I purchased the above from a forum member at 2000AD Online, they consist of Judge Dredd Megazine #316-319, 322, 323 and their included ‘floppies’ or free graphic novels.
I’m going to use this entry to forward my thoughts on each issue and their accompanying floppies. I hope to collect all the Megazine’s from #300 onward. Right now I have the above and #328 – 338. #328 being the issue where I jumped on board to the Megazine and 2000AD last year. I’ve had some awesome reading experiences over the last year, and cannot wait to get stuck into the above!
Keep your eyes peeled on this blog for my Judge Dredd Megazine mini reading odyssey!
Note: before I get started, I hope you guys can take the time to check out my forum friend’s awesome Megazine Odyssey (and his Odyssey is definitely fitting of the term!). You can follow his reviews on his blog:
Or alternatively on the 2000AD Online forum;
This issue we see the start of American Reaper. The second series wrapped up recently in the Megazine to some mixed reviews. Most readers were bored by it, Clint Langley’s ‘art’ seemed to drag on for what seemed like an eternity with nothing much happening. But other times I myself did derive some enjoyment from it. However, the opening episode in this issue (at a whopping 32 pages!) was quite good. It set up the world of the Reapers pretty well, with insight into the main character.
Judge Dredd: Unchained Part 1, was great fun. The story was pretty bleak at times but then it should be as it’s dealing with the subject of slavery. It opens with a quote by Gandhi, and ends with one of the most gruesome sights I have encountered thus far in the Meg! The artwork was magnificent by John Higgins, the colour palette had an earthy feel to it, with a lot of ‘Kirby dots’ in his rendering.
Next up was American Reaper which I mentioned already, and then “Cursed Earth Koburn: Going After Billy Zane Part Five”. It was a fun story with some superb work from Carlos Ezquerra and his son, Hector.
There was a Dreddlines (letters page) to end proceedings. Features included some movie reviews and a piece on 80’s horror comics.
The floppy “Mercy Heights Book 4” was a real treat! This was my first ever encounter with the character of Tor Cyan; a blue skinned super soldier and his various exploits. The artwork on show was off the scale – in a word, magnificent especially from Kevin ‘Kev’ Walker. His style is very reminiscent of Mike Mignola’s style but more accessible. Some of his panels/pages just left me open mouthed in disbelief, such as this one below….
There’s so much depth and character in his work.
The story was also enjoyable.
The floppies are a bit of hit and miss with readers, some liking its inclusion and others not so eager. But I myself just love it – especially being a new reader. It gives me the chance to read and experience older strips which I might’ve missed otherwise, and in the case of some I feel they’re real gems.
Judge Dredd: Unchained ends this issue, and a thrilling end it is too. The main ‘villain’ of the story, August Peak goes round killing and torturing those that enslaved and tortured himself and hundreds of innocent people. His methods can be considered viscious and depraved, but he see’s himself returning the exact methods of torture that they exacted on the enslaved. I saw an almost parrallel to the holocaust and the suffering which the Jewish and vulnerable people were witness to, and the character of Peak was now getting back to the ‘Nazi’s’, some of whom had tried to assimilate themselves into wider society. There was a tinge of sadness attached to his situation as we see an incident from his past, and how it is still weighs heavy on him via his imaginary grown up son.
The artwork again was superb by John Higgins. It suited the story well and the script by Mike Carroll was solid.
Tales from the Black Museum: The Unfortunate Case of High Altitude Albert, was next. This was my first encounter with ‘Black Museum’, it’s basically like ‘Tales from the Crypt, with spooky and macabre tales on show. I like the fact that these stories are presented from within Judge Dredd’s world, or Mega City 1. David Baillie is on script duty, he for me is a top guy. His recent Tharg’s 3riller in 2000AD, ‘The Ghostship Mathematica’ was superb. This story was also great fun, the premise basically set around computer games and fantasy taking shape in reality. The b&w artwork by Joel Carpenter was brilliant too.
American Reaper Part Two was up next. I have to say I really enjoyed this episode, Clint Langley’s style can get jarring in places, but Pat Mills’ script keep it cracking along at a nice speed. Lastly we had Cursed Earth Koburn: Going After Billy Zane Part Four; again some magnificent artwork on show by Carlos and Hector Ezquerra, with a genuine surprise at the end storywise.
Features included a look into Jim McCarthy’s work, and a piece on Henry Flint’s book ‘Broadcast: The TV Doodles of Henry Flint’.
The floppy “Tor Cyan” was magnificent fun. With out blue skinned hero thrown into one dangerous predicament after another. Again Kev Walker’s artwork was simply breathtaking to behold. He is one of my favourite artists working in 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine, and I hope we see more of his work in the near future. New readers need to see his work. It is a must.
Cover artwork by Tiernan Trevallion is insanely good, depicting Dredd getting trampled by some robot elves and carol singers! It’s really eye catching and colour work is great.
We start off with Judge Dredd, and a festive tale called “Let’s Kill Santa”. Nice. Script is by Zombo helmer Al Ewing, and it shows as it’s funny with some satirical dig at current consumer culture. Ben Willsher is on art duties and I’m really not liking his style here, it’s too rough and unrefined for my tastes.
