Monday, 4 June 2007

Reviews: The Ride- Die Valkyrie, 2000AD

The Ride: Die Valkyrie issue 1 “Act 1: Dogs of War” by Doug Wagner (writer and editor) and Brian Stelfreeze (writer and artist), cover by Jason Pearson, Image Comics, June 2007, 22 pages of strip, US$2.99

I wonder how a writer called Wagner feels about putting his name to a story called “Die Valkyrie”? Anyway, in this thriller, three girls, Becca, Cleo and Ting, who call themseves “valkyries”, take a car from Becca’s father’s workshop to track down Cleo’s cheating boyfriend. But the car belongs to some nasty men in suits with guns, who want it back in a hurry. In a parallel thread, Laci, the teenage assassin from the previous series of The Ride is travelling with a group of nuns and running into trouble.

The word that springs to mind is “efficient”. Wagner and Stelfreeze get their plot lines off to a quick start and build up the tension. Stelfreeze’s makes fluid art from clear, straight lines. The opening of the story involves the girls rejecting a Mercedes in favour of a 1968 Camaro, but, really, the comic resembles the Merc more closely.

One question-mark over the whole project is the character of Laci, who remains a gift for the one-handed reader with a taste for jailbait. Here she scares off a couple of thugs who are molesting the nuns by simultaneously flashing her boobs and a gun. Yet the three girls who are clearly intended to be the reader’s identification figures are not presented in an exploitative way at all.

2000AD prog 1539, Rebellion, 30 May 2007, 27 pages of strip, £1.75
Features: Judge Dredd “Shaggy’s Big Shoot” by Robbie Morrison (script), Mick McMahon (art) and Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Terror Tales! “Bad Blood” by Arthur Wyatt (script), Lee Carter (art) and Ellie De Ville (letters)
Detonator X Part 6 by Ian Edginton (script), Steve Yeowell (art), Chris Blythe (colours) and Simon Bowland (letters)
Sinister Dexter “Normal Service” by Dan Abnett (script), Anthony Williams (art) and Ellie De Ville (letters)
Nikolai Dante “Thieves’ World” Part 2 by Robbie Morrison (script), Simon Fraser (art), Gary Caldwell (colours) and Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Cover by Richard Elson

The big news with this Prog is the return of Mick McMahon to Judge Dredd, the strip whose look he defined in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His current style – full of figures made of rubbersised tubes, spilling from panel to panel – flatters Robbie Morrison’s thin story of a drug-addicted paparazzo who gets a photo of Dredd’s unmasked face, making it seem both more interesting and funnier than it perhaps deserves.

Elsewhere, almost nothing happens in Sinister Dexter: our heroes pick up their car and that’s all. There’s not much dialogue, either. The Nikolai Dante episode is mostly set-up, as the Tsar sends Dante to clean up the New Moscow mafia. But at least it is a set-up that provides scope for Dante in “romp” rather than “war is hell” mode. The one-off Terror Tale is a dull little vampire story; and whatever fun there might have been in Detonator X’s premise – giant mecha versus primordial monsters – is dissipated by the choice of Steve Yeowell as artist. It’s a very odd assignment, his sketchy, minimalist drawing being as inappropriate as Eddie Campbell would be on Devil Dinosaur.

No comments: