Preview 2000AD’s Monthly Judge Dredd Megazine #395, Out In May

by Richard Bruton

Alongside our regular previews of the main 2000AD title here at Comicon.com, we’re also planning on giving you a taster of its sister comic, The Megazine. Actually, probably more the big brother comic, but you get the idea. Since 1990, it’s been giving us Brits a monthly extra-long, extra dose of Dredd, along with characters, old and new from some incredible talent.

Now, as for getting hold of this monthly title, you might have a bit of trouble. US retailers, on the whole, aren’t too great at getting the best pair of Brit sci-fi comics on their racks. Add in the fact that the distributors never seem sure exactly when the Megazine is coming out in the US and it’s all too easy to miss a cracking comic.

So, it’s our mission is to get you intrigued enough to head into your local comic shop and ask them to get both 2000AD and the Megazine in stock, and ordered for you.

Now, we’re starting off with a spectacular new series in the Megazine, with the return of fan favourite Sky Surfer Chopper. The cover from the always incredible Brendan McCarthy should give you an idea of just what amazing visuals you’re going to see inside. But alongside Chopper, we get Dredd going ape in Krong Island, a mystery manifestation in the middle of the most corrupt Mega-City on Earth in The Returners, the return of maverick Judge Koburn in the Cursed Earth, and a very final feeling series for the Dredd movie tales. Time to dive inside…

Judge Dredd: Krong Island – Part 4 (final episode) – Arthur Wyatt and Jake Lynch

Not perfect to lead of with the final episode of the latest Dredd tale, but this one’s rather special.

A little background on the characters of Krong Island first… There are many incredibly talented 2000AD fans out there, and some of them love to play around with the characters they love. One great thing 2000AD have always done is respected the fans who want to get involved. Instead of cracking down on various 2000AD fanzines and self-published comics featuring the copyrighted characters, 2000AD are actually pretty damn supportive.

One such comic was 1999’s ‘Class of ’79‘ Dredd fanzine. And inside that comic, along with tales from future 2000AD artists PJ Holden, Rufus Dayglo, Henry Flint, John Hicklenton, and Boo Cook, there was a strip featuring Harry Heston. This genetically modified gorilla with a love of reading and a passion for justice, all thanks to Judge Dredd’s inspirational text, “The Comportment Of A Judge” was co-created by Jake Lynch and writer WR Logan, the pen name of 2000AD superfan Stewart Perkins. One of Perkins’ dreams was to get his Ape Judge Heston into official Dredd ‘canon’, something that finally happened in a strip debuting in Megazine 376. Although Perkins knew of the debut, he sadly passed away far too young to see Harry in print.

And here in Krong Island, Harry’s co-creator Jake Lynch on art and Arthur Wyatt writing, it’s time for more apeing around with Harry Heston. Following rebellion on the ape-run Krong Island, Dredd has teamed up with Harry Heston. And it’s been a brilliantly daft, wonderfully fun 4-part series, coming to a very satisfying conclusion here, complete with a rather emotional finale for Harry. He did his co-creator proud.

Arthur Wyatt’s told the tale well, acknowledging the more ridiculous aspects and still giving us a good little Dredd tale. But it’s Jake Lynch’s art that really shines here. He’s raised his game, getting the epic scale just right, capturing Harry’s heroic side, and really impressing with his version of Judge Dredd. Just have a look at the art below… I’m seeing some very nice Mick McMahon inspired touches… especially those boots!

(You can read an interview with Wyatt and Lynch on all things Harry at the official 2000AD Blog.)

(Judge Dredd: Krong Island –
Arthur Wyatt and Jake Lynch, colors John Charles, letters Annie Parkhouse)

The Returners: Irmazhina – Part 2 – Si Spencer and Nicolo Assirelli

In the world of Dredd, living in Mega-City One might be pretty crappy. But it could be worse, you could live in Ciudad Barranquilla, South America. The ‘Banana City’ makes MC-1 look like a utopian dream. There’s poverty and corruption everywhere, with the Justice Department bought and paid for by the cartels.

In part one of Irmazhina, four very different people awoke from near-death experiences with new psi-powers just as a Justice Department building disappeared, replaced by something ancient, complete with a forcefield only these four can get through. So, in they go, the disgraced ‘Banana City’ Judge alongside a street hooker, a gang boss, and “a nerd facing a charge so weird we don’t even have a name for it.

