Welcome, Earthlets, to Multiver-City One, our monthly look at the “Judge Dredd Megazine!” Let’s get right to it.
Judge Dredd: Bad Sector, Part 3
Credits: Arthur Wyatt (script), PJ Holden (art), John Charles (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Brian Salvatore: One of the nice things about a Judge Dredd story is that you needn’t worry about the characterization of Dredd; he’s a steady of a character as you can find in comics. That allows the strips to focus on making the rest of the story as interesting and surprising as possible. Wyatt and Holden do an excellent job finding places other than Dredd himself to focus on during ‘Bad Sector,’ and Caliban provides a nice target for their work.
This installment is a cat and mouse game between Caliban and the truth. At every turn, it appears that he may be found out as the crooked Judge that he really is, but a combination of luck, alternate points of focus, and gruesome violence allow Caliban to get out of every jam. Any potential leaks are dealt with in a hail of gunfire, and Caliban somehow keeps his head about him through all of it.
Holden’s artwork continues to impress, as he draws Caliban as a man on the verge of losing it, but who is hiding it well enough to trick his coworkers. It’s a tough balancing act, but Holden nails it. He also continues to wring every bit of horror and sympathy from the folks infected with the Grubbs, letting them look both pathetic and terrifying in every panel. His Dredd remains the best in the business, and the entire strip sings, visually, and allows Wyatt’s script, with its painful final reveal, to sneak up on the reader.
‘Bad Sector’ is a great Dredd strip for its political commentary, its fiery action, its interesting supporting cast, and its never too heavy handed moralizing. Three parts feels on the short side, but Wyatt and Holden manage to pack it with enough substance that it is a perfectly sized story. Poor Caliban got what he deserved.
Devin Waugh, A Very Large Splash, Part 6
Credits: Ales Kot (script), Mike Dowling (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Gustavo S. Lodi: And so, the latest arc from “Devin Waugh” comes to a surprising ending. What started as a murder mystery, and quickly evolved into a very peculiar lovecraftian, eldritch horror, is a great example of comic art telling an unique story.
‘A Very Large Splash’ really did not have a weak link of its chain, despite a chapter or two that had some misguided pacing choices; the arc was really strong from start to finish. However, this last entry really is a highlight, both on how it chooses to tell the story visually, as well as on how it chooses to close the plot.
The early pages of this chapter are masterful on how they portray the environment the characters are in (beneath the deep blue sea): Devin is seeing falling through the page, deeper int the ocean. There is no dialogue, which adds to the dreadful atmosphere.
When dialogue does break, it is made much more powerful for it. And how that dialogue leads to the ultimate conclusion of the story… it is tempting to go into spoiler territory on this review, but none of it will be found here. The story is too good to be ruined that way.
At the end, the arc finishes with hints of things yet to come, and absolutely true to the Devin character, despite the changes he experienced and grew out of this story. A great closure to a great arc.
Blunt III, Part Six
Credits: T.C. Eglington (script), Boo Cook (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Rowan Grover: “Blunt III” manages to ONCE AGAIN deftly handle juggling more genres in an eight-page comic than most twenty-two pagers in the next continent over can do. The opening sequence with Conrad narrating his experience plugged into the planet’s core is a mind-altering, psychedelic space sequence reminiscent of things like 2001: A Space Odyssey. The language and the pacing in the dialogue are well executed and feel both trippy and overly scientific in the best possible ways. But then! The comic jumps back into being a hard sci-fi romp mixed with terrifying survival horror. The creature that embodies the consciousness of Getri-1 continues to attack Blunt and the gang and has such an immense, consuming presence in its silence and attack pattern. The crew fighting it also use weaponry and tactics that could be straight out of Aliens, yet it’s still infused with that 2000 AD wit and style.Continued below
Cook is back functioning at the full form here, giving us art that channels symmetric, Druillet-style psychedelia and fast-paced, gory horror action. The first page establishes a more mechanical aesthetic with grids and DNA strands flying everywhere. Cook seamlessly morphs that style into a mind-bending splash page combining technology and fauna and eye-searing colors that works as a great early climax for the prog. The style is quickly changed back to hard-edged sci-fi in a way that feels like pulling the plug on the trippy stuff, which tonally works with the narrative content. Before we know it, Cook is throwing us speed line-filled action sequences with the Getri-1 creature looking like a tangled, Lovecraftian mess of limbs. It’s chaotic and alarming and undeniably exciting to take in.
“Blunt III” manages to remain one of the most exciting monthly progs, with genre-blending visual and narrative action that feels as fresh as ever.
Lawless Boom Town: 06
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Phil Winslade (art), Jim Campbell (letters)
Matthew Blair: “Lawless Boom Town: 06”is the climax of a very long and brutal hunt for some very nasty and brutal people. It’s a showdown between the forces of order and chaos, and while quite a few people survive, it’s important to remember that not all wounds are physical.
Writer Dan Abnett’s keen sense of pacing and character development continue to shine in “Lawless Boom Town: 06” and he does a fantastic job of preventing this explosion of blood and violence from getting boring. All of the characters either have something to prove or something to lose and although the fight is incredibly short, each emotional journey gets just enough time to develop and resolve properly. Sure, the main characters win but not everybody survives and it’s clear that some of them aren’t taking the violence well. Furthermore, the mystery continues to move forward with more questions that need to be answered.
For a story beat that could have gotten by with just being mindless violence, artist Phil Winslade does a fantastic job of imbuing the conflict with emotion and depth in “Lawless: Boom Town 06”. Sure, there is plenty of lovingly drawn blood and gore, but the focus of most of the comic is on close ups and point of view shots of most of the character’s faces. Winslade renders every grimace, every tear, every snarl, and every desperate blow for survival in a terrifyingly realistic way that feels crowded, personal, and viscerally real.
“Lawless: Boom Town: 06” is an ugly, nasty, and brutal fight to the death that does a great job of combining the blood and violence of combat with the emotional trauma that comes from killing friends and colleagues who have turned into monsters. It’s a great bit of storytelling that is able to accomplish something very difficult and make seemingly mindless action and violence engaging.