Welcome, Earthlets, to Multiver-City One, our monthly look at the “Judge Dredd Megazine!” Let’s get right to it.
Judge Dredd: The Crazy, Part 1
Credits: Kenneth Niemand (script), Nick Dyer (art), John Charles (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters).
Tom Shapira: The “Judge Dredd” for the Megazine have been on a quite a roll lately – finding ways to utilize the character and the extra space given to them to tell stories around the main stuff found on 2000AD; this new serial seems to be no different as Dredd sets out on a Cursed Earth for an ex-judge who uses pirate radio to broadcast anti-judge exposes.
It’s a nicely balanced piece of character writing from Kenneth Niemand – Dredd obviously respects the renegade Judge Harrigan, and he knows first-hand wat it is like to start and doubt the foundation of the law. The two represent the forked rode – with Dredd deciding to soldier-on as part of the broken system, hoping it can be partly fixed and living on level of denial, while Harrigan wants to tear it all down to such a degree that he takes the spreads the truth thin in order to get his massage through.
Reading this after a series of American-single issues I’m reminded once again how much a good 2000AD writer can do with a tiny page-count – this chapter sets out the characters, the moral dilemma, does a nice bit of world building, adds an outside threat to complicate things and still has enough room to throw a curveball at you. All well-illustrated by Nick Dyer and John Charles who opt for a no-nonsense style befitting Dredd’s mood – not time for delays or detractions.
My main complaint is how quickly the story swerves from Harrigan’s just accusations against the government of Mega City One in favor of conspiracy theories. I get that the creators are making a point about easy it is to drown in a world you make for yourself but by doing that it feels like they are letting Dredd off the hook to soon, too easily; one of the important thematic elements in “Judge Dredd” for quite a while was forcing him to look at the mirror, to engage with what he is. Can’t do that if the mirror is broken.
Despite of that part 1 of “The Crazy” is still an example of good storytelling which correctly utilizes all the right elements from the character’s mythology.
Lawless: Ashes to Ashes, Part 8
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Phil Winslade (art), Ellie de Ville (letters)
Kent Falkenberg: The moment is now… Again. Dan Abnett and Phil Winslade circle back to the bleakest moment in the battle for Badrock. And in giving Metta Lawson this second chance, they have plenty to say in terms of breaking grand cycles of violence.
In “Ashes to Ashes, Part 8” it’s a bit unclear if Lawson actually lived out her days alone in that dusty wasteland or if it was all vision bestowed upon her by the Zhind. What’s certain, though, is the the toll was real. And whether it occurred over a lifetime or in a lightning strike of epiphany, she’s truly changed. “They showed me a moment. Just one moment,” she says later in the strip, “It was a hard, hard ride. Seeing it took years.” But through experience or suggestion, she’s learned the true way out is through talk, not arms.
Months back, when we first saw this battle, the centerpiece of Winslade’s art was a vast landscape of carnage depicting a bloody last stand. Here, however, the indelible image is of Hetch stretching himself to his limits and past, just to send word of their dire situation to the closes justice department. Winslade contorts Hetch’s body across the middle of the page just to foreground the exertion this takes. All the while panels are bordered by geometric pattern swirl and contort around the page to show just how warped time and space have become. It’s a striking page that emphasizes not just the importance but the difficult of getting that message out. Elsewhere, Abnett continues to resolve other threads of the story. And while Lawson has seemingly found a way to transcend violence, for those who wield it as their only tool, there’s nothing to meet but violent ends.Continued below
There was a point where Abnett and Winslade opened up this duster across eras and galaxies. “Ashes to Ashes, Part 8” shows them bringing it back masterfully to that orginial conflict, but without ever losing sight of those grander themes.
Blunt II, Part Eight
Credits: T.C. Eglington(script), Boo Cook (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Rowan Grover: “Blunt II” comes to an end with its eighth part, and it takes great measures to go out with a bang. The Zhind come to Getri-1, and provide a great way plot device for the denizens of our hive-minded planet to band together and fight a mindless alien horde. We get some interesting characterization of the pseudo-villain Osman, as he essentially ignores Ilya and Blunt in spite of them to focus on holding back the Zhind. The conflict between these three isn’t totally wrapped up as most of the issue is spent with Blunt and Ilya fighting against the Zhind with the rest of the people of Getri-1, but we do get some heavy emotional beats as Ilya witnesses a mutated version of her mother shot in front of her eyes. The conclusion, however, is satisfying, as once Osman has directed the army to victory, Ilya promptly puts a hole in his head. It’s fast, but a good representative of the very little time people can get to spend with their loved ones and mourn in a war-like situation like this.