And so starts a classic closed room thriller, done 2000AD style. Writer Spencer describes it as

It’s kinda Dirty Dozen meets Indiana Jones… but with a vengeful, murdering pre-Columbian goddess.

Two episodes in and all is looking really solidly good. I’m particularly liking the textures of Assirelli’s artwork, really adding a layer of proper grime to each scene.

(The Returners: Irmazhina –
Si Spencer and Nicolo Assirelli, colors Eva De La Cruz, letters Simon Bowland)

Cursed Earth Koburn: The Law Of The Cursed Earth – Part 4 – Rory McConville and Carlos Ezquerra

Judge-Marshal Koburn patrols the radioactive wastes outside the Mega Cities, a firm favorite for 2000AD fans created by Gordon Rennie and Carlos Ezquerra. Sarcastic, lover of booze and cigars, and about as far from Dredd as you can get. Again, you join the series most of the way into its 5-part run, but it’s a pretty easy pickup. Koburn’s been having trouble with his fellow Judge-Marshal Boyle and right in the middle of an anti-Mutie conspiracy. Koburn might be many things, but even Dredd grudgingly admits he’s bloody good at dispensing justice out here.

Relative newcomer McConville (he won the 2000AD writer’s pitch contest at Thought Bubble Convention in 2015) really has nailed the tone for Koburn, and pairing him with the legend that is Ezquerra has meant Koburn looks and feels just so right.

(Cursed Earth Koburn: The Law Of The Cursed Earth –
Rory McConville and Carlos Ezquerra, letters Simon Bowland)

Chopper: Wandering Spirit – David Baille and Brendan McCarthy

Now, here’s the big strip for the issue. Chopper is one of 2000AD’s legendary characters, created by John Wagner, Alan Grant, and Ron Smith (with a fair bit of input from Brendan McCarthy along the way), Marlon Shakespeare’s life began as a simple graffiti artist turned champion sky surfer. along the way, he clashed with Judge Dredd many times before eventually finding something of a peace out in the Oz radback wastes. In less than 100 issues, Chopper’s become one of the most beloved and enduring of characters.

It’s some 14 years after we last saw Chopper, and it’s now down to David Baillie and Brendan McCarthy to sing another song of the surfer. This 5-part story finds him out in the radback, still surfing the megathermals for his own pleasure. He’s been taken in by a nomadic Aboriginal tribe, and life seems good. But this is Chopper, and trouble always finds him, it’s just taken its time this time round.

David Baillie sets about his first major 2000AD series with gusto in here, but frankly, this is Brendan McCarthy’s show all the way. face it, we have a visionary decorating these pages. His style always evokes psychedelics, but tied with exotic Aborigine designs it’s just gorgeous.

(Chopper: Wandering Spirit – David Baille and Brendan McCarthy, letters Ellie De Ville)

Dredd: The Dead World – Part 4 – Alex De Campi, Arthur Wyatt and Henry Flint

Finally this issue, it’s a different sort of Dredd. Ever since the excellent Karl Urban movie came out, 2000AD have been doing Dredd movieverse stories, with a younger, simpler Dredd. Arthur Wyatt and Alex De Campi have been doing great things with these tales, and in Henry Flint, you have one of the very best Dredd artists giving us some epic visuals here.

As you might guess from the title, this time round, the movieverse Mega-City One is going to get its first visit from those Dark Judges of Deadworld. It’s never been a good thing when they pitch up in Judge Dredd tales, but this Dredd movieverse series is being billed as the final series, so we’re expecting to see even more death and destruction than usual from Judge Death and the gang. basically, it’s all gonna go to hell, with Dredd right in the middle of things.

Four episodes in, and it’s been a truly epic Dredd tale, movie or not. There’s that incredible sense of utter doom stalking MC-1 here, all beautifully illustrated by Flint. The apocalypse is coming, and damn, it looks great.

(Dredd: The Dead World – Part 4 –
Alex De Campi, Arthur Wyatt and Henry Flint, colors Chris Blythe, letters Annie Parkhouse)

%d bloggers like this: