So part 1 of the Hachette Partworks Mega collection dropped through letter boxes this week, and those of us who weren’t in the initial test areas got a chance to assess the quality of the release. Volume 1 is, of course, America By John Wagner, Colin MacNeil and Annie Parkhouse. The book itself is a sturdy hardback about trade paperback size that appears very well bound. The artwork is reduced in size from the original Megazine run and its other collected editions, but appears well reproduced throughout. After a brief introduction by Matt Smith (who in a break from convention is billed as the editor of 2000AD) we are straight into the main story. Leaving aside the much debated question of whether America is a good choice of Dredd story to start newbies with (it isn’t) the story is quickly engaging and I will be reading it again later.
The other stories included are:
The Fading of the Light by Wagner, MacNeil, Alan Craddock and Annie Parkhouse,
Cadet by Wagner, MacNeil, Chris Blythe and Annie Parkhouse,
Judgement Call by Wagner, MacNeil, Blyhte and Parkhouse,
Firehouse by Garth Ennis, Colin MacNeil and Tom Frame,
Snowstorm by Ennis, MacNeil and Frame.
The book is rounded off with an essay by Michael Molcher about the importance of America as a launching point for the Judge Dredd Megazine. DVD extras include some preliminary character sketches by MacNeil, and the various covers. We know that the amount of extra features in future volumes will vary depending on the length of the stories they cover, as there is a fixed page count for the books.
The other goodie in the pack is the fold out poster which includes some introductory stuff about Dredd and his world. On the back is a huge version (60 x 89 cm) of the Brian Bolland poster from Megazine 350. The free gifts start arriving later, quite a bit later for some of them as they encourage us to keep our subscriptions running, but that’s the way of the world.
Overall, it’s a pretty impressive package for the £2.99 I paid for the first issue. Prices start to jump from here on in so there may be a point when the returns don’t outweigh the outlay. We’ll see. In the meantime I am settling down to read America yet again.