Orlok is moving house so in a sporadic effort to get something done, here’s a second Meg review for this week…
I liked this, though it is not without a few flaws.
Fabry’s work is always gorgeous to look at and he really knows how to bring seemingly impossible poses to life. Hard H plucking the badge from his fallen enemy speaks volumes about the situation and you know from a glance that things are looking bad for Old Stoneyface. Nice boots, too!
And the quibbles? Dredd is meant to be a broken man at this point in the tale and yet the only real evidence of that is the slight bit of blood on his leg and a torn uniform. He looks more like he has been dragged through a hedge than beaten into submission by an enraged mutant orang-utan. Where’s the battered helmet and smashed teeth?
And there’s a distinct lack of a boot holster there- schoolboy error!
The main villain makes his play and it is straight from the film The Warriors.
The art is still stunning. From the off we get something we have never seen before, with a smashed up respirator with all the workings exposed.
Dredd also looks very much like a denizen of South Wales housing estate with those smashed teeth. Still, it isn’t the first time he has had them knocked out and you wonder why he hasn’t gotten implants that do away with the nerve problems.
I liked the overhead of the road on page 2 where you can see the Judges piecing together the clues and discovering the massive footprints at the scene.
I have no idea how that huge truck carrying Dredd squeezed through that small gate at the Brain Cox Observatory, though. It would be like trying to sodomise a gerbil.
I loved the looks of the various mutants with the Sector 3 gang looking like a Westworld tribute act.
The last panel on page 3 is particularly rich in detail with what appears to be The Hulk crushing some poor bastard and two of the Stix Brothers obscured by a word balloon.
I loved the look of Spud who has a necklace of body parts including a severed Johnson and Carlucci is evidently meant to be a Wilson Fisk tribute.
The V mask during the riots was noticed too and I did like the O’Hanrahahan reference which had me going all misty eyed for The Day Today. The thrown Judge helmet obscuring part of the sign was an excellent touch.
Best of the bunch was page 8 which had a background panel featuring the mutations of the Cursed Earth as well as a number of panels shaped like a Justice Shield showing the action inside the Manta.
Storywise, the dialogue is again a bit clunky and I was cringing at some of the lines, especially when Fryer barges into Hershey’s office. It isn’t like Hershey has bodyguards or anything, is it?
Fryer was apparently “badly injured” and in Med Bay, yet all she has is a neck brace and she still managed to dress herself in her full uniform before confronting the Chief Judge. Wow, I guess seeing Hershey wasn’t quite as urgent as getting fully dressed then, yeah? Unless she was in the treatment bed in uniform this whole time.
Hershey’s character is once again off kilter as she orders the searching vehicles back to the Big Meg for a rethink? Really? You’d pull them off your only leads knowing what is at stake?
The idea of getting the various gangs from the Big Meg together and having them unite to take over in the realisation that they outnumber the Law is lifted straight from The Warriors and even Cook appears to be in on this nod as one of the gang members is wearing a “Can you dig it?” t-shirt in tribute to the leader of the Grammercy Riffs.
What struck me as weird is that main bad guy offers Carlucci the keys to the organisation and when Carlucci turns him down he springs a trap at the very spot he needs to in order to send the fat man to his death. What if Carlucci had walked in the other direction? What if he had said yes? Would the bad guy just have stepped aside and let him run the show?
It was a nice move to have Dredd tossed out of the van and disbelieving gangsters stopping fighting in awe. That was a concept that did actually work.
Elsewhere, a big song and dance is made of the citizens having five riots in five hours because Dredd is missing and presumed dead. So, let’s get this straight…the story “Missing” saw Dredd out of the picture for a lot longer than that with no apparent sign of it going tits up and that was not the first story to feature Dredd vanishing without trace. Add to the fact that Justice Dept need not actually tell the cits anything at all, certainly not in mere hours.
