Check out that frenetic cover by Adam Brown, encapsulating the struggle both against and on the side of the law in gritty (and realistic) detail. The teeth, the scars, the clothes, the tattoos… Go on… look at it!
It always feels like a very long gap between issues of Judge Dredd Megazine compared with the weekly issues of 2000 AD. Particularly when there are some first class titles in there. The last meg was good, it really was, but there were some aspects that slowed things down slightly. Issue #383 has kicked everything off, including a brand new Judge Dredd story, continuations of Anderson: Psi Division, Lawless, and also the second part of a brand new title, Havn.
The articles are interesting and feature the low-down on a brand new Titan publication, Freeway Fighter, a look at The Last American (reviewed here) as well as some great interviews. To find out more information on the interviews, see the bottom of this review!
Judge Dredd // Gecko Part 1 by T.C. Eglington, Karl Richardson & Annie Parkhouse
Gecko opens with some dynamic panels to introduce character Rea; an all-around extreme thrill-junkie and the best candidate to test her brother Theo’s new ‘Gecko suit’ which enhances the wearers physical abilities as well as hides some other cool tricks and gadgets. The story is paced well by Eglington and brings us from the introduction into the plot at perfect speed to set up Part 1. You get a sense of great satisfaction watching the Gecko suit at work thanks to some dynamic art by Richardson and the action builds to a bloody climax, slowing back down to end on a contemplative/investigative note.
Rea and Theo are engaging characters and there are hints of a ‘past’ that we will no doubt learn more of as we read each part. In contrast to Rea and Theo, there are a pair of suitably villainous assassins who ooze attitude and can’t help but make a dry quip post-gunfight.
The strong facial features and distinctive characteristics of each of Gecko‘s characters are drawn with bold lines and are colored richly. The atmospheric effects and lighting techniques employed by Richardson give each panel realism and brings the story to life no matter what the environment (including Mega-Blocks, run-down apartments, penthouses, and ruins).
Part 1 of Judge Dredd: Gecko is a perfect set-up to a story in every way.
Havn Part 2 by Si Spencer, Jake Lynch, Eva de La Cruz & Simon Bowland
Part 1 of Havn left on a pretty gruesome, shocking, and down right confusing note, as ‘Alfar’, Abby wanders off apparently completely unaffected by the horror she committed/influenced. Part 2 doesn’t necessarily answer questions that are raised, but certainly elaborates and delves deeper into both the city of Havn and its goals. Additionally, it digs further into some of the truths behind the Utopian image that Havn tries to present for itself (complete with its own cheesy TV commercial).
Si Spencer’s story has a lot going on in the background and it feels as though we’re seeing just the tip of that rather chilly iceberg. The Dredd-verse is full of satire and commentary on society, so it’s going to be interesting to see where Havn takes us with its already established themes of class, population control, propaganda, and race.
The artwork in Havn is beautiful thanks to both the illustration and the colouring by Lynch and de La Cruz, respectively. The colours set the tone and tense of the panels with some grisly flashback stills from Judge Hoffman and the bright yet pastel colouring of the double-spread panel depicting a TV ad. On this spread, Simon Bowland’s lettering is spaced out perfectly to allow the reader to follow the page intuitively without detracting from the art.
To top it off, there are some truly interesting concept designs at play including the bikes used by the ‘Judges’ which can only be described as Diet-Lawmasters with their rounded, almost 1940s stylings. The Judges are so far removed artistically to Mega-City One that Havn is doing a very good job of creating its very own idealistic state.
The weird end of Part 1 is equally matched in Part 2, but feels far less abrupt and out of place. In fact, you are getting an understanding of Abby and the impact she has on those around her, possibly answering the question of why they aren’t actually allowed in the city of Havn. As new titles go, this fits in really well within the Dredd-verse showing us just how versatile stories can be when set here.
