The brilliant new format of the Judge Dredd Megazine continues in fine fashion.
To open we have a wonderful Goddard and Teague cover pastiche of Reservoir Dogs answering the question in this week’s Panel “what makes a good cover?” This does, striking and good fun it’ll stand out from the rest of the newsstand well.
On the opening pages we have good little synopsis of all the main strips in this months issue including a real nice touch, creator credits. Along with the contents and indicia we’ve got the regular letter from the editor, this is a nice touch and it draws the readers in. Talking about letters the Megazine has a nice selection this time with American’s complaining about comments on Ronald McRegan, a regular Japanese Dreddliner defending Darkie’s Mob, a nasty attack on a lot of the good stuff in the Meg and a reader wondering if the new look Megazine may be going weekly.
The first strip is, as always, Judge Dredd. Gordon Rennie provides the script with the cover team of Patrick Goddard and Dylan Teague taking up the art chores. Stylistically this is a Hong Kong ‘gun-fu’ tale with dynamic shots showing coats and ties flapping in the wind and bullets flying everywhere. The story is entertaining and fast paced it isn’t one of Rennie’s best but it is still damned good. There’s one really strange trick that Rennie manages to pull off, the dialogue is clunky in places, incredibly so in fact yet it’s funny and it works in context a sure sign that the writer is confident enough in his abilities to have a little fun, which is cool by me.
Judge Death, The Wilderness Years comes from John “Judge Dredd co-creator” Wagner and Frazer “richest man in comics” Irving. In his time Brian Bolland was for me the greatest artist on the planet and his black and white Dredd stories still stand up in my opinion as some of the best work this industry has ever seen. The absolute pinnacle of Bolland’s artistic work (just pipping ‘The Killing Joke’) was the Dark Judges storyline. Nobody can hold a candle to Bolland’s Judge Death, no one, that is, until Frazer Irving. Frazer hasn’t set out to copy the styles of the past he’s just plunged in there and made the character his own. Irving’s Death is subtly different from Bolland’s iconic original. Frazer manages to up the sheer horror value of the character whilst (as I mentioned in my last review on this) managing to introduce a sense of fun. This style is the perfect complement for Wagner’s black comedy and I’m pissed off that I won’t be able to afford to buy any of Frazer’s art when I next see him.
I really want to like the latest Devin Waugh tale by John Smith and Colin MacNeil. I suspect that if I read it when it is eventually collected in a trade paperback that I’ll love it but I’m afraid that in monthly instalments it isn’t setting me alight. There are highlights, MacNeil’s art is brilliant (though the colouring is, well it’s in keeping with the story let’s leave it at that) and Smith’s script really brings Devin to life in all his camp glory.
Darkie’s Mob comes to a bloody end this month. John Wagner and Mike Western’s world war 2 opus has divided fans into 2 very polarized camps, some people think it is a racist anachronism that should have been left in the 70’s other think it’s a damned good, gripping, tense tale that was of a style years before it’s time. I fall into the latter camp but then again I grew up on war comics. Darkie’s mob is a must for fans of Garth Ennis’ War Stories.
The second tale from the vaults is an early 2000AD strip called Harry Twenty on the High Rock. It’s a futuristic prison drama from Gerry Finley-Day and Alan Davis. Davis’ art stands up to the test of time extremely well but Finley-Day’s story has a bit of dust on it, not much, just a little. This is an enjoyable tale with a good solid story and premise behind it.
Another offering from Tharg’s Thrill Power reservoir is a Future Shock from Robert Flynn and Giorgi. This is far from the best Future Shock that Tharg has tucked away but it was interesting enough and had an unexpected twist in the tale, which is all one can ask for really.
Blazing Battle Action is Dave Bishop’s history of Battle Picture Weekly, one of 2000AD’s forerunners. This is the second part of Bishop’s essay and it proves to be as interesting as the first. I think it would be good to collect this feature along with it’s predecessor (Bishop’s warts and all history of 2000AD) into a book. I don’t know if we’re going to be treated to any other similar offerings from the former 2000AD and Megazine editor but I certainly hope so.
Xtnct from Paul Cornell and D’Israeli is enjoyable and interesting enough. I don’t know why this hasn’t really turned me on as much as it could. Good art, original story but it feels like something is missing.
Gordon Rennie’s column is as entertaining as ever though I’m going to have a hard time avoiding giving the bastard a Glasgow kiss next time I see him…git, I’d have paid the postage to have most of the stuff he’s chucked out to the binmen! Then again I think this was the reaction he was after…
Robbie Morrison and John Burns team up for The Bendatti Vendetta. This is a revenge driven tale with great art and a good solid, dark and nasty story. This part takes us on a nasty ride through the concentration camps and adds more depth to what could have been a straight gangster romp. I am reminded slightly of “The Punisher kills the Marvel Universe” but in a good way. If you read both you’ll know exactly what I mean (and if not then drop me a line).
Artist Patrick Goddard’s interviewed this month. This is a nice touch from the Meg and I think it helps to keep fans interested and involved with the comic.
Alan Grant and Shaun Thomas’ bizarre, freaky and fucked up “Apocalypse Soon” concludes this months issue. This is a one page snappy series that I’ve been pretty much enjoying so far but I think the legendary Mr Grant is getting into his stride now if the guest appearance by a certain illiterate and unelected US president is anything to go by.
All in all a good issue. I think that this is excellent value for money, you may not enjoy all that it has to offer but you should find more than enough to justify the cover price.
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