November has come and (almost) gone without the Megacast Ladies stepping away from the gin and picking up the Skype, so here is Orlok with his own review of Meg 377.
A nice cover from Dylan Teague featuring a gammy handed Anderson gripping her Lawgiver with resolve. My only quibble is that her face seems quite protruding, almost like she is part mutant telepath and part baboon. There’s a good level of detail though and it does convey the dual strength and vulnerability of the character in one look.
Lynch pulls off some nice stuff here with the Jimpanzee being abandoned in a banana box and his torment at the cruel hands of what appears to be America Jara and Bennett Beeny (even though we know it cannot be them due to the timescales involved). Top marks too for the look of the ape prostitute on the street. Or is this a shot of modern day Swansea?
I also liked the panel of Heston swinging on a tyre in the bookshop and this reminded me a lot of the Librarian in the Unseen University.
Speaking of which, the art reminds me in a few places of the Monkey Business At Charles Darwin Block story, so McMahonish are the apes. I really loved the old school style H-Wagon too which is a real Carlos Special.
Best of all though is the top of page 8, panel 2 which is a great riff on the Karl Urban Dredd still.
Fittingly, the last panel has a banana, a Judge badge and the number 79, which is a nice tribute to Stewart Perkins.
This time out we get some backstory and an unexpectedly sharp resolution to the tale.
Outcast from both human and ape society due to being raised by the skinfaces, Heston’s last remaining parent is murdered by crims and thus he hooks onto the Comportment which drives his code based vengeance. It transpires that Heston has scavenged his uniform from dead Judges (were they wearing the 2012 version of the uniform, then?) and this makes him somewhat less honourable in picking at the dead. But I guess needs must and all that.
This character building was nice enough but I think that setting aside (and it is a cool concept) the story failed as a whole because it became a by the numbers tale that overlooked several things for plot convenience. This isn’t 1981 and the readership is generally more aware of the back catalogue and what has gone before.
As suspected, Dredd’s evident belt radio from last issue is detached meaning he cannot call for back up. If only he had a helmet mike or something, eh?
Then there is the bike. Lawmasters have inbuilt defences and would at a bare minimum alert the department if tampered with and disposed of. Here, the perps drop it into a rad pit like it is a scooter.
Then we also get the bully ape showing up and starting to beat on Heston because he has been doing his Jimpanzee work. Again, why now? Heston has been doing this for months so it’s all plot convenience which could have been done smarter.
Then there is Grover’s Mill, where Heston apparently grew up on a farm at one stage. What the hell? That’s within the Big Meg boundaries according to every map we have seen so since when does the city have farmland and barns?
I suppose we just have to take this tale as non-canonical and have fun with it. It is after all, a world where Dredd has a “World’s Best Judge” mug.
Hmmm. Yeah, I’m really just trying to power through this as it holds nothing of value in the story for me. It was interesting that Ilya suspects Blunt has some psi powers as he seems to be one with the planet and can see shit before it happens but the rest is just bland.
It seems that the separation last week was simply there to provide that “Tarzan” moment and the expected reunion finally culminates in some parental abuse. Lovely to see.
At the end of this Blunt goes hand to hand with the Apex Predator and just when he thinks he has killed it, the creature rises again in true 80s action fashion.
The art however is still the strongest thing about this strip and the last panel of page 2 shows how big Blunt is compared to Ilya. He really is a hulking corn fed monster. I love the colour palette which really brings out the fauna on show be it rock headed sexapeds splashing through the mud, four eyed headless monkeys swinging through the trees or a bird with a glowing arse (which I haven’t seen since that incident with the tabasco sauce in Bangkok). Best of all was the embarrassing image of our titular hero pulling his best Johnny Weissmuller and bringing a big smile to Ilya’s face.
Firstly, I love the dusty feel of the art and this is a far cry from the work on Necrophim back in the day.
The background work is superb and I noticed the Judge helmets on display as trophies (complete with skulls), children in cages, more helmets acting as candle holders and even a Brain Bloom in the window. That’s some clever stuff from the artist as despite the setting he is grounding this firmly in Dredd’s world.
Pa Angel is going about his business and in the course of defending the innocent, manages to piss off some local Hills Have Eyes motherfuckers.
The kid in the hole at the start just has to be Fink and it seems that Pa will accumulate kids this way rather than impregnating Ma Angel until she finally pops off. We have only seen (canonically) that Junior Angel was born to Pa’s “wife” so maybe this will mirror that. I guess then, this could be in continuity but we’ll have to wait and see because this seems like a very different Elmer “Pa” Angel to what we are used to.
