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Home ¦ Reviews ¦ Meg 249 - 254 ¦Judge Dredd Megazine 253
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Judge Dredd Megazine 253
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Judge Dredd Megazine 253 -
9 January 2007
Judge Dredd
(Wagner/Marshall/Blythe)
Black Atlantic
(Abnett / Roberts)
Devlin Waugh
(Smith / Doherty)
Simping Detective
(Spurrier / Irving)

Cover by Cliff Robinson

Synopsis by Gavin Hanly
1st opinion by Floyd Kermode
2nd opinion by Charles Ellis

Summaries and reviews contain spoilers for this issue.

Cover review

FK: The 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! 


Judge Dredd
Script: John Wagner
Art: Paul Marshall
Letters: Annie Parkhouse
Colours: Chris Blythe

Death Row

Judge Dredd Megazine - Judge Dredd
Dredd plays Sherlock Holmes ...

Synopsis: 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. 

Dredd 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. 

He 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. 

Dredd 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"



FK:
Curse 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
Centre).  

You 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.


CE: 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 doesn’t 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?  


Black Atlantic
Script: Dan Abnett
Art: Steve Roberts
Letters: Simon Bowland

Meet the Jetsams - Part 1

Judge Dredd Megazine - Black Atlantic
Caught stowing away ...

Synopsis: 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.  

I'm 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.


CE: Another 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.


Devlin waugh
Script: John Smith

Art: Peter Doherty

Letters:Peter Doherty

Innocence and Experience - Part 1

Judge Dredd Megazine - Devlin Waugh
Devlin's mummy dearest...

Synopsis: 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. 

Earlier, Devlin 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 house. 

After 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.



FK:
Go on John Smith, break my heart again!  Yet again a promising beginning to a story featuring one of my favourite characters.  

I 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.  

Anyway, 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 soon.


CE: First 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? Anyway… 

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. 


The Simping Detective
Script: Simon Spurrier
Art: Frazer Irving
Letters: Ellie De Ville

No Body, No How

Judge Dredd Megazine: The Simping Detective
Justin meets his currently adoring fans...

Synopsis: Jack 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. 

He 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 to...



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 looks great.

The 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 good character.  

The other 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.


CE: 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.  



Miscellaneous Material inc.

  • Comic book remakes
  • Small press
  • Mike Collins interview
  • New movies
  • Classic Dredd


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.

Bulldog: Empire: 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 do so.  

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 I’d expected, 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. 



Overall

FK : The 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. 

Best Story

FK: Judge Dredd
CE: Judge Dredd

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