one off story but a pretty good one.
Result: 1-1 Game on.
Tharg's 3Rillers: 1% by Eddie Robson, INJ Culbard and Ellie De Ville vs American Reaper by Pat Mills, Clint Langley and Annie Parkhouse
Tricky. This particular 3Riller has done nothing for me although I love Culbard's art. The story about some Banksian Smatter or a grey goo outbreak just didn't grab me, but it's up against the incomprehensible American Reaper which looks staggering but static. So Culbard's colours will win this narrowly.
Result: 2-1 to the Prog.
Survival Geeks: Steampunk'd by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby, Neil Googe, Gary Caldwell and Simon Bowland vs Angelic by Gordon Rennie, Lee Carter and Annie Parkhouse
Survival Geeks looks good and features another great 2000AD moment with Gundam Gappa taking down Cthuhlu but I can't shake the feeling that the writers are laughing at us and not with us. Over in the Megazine the Angel gang prequel suffers from the one month gap between episodes and the shifting time frame fractures the story making it hard for me to follow. It will almost certainly read better in one continuous chunk but having recently experienced Mr Rennie's contempt for the opinions of his audience I can't be bothered. So my man-child fanboy vote will go to Neil Googe's artwork for Survival Geeks.
Result: 3-1 to the Prog but the match has gone stale in the middle section.
Bob Byrne's Twisted Tales by (err) Bob Byrne vs Tales from the Black Museum: Rising Angel by Michael Carroll, Nick Percival and Ellie De Ville
I never get Bob Byrne's Twisted Tales until someone explains them to me and I've got letters after my name and everything, but it doesn't matter because it's never going to beat Carroll and Percival's stunning story about the last days of Mean Machine. This is everything that Angelic is not, Michael Carroll is a great writer who spots something that has been missed over the years, the innocent gentle soul who was the victim of Pa Angel's abuse. Nick Percival is a well known horror fan and his artwork is perfectly suited for the creepy caretaker of the Black museum and the portmanteau film style of his terrible tale. Carroll and Percival's previous collaboration Trauma Town was a gripping study of Dredd's psyche and here they work similar wonders on the remnants of the Mean Machine as he tries to do some good after a lifetime of enforced evil. It's a terrific piece of work and I wish I could award it more than a single point.
Result: 3-2 to the Prog
Interlude: Michael Molcher's obituary for Brett Ewins is beautifully written and very moving, as is Rufus Dayglo's lovely image that accompanies it.
Savage: Grinders by Pat Mills, Patrick Goddard and Ellie De Ville vs Harlem Heroes by Michael Fleisher, Steve Dillon, kev Walker and Simon Jacob.
Beautiful black and white line work by Steve Dillon in this second volume of the Harlem Heroes. Slice D'Altroy looks an awful lot like Abslom Daak though. Meanwhile Bill Savage contemplates his future as the political fallout from the resistance victory continues. Patrick Goddard gives another master-class in monochrome art, including his recreation of some classic moments from earlier savage volumes. Sometimes you just want a brain in a jar and if I can't have Artie Gruber in the original Harlem Heroes then Howard Quartz is the next best thing. It's an easy win for Savage.
Result: 3-3. A tie, which is probably fair as both the Prog and the Meg are producing top stuff at the moment. But if I had to cast a deciding vote it would be to Mike Carroll and Nick Percival for the Mean Machine story and that terrific cover. If you are only reading the Prog then you're missing out on some great British comics in the Megazine.