JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE #340 REVIEW

JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE #340 REVIEW

Wow – What a Meg! I absolutely loved it! My anticipation leading up to its purchase was at breaking point, so desperate was I to get my hands on it. And after taking my time reading it from cover to cover, it’s everything I hoped it would be. That’s also including the floppy ‘Beyond Zero’ but more of that later. First things first, the cover. I had already gotten a taster prior to buying it (I think it was on Empire Online where I first glimpsed it). But even then, Henry Flint’s work here is really great, and it needed to be seeing as we had the the debut of the new Dredd comic sequel starting within its pages. I love the fact Dredd’s face is hidden in darkness, with some blood splattered on the glass. You immediately get the feeling this will be an uncompromising, thrilling strip much like the movie.

Judge Dredd: Nurture ends this issue and I really enjoyed it. Rob Williams script was superb, very exciting and hard-boiled, and P.J Holden’s artwork was magnificent. He is fast becoming one of my favourite artists in the Meg and 2000ad. I love his rendering of Dredd especially, that shot of him outside the confines of the panels on page 9 was excellent. Eva De La Cruz’s colouring is simply irresistable to behold and complements the artwork beautifully. I loved Cruz’s work on The Ghostship Mathematica and here it is equally as great. There’s some interesting developments in the story with Hershey’s clone going walkabout, and a strong ending too. You can see the stress Hershey is under, her decisions and their implications.

Gordon Rennie was up next, getting interrogated by Molcher. It was an interesting read, and very informative on a writer whom I admire greatly. I wish we can see him back in the prog…..with more Absalom! I’m also looking forward to reading his new comic, Dept. of Monsterology with P.J Holden and Jim Campbell, which was covered too in ‘New Comics’. Also looking forward to the prologue to said comic in the next Meg!

Insurrection III is slowly drawing to an end. I really enjoyed this months instalment. There’s a feeling of dread and foreboding, tinged with a little sadness in regards to the situation in which Luther Karel and his men find themselves in. They face possible death against the Zhind and yet they still march forward. Karel and Simeon’s little talk was the highlight for me, resulting in Karel removing his mask and laying bare the scars of war. Dan Abnett’s script is simply fantastic, a pleasure to read. And Colin MacNeil’s artwork is a thing of beauty. That last panel, “Liberty”, wow.

Up next was a new strip which I had been looking forward to reading ever since I heard about it here on the 2000ad forum; Ordinary…..and it was an absolute blast! The opening with our protagonist, plumber Michael Fisher dreaming of a meeting with Hollywood vixen Scarlett Johannson was really funny. Even in dreams women just wanna be friends with him, not lovers! We are soon introduced to Michael’s world, present day New York where Samoan gangster’s hassle him for owed money, and even old lady’s look at him funny. But everything soon changes – literally, beginning with old lady and his friend. Something extraordinary starts happening before his bewildered eyes! This was a magnificent opening and I absolutely loved it! Rob Williams script was witty and engaging, and D’Israeli’s artwork was outstanding! The colouring was maybe a little reminiscent of the U.S comics, was it intentional? Probably but who cares, I lapped it all up, the art, colour, script with joyous gusto! On this evidence, I cannot wait for more. And oh yeah, that last panel was mindbogglingly good – reminding me of Dustin Hoffman’s now immortal line in Midnight Cowboy; “Hey, I’m walking here!”

Dreddlines which followed was a nice read (I was hoping to see my letter printed, but alas, it wasn’t. Oh well…). It’s great seeing letters from American readers. There was one letter from Jim in Harlow, who cited a “call for an end to the mini graphic novels”, I completely disagreed with that. I love the floppies, they’re a part of the reason why I love the Meg, they also serve as a great way to read strips which I know very little about. And some of the floppies have been real gems over the last year, such as Night Zero, Finn, Ratfink and others. Dreddlines is followed with a nice piece by David Baillie on the creation of Ordinary.

And finally we have Dredd: Underbelly! I really enjoyed this opening issue, finally we’re seeing the muties which (minus Anderson) we saw very little of in the film, although they were alluded to via the graffiti. Arthur Wyatt’s script set things up nicely, with a topical angle to it in my view, such as the modern day slavery which we are witnessing today through the sex trade. Henry Flint’s artwork is superb as usual; I’m really glad he came on board after his terrific work on the Dredd prologue story last year. I did have one small qualm though and it was the way that Dredd was potrayed. If you look to last years strip, Dredd looks very much like Karl Urban. But here he seems to have grown a rather large chin. You can say it is Judge Dredd afterall, but I would’ve liked to have seen the Urban Dredd. (Edit: thanks to Joe over at the 2000ad forum, it’s since been explained to me why Flint changed the look of Dredd, something to do with copyright apparently). But that’s a small niggle, overall it was great stuff and I loved the look of Anderson. More of the same please next month!

So in conclusion, a marvellous Meg indeed. There was not a single bum note, I loved everything this month, from the strips to the features. So well done to everyone involved in putting it together.

As for the floppy Beyond Zero, well what can I say?……..I drokking loved it!

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Night Zero was great fun a few months back, I was raving about it on here, but Beyond Zero is quite possibly better! Better storytelling from the late John Brosnan and even better artwork from Kev Hopgood. Part of the reason why I had such fun with this story were the characters. There was of course our hero Tanner, but we were also joined by Gut 8; a cyborg clone of Arnie/Sly and a feisty feminist female robot, Risa. All three are tasked with (or rather duped into) going beyond the domed safety of the city to find out what lies outside. It’s a dangerous place (quite like the Cursed Earth) where they encounter large talking cats, gun wielding robots, and an all female warrior race from Minerva. John Brosnan’s script is full of laugh out loud moments, there’s practically a laugh on every page, mainly involving Risa or Tanner’s dry humour. But Gut 8’s incessant pestering with Adoria (an attractive Minervan) for a ‘good time’ was really funny too. In the end our heroes face off against not one, but two bad guys and Tanner gets to settle an old score with his foe, Nemo! Kev’s black and white artwork was a joy to behold, after reading the floppy I held it in my hands as if in possession of something truly special, that’s how much fun I had with the story. And Night Zero/ Beyond Zero is the perfect example of why I hold the floppy in such high regard. I really hope we get to see ‘Below Zero’ in the near future too. Also, why aren’t we seeing Kev’s artwork in the prog/ Meg right now? The guy is a talented genius in my books,

And so was John Brosnan, who we’ll agree, is sorely missed. Thank you John for a fine comic strip!

Judge Dredd Megazine 5/5
Beyond Zero 5/5

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