Judge Dredd Megazine #393 (magazine review).

March 16, 2018 | By | Reply More

Here’s the latest ‘Judge Dredd Megazine’ featuring several episodes of on-going stories. Whereas ‘2000AD’ tends to give you five or six-page episodes, the bigger Meg has space for ten or twelve thrill-powered pages at a time as well as some text articles. One advantage of the anthology system of serials in British comics is that the writers learn to summarise the story so far with great brevity so the blurbs on the contents page generally give you enough information to enjoy the latest gripping instalment. My impression, perhaps faulty, is that the better stuff gets put in the ‘Megazine’ but that may just be because it has more Dredd and I’m a big fan of Dredd.

The opening story is ‘Judge Dredd: Krong Island’ (part 2). Advances in science in the 22nd century have led to intelligent apes now having their own society in Mega-City One and Dredd gets caught up in some simian sibling rivalry. Ape twins were separated at birth. Harry was raised by nice folks and became a judge. His twin brother, Serpico, had bad foster parents and became a master criminal. Nurture wins over nature. Dredd and Harry fight the good fight in this enjoyable yarn. The script is by Arthur Wyatt and the stylish art is by Jake Lynch.

‘Lawless: Breaking Badrock’ (part 5) has a script by Dan Abnett and art just as good as the Dredd tale but Phil Winslade does it in black and white. This, too, features a monkey and he makes the cover of the issue. Mostly, it’s an anti-aircraft battle as the people of Badrock fight off the gunships of the evil Munce Corporation. Apparently, Badrock is on planet 43, Rega, not Earth but, judging by all the Grud and Drock in the dialogue, this is Dredd’s universe.

I’m never quite sure if I like Devlin Waugh or not. He always seems like an odd cross between Oscar Wilde and Black Jack Tarr from Marvel’s old ‘Master Of Kung Fu’ comic, which is a classic, by the way. In ‘Blood Debt’ (part 6), he is on some adventure with his brother but as it’s the final part of the story I couldn’t get much from it. Mike Dowling’s art consists of clean lines and colouring and has a sparse kind of look to it. Unlike Silver Age DC Comics, the lads at ‘2000AD’ have never tried to enforce a house style so you get plenty of visual variety and, to be fair, most of it is a treat for the eye.

‘Cursed Earth Koburn: The Law Of The Cursed Earth’ (part 2) is also set in the Dreddverse, in this case in the Radlands where Judge-Marshal Koburn tries to keep the peace. Here he has to cope with both swarming sandflies and belligerent bad guys. I liked it, perhaps because of the Cursed Earth setting and the art of Carlos Ezquerra evokes nostalgic memories of old Dredd stories. Ezquerra is seventy now but his art looks the same as always. The script is by Rory McConville.

Lastly, there’s more Dredd with ‘The Dead World’ (part 2). Mega-City-One crime levels are climbing by the hour with many strange, senseless incidents. Teks have been trying to harness an extra-dimensional energy source. Have they not read Asimov’s ‘The Gods Themselves’? Dredd goes to Gary Lineker Gardens ‘a once fashionable block, now derelict’ to see Tek Penny Maxwell for more information and things get interesting. The script by Arthur Wyatt and Alex de Campi promises future excitement and the art by Henry Flint is up to his usual great standards.

‘Judge Dredd Megazine’ comes with a free supplement featuring some collected old stories. In this case, it’s ‘Outlier Volume 2: Dark Symmetries’. Jarad Carcer is in an Alliance Military Recovery Centre, possibly faking PTSD to postpone his trial. A visitor comes to take him away. This solid piece of Science Fiction was remarkable for the many plot twists and surprises in the script by T.C. Eglington and Guy Adams. Artists Karl Richardson and Anthony William did it justice with their pictures, which reminded this old man of Neal Adams and Howard Chaykin but with that strange luminosity that modern comic art has from better printing or is it from different processes in the original art?

This question is not answered, unfortunately, in the spoof back-up strip in which Tharg explains how an issue of ‘2000AD’ is produced by script droids and art droids. It’s fun but dated. Tharg mentions thirty years of Thrill-Power and we’re up to forty now, so although art droids are shown using paper and ink I’m not sure if that is still the case.

‘Judge Dredd Megazine’ often features interesting text articles as well about comics past and upcoming. In this issue, there’s a bit about new talent and a homage to an old one, Jim Balkie who did a lot of work for ‘2000AD’. Sadly, he passed on in December 2017.

The free supplement means that whether you buy the mashed-up tree version of ‘Judge Dredd Megazine’ or the digital one, you get a lot for your money. Definitely worth it.

Eamonn Murphy

March 2018

(pub: Rebellion, 21st February, 2018. 65 page digital magazine and 68 page supplement. Price: £ 3.99 (UK). Print version: £ 5.99))

check out website: https://shop.2000ad.com/catalogue/MEG393P

 

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Category: Comics, Scifi

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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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