Orlok is back and brings with him cheer, philanthropy and a huge misunderstanding of the first two words…
Simon Jacques reviews 1889.
What an absolute belter! No only, do we get the return of the much lamented droll explicative from the mouth of Dredd, Chris Weston hits all the competition for six, as we are all jubilant in hailing Sensitive Klegg!
You could eat, nay lick, your dinner off Chris’ stunning line work. Cover of the year so far.
Joe’s recent tales have weighed somewhat heavy on the stomach after taking quite a bit of mastication, swallowing and digestion, so it’s great to get some light relief in the large shape of the scourge of Mr Overdrive™ – one Sensitive Klegg. Last issues opener with Dirty Frank and his smiley sausage, was a glorious return from Chris Weston who got it bob on with his depiction of Kleggy and his lonely repatriation to MC1. Williams tears at the heart-strings as we continue to wish our hero naught but acceptance, loving and peace, after all he is a rear-admiral is he not? In the end it is of course Dredd who gets the say, he has to do something in his own strip, and we are left wanting more as the plucky ‘big crocodile’ sets off to find contentment and we cheer his optimism out in the great wide yonder. Hopefully for us, more plucky adventures with this now iconic, warmed to character… oh the Kleggy possibilities!
The saga moves on, with Wren and the gang bodding off to find a substance known as Gaseous Clay (geddit?) when some more crazy shit starts to stir. While I might hold fast that this is far from Edlingtons best work and maintain a duplicitous admiration for the premise and exposition of the story arcs, I’m mindful that his scripting is undeniably effective and mature in it’s delivery. Sometimes 2000AD sends us out of our comfort zones, where we can’t quite engage or relate to the characters and narrative, really just because we are ultimately unaccustomed to their ilk. Brass Sun is one-such, like a “From Grace” or “Ten Seconders” which push the boundaries and perceptions of seemingly familiar ground, perhaps fostering scepticism and mistrust at first, but in time appreciation and fondness for their progressive idiosyncrasy. While I’m clearly not it’s biggest fan, there is something quite assuring about Brass Sun and it’s place in 2000AD lore, something which affirms my faith in the prog’s ability to shape worlds and deliver stories of a difference, that we in a way, should feel rather somewhat grateful as it continues to do so.
THARGS 3RILLERS PRESENT: VOODOO PLANET:
After some of his stints on Dredd, I’ve had a bit of a downer on P.J Holden (totally unsuitable for MC1) and his simplified characterisation in general winds me up, but here his art is much improved. The final page being a case in point with it’s squirmy wormy alien thangs known only as the Loa. The ‘Next prog: ‘ strap line obviously far too tempting to resist, all we need next prog is a cameo by Brucie and his unfeasably large deck of cards. Not sure about the ‘voodoo’ shtick and entirely what the premise is of the tale is going to be, but it looks good and it’s set up for a finale that could go either all out crazy with a twist or just sitting there scratching it’s balls…
THARG’S FUTURE SHOCKS: THE NAME OF THE LAW
Speaking of which, I got it, sorta, but still re-read it to see if I had missed anything glaringly obvious that might become it more to me. Nope, it didn’t give anything more up apart from the main character Cassie, developing a worrying hand job with the facial to match. I do like Nick Dyer’s art, as he reminds me of Cam Kennedy, but I’m afraid that the story here was trying to be something more than it ended up being, which was non too shocking and a bit of a ball scratcher…
Speaking of which, some wise old sage once said ‘if you find yourself in a hole, then stop digging’. This strip would be wise to take heed, as the Stygian hole it has disappeared up, is it’s own rectum. Any credibility it once had, since it’s inception in 1996, has long done a runner, along with the pertinent time to kill off it’s lead characters, when some of the readers actually gave a rats arse. The dialogue is beyond painful and I’m now convinced Dan Abnett is getting his script ideas from sitting in his kecks all day watching Scooby Doo and scratching his balls. Although it was good to see such a blatant set up for a recap (Congo/Amazon?) and I’m glad that someone else needed reminding of ‘the plot’ as this strip lost it many moons ago. I do however hope to see Jake Lynch on a strip suiting his style though as it’s clearly wasted on this pile of poop.
TOP THRILL: ‘Kleggy want in!’… Dredd.
Combo review written by Eamonn Clarke
To read more of Eamonn’s reviews go check out his Thank you for your Attention blog
Cover. Karl Richardson’s Aquila Vs Brian Bolland’s poster image.
