Finally getting around to reading these damned good Megazines, here is Orlok with his take on 346…
Well, that’s just brilliant, isn’t it? It says everything about the situation being poignant, dramatic and with enough of a link to the past to have the cognoscenti give an approving nod. The tagline is almost certainly a reference to The Return Of Rico where Dredd lost one of his oldest friends and carried him out in a similar style.
I love the interplay of light here and though I might quibble about the uniform colour the light reflections are damn near perfect. Also loved that Cass still has her Lawgiver in her boot.
Fraser rather superbly has his name on the tyre of the Lawmaster as well. Clever.It was also apparently done last year.
My only other observation is the one that struck me three seconds after I first saw this…why is Dredd staring at Anderson’s beetle bonnet? You dirrrrrty old maaaaan.
In a surprisingly twist, Dredd and Zheng wrap this one up in two parts instead of three.
In a deus ex piscine move, the alien hybrid is able to work the severed head so that it is still alive and speaking, albeit it without air going through the larynx, but still…fuck it. No explanations are offered, so there.
Zheng realises that the hybrids are no longer being subtle and are therefore starting their endgame, intending to nick the spaceship and fuck off back to Fishtopia.
Conveniently the psi gun stops working at this point, prompting them to rely on Lawgivers which have a limited effect. The explanation given is that the gun cannot read enough of the hybrid brain to work. That’s weird cos in the first part it focussed the psi blast of the user and seemed to work just peachy on the other hybrids. Yeah, nice one.
So, with Dredd and Zheng captured, Joe bluffs the supposedly mindless hybrids into linking thoughts with Zheng. As expected their cod based plans tie in with Zheng’s dreams and after some convenient feedback, Dredd magically slips his bonds and the Judges escape.
The hybrids also fuck off, but Zheng has somehow sabotaged their nav system so they die in hyperspace. No, I have no idea either. Just go with it.
At the end of this we are left with a bit of mutual, yet unspoken, respect between Dredd and Zheng which seems lifted straight from the end of the Dredd movie.
Plot conveniences and poor consistency have marred this tale and it was only saved by the art.
Wyatt may be a lovely man who takes in wounded old people or helps kittens across the road, but he can’t write a decent Dredd tale.
Artwise this is still nice with a great opener featuring some tricking of the retinal and voice print scans at the warehouse.
The last panel of page 2 is a particular highlight with the opening door giving way to the horde of hybrids and the colours here as well as the intent expressions are phenomenal.
Page 4 features some really good angles in the panel layouts and the reveal of the ship was well done. I’m even letting the lens flare pass.
Demarco regains consciousness in speedheal to find that Claude saved her life. Meanwhile Kessler has gone missing.
Bog standard stuff really and far from Michael Carroll’s best. I’m finding this more confusing week to week and I don’t think the art is helping this at all.
This is one of those tales where you find yourself saying “I bet this reads better all in one go” but the point is, it is serialised and as such should flow like a serial.
I was also a bit surprised at DeKeyser in this. He doesn’t seem at all arsed that a private citizen has hacked into his system and wiped out his schedule. Ex Judge or not, that’s breaking the Law and he should be handing out time or at the very least a severe spanking.
Also, was that a typo on page 6 or have I forgotten something? “Mutanties?”
The art? Well, samefaces abound and I think that this is part of the issue. Demarco is identifiable by her freckles; someone else had a beard. The names mean nothing without some visual input and I don’t think the black and white helps either.
We do get our first proper look at The Whisper and as with a lot of Steve Yeowell monsters it is uninspiring. It’s the equivalent of threatening the readership with a full page splash of a Poogle. Yes, you read that right.
A shooter called Evangelyne finds itself in the hands of men across the ages. Hell follows with her.
Hmmm. Right, well, this was nice but a little dull for my tastes as the tales got somewhat repetitive. I remember seeing an episode of Quincy (I shit you not) with a similar tale of how a gun causes havoc across a stretch of time and in a succession of hands so that immediately sprang to mind, as did the Vector 13 tale from Toothy featuring the Spear Of Destiny.
The eponymous Evangelyne is a farm wench who also appears to be a bit of a cowgirl judging from the top of page 2. Her departure inspires a fallen husband, cast into limbo, to fashion a smokewagon that is destined to break hearts when fired/be used in a messy suicide. The story changes tack a little when the weapon is merely carried but not fired and it eventually ends up in the hands of a ruined greedy dipshit on the eve of the Global Financial Crisis who elects to load it once more. Any chance we can get this gun to Kanye West?
Does this story really belong in the Megazine, though?
The big draw for me was the art, which was beautiful in ways I cannot adequate express and also somewhat old school. Macauley and Wilson pull of something truly eye catching here and it is not least down to the three panels per page which gives each snapshot an almost epic and cinemascope feel.
In particular the angles and emotions expressed on pages 2-3 were stunning. You feel every nuance there.
I fully expect the social engineers to tow the party line and crack down hard on the nipples shown on page 2. It is a disgrace that the female form should be exalted and sexualised in such a way.
Anderson journeys to the afterlife (sort of) while Dredd mops up a Block War.
I liked this. The Anderson in the afterlife stuff was kept to a minimum and that tunnel of light NDE gubbins always irks the fuck out of me when it gets used. With Anderson pronounced dead, all Dredd can utter again is that she is a damned fool. No sympathies there.
Dredd dealing with the block war, such as it was, himself was pretty cool and the offhand comments to the back up about them processing the perps for him was quite funny. His interrogation of the gun peddlers was also amusing; never seen the syringe and bucket ploy used in the Big Meg before.
Some of the dialogue here for Dredd, especially the bit where Anderson reveals that she was compelled to try and cancel her own account, seems a bit too wordy and “off” compared to what we are used to. That’s my only criticism.
The “No flowers?”/”Don’t push it” combo was brilliant, though.
The art in this has been superb all the way through and this instalment is no exception.
The third panel on page 1 as Dredd holds the limp Cass in his arms with the city behind is powerful stuff. The composition and the muted colours work perfectly to capture this moment.
There’s also at least two panels of Anderson floating towards the light that are exceptional in quality.
The stumm gas dispensers on the bike are a new one on me but this is redeemed by the pose and position of Dredd behind the wheel/engine block of the Lawmaster.
Top prize goes to the background panel on the last page. That’s how to draw the Big Meg.
I enjoyed the Peter Milligan interview but the Emma Beeby one seemed to just hammer home that she springboarded into the gig off her friendship with Gordon Rennie.
The Hilary Robinson one was a bit of an eye opener and when they tried to get another writer to pen Medivac 318 she shot them down. I was intrigued by her “I’d love to return as long as I was guaranteed that the same nonsense wouldn’t happen again.” I’ll be honest here and say that based on the sheer awfulness such as Zippy Couriers, Medivac 318 and Chronos Carnival I’d avoid it like a prayer meeting in Kentucky.
There was also a nice piece on the IDW Rogue Trooper and Dredd titles and how the word is being spread in equal parts good and bad.
Anderson was still really good and it is refreshing to see Grant on decent form.