November is upon us and before we get to usher in the worst president in US history, Orlok is getting his affairs in order. Next up, Meg 376 where we get a showdown between a ruthless, bloodthirsty nasty woman and an absolute fucking lunatic. Hey, wait a minute…
That’s a really great riff on the 2012 cover and the two cityblocks behind remind me of the pillars in King Kong (1976) to further hammer home the ape reference. With our jimpanzee wearing a version of the 2012 outfit this all seems quite a homage and I wonder if we can get a sequel with an orang-utan sporting the Stallone codpiece. We can but hope.
In short, I liked it.
In what is probably Wyatt’s best writing to date we get Stewart Perkins’s story in the pages of the Meg as a fitting tribute. Dredd appears to be in character throughout (though he isn’t in it much) and Heston is immediately likeable so that is some good work by Wyatt.
On the outskirts of Big Meg the shanty town of Megilla is now a municipality in the post Day of Chaos climate and falls under the protection of the Justice Department. Bizarrely the citizenry haven’t been brought inside the wall but fuck it, logic can go out of the window when you have a gorilla in a Judge helmet. I’m not even going to figure how this plays into the nonsensical Michael Carroll story from recent times and the border controls we saw there. We’ll just keep them completely separate from now on.
Here Jimp Heston holds sway, dishing out the vi to any lawbreakers who get within shit slinging distance and dealing with a bat burglars who look like an awful lot like Batman. There would be a great series here with Old Hairyface dealing with his very own take on adversaries.
Meanwhile Dredd deals with a very Mega City 1 malfunction with a wedding going awry but I was puzzled when he got round this by legally marrying everyone there. Did this include himself since the security system didn’t attack him? Is he now legally hitched?
I was also a little put off by the revelation that Heston has been beating on perps for months but they have only just figured out that Judges don’t use an ape in their ranks or that the differences to a normal Judge uniform is fucking obvious to anyone with eyeballs.
By the end of the episode Dredd and Heston are blown with Dredd is knocked out, leaving Heston to save the day. That’s a bit clichéd but fuck it, we’re going there.
There is some good art here though from Lynch and page 3 shows just how huge Heston is when compared to the citizenry and I loved the little book joke of Jigsaw (disease) replacing Cholera.
The art is suitably odd to convey an off kilter feeling to the tale and I do like Lynch’s design on the cityblocks. This reminds me a lot of some early McMahon with the shanty town being typically ramshackle and ugly.
There was also a nice Lawmaster design and I’m adding extra points for the image of Dredd with the robojudge on his leg. Ditto for the cake on page 4 where the figure of the groom is decapitated mirroring the groom’s actual death. With la placa rifa, Perkins and Pasternak graffiti this is hitting all the fan pleasing marks.
It was also interesting to see that Dredd has a radio on his belt. I’ve not seen that in about thirty years.
REALM OF THE DAMNED:
Though this was a funny ending we got no real surprises as to how it was going to go down. The expected pagga is there and I had a feeling that only one of the characters would be standing at the end and with his self-loathing, ruthless streak and awesome pants it seemed fitting that it should be Van Helsing.
All in all, though it was a really good story and gorgeous to look at.
Crucially, Van Helsing has beaten his assailants with the homemade UV device leading him to be there at the endgame and with Petrova and her brother facing off he heads to the vaults to retrieve Balaur’s armour, evading Team Jacob along the way.
An attempt to rationalise with Balaur fails and the undead prick has gone direct to the torture phase of the negotiations.
Interestingly, Balaur’s blessed armour when worn by Van Helsing burns him due to the changes he has undergone.
It comes down to the two of them locked in a bloody embrace before a dirty thumb in the eye socket is followed up with a brutal decapitation. There is also a nice moment as Van Helsing looks at the heart he just ripped out and ponders eating it. Presumably this will bestow on him all of his enemy’s powers but he resists this urge and destroys it, electing to remove any of the traces of his foe.
By the end of this story we are left with Petrova offering a red eyed Van Helsing the same deal she offered earlier. He can do what he wants in return for the serum so long as she is top dog. Considering that she is top dog in a poisoned realm he makes the rational decision of ripping off her noggin and placing it atop a spike in St Peter’s Square.