Bolland produced many of the iconic covers for 2000AD but for some reason I find this image is rather flat and dull. While it’s nice to see him including some classic bad guys from Dredd’s history I can’t quite put my finger on it but this just doesn’t do it for me. Over on the Prog Karl Richardson produces a memorable image which is only spoiled by the foreshortening of the left hand that ends up looking weird. I suspect Brian Bolland’s cover will have the best impact on the shelves so it gets the win, but only just. Strange.
Result: 1-0 to the Meg
Judge Dredd: Student Bodies by John Wagner, Boo Cook and Annie Parkhouse Vs Dead Zone by John Wagner, Henry Flint and Annie Parkhouse.
Mr Tharg is spoiling us with two Wagner stories running at the same time, and with two great artists. My only problem is that we have just had a Boo Cook story in the Megazine and I’m trying to decide if he is suited to Judge Dredd or whether his best stuff is on other strips. Meanwhile Henry Flint can do no wrong for me. Both artists do some neat stuff with panel lay outs and end with a full page splash but Flint wins easily and I think this is the more interesting of the two stories as well.
Result 2-0 to the Meg
Sinister Dexter: Congo by Dan Abnett, Jake Lynch and Ellie De Ville Vs Lawless by Dan Abnett, Phil Winslade and Ellie De Ville
I still can’t summon any interest in Sinister Dexter and although Lynch’s artwork suits something like the Tales from the Black Museum it leaves me cold here. Over in the Meg Abnett introduces a new character and setting and gets me interested straight away. The bar room scene is fun and Winslade includes lots of detail and interesting looking background characters including a belligerent Uplift. Marshal Lawson is clearly very capable but I’m not sure that pony tail would be approved of by Justice department. Far too likely to be grabbed in a fight. Does look very sexy though.
Result 3-0 to the Meg and it’s getting embarrassing. Just like the Germany-Brazil semi-final.
Brass Sun: Floating Worlds by Ian Edginton, INJ Culbard and Ellie De Ville Vs The Man from the Ministry by Gordon Rennie, Kev Hopgood and Simon Bowland.
Reading the original Brass Sun run in its new US format comic is really helping me appreciate this strip more. I’m enjoying these flying ships and Culbard’s full colour spreads are gorgeous. The Man from the Ministry continues to charm me with its British science fiction nods and who doesn’t love an RAF Lightning? But as this episode is mostly exposition I’m going to give my vote to the colourful flying beasties in Brass Sun.
Result 3-1 to the Meg
Aquila: Carnifex by Gordon Rennie, Leigh Gallagher, Dylan Teague and Annie Parkhouse Vs Dredd: Uprise by Arthur Wyatt, Paul Davidson, Chris Blythe and Simon Bowland.
I’m not adverse to comic sequels for the Dredd film and I like Paul Davidson’s art but I can’t see the point of this story. It just reruns the bike against the van scene from the movie and then has some auto destruction that seems to nod to the Stallone version. Maybe episode two will be better.
Aquila has the advantage of Gallagher’s gritty and action filled art teamed with Teague’s muted colours. Again it may be too early to tell how this story is going to progress but it easily beats out the Dredd story.
Result 3-2 to the Meg and there’s a comeback on the cards.
Tharg’s 3rillers: Voodoo Planet by Guy Adams, PJ Holden, Steven Denton and Simon Bowland Vs All the Megazine’s extras.
I like Holden’s comic book art but this three parter has left me neither shaken or stirred. I haven’t read the Megazine interrogations and have no plans to read the floppy, but a free Bolland Poster? Maybe I wasn’t convinced by it as a cover but as a poster it’s a winner and seals the win for the Megazine.
Result 4-2. They think it’s all over, it is now.
Meg 350 Review by Nexus Wookie! You can check out his blog for other reviews at http://nexuswookie.wordpress.com/
And so we reach another milestone as the Meg hits 350, and to cap it off we have an eye grabbing cover by the legendary Brian Bolland. I was sharing the cover with my boy and he was definitely intrigued when I told him which character was who (he knew who Judge Dredd was naturally!). I have no doubt that this is another iconic additon to Bolland’s famous works, and the A3 poster was very welcome indeed, showing the piece in all it’s undisturbed splendour.
