Welcoming a brand new title, continuing two existing stories and offering us a stand-alone and complete Judge Dredd story, Meg 382 hits the ground running. There are some great articles including an interview with film director Ben Wheatley and a feature on the Deviations series; Howl of the Wolf from IDW.
Judge Dredd // Big Meg by T.C. Eglington, Boo Cook & Annie Parkhouse
Mega-City One is very much a character in its own right and has been the primary setting for Judge Dredd over the last 40 years. It has faced threat after threat and still stands thanks to (and sometimes despite) the Justice Department. It’s fitting therefore, that it gets a story dedicated to it. That said, in an interesting play on words, the ‘Big Meg’ in this story is a woman by the name of Megan Taylor aka ‘Big Meg’.
The moment you set eyes on the first page of Big Meg the style of the art by Boo Cook hits you with the depiction of a ruined section of Mega-City One, full of dark and grimy ruins and rubble. Six individuals with hands bound behind their backs are being led by gun-toting juves to an unknown destination. They’re on a difficult, uncomfortable and dangerous journey, much like the life of our character ‘Big Meg’ over the last 40 years as a resident of Mega-City One.
As she and the other members of the group continue the slow trudge to their destination, Meg tells her life-story that cleverly transposes the history of the Judge Dredd title over the last 40 years by using flashback sequences. Key events and story arcs that have taken place are given fresh perspective as Meg describes her life during these significant and typically disaster stricken days. The writing from T.C. Eglington is extremely good to be able to cram in almost a complete history of Mega-City One into a one-issue story, whilst making it genuinely engaging to the reader. The way this seems to work, is by making you genuinely care for Meg. Her life, her attitude, her resilience makes the large-scale events that have transpired over the last 40 years personal and effecting.
The way in which Meg’s flashbacks are delivered by Boo Cook’s artwork is through the use of different colours tinting each flashback distinctively to the others. Often an artist might stop at using black & white to make the distinction between present and past but in this case, each memory is different and vivid. This works so well, particularly when Meg jumps back and forth with her memories.
The character design in Big Meg is rugged and often unflattering,with Meg (perhaps unsurprisingly by the name) being an obese woman with some pretty terrible dress sense through the ages. The juves that are leading her are outrageously dressed with bright colouring and some crazy clothing accessories and hair styles. The Dark Judges are given an incredibly menacing and sadistic looking incarnation in one of Meg’s flashbacks and the Apocalypse War whilst vast in scale, is depicted nicely in just one single panel. Judge Dredd’s chin is on fine form, taking on an almost character of its own and the action, violence and bloodshed that is liberally spattered across the story is done so in a suitably explosive yet frequently humourous way.
The entire story is funny, interesting and heartwarming all at once with some awesome artwork to back it all up. For the new reader to Judge Dredd, you’ll get some great insight into Mega-City One and the history of Judge Dredd as a title. For the more seasoned reader, you’re going to enjoy the references, nostalgia and the interesting perspective.
Havn // Part 1 by Si Spencer, Jake Lynch, Eva De La Cruz & Simon Bowland
Havn is a brand new title and features a city in Nu-Iceland by the same name. The synopsis gives good context to run with and introduces you to a race known as the Alfar and there is certainly more than meets the eye.
The story plunges you to the depths of a cave within a glacier and takes you into Havn City where you meet Askja, the AI network which runs the City. The motives are very much unknown and little is given away in this part.
The art from Jake Lynch and Eva De la Cruz is very bright and bold, with the character designs of the Alfar and Abby being fresh and original. The race have broad foreheads, angular jawlines and some very large eyes giving them an almost troll-like appearance. The colours withing the panels is saturated with blues and purples bringing the chill of the glacier to the page. There is a beautiful full-page panel that will blow you away, with an imposing and seemingly vast polar bear dwarfing Abby with gobs of spittle and ultra sharp jaws, all bursting from the page.