As expected, Boo Cook gets to go wild with action scenes in this finale, and we’re all the better for it. However, the quieter scenes at the start building up to the war are emotional and well structured too. Having Osman, Ilya and Blunt fight it out in the rainy, desolate landscape before the Zhind is raw and powerful, especially as we get a lot of focus on Ilya trying desperately to attack Osman. The following page showing Osman meditating and controlling the hive mind is a great slow build up to the action too, as we start to see both the Getri-1 creatures and the Zhind flood into the panels and cause chaos. Then the kettle boils over, and we get a tasty double-page spread of Cook’s art showing Blunt, and a bunch of mutants and Zhind brawling it out in a no-holds-barred display. The final page might be the real climax for me, as having Blunt and Ilya reunite with Sash in front of a setting sun next to three graves really tugs at my emotions and creates a quiet, yet beautiful ending.
“Blunt II” shows Eglington and Cook at their weirdest, providing a bombastic ending full of high energy for the second entry into their series. This is definitely an interesting title to check out for those wanting more psychedelia from their usual 2000AD titles.
Storm Warning: Green and Pleasant Land Part 4
Leah Moore and John Reppion (script), Tom Foster (art), Eva De La Cruz (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
Greg Lincoln: Though I hate to be too critical I kind of find it unavoidable with ‘Green and Pleasant Place Part 4.’ Leah Moore and John Reppion have proved themselves as writes as have Tom Fowler and Eva De La Cruz have done as artists but for a few typical reasons this chapter fell flat. Sometimes mysteries and police procedural even good ones fall prey to the need to complicate till the story becomes convoluted. What started out as a series of murder case with supernatural circumstance needed the attention of Lillian Storm has now incorporated politics, class, economics and more social issues and politics. They introduced several possible red herrings and maybe false leads. At this point who know perhaps all of it leads to the solution but the muddle of Suspects and victims and ins and outs the story is just a bit too much now. In the final act we are introduced to the possible culprit and it appears to not be fully supernatural after all. I want to be interested but in all the mucking about I’m not sure if any end will bring it all together.
Sadly as the story got more and more twisty the art lost a lot of its interest. Dont take that the wrong way, the art is still skillfully done and often very detailed it’s just that some of the shine seems to have worn off. There are panels where it’s spot on and others where the details and colors are a bit lacking compared to the punch that was there in the early chapters. Perhaps it’s the relation to a story that is just a bit off that colors that opinion but it’s just a bit lack luster. We can hope for a good surprising end but this part doesn’t point to it very well.Continued below
The Torture Garden Part Eight
Credits David Hine (scrip) Nick Percival (art) Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Michael Mazzacane: With plenty of convergence it seems like “The Torture Garden” is headed towards a finale. The Space Marines have made it to the planet and the Dark Judges all want to get off it. That simple arrangement gives the eighth part of “The Torture Garden” a surprising amount of momentum compared to earlier entries. That momentum mixed with an overall increase in panel density on page made the strip a mostly enjoyable read.
As the Marines prepare to evacuate the ship and hopefully get some sort of a jump on the Dark Judges, they work out a makeshift plan in a cramped escape hatch. With not a lot of space to move around in the page is primarily built around close ups of the squads faces. After reading this for the past eight issues, I don’t think Nick Percival is all that good at expressive human faces. The giantish Angelotti stands apart from the humans and easily the most emotive of our bunch of good guys. And he isn’t some dynamic character, Percival just tweaks little elements on his face for emphasis which when mixed with scenery and overall presentation give the impression of dynamism. Looking back the Dark Judges also read more as more emotive compared to their hated human foes.
The pages dealing with the Dark Judges welcoming their sisters and new Judge Whisper aboard is this interesting mixture of long medium shots juxtaposed against tight close ups. I’m not entirely sure why one panel is dedicated to a zooming on only a quarter of Judge Whispers face, but placing it next to the wide shot of the Dark Judges is interesting if unwieldy. Percival’s best page of visual storytelling is the last one in the strip as Judge Whisper and Rosco finally meet. He smartly contrasts the two figures against one another with little panels intercutting tight close ups. Percival’s visual storytelling seems to read better when he has to use 6-7 panels a page as opposed to 4-5.
The need for plot momentum forces writer David Hine to write one page scenes for the most part. These mostly succeed, they may not be the deepest thing ever but they get their job done in a way the previous languid pacing certainly didn’t. With all the commotion the quite moment Angelotti has with his mission stands out and is effective. That is the kind of page that has been used in earlier strips, but just seemed like filler as things seemed to stretch. In the context of “Torture Garden” part eight it stands out as a quite moment among the noise of a strip headed towards a conclusion.