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to the Judge Dredd Megazine
Dredd Megazine 253 -
9 January 2007
by Cliff Robinson
1st opinion by Floyd Kermode
2nd opinion by Charles Ellis
reviews contain spoilers for this issue.
2000AD Online messageboarder who described this as possibly
the gayest cover of the year got it right. I like it - colour, Devlin
Waugh in a dress, Dredd looking as pissed off as you'd expect him to
look and Jack Point looking creepy and silly. It's not the best cover
of the year, but it's jolly and does the job well (especially
considering the range of dire Chrissy covers the Megazine and 2000AD
have come out with over the years).
CE: A man in a fairy costume, a Private Eye clown opening
a present and a scowling Judge Dredd hurling abuse at us while dressed as Father
Christmas. Can you get a better Christmas cover than this? I think not!
plays Sherlock Holmes ...
It's Christmas eve and Mental Gomez is due to be executed in Iso Block 77
at Midnight convicted of the "Halloween massacre". He swears he is innocent
and manages to persuade Dredd that there might be something in his case as he
always sets off lie detectors - even when telling the truth.
visits the Gimp club - victims of the massacre who confirm that the leader of
the attack shouted out "This is for Horace" referring to Mental's brother (the
attack was in revenge at his death) - even though Mental never referred to his
brother as "Horace". Dredd
next visits the Barracudas and their new leader "Pretty boy" who's now going
out with Mental's ex girlfriend, Malacia. Dredd
starts to feel suspicious and calls PSU to track Pretty Boy and Malacia's movements
for the last week. He sees Malacia giving a package to a member of
the "Twisted Ones" groups.
has them all brought into iso block 77. There
he confirms that they paid the Twisted ones to get rid of the Gimps and blame
Mental - and it was Mental's DNA in the package that Malacia handed over which
was planted at the scene.
rushes to stop the execution, telling Mental is was a conspiracy. However,
when arrested, the others gave full details of Mental's other crimes, more than
enough to have him executed, and after a brief delay the execution continues. As
Dredd says - "Hate to see a man die for something he didn't do"
you John Wagner! My reviewing
job is difficult enough as it
is. I'm on holiday in Japan, surrounded by perky Japanese women in
Santa's helper outfits, in danger of hearing George Michael sing "last
Christmas, I gave you my heart" at any moment and hampered by an
ancient laptop and netcafe PCs which keep switching to katakana on me
(katakana is that funny writing which Tharg used to use for his Nerve
then make it even more difficult by writing a classic
funny Dredd story with nothing at all wrong. Yet again! It's good
MegaCity One fun. A bright spark could probably spot the twist coming
a mile off, especially if they've been reading Wagner or Future Shocks
before, but that doesn't interfere with the enjoyment of getting to
the twist. The art sets off the story nicely, being cartoony but not
too cartoony. I loved the bland, goofy robot executioner ("Second
time lucky.") and the hapless buck-toothed death row dude. Also it's
fun seeing Dredd be a proper detective again.
I have never yet seen Wagner do a Christmas Dredd that ends happily.
The plot of our hero trying to save a man from being executed for a crime he
commit takes a very dark (and funny) turn, and quite a logical one – how
likely is it the leader of a violent street gang in MC-1 wouldn’t have
killed anyone? The race-against-time device works well, and Wagner manages to
write in a lot of information about the world, the characters and the dastardly
plot without it ever seeming too packed in. The humour bits are great too, with
all their little bits of mad future life. Pro-execution protestors singing murderous
Christmas carols? A street gang made up entirely of BDSM gimps? An executioner
robot having a big happy smile? A Santa-worshipping reverend? Ah yes, it’s
a Wagner Dredd alright.
It’s the humour that stands out, especially
coming after the more serious fare of Regime Change and Cadet. It’s a
story where violent gangsters set up one of their own for a fall and the hero
orders someone’s execution
during Christmas – and it’s got so many funny bits in it, especially
the entire ending. It’s this evil-minded humour that separates both 2000AD
and the Meg from everything else, and Wagner is top of his game at it. What more
could you want for Christmas?
- Part 1
stowing away ...
