WARNING : This review does discuss basic plot points of some stories so reader beware!
Review by Richard Fox
Cover by Clint Langley Alex Ronald
Okay, okay, I’m sorry, poor joke at the expense of the butler droid getting the wrong credit for the cover on the credits page but there is a little slip of paper apologising for the misprint of names and it would be corrected in later printings.
I had seen the cover of ZarJaz #12 a few months before the release thanks to this very blog so the joy of the cover was a little flat for me when I got it in my hands, this however is not to take away from the stunning work of Alex Ronald. The art for the wraparound cover is absolutely gorgeous, for a digital piece its flawless, you could pass it off for a fully painted prog cover. This easily matches the work Alex has done previously on Vampire Vixens of the Wehrmacht for Wasted.
Judge Dredd: Moon In The Undercity pt. 1 (Written
by: Paul Glasswell, Art by: Dave Thomson, Letters by: Bolt-01)
The first part of the first story in this issue, Dredd is called into Judge Scott’s lab to be shown the effects of the new strain of lycanthropy a viral/psi-viral which is triggered by the lunar cycle. Within the first page the setting for how the infection spreads and how it acts with regards to the master-slave dynamic (essentially kill the master the slaves stop dead in their tracks). I am sure I could be forgiven for thinking “not another werewolf/vampire/zombie story” as it seems to be the case with most of the big publishers in the last few months, but as the first part of the strip rolls on, it pleasantly proves not to be a case of the same old scenario.
Dredd and the other judges make their way down into the Undercity to find Prager, a Judge that has been infected himself and spent close to 20 years living in the Undercity after his long walk, searching for the alpha werewolf in order to break the bond and return to Mega-City One. As the part comes to an end, they find that the muties have stock piles of the meat virus which is even more potent and it’s heading for Mega-City.
Zenith Invasion pt.? (Written by: Chris Denton, Art
& Letters by: David Frankum)
Now this story I really enjoyed, it’s an amalgamation of Zenith and Invasion, two stories from the pages of 2000AD from Grant Morrison and Pat Mills respectively. Now I only vaguely remember reading Zenith stories as it was coming to a close as I jumped on board with 2000AD but Invasion I am a huge fan of and also the continuing stories of Bill Savage that still grace the pages of 2000AD to this day.
The story opens with the scene of a corpse burnt and charred to the bone resting in ruins of Berlin when it is found. The corpse springs to life and utters the name Joyce, I assume this is Maximan as the following pages show Winston Churchill talking to Monty about the future of said Maximan. Churchill seems concerned about the country using Maximan to aid in the war effort, I gather at some point with Zenith missing, Maximan raring to get back into action and Bill Savage as always chomping at the bit to get to the Volgs, this could turn into a very good three way fight.
As with Savage, if that is what you are more familiar with, the Russian Volgs are invading the UK. As they are heading towards the cliffs of Dover they see what appears to be an old man walking along when all of a sudden Maximan appears in their sights which strikes fear into the Volgs. This is where the story ends with Maximan flying across the channel towards the Volg battleships. I am assuming that this is only the first part of a multi-part story. The scene is set and the idea of a superhero story in Savage’s world has me wanting more to say the least.
Judge Dredd: Moon In The Undercity pt.2 ((Written
by: Paul Glasswell, Art by: Dave Thomson, Letters by: Bolt-01)
The second part of the story opens up with the introduction of Spit, the leader of the mutie gang, in good old villain fashion, declaring his plans for taking out Mega-City One. Enter stage left, Dredd and the other Judges roll in under the guise of being one of the mutie trucks when all hell breaks loose; fire fight breaks out and in good old 2000AD style, the rookies about to earn their full eagles are bitten and taken out. Under Dredd’s orders the remaining Judges, Strummer and Scott go after the launchers whilst Dredd and Prager stay behind to deal with the rest of the muties and Spit. The two are dug in and surrounded when Spit throws a canister of the meat virus, Prager being immune to it due to being a werewolf but this scene leads to Dredd wanting to be bitten in order to survive the meat virus himself.
Slaine: Tattered Wings (Written by: Liam Sharp)
Liam Sharp, yes, THE Liam Sharp offers a Slaine piece for ZarJaz. This is testament to how far ZarJaz has come and plenty of people agree that ZarJaz is coming into its own and offering a fanzine on par with the 2000AD Progs and Megs. I really don’t know where to start with this one, I don’t really want to spoil it but, those expecting a strip in the ilk of a 2000AD piece will be disappointed, this is prose only with a splash page depicting Slaine himself.
