Judge Dread Megazine 400 Featured Columns 

Multiver-City One: Judge Dredd Megazine 400!

By , , , and | September 19th, 2018
Posted in Columns | % Comments

Welcome, Earthlets, to Multiver-City One, our monthly look at the “Judge Dredd Megazine!” Let’s get right to it.

Cover by Chris Weston

Judge Dredd: The Trouble with Harry
Credits: John Wagner (script), Henry Flint (art), Chris Blyth (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters).

Tom Shapira: at this point in his career getting a new Judge Dredd tale from John Wagner feels like a rare treat, something you only get under special occasions. This new one-off might be rather slight overall, but it is a good reminder what a powerhouse storyteller Wagner is (especially with an art team like Henry Flint and Christ Blyth) – lean and mean and always on point. The story here, I suspect, probably resonances more with UK-based readers, with jokes mostly centered around British royalty, but is good enough to carry on even if you only know about that institute from half-remembered headlines and pop-culture osmosis.

The first few pages are the best, with Wagner chronicling the fall (and then farther falls) of the Royal line as they find themselves auctioned off to various interested parties over a century in order to pat off the national debt: it almost works as a short story in and by itself, with a straightforwardness deadpan approach, setting up satirical arrows not just at the royals but at the way economic institutes find a way to manipulate pretty much everything (and things some might consider scared) just to make a few dollars more.

The actual story once Dredd gets involved, there are bodies that are somehow related to the last surviving king, is a lesser affair – there isn’t much a mystery in either what happened or why it happened and Dredd himself is mostly there because his name is in the title, it could’ve been any old judge. The jokes about intermarriage and crazy old nobles with rictus-grin faces aren’t very fresh territory as well. Still, it’s a fun story, as well told as any that you care to name in recent issues of the Megazine, and proof that the old warhorses (Wagner, Parkhouse, Flint, Blyth) have much in life them yet.

Lawless: Ashes to Ashes, Part 1
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Phil Winslade (art), (letters)

Kent Falkenberg: It’s fitting that ‘Ashes to Ashes, Part 1,’ opens with Metta Lawson’s ragtag group of soldiers looking up at a slow roiling thunderhead that’s building in the sky. Dan Abnett and Phil Winslade’s return to the “Lawless” epic is a fantastic exercise in slow mounting tension.

Phil Winslade’s impeccably detailed pencils capture the heaviness of that storm overhead. It makes the small band of warriors manning the rampart of Badrock feel all the more small as multiple characters are stuffed into the the tight horizontal panels that are stacked underneath that establishing shot. Through Rondo’s impatient monologing, Abnett’s script gives life to the nervousness and existential dread that goes unsaid for many of the others on the wall.

But before things can spiral to deep into despair, Lawson arrives on the scene for a well-timed boost of confidence. Winslade saves the only full-page splash for this moment. Every other character is crammed into the lower left corner of the page. This allows Lawson to dominate the bulk of the page. And it’s impossible not to get invigorated by her appearance in such a power position.

Blunt II, Part One
Credits: T.C. Eglington(script) Boo Cook (art), Simon Bowland (letters)

Rowan Grover: “Blunt II” brings back the fan favorite Megazine story from a few years back with issue 400. Eglington is much more comfortable in the world he’s established here, showing a story that explores several points on the lush planet of Getri-1. The opening scene with the Professor contemplating on the viral nature of human life is a great way to unsettle readers coming into the story, giving a good sense of tone for what’s to come. Having mutants attacking a local farm later on is an interesting gang analogue to have too, and shows the scale of the world when Blunt and co stumble upon it. We don’t get much time with Blunt himself which is a little bit of a let down, so we’re not as privy to his motivations or drive yet.

Continued below

Boo Cook’s art is a real treat, feeling like a classic 2000AD house style book but updated with modern sensibilities. The setting work on the first page really shines, giving you a psychedelic and hyper-detailed look at the flora and fauna of Getri-1. The next page is a great way to show the mutant, biochemistry tone of the series by showing the Professor talking on the first page as being overrun by fungus and spores next to a giant crystal crop. Similarly, the fights with the mutants on the farm are brutal. As soon as they step out of the crop patch, they’re trying to make a bold statement, doing so by taking wild swings, breaking into labs and grabbing people, and jamming crystals into necks. It’s a great way to establish an immediately antagonistic force, and Cook renders them in the most violent manner.

“Blunt II” starts to move the story along comfortably now that the table has been set from the first series. We don’t get a lot of time with the protagonist, but the world building is still powerful, and the art combines action and psychedelia like few others.

