Review: Judge Dredd Megazine 350

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Cover by the legendary Brian Bolland

And so we reach another milestone as the Meg hits 350, and to cap it off we have an eye grabbing cover by the legendary Brian Bolland. I was sharing the cover with my boy and he was definitely intrigued when I told him which character was who (he knew who Judge Dredd was naturally!). I have no doubt that this is another iconic additon to Bolland’s famous works, and the A3 poster was very welcome indeed, showing the piece in all it’s undisturbed splendour.

First off we have a new Judge Dredd story: Dead Zone (Part 1) by John Wagner and Henry Flint. Special things always tend to happen when those two names come together, and this was definitely the case here in this terrific opener. We have Dredd investigating the death of Mr. McPhee, an accountant at the Chaos Memorial Comittee. Dredd is not too keen on the whole memorial venture, which is basically another money making gimmick. But the city needs the income that it generates because of the financial repercussions of the Chaos Bug disaster. We also follow two cursed earth residents as they seek to make a better life for themselves in the big Meg, but they are set upon by a ruthless group of scum drudgery.  This is the thing I love about Wagner’s writing, when he highlights the plight of normal citizens trying to get on with their lives, but have all these hard obstacles thust before them.

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Life is cheap in the Cursed Earth

The last page is very disturbing as it shows the depths that human kind will plunge to for greed. Henry Flint’s artwork is simply outstanding, I love the colour work and the details in each of the panels from the Chaos Memorial itself to the bleak, cluttered places surrounding it, and of couse the residents who inhabit both places.

Next up we have a new strip: Lawless – Welcome to Badrock (Part 1) by Dan Abnett and Phil Winslade. I was pleasantly surprised with this opener, why? Because it was so damn enjoyable! I’m a sucker for westerns and I really loved the set up here. We are on 43 Rega, a planet “on the ass end of nowhere”, only notable for the fact that Mega City forces stopped the alien Zhind invasion here. A group of townsfolk await the arrival of Colonial Marshall Lawson. Dan Abnett’s introduction to the various characters is done in a really fun manner! Soon after Lawson makes herself at home by going to the local saloon for a drink. Pretty soon trouble is on its way, and then, an encounter with someone who may or may not be insane.

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Welcome to Badrock

Phil Windlade’s b&w artwork is simply outstanding. I spent a good amount time just ogling his panels, studying the details and wonderful line work. His street and saloon scenes are especially a treat as it evokes a feeling of being on a set, with a futurustic western taking place. On this evidence I must say I’m already looking forward to the next instalment.
The Man from the Ministry (Part 3) by Gordon Rennie and Kev Hopgod follows next. I haven’t been overly wowed by this strip unfortunately. However, this episode was much better, with a strong ending which throws up an element of danger. Kev Hopgood’s art is good, but not Night Zero good. There’s far less depth or detail to his art, something which I loved on his work on Night Zero and Beyond Zero.

Dredd: Uprise (Part 1) ends the strips. This is the new sequel to Underbelly by Athur Wyatt, but this time with Paul Davidson on art duty in place of Henry Flint. And I feel Davidson has done a pretty good job here. For starters, we have Dredd with a proper movie chin, and Chris Blythe’s colour work is excellent. One criticism I had with Davidson’s art in his past work was the way he drew the character’s lips, it looked a little contorted and well…silly. But there’s none of that here, in fact, I love his character design especially the rookie and the senior Judge accompanying her. I also thought the reference to Domhnall Gleeson via ‘Gleeson intersection’ was a nice touch. The story concerns ‘Uprise’; a group that wants to bring power back to the people, away from the rich folks who live in isolated comfort higher up in the blocks. It’s certainly a strong opener and I can’t wait for the next part.

Features

There are three Interrogations on show, pick of the bunch has to be the Trevor Hairsine piece by Matt Badham. There’s some interesting insight into Hairsine’s artistic process and the various projects he has worked on. Kev Hopgood’s interrogation was also insightful (again by Matt Badham), and Leah Moore and John Reppion end the features with a look into their husband and wife partnership on comics and other projects, and juggling work with bringing up three kids. We also get some word on their upcoming work in the Prog;  Black Shuck, which I’m really looking forward to.

Floppy

Burke & Hurr by Simon Spencer & Dean Ormston. I’ve only started to read this and it’s not too bad on early impressions. Dean Ormston’s stylised artwork is really enjoyable, bringing a sort of ‘Jack the Ripper-esque’ East End vibe to it, or the muddy backstreet alleyways we see in Disney’s Pinocchio, it’s dark and macabre, but with added comedy. It’s fascinating to think that a place like this exists somewhere on the Cursed Earth, which is in total contrast to the big Meg.

The Megazine has been on fine form these past few months and so it continues here in this special celebratory issue with a host of new line ups which have grabbed my attention and given my thrill circuits a thorough work over. Top Thrill would have to go to Deadzone, which evokes a feeling of awe (via Flint’s artwork) and despair (via Wagner’s excellent storytelling) in equal measure.

Meg 351 cannot come soon enough for me.

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