Armitage: The Underground Part One is next, the story by Dave Stone is centred around Brit-Cit although it opens in MC-1. We have Dredd tasked with going across the pond to investigate a case. Patrick Goddard’s b&w artwork is truly a joy to behold; I first encountered his work in 2000AD’s “Savage”, and here it is just as good. The last panel in particular was outstanding.
It seems like both Dredd and Armitage have prior history as they don’t like one another!
American Reaper Part Three was up next and it was really enjoyable indeed. What would happen if a Reaper was to accidently terminate an innocent person? Well we find out in this action packed episode as John finds himself in a whole heap of problems, but it all seems a little suspicious. I’m really enjoying the development of this story, Pat Mills is one of the best at conjuring up heartpounding drama and this is turning into a great series. Clint Langley’s artwork while not my cup of tea, is not bad here. And unlike the start of the series, there doesn’t seem to be too many long unworded pages in this episode.
We saw the conclusion of Cursed Earth Koburn in this issue. We have an appearance from Rico, well the real one, or is he? I’m just trying to think where I read about the ‘Bruja’ before, they’re the baddies in the story, reptilian in looks with a penchant for black magic. There was a tinge of sadness to the way the Billy Zane Citi-Def’s end their journey especially in the case of their leader. No doubt the loss of her children weighed heavy on her. So an enjoyable read and Carlos & Hector Ezquerra – I tip my hat to them. Their work here is superb.
Features included an interview with Grant Morrison. In the main photo of the piece he looks like a bald headed super villain off a sci-fi show! It was a good interview although I would’ve preffered Alan Moore myself! 😀 Sorry…We also take a look at Morrison’s Flex Mentallo before wrapping up with some movie reviews. I just noticed that we never have said reviews in the recent Meg’s? I wonder why.
The floppy “Venus Bluegenes” was okay. Not that memorable to be honest although I enjoyed the conclusion to Tor Cyan’s storyline from the previous floppy. I must say Henry Flint’s artwork for the main story looks very different from his more recent stuff.
Another Reaper cover by Langley, not too memorable or exciting as last issue’s cover unfortunately. We start off proceeding’s with Judge Dredd (who else?) and “Old Man Time Part 1” written by Mike Carroll and illustrated by Nick Dyer. I remember seeing Dyer’s art in the Prog recently or was it the Meg? Either way I like his work. The story is a bit silly to be honest, involving time travel and a rogue Judge who happened to be a child prodigy/psycho (delete where applicable), but it was quite fun.
Next up was Armitage: The Underground Part Two. I very much enjoyed this strip the same as last issue, there’s some funny exhanges between Dredd and Armitage who as I mentioned prior, do not like each other. The last panel however left me a little befuddled, was that supposed to be Dredd? It seems like I’ll have to wait a while to find out as I do not have the next issue in my possession at the moment (sob!), but hopefully I’ll rectify that soon. Patrick Goddard’s artwork is again mesmerising to behold. I especially love his rendering of Dredd, and the depiction of the hustle and bustle of daily life.
American Reaper Part Four, was okay. Not as fun packed as last issue, with a lot of talking heads this time round but that’s okay. We need character development don’t we? But the last six pages or so were a right old bore….
But wait. We had a new strip starting near the end in the shape of “Strange Darke” by John Smith and Colin MacNeil! And what an utter load of….FUN it was too! This is what I like to see in the Meg, and why I love the Meg in the first place. We start with a strange birth, and move onto meet our protagonists; Bekky Darke – a British PSI agent, and Judge Darke, an inspector with a very unusual appearance. They make up a team that investigates strange incidents. A little like Mulder and Scully via the demented minds of Smith and MacNeil! This was an absolutely brilliant opener and I loved every panel of it, such a shame then that I’ll have to wait a while before I can read the next episode (sob again! The gentleman I bought the Megs from didn’t have the following two issues in case you’re wondering).
As for the floppy “Durhamred”, well what can I say? I absolutely loved it! This is the very definition of why I adore the floppy. The story centres around the character of Durhamred, a Strontium Dog, or “Bitch” (I didn’t like the term, but I understood what the creators were doing there). She has a penchant for blood and is therefore vampiric although she isn’t weakened by sunlight or garlic. Basically she’s a mutant, hence her strange abilities, and also a one time muse of Johnny Alpha.
She is on a bounty hunting mission to capture a drug lord when she herself is captured and thrown into the ‘Island of the Damned’, which is filled with people who are insane. Pretty soon through the main characters we are introduced to some of the prisoners such as the ‘doctor’ and Lez the ‘potato man’! The Island is run by a sinister group of ‘monks’ who use the mad prisoners as a means for creating a hallucinogenic drug, via their sweat. Yes you heard me right! Pretty soon Durhamred cooks up a plan to free her friends and get payback on the scummy drug-runners and their kingpin. This was a hugely enjoyable read, Alan Grant is simply amazing when it comes to writing about characters you genuinly pine for and start caring for (as was the case here) and interesting stories with a dash of humour – pretty much like John Wagner. And the artwork by Carlos Ezquerra here (which is some of his earlier works) was simply magnificent. His use of colour, and the painted panels etc, make this story a pleasure to behold. I finished reading the floppy in one sitting as I was having a right old blast from the first page to the last! Excellent stuff.