JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE #344 | REVIEW

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Cover – Lovely work from John Burns. I love the layout of the art with our mutant friend Claude’s arm almost leaping off the page.

Judge Dredd: The Man Comes Round – An exceptional one off story! First of all, not since Guy Davis’ appearance in the Meg have I been so excited about seeing another artist from outside tackle Old Stoney Face. I’m familiar with RM Guerra’s artwork having encountered it in the excellent Scalped series, and here his artwork is just a pleasure to behold. The opening panels showing Dredd’s scar ravaged face and body were the standout, as were his rendering of the lawman, and the depiction of MC1. The scene of an exploding body with blood splatter is done so realistically as to make you cower for shelter! And as has been suggested the colour tone and design keeps more in touch with the earlier depictions of Dredd. And of course the colour work by Giulia Brusco is also outstanding.

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The story by Rob Williams is really enjoyable, a look into Dredd’s psyche, and questions perhaps of his own mortality. The opening quote “The eyes are the windows to the soul” sets up the story really well. Like Blade Runner, the motif of the eye is quite prevalent in the story. We see Dredd’s eyes a couple of times, the first could be seen as  reflection of the horse’s eyes on the helmet which he encounters, but the second panel is most definitely Dredd’s. And coming back to the black horse, for me it represents the soul of Dredd, again scarred and yet almost aweinspiring and magnificent. It is clear Dredd is having a hallucination esp. with the apparition like form it exhibits after the sound of gun shots startle it. The scenes involving the bomber and his deranged actions are almost like a side show with the main emphasis being on Dredd himself. I found myself reading and then pondering upon some of the images in the story, and even then there were a few more surprises. The ending is also greatly done, showing the fact that Dredd is always thorough and leaves nothing to question. It’s a magnificent one off and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

DeMarco PI: The Whisper (Part Two) – DeMarco along with her guide Kessler continue to uncover the mystery behind ‘The Whisper’; the person/ being behind a recent spate of mysterious disappearances. The clues send them to a research lab as they come face to face with a mutant called Claude who cannot be killed!

Again, Steve Yeowell’s b&w artwork is excellent here as is Mike Carroll’s script. This is a really enjoyable little strip, and although it’s sad to see DeMarco without her gorilla sidekick Travis Perkins, I feel characters like Kessler and Claude make up for it.

Ordinary – We come to the penultimate issue of Ordinary and what a pleasure it has been reading this comic these last couple of months. This time round our plumber Michael Fisher manages to locate his son, but soon word gets out of Mike’s ‘ordinary’ nature and the goverment sends its military muscle (or rather rocket shooting muscle) to ‘capture’ him. Dr.MacDonald tries to come to his aid but will it be too late?

We get a glimpse of Michael’s relationship with his son, and the fact the son has very little faith in his father. But the shocking last panel suggests that there’s more to Michael than we realise. Again D’Israeli’s artwork is insanely good, the style fits the story really well. I’m looking forward to the final episode with a great deal of excitement (and a tinge of sadness) to see how it all pans out.

Anderson PSI: Dead End (Part Two): Anderson with Dredd in tow, continues to search for answers after discovering a bus full of dead children in the previous episode. Her search takes her to Chorazo Flats, which was once a thriving district – until Chaos Day struck….

This Anderson story already feels special. Not only because of Mike Dowling’s amazing artwork (the opening few panels had me drooling!) but the story itself by Alan Grant is utterly gripping. As I mentioned in last month’s review we have a more mediative Anderson, questioning her place in a world filled with so many horrors. My favourite moment is her talk with Judge-Tutor Enzo; a victim of the Apocalypse war, all his limbs are missing including the lower part of his stomach. He talks to her about the suicide rates amongst PSI’s. You know that he is concerned about her, as too are we the readers. This is an excellent story and I’m already looking forward to the next part.

Features:

New Comics: Revolutionary War – A look into the lesser known Marvel characters that were created under the Marvel UK imprint. Not too much of an interest for me sadly, seeing as I’ve weaned myself off Marvel (and DC to some extent) in the last year or two, my attention seems to be drawn more towards 2000AD and of course the Meg, as well as stuff from Dark Horse, Image and IDW and other Indie comics. Still, an informative piece by Matthew Badham.

Interrogation: Gary Brown – An interview by Barry Renshaw of the Scottish born artist (there’s a hell of a lot of talent from Scotland contributing towards the comics medium today –  more than I realised!). I’m not too familiar with Gary’s work however, The Massive being the only title which I’ve read. But one thing is clear, he’s one talented bloke and I will definitely be tracking down some of his other works.

Interrogation: David Baillie – A brief yet informative piece on David Baillie whose work I’m a great admirer of. Not only is he a great talent but he’s a really nice chap too having talked with him via E-mail a few times regarding his work on The Ghostship Mathematica for Tharg’s 3riller. It won my favourite non-Dredd story for 2013. It was also interesting to learn about his breakthrough into the comics medium, and of course he still contributes towards the Megazine and prog today. I look forward to seeing more work from David in the near future.

So a superb Meg this month. The Floppy (DeMarco PI Vol.2) was also a lot of fun with our ex-Judge and her Gorilla partner Travis going into ‘The Jungle’: a lawless place within MC1 now home to a warring faction of Mafioso and Ninja apes! I wish I knew how it came to be that the apes started talking English and dressing in human attire in the first place! Were they an experiement or did they just evolve in that manner? The story felt a little brief however, the rest of the floppy was occupied by Harmony, with great artwork  and a cameo from a robot that looks very much like ED-209.

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