First off we have a new Judge Dredd story: Dead Zone (Part 1) by John Wagner and Henry Flint. Special things always tend to happen when those two names come together, and this was definitely the case here in this terrific opener. We have Dredd investigating the death of Mr. McPhee, an accountant at the Chaos Memorial Comittee. Dredd is not too keen on the whole memorial venture, which is basically another money making gimmick. But the city needs the income that it generates because of the financial repercussions of the Chaos Bug disaster. We also follow two cursed earth residents as they seek to make a better life for themselves in the big Meg, but they are set upon by a ruthless group of scum drudgery. This is the thing I love about Wagner’s writing, when he highlights the plight of normal citizens trying to get on with their lives, but have all these hard obstacles thrust before them.
The last page is very disturbing as it shows the depths that human kind will plunge to for greed. Henry Flint’s artwork is simply outstanding, I love the colour work and the details in each of the panels from the Chaos Memorial itself to the bleak, cluttered places surrounding it, and of couse the residents who inhabit both places.
Next up we have a new strip: Lawless – Welcome to Badrock (Part 1)by Dan Abnett and Phil Winslade. I was pleasantly surprised with this opener, why? Because it was so damn enjoyable! I’m a sucker for westerns and I really loved the set up here. We are on 43 Rega, a planet “on the ass end of nowhere”, only notable for the fact that Mega City forces stopped the alien Zhind invasion here. A group of townsfolk await the arrival of Colonial Marshall Lawson. Dan Abnett’s introduction to the various characters is done in a really fun manner! Soon after Lawson makes herself at home by going to the local saloon for a drink. Pretty soon trouble is on its way, and then, an encounter with someone who may or may not be insane.
Phil Winslade’s b&w artwork is simply outstanding. I spent a good amount time just ogling his panels, studying the details and wonderful line work. His street and saloon scenes are especially a treat as it evokes a feeling of being on a set, with a futurustic western taking place. On this evidence I must say I’m already looking forward to the next instalment.
The Man from the Ministry (Part 3) by Gordon Rennie and Kev Hopgod follows next. I haven’t been overly wowed by this strip unfortunately. However, this episode was much better, with a strong ending which throws up an element of danger. Kev Hopgood’s art is good, but not Night Zero good. There’s far less depth or detail to his art, something which I loved on his work on Night Zero and Beyond Zero.
Dredd: Uprise (Part 1) ends the strips. This is the new sequel to Underbelly by Athur Wyatt, but this time with Paul Davidson on art duty in place of Henry Flint. And I feel Davidson has done a pretty good job here. For starters, we have Dredd with a proper movie chin, and Chris Blythe’s colour work is excellent. One criticism I had with Davidson’s art in his past work was the way he drew the character’s lips, it looked a little contorted and well…silly. But there’s none of that here, in fact, I love his character design especially the rookie and the senior Judge accompanying her. I also thought the reference to Domhnall Gleeson via ‘Gleeson intersection’ was a nice touch. The story concerns ‘Uprise’; a group that wants to bring power back to the people, away from the rich folks who live in isolated comfort higher up in the blocks. It’s certainly a strong opener and I can’t wait for the next part.
There are three Interrogations on show, pick of the bunch has to be the Trevor Hairsine piece by Matt Badham. There’s some interesting insight into Hairsine’s artistic process and the various projects he has worked on. Kev Hopgood’s interrogation was also insightful (again by Matt Badham), and Leah Moore and John Reppion end the features with a look into their husband and wife partnership on comics and other projects, and juggling work with bringing up three kids. We also get some word on their upcoming work in the Prog; Black Shuck, which I’m really looking forward to.
Burke & Hurr by Simon Spencer & Dean Ormston. I’ve only started to read this and it’s not too bad on early impressions. Dean Ormston’s stylised artwork is really enjoyable, bringing a sort of ‘Jack the Ripper-esque’ East End vibe to it, or the muddy backstreet alleyways we see in Disney’s Pinocchio, it’s dark and macabre, but with added comedy. It’s fascinating to think that a place like this exists somewhere on the Cursed Earth, which is in total contrast to the big Meg.
The Megazine has been on fine form these past few months and so it continues here in this special celebratory issue with a host of new line ups which have grabbed my attention and given my thrill circuits a thorough work over. Top Thrill would have to go to Deadzone, which evokes a feeling of awe (via Flint’s artwork) and despair (via Wagner’s excellent storytelling) in equal measure.
Meg 351 cannot come soon enough for me.