Welcome, Earthlets, to Multiver-City One, our monthly look at the “Judge Dredd Megazine!” Let’s get right to it.
Judge Dredd: The Darkest Judge
Credits: Ken Neimand (script), Leigh Gallagher (art), Chris Blythe (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Greg Lincoln: The ‘Prologue’ sets up quite clearly that Dredd is undead and has been enforcing his own twisted version of the law since his change of life came. Dredd is still most clearly the Law of Megacity One. The story is very clear about how terrible things have become and what kind of trophy collecting, flesh-eating despot Dredd has become. Somehow he’s even more disturbing than his old enemy Judge Death. Williams writes Un-Dredd as some brutal and butcher in the new worse world where he is, truly, ‘The Darkest Judge.’ The story in its fullness thankfully delivers a classic collection heroes that are willing to make sacrifices to make a better world somewhere, for someone, even at the close of their lives, and world. Everyone has their favorite of these characters, but it’s really cool to see Judges Giant and Anderson playing such a big pivotal roles in the finale.
Leigh Gallagher’s art is a detailed feast. He seems to pay equal attention to all the characters giving them all their due. His and Chris Blythe’s depictions do justice to classic characters like Judge Giant, Anderson, Johnny Alpha and the Missionary Man. They also really shine with the horrific depictions and Dredd and the other zombies. Gallagher has a deft hand for action, too. His sense of motion is clear and easy to follow, and he has a cinematic sense of pacing.
Shimura: Hope Lies Buried
Credits: Carl Stock (script), Kei Zama (art), Gary Caldwell (colors), Jim Campbell (letters)
Greg Lincoln: Johnny Alpha arrives in the past, already mostly overcome by the zombie apocalyptic influence of the Sabbat. The D-bombs dropped by the alliance didn’t save the world it just dammed multiple realities, as he had warned his first time around in the past. He tracks down the remnants of Hondo City and is looking for Judge Inspector Sadu. He is too late to get Sadu’s help, but is saved by Judge Inspector Shimura. The situation we encounter is really dire, and Shimura’s attempts to keep the remnants of all the eastern Mega Cities are threatened from within by death cultists. This terrible contradictory situation is pretty realistic looking at real world self destructive urges. This strip is filled with some great combat action and some pretty predictable but still enjoyable story elements.
Kei Zama’s art is sharp, and the character designs are really appealing. They do action really well, creating a great flow from panel to panel. Gary Caldwell’s colors match the clean art style and make you wish this short vignette had lasted a bit longer, or that Shimura might have made it through to be part of the team to fight against this apocalypse at the end.
Anderson Psi Division: Allied Forces
Credits Honor Vincent (script) Boo Cook(art) Simon Bowland(letters)
Michael Mazzacane: ‘Allied Forces’ is a pretty ho-hum chapter of this ‘Judgement Day’ anniversary spin. Boo Cook’s art is cartoonish and fun leaning back to the 90s art of Simon Bisley with how they apply color. Honor Vincent moves the plot around well enough, but none of it is all that entertaining and meaningful. It is a necessary setup for the remainder of the Megazine but that doesn’t make it entertaining.
There is a certain charm to seeing Anderson and Johnny Alpha interact, I forget if they have much historically it honestly might have been 30 years ago at this point with the original ‘Judgement Day’ story. Their interactions however are primarily limited to exposition and setup, Anderson had been receiving a vision to come to the Hondo Badlands and wait and behold Johnny Alpha from the alternative future appears … eventually.
Cook’s cartoony figure work is appreciated but they aren’t exactly given much to work with in terms of action. They effectively write off an entire zombie fight in gutter space and high explosive. Their use of color for the flashback sequences and spotlighting it in only shades of a single color is well done and well composed images. The final panel of this entry is a gruesome and affective image that gives everything a fatalistic quality.Continued below
These kinds of episodes are necessary in crossovers and serialized fiction. This isn’t a bad strip but when I saw that we’d be getting an “Anderson Psi Division” strip I was hoping for something a bit more than just moving the pieces around the board.
Missionary Man: The Lonesome Undeath of the Widow McCall
Credits: Gordon Rennie (Script), Dan Cornwell (Art), Dylan Teague (Colors), Jim Campbell (Letters)
Christopher Egan: Anderson and John Alpha continue their fight against the onslaught of the infected in the Cursed Earth, but with the inclusion of Marshal Cain in the “Missionary Man” title comes a chance for some good old fashioned Western flick action amongst the wasteland future of 2000 AD. Rennie goes full Magnificent Three as our heroes blast their way through legion of the undead allowing for one-liners, playful and dry banter, and a whole lot of ammunition flying at Cain’s old ranch, a churchyard and the irradiated plains of the Cursed Earth. It is as exhilarating as it is bleak. It’s a very solid entry into this on-going saga and a wonderful change of pace for a magazine that’s typically full of sci-fi and/or fantasy.