And what are the cits actually rioting for? Surely if he were dead they’d be more inclined to celebrate rather than riot at the prospect of his return. It’s just badly thought out.
Amazingly, Judge Smiley turns up here for no good reason. He’s a pointless character now and should be treated as such. I re-read Trifecta recently and it just annoyed me.
Oh, unless Smiley shows up again next month to stop the H-Wagon crashing into Dredd at the last possible second…
So, yeah, art aside this isn’t working for me at all.
TALES FROM THE BLACK MUSEUM:
A serial killer decides to go after Judge Death
An intriguing one this as it harks back to the grim days of Necropolis and features an unlikely “hero” in the form of a serial killer. Disappointed at the easy pickings offered by the Dark Judges controlling the city he realises that Death and co have taken all the fun out of it and decides to strike back in the only way he knows how. Of course, he offs his family in a rare moment of joy in order to beat Death to it, showing his skewed sense of priority and compassion.
It was nice to also see Kraken again too and served as a reminder that the Judges were under the brutal control of the Dark Jays.
At the end of this we are left with the prospect that a zombified version of him is still out there somewhere carrying on Death’s work.
The art by Jake Lynch is absolutely gorgeous. He does a damned good Death (the first reveal is a belter) and his dark and heavy linework really bring out the leaden pall of the Big Nec.
The last panel of page 1 gives an indication of the scale of the slaughter with bodies piled up like driftwood.
The panels of our protagonist stealthy creeping up on Death were superb too and show great layout choices.
THE MAN FROM THE MINISTRY:
A pared down Govt department is called back into action.
I liked this and it was good to see Gordon Rennie as the FIRST MALE WRITER of Man From The Ministry.
There were enough references to other cultural icons to keep me interested. The Bray Studios nod was clearly a UFO homage with the Lightnings being the interceptors of the day.
The cutbacks were also well realised with the Ministry resorting to dynamite and flamethrowers instead of grenades. How cruel and unusual.
The Newton crashing to Earth and surprising a very modern cavorting couple was also nice.
The art from Kev Hopgood was a real eye opener. This is a long way from his work on Night Zero and Dry Run and it was a pleasure to see his work has evolved signifiantly. The opener of the souped up English Electric Lightnings doing battle in orbit with the alien menace was amazing as was the look of terror on the sentient alien carrots as they fell victim to Stanley’s flames.
HMS Newton also looked like something out of the pages of Eagle and was a real nostalgia piece.
Rey continues his assault and Cass decides to go out in the open.
Dredd’s use of the “safety shot” (safe for everyone except the target) as taught to him by Morphy was nicely done. He’d given the target every opportunity before he put one in her head.
I don’t feel Dredd’s dialogue has been quite right here though and he seems overly chatty.
Rey’s use of a pyro to try and torch Psi Div is innovative and this takes a turn for the gruesome when one unfortunate officer has his head melted outside the armoury.
We’re set for a final showdown next time as Dredd is out for the count and only Cass can stop things.
The art is simply stunning with smart layouts from the off. The “psi flash” on page 1 was very well done indeed. This was followed smoothly with Dredd pulling his gun, the realisation from the Psi/Rey that Anderson is still alive and the muzzle smoke from the recently fired Lawgiver.
Even the panels later are cleverly rendered with panel 6 on page 3 showing Anderson as seen from waist height on Shenker and Dredd. Some lovely expressions for Shenker here too.
The colourful view of the protesters was nicely done against the rebuilding of the Big Meg and there is a tremendous close up of Rey’s eyes later on with the Tri-D reflected in them.
The interview with Buckingham was good but overlong.
The Summer Special expose was pointless. If you bought it, this was irrelevant. If you didn’t buy it, why would you want to read this?
The text story ended well with the bent Judge getting a suitable reward; though after “Titan” it could be all change.
The floppy is yet more painfully awful Janus and a mediocre and confusing Karyn story.
Still Anderson by a long, long way.