Welcome, Earthlets, to Multiver-City One, our monthly look at the “Judge Dredd Megazine!” Let’s get right to it.
Judge Dredd: The Red Prince Diaries
Credits: Arthur Wyatt (script), Jake Lynch (art), John Charles (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters).
Tom Shapira: More stories should open with brutal on-the-street open heart surgeries! The new Judge Dredd tale actually features two of them, as a mysterious killer takes apart citizens right there on the street, which puts it well ahead of the pack in most fields. “The Red Prince Diaries” is actually one of the best Dredd tales I’ve read in the Megazine for a quite a while – a mix dark humor, ultra-violence, interesting mystery and a capable new foe for the Law.
All of that brought to life by the art of Jack Lynch and colors of John Charles; who turns out to be the right pair to push all of my buttons; Lynch’s Dredd seems heavily modeled after cam Kennedy (just check out that chin), but what I really dig is the straightforwardness of his storytelling – he just puts the violence and indifference of Mega City One in opening without making a fuss of it.
Wyatt script is an actually interesting mystery with the killer always a step ahead of Dredd and co. without falling down the hole of making him too smart to be believable (he’s good at planning, but what he really excels in is improvisation on the spot). My one sore spot is the ending which seems to harken back to a classic Dredd story: one of the things that keep “Judge Dredd” fresh, as an ongoing series, is the ability to know when to close the book on certain characters and stories – bringing stuff back to life is what often holds superhero comics back. Still, I’m ready to be proven wrong (it could be a misdirect) and this strip is otherwise superb.
Lawless: Ashes to Ashes, Part 5
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Phil Winslade (art), (letters)
Kent Falkenberg: Things open onto a field of desert blooms clinging to life upon an dusty escarpment. An old women plants a new row of vegetables in a simple garden. There’s talk of petrichor that earthen smell of wet, springy soil after the rains have stopped but before the ground has dried up and hardened. But Dan Abnett and Phil Winslade’s opening is all subterfuge. This is not a tale of revitalization. There is no return to vibrancy. ‘Ashes to Ashes, Part 5’ is a rumination on the ghosts of war, those left haunted in the aftermath, and the endless cycles of violence.
Things do not end well for Metta Lawson. The war for Badrock is over. And it’s not only that Abnett’s script shows how the town lost, it’s that the loss is shown to be minuscule compared the greater interstellar conflict that was borne from thos ashes. One war simply led to another – one that Lawson is not even invested enough to fight in. The loss of her town and the loss of so many friends has broken her; she’s left tending her garden and wandering the vast plain of headstones that Winslade shows spiraling away from the shack Lawson calls home. The markers of the dead are all around and extend out towards the arid hills. A closeup on her eyes show her own youth eroded away in wrinkles that look like lines etched into rock.
The machinations of Abnett’s script will put her up against a new generation of judges trying to pry her away from what land and life she has left. And in a magnificent splash page, she sits in her modest home, surrounded by the specters of everyone she lost. ‘Ashes to Ashes, Part 5’ is just another stark reminder that once in motion, the gears of war always cycle back.
Storm Warning: Green and Pleasant Land Part 1
Leah Moore and John Reppion (script), Tom Foster (art), Eva De La Cruz (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
Greg Lincoln: Where the last Lillian Storm story, ‘Over My Dead Body,’ was a classic ghost story in feel even down to the last mysterious twisting hint, ‘Green an Pleasant Land’ fells more like a gritty detective/police procedural. Part 1 of ‘Green and Pleasant Land’ presents her, and us, with three murders with distinctly mysterious circumstances. In a county nearly blanketed with CCTV hidden mystery killers and locked room mysteries should be nearly impossible. Much of this part amounts to dry exposition but Moore and Reppion make good use of natural seeming dialogue to tell the tale. They also put a good amount of the “exposition” clues into the artists hands. Moore and Reppion show how Storm employs her ghost familiars, the ones shown living with her, shown in the early part of the last story ‘Over My Dead Body,’ to air her investigations.Continued below
The coverup of the who’s or what’s in the CCTV footage are covered by mysterious shadows on the video feeds. Those swimming shadows are the only clue that the supernatural is involved in this case. Given a lot of this story is dry the art team of Tom Foster and Eva De La Cruz needed to craft interest on the pages to grasp and involve the reader. They deftly did so with close ups, exaggerated perspective and some clever storytelling layouts. The really interesting thing included in this is a, mostly, quiet story in the squad room that transpires all in the background. It’s a sad tale of a woman who across a few panels expands and “POPS”, it’s presents without context. It’s full on a Dredd-ish story told within this one. It draws the reader in much like other artistic skills they use to keep us interested.
