Regular prog reviewer Sandsy takes a look at Zarjaz 18. Dogbreath review to follow
COVER – This is a fantastic cover! The fact that Zarjaz got a pro – Ben Willsher – to get their cover drawn shows not only the high regard that the comic is held in by comic creative persons in the region; but also, that this comic is probably an item of sentimentality in the heads of people like Willsher. This title was probably their first foray into comic books, that fertile, wild savannah that needed taming.
Art-wise, this cover’s strange. It’s as if there is ANOTHER part to it. That it’s a double cover that was mistakenly cut in half; humph.
Strange one, that is.
JURASSIC FARCE – A great start to the issue! Dinosaur rights protestors take their protest to the ultimate level by becoming suicide bombers. It’s then left to man of the hour, none other than Judge Dredd to save the day and take care of the escaped dinos.
Story-wise, there wasn’t much to it. This story was DESIGNED to be B-Movie inspired, non-stop violence, material. In that respect, the script works wonders. Lee Robson gives us enough information to keep things believable, that Justice Department brought the circus in ‘cause they were broke. Everywhere else about the script, like frequent and illuminating sound effects, keeps the pace up at 80mphs.
The art is something else all-together, though. S K Moore’s, Brian Bolland-based art is exceptionally good. The detail and professionalism of it hit me in the face with a skin-splitting force, when I saw it.
In summary, a brilliant, mad, violent start to the issue.
MAX NORMAL – Max Normal does something to get abducted by a criminal gang, looking for their stolen money.
The script was alright. Max did repeat dialogue like “baby” and “shuggy” a lot, but generally M J Howard got the character of Max nailed. However, I didn’t really know what was going on. Why, exactly, did the gang grab Max? What had he done? What indicators were there in the strip for this event? It could be that I wasn’t paying attention, but I didn’t really understand this story.
Art is alright. After the brilliant art of JURASSIC FARCE, it was always going to be hard to upheave it. John Cahill’s style is good; it copes with what the script is trying to communicate and is nice to look at. It’s just a tad bit amateur. I can see he can draw, he just needs a bit more work, a bit more practice, and then the art’ll be cracker.
In summary, a slight hiccup after the brilliant opener.
BARELY LEGAL – I, erm, thought this was a mature publication…..
MANS GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT – A Brit-Cit swimmer, Charles Lloyd-George, fails to swim across the Black Atlantic. Dredd is called in and is forced to make a moral choice.
The script was brilliant! I love the ones where panel boxes drive the story. Done right, they can, not only, tell the story but also grant greater insights into the characters involved and the message of the story. Same here, Karl Stock does a great job in conveying genuine regret in Dredd in just six pages, using the least amount of dialogue as possible.
Art is, ok. Jared Souza’s style, I thought, was slightly too sketchy. In addition, there seemed to be just a bit too much cross-hatching, especially on page 2. But, to his credit, page 4, panel 1 was simply brilliant. That conveyed, exactly the message of the strip: Dredd is taking an interest in George’s challenge because the two men are similar, personally. There’s a perceived kin-ship between them.
In summary, a great story hampered by OK art.
MASQUERAID OF DEATH – Perps disguise themselves as The Dark Judges for an armed robbery. Dredd arrives on the scene and pursues the blighters…..
The story idea was great. Perps pretending to be The Dark Judges is a concept I have never seen before nor could come up with myself. Points go for originality. Apart from that, story twists (a “hostage” turning out to be another robber) and a suitably grim outcome (the lead robber getting killed, because he got mistaken for a judge by street scum) show the quality of the script we’re dealing with.
Art is fantastic! Granted that Kev Crossley’s art is not the most consistent of them all, he still can pull wonderful tricks off, if he’s inclined. Dramatic panels like page 1, panel 5, and the last page splash panel show that Crossley has the goods. Panels like that are broader-line prog material.
In summary, another great instalment.
CURSED EARTH PATROL – Judges Nordahl and Rico head into the Cursed Earth to check-up on Mutie townships. They come across a mining one which has been taken over by raiders. Cue the macho, slow-motion shoot-outs…..
The story was good. A nice, descriptive, shoot-out: nothing more, nothing less. It was good to see a mention of post-Day of Chaos issues (cadet Judges being rushed onto the streets) as well as parallels between the characters of Dredd and Rico.
Apart from that, the illustrations by Jake Lynch did a decent-enough job of giving me a picture in my head of the landscape the story was taking place in. His art isn’t great, but it does its job.
In summary, a nice break in the issue for something a bit different.
BABY JAYS 01 – Two judges take on armed perps and, erm, do stuff.
The script had great points and low points. The arm-twist at the start which made us think Ricardo was a gangster, when he fact he was a Judge, was great. Good to keep us on our feet. However, the rivalry between Ricardo and Brookes wasn’t conveyed well. When Brookes arrived, I thought he was Dredd. In addition, the ending was horribly. It just……ended. There was no real mission accomplished or issue dealt with.
The art wasn’t that great, as well. Facial expressions were pretty much blank and character posing was stiff. However, give David Brougton his dues, the panels on page 4 where Ricardo shoots the perp upside down are brilliant. I’ve never seen POV panel styling done as well as that was!
In summary, a rather mediocre strip.
A HELPING HAND – What’s this?! What’s my boss doing here? I think I better be careful what I say here……
Dredd discovers that parasites from Judge Death have taken possession of his hand. Luckily, Judge Anderson arrives just in time to save the day……and to prompt a completely unnecessary and profoundly vulgar joke about getting #*%$£2!.(“I’d totally lost control of my hand there,” “Yeah, that’s what you guys always say when I’m around”) (!)
The script is fantastic! This was always going to be a mick-take; the script knows that and revels in the mischievousness like a gleeful Dennis the Menace. The vibe of lunacy and immaturity is great if you’re in the mood for a laugh. The best example of this would be when we discover Dredd’s possessive hand is due to Judge Death. Dredd reveals that in the most understated way that you cannot help but laugh!
The cartoony art of Tom Berry is the most appropriate art possible for this strip. The oversized heads are a nice, cute touch.
In summary, a brilliant, Carry On themed story, that wraps the whole issue up nicely.