A citizen on the run from Mega City 1 ("call me E-mail")
hides out on a Black Atlantic ship. He manages to avoid the
judges but soon gets caught by the crew. There's the Mutant Mermansk, the
crew Hooter and Gimlet, the ship's AI/Seaborg Saul-T and the Captain Teach. They
meet to decide on E-mail's fate, who pretends to be a marine biologist who wants
to study the ocean.
He gets some time, and the journey continues as Hooter
explains to him that the captain likes top pick up people down on their luck. She
says that he used to have another job in his past... They head out to one
of Teach's follies, a small island which Teach uses to keep the shipping
lines open They find the operator of this folly dead and while the ship's
seaborg comes out to see if he can repair the damage, E-mail goes for a walk
- only to be attacked by something coming out of the water.
FK: New thrill!" announces
the credit on the website. Well, it's new
indeed, but whether or not it's a thrill will wait for the next
Megazine, as will the question of what kind of thrill it is.
expecting it to be a funny kind of thing. I base this deduction on the
punny Dan Abnett title (to be fair, Wagner does a lot of this kind of
thing) and the Steve Roberts art, which suits funny stories. My
favourite moment is the automated ship telling the Judge that it
doesn't want to be searched as it hides the stowaway. The story has
very Robert Louis Stevenson overtones, arrr Jim Lad. However it turns
out, it's a worthy addition in terms of difference, something
unusually jolly by Megazine standards.
new strip by Abnett? Does this man never sleep?! Despite having fewer pages than
Kingdom, Black Atlantic manages to build up its world with a lot more
speed and manages to be a lot more immediately involving. Weird and vaguely ugly
characters in strange & dangerous worlds is what 2000AD is good
at, and Black Atlantic has an interesting premise of Teach trying to create a
community out of the Atlantic. E-Mail is immediately sympathetic due to being
such a complete loser in over his head, which immediately makes me wonder what
he’s done that means he has to flee the city; the other characters are
only vaguely sketched out at the moment, with the exception of Teach’s
altruism, but I’m looking forward to seeing more of them, especially Saul-T
the misanthropic robot figurehead.
That said, it loses point for E-Mail
(dear Grud, I hope we learn the guy’s
real name soon) wandering off from everyone else, just after he knows there could
be something nasty and murderous hanging around. What a div.
- Part 1
Devlin Waugh visits Kilimanjaro to the last known whereabouts
of his brother Freddy. He is to perform a Psychic survey to see if he can
find out once and for all what happened to him.
had been to see his mother, Stella, who was playing host to a young writer,
Hadrian Keene, who was helping her with her memoirs - the writer admits
to being rather put off of Devlin's mother's love golems that protect the
much drinking, Stella tells Devlin and Keene about the night that she ended up
in a wheelchair as a fellow nominee for best supporting actress ran over her
at the Academy awards. She then tells how Devlin's brother Freddy was conceived
during a total eclipse in an occult ceremony. he was born as something
sinister - the darker opposite to Devlin.
Meanwhile, a group of mercenaries are preparing to break into the house.
on John Smith, break my heart again! Yet
again a promising
beginning to a story featuring one of my favourite characters.
know Devlin is brilliant because he's survived so many dire outings;
umpteen bloody episodes of that Sirius Rising hogwash, the rather
dreary return to Aquatraz thing that was his last outing in the
Megazine. Of the Devlin Waugh stories I've read, and I must admit I
haven't read the lot, I've only really been satisfied by his
appearance in Fetish.
this begins well, setting up the cast of characters with only a minimum of John
Smith gibberish from Devlin,
his aged luvvie mother and his adoring fan. My guess is that the
invading body-suit wearers will be eaten by Devlin's guards and turn
out to be irrelevant to a rambling plot, but that's just me being
pessimistic. Maybe it's Devlin's brother being more occult and spooky
than I could possibly imagine. Maybe the 'tulpa' is very important to
an involving story. I'll read on optimistically. Doherty's art is
looking fine and will hopefully have some grotesqueness to practice on
off, that cliffhanger is very rubbish. A guy turning round and muttering slightly?
That’s it? OK, he’s almost certainly turning
to see the Love Golems, but couldn’t it have been a bit more interesting?