Anderson: Psi Division // Dragon Blood Part Four by Alan Grant, Paul Marshall, Dylan Teague & Simon Bowland
While the last part of Dragon Blood wasn’t boring as such, it was slower paced and saw Anderson with her guard down. As a Psi-Judge, you wouldn’t think this would really be something she’d fall for, even if her Psi abilities were being blocked – I mean come on, this guy was claiming he’s part of the illuminati and will rise again as a new world order. As a result, something didn’t quite click. In part four, we’re seeing a far more capable Anderson and it’s awesome!
Anderson has blundered her way through this case and come up short on many an occasion. Finding herself in a cell, she must use her gifts to ruthless effect in order to escape. Where Anderson found herself being compassionate where the boy, Keir, was concerned, she is pulling no punches this time. The results are bloody, efficient, and sinister in equal measure while being a lot of fun to read.
The ‘bad guy’ has certainly been established and we see a further glimpse of McCallum’s dark side with the way he punishes his son after his ‘failure’ against Anderson. An unpleasant depiction and one that cements McCallum’s role in the story and presents further plot development.
The artwork by Marshall and Teague present a very ugly mix of characters, visually and while it’s to be expected for mutants to be somewhat aesthetically displeasing, these muties fell out the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. The violence is equally ugly with plenty of gore and brain matter splattered across the panels, coloured with glorious reds and bright muzzle flashes. The psi-links are cleverly illustrated to portray telepathic communication and control, immersing the reader in Anderson’s powers.
The story has been enjoyable thus far and it seems as though things are going to get a lot more action packed.
Lawless // Long Range War Part 4 by Dan Abnett, Phil Winslade & Ellie De Ville
Dan Abnett seems to have a knack of introducing quirky characters or placing characters that seem unlikely to thrive under certain conditions. This can be applied to Pettifer and even Lawson herself, but we’ve just been introduced to Royal Wilty, a mutie so far removed from society that he looks upon Badrock in awe and admiration as the pinnacle of civilization. He’s a simple kind of guy (a scrap dealer) who has possibly the best redneck dialogue in the Lawless series so far (and there is a lot), delivered with perfect comedy timing thanks to Winslade’s ever impressive black and white artwork.
At once endearing and yet grotesque, Wilty shows promise to become a great addition to the already under-dog strewn main cast of characters; not only is he physically interesting to look at he, possesses a puppy-dog affection for Lawson and even has some intel on what Munce Inc are up to. As ever, Lawson is her usual strong and authoritative self and puts herself slap-bang in the middle of trouble.
There two larger panels towards the end of this part which play out a gritty and violent set-piece and the level of detail is fantastic to see. As with any detailed black and white image, it can sometimes take longer to look before you can appreciate everything that is going on, but this is nonetheless delivered well.
Part 4 of Lawless is full of humour, reflective thinking, and plenty of action all delivered with perfect dialogue from Abnett and that unique and incredible line illustration from Winslade. Maybe it’s the sentiment of having an affinity with Westerns, and particularly the blend of sci-fi and western that seems to work so well, but the Lawless series has been so much fun and this part keeps things moving while introducing a character with lots of potential. It delivers in every way.
This issue was so much fun, and to top it off the articles were great. The new comic Freeway Fighter (Titan Comics) is looking awesome and the interviews are genuinely interesting. Every story in this issue grabs the reader in different ways and we’re now going to have to wait in anticipation for Meg #384. It’s okay though… if this issue tells us anything, it’s going to be worth the wait.
Articles this Meg
- The Power of the Force – This focuses on artist Dermot Power who has worked on classic titles such as Slaine, Judge Dredd, and Digitek, but has also worked as a stroryboard artist on films such as Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and more recently, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
- Tuning in to the Global Frequency – This interview discusses the return of many international greats, some of who were catapulted to success off the back of 2000 AD and how many are coming back to the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic. This focuses on David Aja, Alex De campi and Kei Zama
- The Ride of Your Life – This article introduces Freeway Fighter published by Titan Comics and discusses the origins and themes with writers Ian Livingstone (Creator), Andi Ewington (comic writer) and artist Simon Coleby. This is released on 17th May 2017 from Titan Comics
- Twilight’s Last Gleaming – An introduction to the classic John Wagner/Alan Grant story illustrated by Mick McMahon.