All I will say is that I hope Rebellion/2000AD approach Liam Sharp to write the next run of Slaine, with Clint Langley on art duties, a perfect team in my eyes. The attention to detail fills your mind with imagery of how this would look on the page, the scenes, facial expressions, interactions between Slaine, his mistress, Morrigan, Chieftain MacCullan of the Dagda tribe.
Mega-City One Tales: Fat Chancers (Written by:
Alexi Conman, Art & Letters by: Luis Chichon)
Ah the comedy relief of the fatties, you can’t go wrong with a good fatties tale. This one is only a two page spread which revolves around the hit and waddle gang. They turn up to restaurants throughout the city armed with a ultra-platinum cred card and eat the place clean, then do a runner. It seems myself and Dredd question the thought of them doing a runner, being fatties and all. No matter how well-oiled your belly wheel is, they never get far. This is the icing on the cake; the explanation of how they make their getaway is genius, the extra weight they gain whilst on their spree allows them to gain momentum and makes them almost unstoppable.
The only thing that could of made this story any better would be the last panel of the story and Dredd handing out his usual brute force style of law whilst the character making the jokes about the situation of the fatties being stuck in the door of their latest escapade. It would have sealed the deal if the final panel was Dredd giving some night stick justice.
Constable Dredd: The Cursed Beat
(Written by: Richard McAuliffe, Art by: Mark Chilcott, Letters by: Bolt-01)
I absolutely love this strip, its Dredd through and though however it’s taken out of Mega-City One in the twenty second century and dropped into London City One using Jack the Ripper as the setting for the piece. I really can’t get enough of this one, you have Judge Dredd as a nineteenth century London bobby, PJ Maybe makes an appearance as a paperboy, cameo appearances of Mean Machine and Stickleback on a poster of Thargs Circus 1888 and one of my favourite characters from the Judge Dredd universe, Judge Death playing the part of Jack himself.
Essentially take any Judge Dredd story you’ve ever read, mainly the one shot stories that appear in the prog and set it in the eighteen hundreds London. I hope that more of these strips make it into ZarJaz or 2000AD, the story flows, the setting works and it’s an ingenious reimagining of Judge Dredd. Top marks to Richard McAuliffe and Mark Chilcott, fingers crossed we see a lot more of this in future issues.
Judge Dredd: Moon In The Undercity pt.3
(Written by: Paul Glasswell, Art by:
Dave Thomson, Letters by: Bolt-01)
We reach the final strip of the issue and it doesn’t disappoint. The story comes to a well-rounded conclusion, Scott and Strummer near the launchers
and their only cause of action is to push forward to the launchers and set off the mini-nuke they have on-board of their transport. Strummer is convinced that Dredd will fail him (as all cadets do) so himself and Scott decide to die like a judge they will take out the launchers with the meat virus and themselves in the process, a fitting end for the rookie, to uphold the law no matter the cost.
I won’t say too much about the final chapter, Dredd being a werewolf and fighting alongside Prager go after Spit to end the threat to Mega-City One. Prager tracks down the alpha at the start of the psi chain in order to break the link and stop the disease in its tracks. The ending I found fitting, especially the final page, the long walk and the accompanying panels of Dredd and Prager, the panels on the left hand side of the page show you Prager’s original long walk and leaving Mega-City One, whilst the panels on the right show Dredd carrying out the only cause of action he can to stop the infection once and for all.
Once again, Future Quake Press, Dave Evans and Richmond Clements have put together another stellar issue of ZarJaz. This fanzine keeps going from strength to strength, without the time and effort of those involved and all of the contributors over the years this fanzine wouldn’t be of the quality that it is. ZarJaz is on equal footing with the progs and megs for me and I look forward to a new issue of the fanzine as much as the arrival of 2000AD every weekend.
Anyone who hasn’t read ZarJaz, I would highly recommend picking up a copy, it’s only £3 delivered, you’d be mad not to. These guys go above and beyond to improve on their last offering and things can only get better with more of the 2000AD family offering their services to the fanzine. I’ve read every issue released and will continue doing so, each issue has surpassed the last.
Big thanks to Mr Fox for this review. I have another one waiting in the wings so will post that up tomorrow for an alternative take on it all