Having only read both the first Devlin story and his
post-200 Megazine appearances, I don’t know if there’s been anything done with the family Waugh
before. If there has been, kudos to John Smith for making it so easy for me to
get into it all. Seeing Devlin at home is quite different to what I’m used
to from this strip – nobody’s dead yet! – but the character
is certainly strong enough to carry a different story. Waugh’s mother is
grotesque and worrying and very fun to read, as is Devlin’s family issues,
but once the conversation gets onto Freddy things get very ominous and intriguing.
Since the first page and the insistence “Freddy’s dead” make
it bloody clear he’s actually not dead to anyone who’s read a comic,
I’m expecting an extremely terrifying villain to emerge. Little more than
set-up so far, but it’s got me hooked.
Ellie De Ville
Body, No How
meets his currently adoring fans...
Point has awoken with a hangover to find a ead woman in his bead,
and with himself holding the gun that appears to have blown her brains out.
remembers her as Meekly Roth. A week back he was investigating her husband's
warehouse (Dexy Roth - a psycho that works for The Boss) when discovered
by some thugs and Meekly. He
was attacked by the thugs, but for some reason Meekly recognised him and
let him go.
Back in the present day, Galen DeMarco comes to visit
for their planned
date, but he has to give her the brush off. Point checks the databases
for info on Meekly Roth but comes up empty while his new pet Larf (offspring
of Cliq) starts sniffing around the body. He tries to restrain Larf when
there's a knock at the door. At the door are a bunch of Dexy Roth's goons
with orders to kill Point if he doesn't reveal where his wife has disappeared
FK: The good news is that
Jack Point is back and as punny and noir as
ever. That's really good news, so let's dwell on it a bit. The set-up
is dead good, keeps the tension going all the way through, while Point
talks us through the beginning to a really good yarn. The art is, as
ever, brilliant, kooky, a little grotesque. It's my impression that
Frazer Irving is becoming a little more subtle, but I'll leave that
judgement to people who know what they're talking about with art. It
bad news is? Well, not very bad. Let's call it the quibble news. Quibble the
first is that I'd really rather Galen de Marco was left
out of it. Her appearance as a casual murderer in the last Jack Point
story was the sad culmination of a long process of wasting a really
quibble is even more quibbly, I'm sick of
Point's murderous alien pet. It doesn't seem to fit and it gives him
an over-easy get out. These are, as I say, quibbles. De Marco may be
well served by this story. Larf may turn out to be pivotal to an
interesting denoument, or at least to not just eat someone who needs
to be gotten rid of. I'm a fan and it's a good idea to finish the Meg
with a story I so much want to see more of.
It’s back, with a rather interesting murder
mystery – but,
more importantly, it has Jack completely in the stomm and that’s always
good for a laugh (or even Larf). The sudden appearance of DeMarco is classic,
and nice to see he’s got a new Raptaur in Larf. The cliffhanger… well,
how’s he going to get out of this one? And isn’t it strange that
Point appears to have been framed for a crime, when his last story had a group
of rogue Judges planning to make him one of them?
All the strip needs now is
more Raptaurs. Lots more.
- Comic book remakes
- New movies
FK : Non
Strip Round Up 1:Seven bloody pages of Alec Worley
whinging about how people don't take comics seriously enough. This article
is a damn shame, since Worley obviously knows a lot about comics and movies thereof
but confines himself to a grizzle that could be summed up thus: comics are
serious and interesting now, and movies of comics and comic critics
should take account of this.
The argument is bollocks because there's
no reason why movie makers have an obligation to take Kal El Saves
Africa (or whatever it was Worley thought was so good) into account
and movie critics are writing for the public and will be unmoved by
Alec's superior comics knowledge. Most comics don't deserve the
seriousness Worley seems to want for them and the comics that do
deserve serious attention don't justify it being given to the whole
field. Good comics are good, some are serious, most are candy for
the eyes. No amount of whiney articles or the fact that a scan from
the Beano is in a gallery in Dorset next to a Matisse will make people
treat 'comics' as a whole more seriously than they deserve.
Despite loathing this piece, I must say that in general it's not a
bad idea to have opinion pieces by informed types. At one or two
pages, it would be a fine idea.
Small Press: Totally Zarjaz See, that's the kind of thing
I mean. One nice page which tells us some useful stuff about Zarjaz, the 2000
AD fanzine. I want a copy
of Zarjaz for Christmas, me.