Havn Part 1 hints at a very different society in the Dredd-verse than we’re typically used to and this part is full of intrigue, delivering a truly shocking moment towards the end. Due to the short nature of an anthology, this short part leaves you wondering what in the name of Tharg is going on. To some readers this will be fine and you’ll be looking forward to the next part but for some, you may feel left a little confused and possibly alienated. Either way, Havn looks to be a very different story.
Anderson: Psi Division // Dragon Blood Part Three by Alan Grant, Paul Marshall, Dylan Teague, Simon Bowland
Everyone’s favourite Psi-Judge is deep beneath the Cursed Earth and has stumbled across a palace that Indiana Jones would be proud to find. The story is still driven by the initial encounter with a young boy holding a bag of money, supposedly ‘given’ to him by a bank and the reasoning behind this is starting to become clear.
Anderson’s discovery is unexpected and you soon appreciate that there is something much larger at play. The pace of part three is slower than the previous two, bringing a twist to the plot and opening up the story.
Alan Grant continues to deliver an enjoyably sassy Anderson who remains badass, yet at times feels vulnerable due to her compassionate nature. Dragon Blood is building to something big but we’re still in the dark on how this story is going to develop.
Paul Marshall and Dylan Teague give us all the gloom of an underground palace/temple, complete with braziers burning, gargoyle figures and oriental dragon statues enhancing the environment. The characters are suitably freakish with plenty of mutants (they might be in a palace but they’re still beneath the cursed earth), whilst a new arrogant and unpleasant character sports a self-assured grin that is frankly asking to be punched. The colouring throughout shows some great weathered stone, with the glow of light creating a somewhat spooky looking environment. The final full-page panel leaves us on a cliffhanger and is a stand-out piece from the entire story so far.
Lawless // Long-Range War: 03 by Dan Abnett, Phil Winslade & Ellie De Ville
With the town of Badrock facing economic ruin and under direct threat from Munce Inc, the peace is a fractious thing and the citizens are at breaking point. There are some genuinely funny moments pulled from this doom & gloom though, with Dan Abnett working his magic as per usual with flowing dialogue, character intrigue and larger than life characters.
The plot is building nicely and the town is pulling together to fortify the town and putting in place provision to survive and fight back should the time come. Marshal Meta Lawson and her mouthy deputy Nerys Pettifer are busy rounding up the townsfolk and overseeing the work – the characters are so wonderful to read to see and it’s going to be an interesting ride as the story unfolds.
Winslade’s artwork continues to impress with his black & white style consisting of highly detailed fine lines and plenty of them. Shading doesn’t seem to be done by a typical method, instead having every stroke of the pen a deliberate mark. You can see each individual lines that make up a dark surface for example, giving a very distinctive style that fits the story and characters perfectly.
Part three serves up some great lines, fantastic character interactions and some simply wonderful artwork by Winslade. Megazine #382 finishes on a high and it’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun to see where Lawless goes next because each part is pure fun to read.
Megazine #382 begins and ends strongly with Judge Dredd: Big Meg and Lawless: Long-Range War respectively. Easily the highlights of this issue, they are supplemented by a brand new title Havn that is eager to get underway. The continuation of Anderson: Psi Division – Dragon Blood is somewhat a slow burner but hints at big things to come. The articles are interesting, particularly with the newest Ben Wheatley film Free Fire releasing in cinemas very soon, as well as knowing what IDW are doing with Judge Dredd over in the US. The interview with Kim Raymond is interesting for several reasons, not least of which is the fact his work on Judge Dredd is relatively limited by comparison to many other artists – despite this, there are some iconic stories which he worked on and his work continues to last and remain relevant to today.
Havn is perhaps an unknown quantity and you are still left with a level of confusion over what might be happening, yet there is a definite itch that wont get scratched until the next issue where we will hopefully get to learn more of Nu-iceland.
Overall, Megazine #382 is crammed full of enjoyment and is available now in shops, online and digitally via www.2000adonline.com.