No Prog or Meg reviews from me this month, let’s just say they are both on terrific form, but you probably know that already. Instead let’s turn to the lovely hardback which dropped into the sweaty hands of most 2000AD readers recently, John Wagner and Greg Staples’ lovingly crafted Dark Justice.
First and foremost is the look and the feel of the book which as most reviewers have already observed resembles a good old fashioned Christmas annual. It looks and feels wonderful with a stunning cover and the dramatic endpapers illustrating Staples’ glorious art. Just holding it brings back those wonderful feelings of when you got a top annual in your stocking. Jumpers for goalposts and all that. Marvellous.
Story wise it does read better as a single volume. It’s quite clear what its inspirations were and it plays out quite nicely in a fiends on a space plane fashion. There are a number of unanswered or half answered questions such as how Judge Death returned exactly, how fast the Justice department ship must have traveled to catch the Mayflower, and how far out of our solar system they are stranded at the end of the story. Anderson seems to survive a lethal attack from Death, Dredd is issued with a new Mark 3 Lawgiver whose only purpose is to jam at a crucial moment and leave Joe using farm implements and harsh language to defend himself. I’d also like to know how poor old Logan is getting on and, of course, what happened to P.J.Maybe, who surely must still be alive to return in a future story.
John Wagner is the heart and soul of 2000AD, the Goliath who has shaped Dredd’s universe from day one. He has produced some of the best comic writing ever in stories like America, Mandroid and Day of Chaos. Dark Justice doesn’t quite hit those heights and maybe John really is finished with the Dark Judges, but it’s still a very entertaining read.
Turning to the art and I’m going to run out of superlatives for the products of two year’s hard work by Greg Staples. On this lovely glossy paper in the beautiful hardback it all just pops. It’s stunning and clearly worth the price of admission alone. Hopefully the lucky so and so who bought all the original pages will exhibit them in a gallery somewhere so we can all go along and drool over them.
Tharg has also given us plenty of extras. It’s fascinating to read the exchange of emails between the creators as Greg persuades John to write a new Judge Death story. Then there are the covers in all their glory, Steve Green’s 3D designs for the new Lawgiver, Greg’s sketches and the intermediate stages on the way to the production of final pages. Plus there are a couple of images from the photo shoot which Greg used to plan some of the action scenes. And if you can tear your eyes away from the lovely Lauren Stables you might recognise Steve Green and Senior Street Judge Burdis hanging out with the cool kids again. That’s what we want, Mr Tharg, pages of extras that we can feast our eyes on.
Overall it may not be the best Judge Dredd story ever but it’s certainly one of the most beautifully illustrated, and presented in this excellent hardback format it’s a winner. There’s a lot of tugging on the purse strings of the avid 2000AD fan at the moment, and yes some of those new figures do look pretty great, but come on you have to have this back on your shelf. It’s pretty cheap on Amazon but they suck, buy it from the 2000AD shop instead, or better yet get it in your local comic shop if you are lucky enough to have such a thing, and let’s keep this Rebellion revival rolling along.
Dark Justice, clearly 10/10 and recommended to all. I’m now off to lovingly caress something hard and glossy again.