Yet again, the small press effort shows why it's not mainstream yet.
A worthy effort, interesting ideas, nice art, but it just doesn't come
across on the page.
This is one of those stories that I'm sure the
writer could explain brilliantly, but they would need to explain it
brilliantly for me to get it. The art is very good, manga-ish stuff,
with a lovely splash-page for us. I like the way they draw the
Victorian characters. But I just don't get the conclusion or the point
(I know, I know, it's just after the Jack) and would
need the aforementioned brilliant explanation by the writer to help me
I like the idea of having small press material in the
Megazine, partly because it might be something fresh, partly because I
like to imagine the hard-working small press creators' faces lighting
up when they see their efforts making the big time. But the material
should be at least coherent. This isn't quite and reminds me of a lot
of 2000 AD's 90s efforts. I'm looking at you, Silo.
Interrogation, Mike Collins:
An innocuous little piece of work about the world of Dr Who comics. I
must declare an interest here. I like Dr Who comics. This article has
some cute illustrations and does what you'd imagine from the heading.
Nothing I couldn't live without, but short and to the point.
Kind Hearts and Carnage, film reviews:
It's only because I'm writing this review that I've noticed that
Alec Worley is the guy who does the film reviews. I didn't normally
register. What follows is what I've been thinking for ages and is not
at all affected by my dislike for 'Screenstory'. What I usually
think is that the film reviews are okay, but out of place in the
Megazine. They're just a bunch of film reviews. I read film reviews
all the time, in the newspapers, in magazines. If it's in the
Megazine, I'd like it to be something special. These reviews should be
turfed, or reduced to one interesting review about a movie that we
wouldn't otherwise read about. Worley writes a mean review and if I
saw these in my newspaper, I'd be rapt. As it is, I feel cheated;
what next, a horoscope?
Judge Dredd: To
Thing With Love: and on we go to the first and only reprint! I'll
take any amount of
reprints over Alec Worley's "some day my people will be free" stuff,
but that's just me. This jaunty little Dredd story is perfect for
Christmas. It breaks the First Law of Reprints - that Floyd shall not
have read it before - but that can't be helped. It keeps the second
law - that the reprinted matter shall be worth reading again -
brilliantly, and I envy any reader who hasn't seen it before. Not
much Dredd here, just a sardonic grumble about the citizens ("It takes
all types" "unfortunately"). Here we're focussed on some more MC1
oddity. This story was so cute I tried to tell it to my six year old
son, which is a first for the Megazine. Punny title, loopy citizens,
grumpy judges, it's all you need for Christmas.
CE: Misc. Material: I was hoping
we’d get a
Winston Bulldog story ever since the Small Press section started. Getting the
opening few pages of the previously published Bulldog Empire isn’t what
but it’s a fun few pages and hopefully should entice some readers to track
Empire down. As for the Dredd repeat… what an evil ending! I loved it!
The Comic-Book Movies article is alright,
but I can take or leave the other two. Preferably leave. When a two-page article
says it’s about Mike Collins,
I expect to read two pages about Mike Collins and not recent Doctor Who comics.
opening Dredd and the concluding Simping Detective could
give the casual reader the impression that they've had value for
money. Your poor reviewer, forced to mull over things, thinks that
there is far too much Alec Worley and that the rest of the non-strip
content needs to be shaped up or shipped out; i.e. shorter argumentative
pieces and less, or more special movie reviews. As I say, we could
have lived without the Dr Who piece.
Small Press gets a could try
harder, unless that's really as good as small press gets.
CE: It’s all new stories and I couldn’t be happier! With luck,
we’ll have shorter stories than the undying Fiends & Black Siddah so
the strips don’t overstay their welcome. The difference is noticeable already,
with all three new strips being a lot easier to get into than Siddah & Fiends
were (and I say this as someone who likes Siddah).
This does demonstrate a key
strength of the Megazine – like 2000AD, it’s constantly changing
its strips and every so often its format, and so if you don’t like it now
you can wait a few months and be right as rain again. To me, the Meg seems to
be on an upswing again.
FK: Judge Dredd
CE: Judge Dredd
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