2000 AD Prog Slog

Friday, March 12, 2010

Prog 1089 08/04/98

Dan Abnett’s opening Durham Red saga, The Scarlet Cantos, concludes this prog. In it, Red wakes up twelve hundred years into her future and discovers she has become the figurehead in a galaxies wide war between human and mutant kind. She then sets about, well, doing stuff, like exposing the fake Durham Red and telling the mutants what she thinks of them waging war in her name. (Just for the record, she’s against it.)

Abnett is a paradoxical writer to me. On one hand he creates an intriguing character set-up with Godolkin, a human fiercely loyal to Red but only because he believes himself to be under her supernatural allure, but doesn’t do much with it seemingly preferring to write in a matter of fact way about fake planets and imagined cultures. He does succeed, however, in creating a sense of universal scale in the story.

This sense of scale is helped significantly by Mark Harrison whose artwork is undoubtedly stunning. The recently improved paper stock really makes a difference here. However, my problem with it remains; I continue to find it difficult to follow what’s going on. It’s like the end of a big budget movie to me when the giant robots brawl or the space ships fight; I often find it so difficult to interpret what’s going on that my eyelids grow heavy and I have to fight falling asleep. Having said this, his style is very effective at illustrating how mystifying the far future should be.

Like I said before, deciding to set the strip even further in the future seemed initially like a good idea to me. However, I’m left wondering now that she is separated from the established Strontium Dog world if there has ever been enough to the character for her to support a solo series. She was okay as a counterbalance to intense characters like Johnny Alpha but on her own? Well, she’s just not all that.

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  • I agree about Mark Harrison's art. At a quick glance it looks stuning but when you try to read it it becomes trickly. Particularly on this story were the lighting he goes for is so dark, leaving his 'special effects', his gun blasts, explosions etc blindign to the point of making their impact a mystery. Sometimes his choice of angle leaves a lot to be desired.

    It strange as I've not struggled with his stuff so much in the past but its almost as though he's got carried away with a new toy and didn't know when to stop.

    Still he's improved a heck of a lot since.

    By Blogger Colin, at 6:28 pm  

  • I agree too on MH's art. Was great too look at first glance's but i haven't got a fucking clue what's supposed to be happening regarding spaceships and stuff. I thought it was just me or something.
    I wasn't a big fan of this story either, didn't really care much for Ms Red at all. Hardly on the same level as Middenface.
    But back to MH, now i loved Glimmer Rats and as much was his art all over the shop it suited the story which was all over the shop. looking forward to the catch up on that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:18 pm  

  • Durham Red is one seXXXy lady. This is enough in itself to justify a solo series.

    Ho ho.

    But seriously, I think the problem I have with the Abnett series was that it's all about humans and mutants locked in war, but it's impossible to tell who's who, or to care why they're fighting.

    In the Ezquerra Strontium Dog days, you could spot a mutant a mile off with their comedy features. Not so much with Harrison.

    Also, since they all live on different planets there's nothing left of the concept of humans and mutants both wanting to live in the same country, let alone Milton Keynes.

    That said, when I reread this series in teh trade collections, I enjoyed it a lot more.

    By Blogger alexf, at 12:48 pm  

  • Colin, I imagine he has improved. This story is an improvement on the last.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:42 pm  

  • I haven't read Glimmer Rats, Rhino. I don't even know if it appears as part of The Slog.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:43 pm  

  • You're right, Alex. Not being able to tell human from mutant is a fundamental flaw.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:44 pm  

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