Deviln Waugh: Call Me By Thy Name
Credits Ales Kot (script) Mike Dowling(art) Quinton Winter(colors) Simon Bowland (letters)

Michael Mazzacane: “2000 A.D.” home of smart satire and black humor, a thinking readers comic. And, it’s also the home of Devlin Waugh everyone’s favorite campy, gay, hellblazing, vampire. ‘Call Me By Thy Name’ is a an enjoyable mockery of ultra-serious supernatural investigator stories, as it exudes the impish energy of a latter Saints Row game. It opens on an erection joke and the fact Waugh has a rather large green dildo in his pocket, if you aren’t down or at least intrigued by that this would be a hard read. Devlin finds himself called in by an old friend to deal with a demon infestation of their latest real estate.

Kot and Dowling use some of the narrative conceits of detective fiction to enhance the overall structure of the strip in the opening pages to quickly get things moving. As Devlin wanders the derelict real estate development, his solitude is paired with Waugh getting the lowdown on his latest case. This back and forth paneling helps to emphasize the size of the development so that when we meet the demon, Tittivilus, it reads as appropriately monstrous.

Tittivilus is the old demon of grammar errors – which is a freighting prospect for someone who is dysgraphic. Kot’s script has enough sharpness to it that if he’d wanted to this could’ve been an exploration of the mutable nature of “proper” grammar. As Tittivilus laments, kids these days spell things so strange what are the rules? With their normal duties now ill defined they have decided to become a simpler demon of all things filth! The filth route lets Kot go for obvious, and still funny, naughty jokes and puns. This is a campy strip so going low in that way makes sense and Dowling’s design work gives it everything a nice verve.

Dowling’s design work on Tittivilus shines when things become a bit more action. Is there a certain tentacle hentai quality to things? Yes, but those tentacles also give the page a soft paneling that make an otherwise busy image highly readable. Colorist Quinton Winston does a good job balancing the natural earth tones of Tittivilus against the bright pink of Devlin’s rain coat in these sequences.

For all the lurid and low aspects of this strip, there is a positive kernel about self-knowledge and desire that fits Kot’s general style. The filth gimmick might not have been the highest minded road to take, but Kot finds a kernel of truth in appreciating the dirtier things in life.

Storm Warning: Over My Dead Body Part 1
Leah Moore (script), John Reppion (art), Tom Foster (letters)

Greg Lincoln: ‘Over My Dead Body Part One’ does exactly what you need for a good horror story. Even though the normal it introduces in its first few panels is full on weird and eccentric with the heroine Lillian Storm in a room full of child-ghosts playing an ancient guessing board game, it gives you normal before it disrupts it. The arrival of the ghost looking for the Psi-Judge’s aid starts the build up of the dread. The story we mainly get is set up, we get hints at who Lillian is but they come mainly from the nature of her home, her methodical questions and her quickness to action when the fact she’s dealing with possible possession come to light. Leah Moore is paired well with John Reppion because he sets the mood for this story perfectly.

Reppion is an unfamiliar name but he created a look for this story that harkens back to the DC horror comics of the early Vertigo days and the classics horror tales that preceded them. His pages are pleasantly reminiscent of the work of John Ridgeway on “Hellblazer”, or Mike Dringenberg on “Sandman” and his muted could be from those books or the older “House of Shadows,” “House of Secrets” horror series. His art is largely the reason the weird opening panels have a sense of reality and normalcy. The way the story is told and the his art matches it the frightening moments are derived from the human that is not visibly possessed in the final panel. Over My Dead Body is a satisfying start to a creepy goat story and a different feeling type of Psi-Judge story the. Is the usual fare with Judge Anderson. It’s more cerebral and less outright action.


//TAGS | Multiver-City One

Tom Shapira

Writes for Multiversity, Sequart and Alilon. Author - "Curing the Postmodern Blues." Israel's number 1 comics critic. Number 347 globally. he / him.

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Michael Mazzacane

Your Friendly Neighborhood Media & Cultural Studies-Man Twitter

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Greg Lincoln

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Rowan Grover

Rowan is from Sydney, Australia! Rowan writes about comics and reads the heck out of them, too. Talk to them on Twitter at @rowan_grover. You might just spur an insightful rant on what they're currently reading, but most likely, you'll just be interrupting a heated and intimate eating session.

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Kent Falkenberg

By day, a mild mannered technical writer in Canada. By night, a milder-mannered husband and father of two. By later that night, asleep - because all that's exhausting - dreaming of a comic stack I should have read and the hockey game I shouldn't have watched.

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