Blunt II, Part Five
Credits: T.C. Eglington(script), Boo Cook (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Rowan Grover: As usual, Eglington opens the issue with a variation on his previous doomsday predictions. However, the dark comedy is ditched here in favour of deeply interesting lore that the planet is trying to mutate foreign bodies to suit its needs, which is why the humans are dying. We then move from the heavy chunks of text of this first page to a much slower and more decompressed sequence where Ilya tries to navigate the crystal maze which is leaving her in a confusing psychedelic state. Eglington plays with the narrative cleverly at this point, with Ilya literally falling between moments in time where critical plot components are retold or revealed. It’s a clever, trippy and interesting way of connecting the dots for the reader, serving as an aesthetically fantastical catch-up episode.
With a script that has protagonist Ilya tripping through moments in time, we see Boo Cook having a lot of fun bringing it to life. The prog starts off with some claustrophobic scene setting as the character watching the infected Doctor appears kneeling in a low ceiling, technological room filled with alien flora and fauna. In the following sequence, we see Cook slowly transition from traditional comic storytelling to something wholly interesting and unique, warping the page structure to use Ilya as the literal guide for the reader’s eye as she bounces from scene to scene. The kaleidoscope page is a beautiful fever dream of singular moments in Ilya and Blunt’s life, and the way that it breaks and spirals from that point is one of the best methods of storytelling used in this series thus far. The way it succinctly reforms to supply a clean ending is effortless, showing off Boo Cook’s artistic chops.
Part Five of “Blunt II” is a solid catch up and revelatory installment of the series, whilst showcasing some of it’s best sequential artwork. The road looks to be smooth sailing from here, and now is as good a time as any to jump on board.
The Dark Judges: The Torture Garden – Part Five
Credits David Hine (scrip) Nick Percival(art) Annie Parkhouse(letters)
Michael Mazzacane: David Hine, Nick Percival, and Annie Parkhouse deserve props for this strip. Percival’s art in “The Torture Garden” still has the flow of a children’s picture book at times. However, when the creative team need to pull off big moments and reveals they largely succeed in the case of two big moments that book end the fifth entry of this strip.
How do you fight the Dark Judges when you’re running around in animal skins and have a hatchet? Obviously not physically. In an attempt to bide time, and maybe give them an existential crisis that’ll leave them in a catatonic state, a simple question is posed: what’s to say the Dark Judges aren’t actually alive? It’s a bit hypocritical considering their whole life is a crime ethos. That’s actually a really good question to me as a reader, I’m not sure if that’s been brought up before in Dark Judge stories. The mental chess doesn’t last long as Judge Death gives a surprisingly vulnerable, honest, answer to their predicament. Hine having the narration say what the moment is supposed to elicit, that you’re supposed to, almost, feel sorry for them perhaps tees things up too much. Percival’s art in that sequence is however rather effective, it may not have much flow but the individual panels are often technically effective.Continued below
Once again Annie Parkhouse lettering is the secret sauce tying everything together. The extended ‘s’ in “question” to start the strip off is perfect. Really getting the Dark Judges to just talk more has been in the strips favor.
Meanwhile, the Judge Marines are coming and dealing with a bit of mess on their end. Things maybe more like Alien than they appear as someone is a saboteur. The reveal at the end of this strip is effective for almost the opposite reasons as the opening scene. The opening scene had a bit of a philosophical edge to it that when mixed with Parkhouse’s lettering and art made it all work as a narrative unit. This sequence is more of a pure visual experience. Percival does a good job of contrasting panel sizes, the final three pages are a sandwich of near single page splashes with a series of ominous small panels in the middle. The big pages make give you a sense of scale and grandiosity, while the smaller panels in the middle extend it all out. The effect is similar to the old EC artist Bernard Krigstein’s work where he would pack pages with these small panels that tracked every minor movement and extended the horror out.
“The Torture Garden” continues to just go for it, and that is an initiative that I can get behind.