If you’re not already a Judge Dredd reader and have been waiting for a jumping on point here it is – Judge Dredd Megazine #386 has three brand new stories and they are extremely promising.
Judge Dredd // “Ape Escape” by Arthur Wyatt, Jake Lynch, Gary Caldwell, and Annie Parkhouse
Harold Heston Jr. AKA ‘Heston’ first appeared in Meg #376 ‘Monkey Business’ as a Jimp (a Judge impersonator) and uniquely, an ape Judge. “Ape Escape” picks up Heston serving time while sporting his very own home-made, or rather prison-made, Judges helmet. He’s busy trying to keep his head down while other members of the population are plotting a break-out which is just part of what makes him such a refreshing character; he possesses all the values of Dredd, just with more muscle and a lot more hair. As an ape, he is a formidable adversary for pretty much anyone while his convictions are strong and passionate. However, Heston is almost child-like in his emulation of his hero and that gives him an emotional vulnerability – something that Dredd could never understand (or indeed possess).
Arthur Wyatt created a great story back in #376 and #378 with plenty of self-reflection and action culminating in the reader cheering for the underdog and this continues as does Jake Lynch’s crazy action sequences and beautifully dynamic Heston. There are also some incredibly imaginative mutant designs (seriously… one guy looks like he has a pair of testicles for a chin).
Although this particular story is a one-off, there is a promise of more Heston in future. The hairy Judge will be more than welcome back!
Anderson // “NWO” Part 2 by Alan Grant, Paul Marshall, Dylan Teague, and Simon Bowland
Part 2 feels very different from the first part in that it seems to deviate from the main plot. Instead, it throws pure mayhem at the reader as a ‘Robicide’ match (think Robot Jocks or if that is too obscure, two massive remote-controlled robots battering the hell out of each other) goes horribly awry.
The mass carnage allows Dylan Teague the opportunity to splash a LOT of red around some of the panels and the detail from Paul Marshall is rich and the character designs are comedic where appropriate but gritty where they need to be (i.e. Anderson is badass). The only criticism is that to some, this action may seem a touch cartoony and even a little silly at times (e.g. decapitated heads with some funny expressions on their faces).
Where the first part was dialogue heavy in setting the scene, Part 2 explodes into action and provides Anderson with plenty of challenges ahead.
Havn Part 5 by Si Spencer, Henry Flint, Eva De La Cruz, and Simon Bowland
Havn has been an interesting ride so far and this continues in Part 5 with an increasingly dark storyline from Si Spencer, as well as Henry Flint’s vivid and nightmarish art. The bleak artwork is coloured in pastel-like hues completing the unique and original look.
The plot continues to evolve while throwing shocks and twists. Si Spencer’s dialogue is punchy and sharp which drives the plot along and creates enjoyable character interactions. It also helps that the scale of the action of Havn seems to be growing with each part and this hints at some serious consequences ahead.
Although Abby is often cold, calculating and ruthless you feel for her and want her to succeed. The end of this part is a huge moment that has been expertly illustrated and coloured, leaving us with an abundance of suspense and drama.
Dredd // “Furies” by Arthur Wyatt/Alex De Campi, Paul Davidson, Len O’Grady, and Ellie De Ville
The ‘Dredd’ series of comics are sequel stories to the 2012 movie of the same name. In this case, it follows ‘Bill Huxley’ who was the surveillance geek with the funky eyes used by Ma-Ma in Peach Trees. Re-located and now a citizen, Bill is trying to adapt to his new life.
Paul Davidson and Len O’Grady have created some pretty gory panels that befit the 2012 movie, with the action backing up the violence thanks to a dynamic and gritty Dredd (there is a great panel of Dredd leaping through a window, showering the scene with broken glass).
While the premise of a man going straight, trying to resist the temptation of returning to a life of crime (even though this was under extreme duress), seems interesting the result is a pitiful character rather than intriguing. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but as characters go, he doesn’t stand out as particularly interesting or likeable. That said, this is merely Part 1.
Dominion Part 1 by John Wagner, Nick Percival, and Annie Parkhouse
The first few pages of Dominion are jaw-dropping to say the least. An expanse of space, complete with stars and swirling nebulae, sucks the reader into its detail and presents a twisted and damaged Judge Death, drifting through the endless darkness. Then, you realise this banished figure is about to be found by a very unfortunate crew of a spaceship heading home to Earth.
As you may expect, the art by Nick Percival is at once dark and fantastic, but also has moments of near photo-realism, particularly in the last panel. The sci-fi and futuristic settings are balanced against the horror leaving the reader with a sense of unease but lapping up the sci-fi elements.
As co-creator, John Wagner knows the Dark Judges better than most, so when it comes to the evolution of these characters, Dominion is in very good hands. The overwhelming power of these four characters (as well as their general popularity) keep them coming back again and again, so it’s going to interesting and exciting to see what Wagner has in store for us.
Meg #386 is packed full of action and holds your attention throughout. With three new stories and the continuation of two very strong titles, we get our dose of story progression and fresh new reads!