Since this version of Elmer has some scruples, he smacks a member of the Kreegs for making eyes at Linc, giving him a final warning to get fucked. When he catches him again he lops off his hand, leading to some bad blood and a reprisal next issue.
There is a nice nod to the look of the Angels themselves in the form of the Kreeg gang that have bowler hats, a psychotic patriarch and one member with a metal head.
Alt universe concerns aside (if it is, why do we need it?) the build-up for this is really good so far and the art compliments it well.
The script flows well and like Absalom before it I have difficulty believing this is the same writer of Jaegir.
The art here is crisp and augmented by some great colours from O’Grady.
The 2012 bike is well rendered here and it looks pretty meaty from the outset. There are some cracking panels too of Anderson climbing the stairs and encountering the desperate souls tenanted in this shithole. Each one tells us at a glance all we need to know about their situation.
Focussing on Anderson’s eyes alone, the artist pulls off a good expression of horror as she locks minds with the possessed Miguel.
Post Peach Trees, Anderson is losing her focus and taking extra training sessions to cope with this issue. And here we get a good cut from the brutality of the training to the reality of the streets where she is dishing out the violence for real.
Called to an incident that requires her talents, there is some nice character work as Anderson reads Judge Cardenas and pulls a memory from his childhood, giving this otherwise faceless Judge a bit of context and moving him from a one note background setter to a human being.
Her hunch and procedural search of the apartment plays out and this is great investigative writing and clever scene building to establish a sense that she is an officer of the Law first and foremost. It also gives us some valuable insight into what is happening in Miguel’s life without having an info dump from a bad guy in the middle of a gunfight.
The voice in Miguel is a bit Death-like and references Peach Trees, using Anderson’s fear from that encounter against her, so clearly there is something supernatural hidden below the surface here if he knows what went on there.
Meanwhile the cartel has come for their man and take out Cardenas during the Day of the Dead celebrations. Anderson is therefore on her own again.
Bottom line this was really good and it is honestly a shame he is not writing the regular Anderson strip cos this is tight, interesting and flows well.
Thrill Power Overload- The new chapters continue, this time going into the thinking process behind bringing back Johnny Alpha. Controversy aside, it was a bold choice.
It was revelatory to see that Alec Worley wishes he could rewrite Age of the Wolf. I wish he could do that too as there was a great concept in there that went awry. He also calls bullshit on the “strong female character” nonsense, quite correctly stating that gender, sexual orientation or race should not be the focus and that a strong character is a strong character regardless of any other facets. Filling in anything else to meet a quota or to drive an agenda is bullshit.
We also learn that there are unlikely to be any further Rogue Trooper stories from Gerry Finley-Day due to his fractious relationship with Rebellion. Unfortunate news but that’s no excuse to give it to another writer, though, is it? Didn’t they learn anything from the last time they tried this?
Distressingly it seems that Arthur Ranson has retired and that’s devastating because his work is outstanding. Also distressing is that Grant has had to come back out of retirement to make ends meet. Not that I dislike his work (it has its moments and he can write some brilliant satire) but it is sad to see any of our childhood heroes taking a bath in the recession. Fuck knows what Brexit will bring.
Letters- We get some questions about the reprints now that there is a wealth of Egmont back material in the Rebellion coffers. It would be a great idea for the floppies because this would be material that we may not already have so would be well worth buying the Meg every month for that alone. But I am sure there will be a profit motive first before driving Meg sales and pleasing the faithful.
Interrogations-There was a 4 pager with Farinas and Freitas and having picked up the first 7 issues of their work in the hopes it would get better (it didn’t) I disagree completely with the direction they have taken, even though it was a brave attempt. Luckily the Crystal Skull of Dredd stories ends in issue 12 and IDW will probably try a reboot until some of it sticks. They should just get Michael Carroll in to be fair as he would deliver something that is Dreddish that would suit the needs of the core fans and new readers. Hell, he could develop his own Carrollverse stories there and knock that fucker out of the park.
Anyway, of the pages about 60% of it is given over to artwork, which is just padding.
The other 4 pager with Tom Foster is decent enough.
Floppy- Malone features some amazing art from Coleby and has a good twist with *that* reveal. The rest of the floppy is not as lucky in either regard.
I think it was neck and neck between Angelic and Anderson this time so we have a photo-finish for once.