DREDDwatch #3 – A Sequel! (Sort Of)

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DREDDwatch #3, image from Rebellion/2000AD
DREDDwatch #3, image from Rebellion/2000AD

Now don’t get too excited; it’s not proper sequel, as in “buy your tickets for the cinema right now,” but rather a comic book sequel set in the same version of Dredd’s universe as the movie. Titled Underbelly, it begins in this month’s Judge Dredd Megazine (#340) which is out on the 18th September in print, digitally online and in the 2000AD app. Writing duties fall to Arthur Wyatt, with art by the always excellent Henry Flint — and if the poster released at Comic-Con is anything to go by it shares the same dark and gritty style of the movie and mini prequel comic released last year.

The story promises to pick up “where the critically-acclaimed movie left off, with Judges Dredd and Anderson fighting the tsunami of crime on the mean streets of the dystopian Mega-City One.” Sounds good to me, but I’d still like to see another Alex Garland-scripted, Karl Urban-starring movie in the theatres — which is a good point to remind you all to sign the official sequel petition and tell you that in addition to being able to buy the DVD and Blu-Ray, you can now stream the movie on Netflix and Amazon video (in the US at least). The Facebook campaign team is also organising a “Day of Action” for the 18th, encouraging all 80,000 signatories to spread the word further by buying, streaming or renting the movie, as well as buying the comics and their new official t-shirt.

Trifecta cover
Trifecta cover

Last year’s highly respected 2000AD series Trifecta has just been released in graphic novel format. Initially, readers were unaware that the three separate, and distinctly different looking, stories (penned by Al Ewing, Simon Spurrier and Rob Williams, with art by Henry Flint, Simon Coleby, D’Israeli and Carl Critchlow) in the pages of the 2000AD weekly were connected. Judge Dredd is facing a threat from inside the heart of Justice Department, the “Simping Detective” Jack Point is on the run from everyone and “Low Life” undercover Judge Dirty Frank finds himself on the moon — for no apparent reason. It was only about halfway through the tales that they started to coalesce into one mould-breaking crossover epic. The three stories are being collected into a special hardback edition for the UK and Ireland with a unique lenticular cover by Henry Flint, and it’s also available digitally worldwide.

Button Man cover
Button Man cover

Another of John Wagner’s creations is also getting a 3-volume, 304-page graphic novel collection for the first time, out on the 17th September. Button Man features ex-soldier and mercenary, Harry Exton, who was a “human-killing machine without a vocation, until an old colleague told him about ‘The Game.'” Players (the “Button Men” of the title) are paid by mysterious backers known as “Voices” to fight to the death in a modern-day gladiatorial contest. Harry decides to participate, but soon discovers that death offers the only way out! Arthur Ranson’s atmospheric art with its muted colour palette helps to turn Wagner’s gritty, violent, and uncompromising script into an action-packed thriller — which surely helped convince Dreamworks to option the story for a big screen adaptation to be directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.

Oridinary's first page
Oridinary’s first page

Button Man was one of 2000AD’s early “creator-owned” stories — where the creators receive both a page rate AND full control of their property — and there’s another one starting in this month’s Judge Dredd Megazine from Rob Williams (Iron Age, Ghost Rider) and Matt “D’Israeli” Brooker (SVK, Lazarus Churchyard). Ordinary features middle-aged divorcee plumber Michael Fisher from Queens, who has just become THE most ordinary man in the world, as everyone on the planet just woke up with superpowers! He soon finds out that superpowers don’t lead to utopia as every argument, slight, and crime on the planet leads to massive loss of life. It becomes clear that a cure needs to be found for this plague if humanity is to survive and the cure is inside Michael, who quickly becomes the most wanted man on the planet. Sounds like a nice twist on shows like Heroes or Alphas, and D’Israeli’s super-colourful art should make it a good read.

Simon Bisley's Slaine art
Simon Bisley’s Slaine art

Finally, one of my all time favourite artists made a return to the pages of 2000AD last week, illustrating a special story featuring the character that made his name. Simon Bisley’s work on Slaine: The Horned God back in 1989 helped popularise the painted comic book and blew my mind with its incredible detail and gorgeous colours. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Celtic Barbarian, creator Pat Mills is back writing Slaine: Book Of Scars, which features classic moments in the strip’s history. It started in prog 1844 and Bisley painted the story for prog 1848 — all of which are available from the 2000AD app. The stories are due to be collected into a graphic novel (with a classic covers gallery) in November and London’s Forbidden Planet will be hosting a signing with Pat Mills and Clint Langley on the 6th.

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