Judge Dredd Megazine #390 (comicbook review).

December 9, 2017 | By | Reply More

I passed a W.H. Smith’s the other day and picked up Judge Dredd Megazine # 390 and 2000AD # 2059, partly to see what they’re like now and partly to strike a blow against American cultural imperialism by purchasing home-grown British comics. The first thing I learned is that they are quite expensive: £5.99 for the Megazine and £2.75 for the Prog. Apart from that, they haven’t changed much. I should say from the start that because of the anthological and episodic nature of British comics, featuring several strips and only parts of a whole story, you can’t judge them fairly from one issue. Unfair judging follows.

Judge Dredd Megazine # 390 features both story instalments, usually ten pages long, and a couple of articles. First up is Dredd in ‘Contrabandits’. Someone smuggles an alien life form to Earth inside themselves and in proper alien fashion it bursts out. Rather improperly, it then expands to a huge pink mass that covers the entire spaceport. It is an Endoclorfin Womb and will spawn larvae. Dredd and the Chief Judge go to investigate along with a female scientist, Doctor Evans, and her large robot assistant, Boris. He’s fun because he keeps hinting that he makes all the discoveries and she takes the credit, an old story in academia. This was a good opening with some wit in the script from Rory McConville and very nice art from Leigh Gallagher.

‘Anderson, Psi Division’ was next but it was the closing instalment of a six-part story and really did seem to be just wrapping things up. The Judges hit the bad guy’s headquarters and captured him. He was sentenced. That’s it. Indubitably better read with parts 1-5. The story was by Alan Grant, who has a pretty good track record and the art by Paul Marshall was okay but I preferred Leigh Gallagher.

Devlin Waugh is also breaking into the bad guy’s headquarters in part 3 of ‘Blood Debt.’ At the start, he and his little band are out in the desert besieged by mutants or maybe zombies. Horrible things either way. Mike Dowling’s art was good, somewhat reminiscent of Howard Chaykin and the script by Rory McConville was okay until the last line in the Casino: ‘Prepare to meet your doom, my most hated foes!‘ I guess if you are warning your most hated foes that they should prepare for doom, those are the right words but it was a bit corny.

The articles follow Devlin Waugh. Titan Comics are doing a new mini-series of Dan Dare so Stephen Jewell wrote a four-page potted history of the character’s various incarnations over the years to celebrate/advertise the event. I think the only version that counts is the first one. Slapping the Dan Dare name on completely different strips to cash in does nothing to attract new fans and annoys the old ones. As most of them are dead by now it probably doesn’t matter much but I think the practice is misguided, if not shoddy. The other article is about two new lines of comics called ‘Black Crown’ and ‘Berger Books’. Nice of ‘2000AD’ to advertise Karen Berger’s venture after she stole all their talent in the 1980s. Judging by the art samples shown, some of the comics looked interesting.

‘Lawless’ is the next strip with the title ‘Breaking Badrock: 02’. It opens with Marshal Meta Lawson lighting a candle in a church with stained-glassed windows showing a crucified robot. A robot priest then comes in to chat with her. Her assistants are a talking gorilla and a hippy who gets told off for ‘objectifying’ another cop called Pettifer when he says she looks better having lost some weight. Scripter Dan Abnett squeezed a lot of story into ten pages and the excellent black and white art by Phil Winslade looked almost Victorian, like Gustave Dore. All in all, this was probably the best thing in the issue.

Last and least really is ‘Dominion’, part 5 of a ‘Dark Judges’ story. The art by Nick Percival looked blurred, deliberately, I think, and the script by John Wagner was routine horror. I have hugely enjoyed a lot of Mister Wagner’s work over the years but this doesn’t look like a high point, though seeing just one instalment once can’t be sure.

‘Judge Dredd Megazine’ comes in a plastic bag now and this one was accompanied by a freebie. I gather from the letters page that they usually are. The freebie, a separate comic, was ‘Helium’ with script by Ian Edginton and pictures by D’Israeli, a generous gift with 65 pages of art, a bargain considering there are only 47 in the ‘Megazine’. It was originally published in 2000AD progs # 1934-1945. D’Israeli’s style is much too simple for my taste but you get used to it as you read and the book demonstrates Edginton’s knack for good world-building.

It’s a shame there aren’t more British comics. The ‘2000AD’ stable has maintained the rebellious punk sensibility the founders gave it, which is fine, but it would be nice to have alternative viewpoints. Some good stuff here but on a cost/benefit analysis, I’m not sure it’s worth the money. When I was a lad comics were 10p and the art was better. Not as glossy or colourful but better. The e-books are cheaper but I like papery comics.

Eamonn Murphy

December 2017

(pub: Rebellion Publishing. 64 page comic. Price: £ 5.99 (UK))

check out website: www.rebellionpublishing.com/

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Category: Comics

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Eamonn Murphy is a science fiction and fantasy writer and reviewer who lives in the south west of England. If you want to know more visit his website: https://eamonnmurphyblog.wordpress.com/

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