Cornwell and Teague craft some wonderful scenery that calls back to classic Cursed Earth “Judge Dredd” issues and every Western trope you know. The action and horror intermingle beautifully right up to the end with the ride off into the sunset. The character designs are equally sleek and full of craggy bits that add wonderful texture to the whole thing. It feels like you could hook your fingertips into the characters’s pores.
The fast pace and to-the-point direction make this a fast read and one of the best entries this week.
Cadet Giant: I am…
Credits: James Peaty (script) Niccolo Assirelli (art) Peter Doherty (colors) Simon Bowland (lettering)
Matthew Blair It really looks like Mega City One is done for this time. With dimensional tears unleashing undead horrors upon the populace and the Justice Department broken and exhausted, it looks like everyone is done for.
But even at the end of all things, duty and training still exist, and for Cadet Giant, just because there’s nobody left to give orders doesn’t mean he can just quit and stop doing his job.
“Cadet Giant: I am…” is written by James Peaty, who crafts a simple, but highly effective, story about duty and what it means to be a Judge. Cadet Giant is the illegitimate son of Judge Giant, who was one of Dredd’s earliest partners before he was killed, and was admitted into the Judges on Dredd’s personal recommendation. With that kind of pedigree, the cadet has a lot to live up to, so when he comes across a desperate woman trying to nurse her ailing father back to health, of course Giant has to step up and help them. Peaty creates a great character study with some great action, and shows the audience what it really means to be a Judge.
The artwork for “Cadet Giant: I am…” is from Niccolo Assirelli with colors by Peter Doherty and it communicates the story clearly and effectively. Assirelli has a functional style that doesn’t attempt to do a whole lot of things differently or get experimental or crazy with the artwork. It presents the ruined hellscape of Mega City One clearly and does a great job of highlighting the emotions of the still living residents who are going through the worst days of their lives. Coupled with Doherty’s drab color palate and it does a great job of showing a world in ruins and overrun by corpses.
“Cadet Giant: I am…” isn’t a big story where the fate of the world is at stake because the world has already been destroyed. It’s a story where the hero doesn’t save the world, but he does save a single life and sometimes, that’s enough.
Devlin Waugh: How I Lost the Waugh
Credits: Liam Johnson (script), Connor Boyle (art), Barbara Nosenzo (colors), Jim Campbell (letters)
Brian Salvatore: This story gives us the ‘end’ of Devlin Waugh, who goes out in a way that seems to work within to his overarching story. His lover was overcome by the undead disease, and he’s been searching for a cure while infected himself. While some iterations of Devlin are a little less monogamous, he knows a good thing when he comes across it, and if the sex was good enough, Waugh would do anything to save that relationship. It is just funny to see one of the most lecherous characters in comics essentially undone by his commitment to someone else.Continued below
Connor Boyle’s art does a really nice job of giving Waugh’s quarters a real ‘last days of a debauched empire’ vibe, and giving Waugh the look of a desperate, but debonair, vampire. He takes Liam Johnson’s script and adds an extra layer of gravitas on top by showing just how pained Waugh is by all of this. Yes, he’s more carefree about his situation than most would be, but the strain in his eyes and temples comes through loud and clear.
While this eschews some of the more fun Waugh elements in favor of a more heartfelt story – something that is basically anathema to a Devlin Waugh book – the role reversal here, at the end of the world, works really well. Waugh’s sunny end felt earned, and w
Armitage: An Underlying Fear
Credits: Mike Carroll (Script), Steve Yeowell (Art), John Charles (Colors), Simon Bowland (Letters)
Christopher Egan: The hordes of the undead are taking over Brit-Cit in the penultimate tale. Armitage and his people are in the similar shoot and run disadvantage that most of the other entries this week. Just as Anderson, Alpha, and Cain teleport in to assist the already spread thin Judges and PSI Division members, they realize that it might be just too late to do any lasting good. Still in search of Dredd himself, our heroes get into some classic zombie movie scenarios before heading on their way from the city.
Carroll’s script is bit looser, and a bit hokey in a fun old school comics sort of way. It feels like something from the 70s or 80s. Same goes for Yeowell’s illustration style and Charles’s muted palette. It all works together in a fun retro way and more or less slips under the radar in the grand scheme of things. It’s a fine strip, but acts as more of a bridge to the final chapter.