As he walks away muttering “Fucking vampires” there is more than a little touch of self-hatred there. As a character Van Helsing remains unlikeable, being that he is as predatory as his quarry and as damaged as they are debauched. Sadly he is our hero and that speaks volumes about the tone of the story and that smart storytelling has been a blast.
Artwise there was some beautiful spot colouring which became more evident as we go to full, blown action. The artist delivered a great punch up as Van Helsing resolves to go out fighting. You really get the sense that it is all or nothing and he is grabbing at anything he can to win the day. Sort of like Donald Trump at a beauty contest.
And I don’t think this could have finished on a better last page.
To be honest I don’t really care about the characters in this. They are not rounded enough for me and the tone of the story (band of misfits wander into dangerous territory and are picked off one at a time) has been done before and done far better.
A slight improvement on this trope is that the planet is protecting itself by mutating a host to create an apex predator which will fight the invading humans and Blunt’s simpatico with the planet is failing. He thinks that after years of harmony the planet has now turned against him too.
Though the two side stories are coming together in time what I didn’t get is that after the log drops in the water they are literally seconds away from the bank where the mother is and yet Blunt says they haven’t got time to go back for a family reunion. This falls flat and it could have been structured better if there is to be an extra chapter thrown in before the reunion takes place.
Despite all that it looks great though and Cook is at the top of his game with a gorgeous, if brutal, panel of Blunt slicing the last mutt in half.
Let’s start with the art here which is the best in the Meg by a long fucking way.
The opening train crash is so rich in detail I was stuck on it for several minutes as I drank it all in.
The detail spills over into other panels too such as the bad guys pulling up with a hard brake manoeuver and the wheels riding into the air as they do so.
Best of all though was the scene in the triage centre which was fucking immense and must have taken him weeks to do. Jesus, I’m not a fan of owning artwork for the sake of owning it but that one would be bloody gorgeous.
Storywise it flows nicely, dropping the characters back to square one after the transport is nixed. The remaining Pinkerton gang show up and start to make demands before Lawson blows them up to the awe of everyone. This is a legitimate use of force as they are a bunch of twats and it gives Winslade the chance to throw in a huge explosion for popcorn goodness.
Back in Badrock the wounded are being attended to (even the robotic Rev is helping out) and our heroes take stock knowing this is going to get worse from here on out since Badrock is cut off from the outside world and Munce will be coming to finish the job. There are to be no loose ends and no drop in share prices.
You know, what they need now is an ex-SJS maniac leading some locally trained guerrillas to save the day and kick Munce Corp off the rock once and for all.
Meanwhile on the other side of the planet, Cornel Vandersant gives the order to cleanse the place from the map with extreme prejudice. And there we leave it in typical Abnett cliffhanger style.
Thrill Power Overload- This was a great addition to the story of the Galaxy’s Greatest and was very well written. It was a bit jarring to read that Tony Lee literally got shit for writing Stalag 666. To have someone go to those lengths is quite worrying and it should never be personal. There’s nothing wrong with giving an honest opinion on what you have paid good money for and what works for you as a reader and what doesn’t but there are definitely boundaries. Sure, you can be scathing, snarky or even down right bitchy but dropping a deuce and sending it via Royal Mail is the action of a class A cunt.
It was odd to see that the 86ers was “ripe with potential” so it was a shame that it was just so poorly executed. I remember drifting off from the tale as it was tropes aplenty and it seemed to be about a blue Kara Thrace railing against the dark hand of chauvinism, so not sure where the potential was in that. As Rennie says “Space opera really wasn’t my thing”. Well, nothing has changed there as Jaegir and Hunted aren’t doing it for me either. Maybe others love it but there you go. Hopefully nobody feels happy enough about it to send him some ejaculate in the post.
Letters- Not a great deal of discussion just the usual “I like this, that was passable, etc” but we do get a brief discussion on the Dredd’s rejuvenation shenanigans from last issue. It still makes little sense.
Floppy- Want to read some Sinsiter Dexter from ten years ago? No. Me neither.
Though I have really liked Realm Of The Damned (it has been a Meg highlight) it is simply outmatched by Lawless at present. This strip is a fucking masterclass.