Preview 2000AD’s Judge Dredd Megazine #396, Out In June

by Richard Bruton

Part of our mission at Comicon.com has to be showing you comic wonders you might not see on your visits to your local comic shop. And it’s come to our attention that you might be lacking in your regular dose of Thrill Power!

2000AD is Britain’s longest-running sci-fi comic, published weekly and featuring the exploits of Judge Dredd et al. Alongside the weekly dose of 2000AD, there’s also the magnificent Megazine, published monthly and featuring longer episodes of Judge Dredd and a host of memorable characters.

Over in the USA you can get both 2000AD (in a monthly 4-Prog pack) and the Judge Dredd Megazine, but it might well be that your local comics shop doesn’t order them in. So, for the benefit of your monthly comics enjoyment, we’ve decided it’s about time you saw what delights 2000AD and the Megazine have in store for you. We present the Megazine preview… see the magnificence, order the comic!

Alongside the continuing psychedelic skysurfing in Chopper Wandering Soul and the chamber piece supernatural thriller set down in Banana City, The Returners, we bid adieu to the adventures of Cursed Earth Judge Koburn and the world of the Judge Dredd Movieverse, as well as beginning a brand new Judge Dredd tale welcoming John Higgins’ Razorjack to the streets of Mega-City One. It’s another magnificent Megazine issue… shall we take a look?

Judge Dredd: This Corrosion – Part 1 – Michael Carroll and John Higgins

Brand new Judge Dredd serial begins this issue of the Megazine. And it’s not your usual Dredd serial either. Nope, this is a special crossover tale with Dredd coming up against Razorjack, created by John Higgins back in 1999.

She’s basically Satan crossed with Genghis Khan. But more evil.

That’s how Razorjack creator John Higgins describes the demonic, other-dimensional puppet mistress according to the text piece by Karl Stock that introduces this new Dredd serial. Oh yes, didn’t I mention, not only does the Megazine give you comics, but it also gives you interviews, features, short stories and much more each month.

Anyway, back to the Dredd/Razorjack crossover. The world of Dredd has done crossovers before, most notably with Batman and Aliens, but here it’s with John Higgins’ own Razorjack, and it just looks stunning. Perhaps best known for his coloring skills in the US, Higgins’ art is full of equal delights and grotesque, as he takes on Dredd once more.

This opener is just that, setting the scene, bringing the soldiers of Rajorjack to the streets of Mega-City, executing cits and Judges without mercy. One of their prisoners tells the tale of Razorjack, and I’m surprised to hear it’s not the first time she’s touched MC-1, a specimen of her soldiers in the Black Museum. Certain doom for MC-1? Not if Dredd has anything to do with it… he’s assembling a team and intends to take the fight to the realm of Razorjack.

(Judge Dredd: This Corrosion – Part 1 –
Michael Carrol and John Higgins, colors Sally Hurst, letters Annie Parkhouse)

The Returners: Irmazhina – Part 3 – Si Spencer and Nicolo Assirelli

With the ragtag team of neer-do-wells inside the mysterious pyramid that appeared out of nowhere, we’re well into the adventure now, although getting in might have been the easiest thing, especially now they’ve already lost one of their group. Down below, there are nasty things stirring. Ancient things. And one of the group is getting better acquainted with them.

The whole idea of the closed room mystery has been used so much, but Spencer seems well in control of what he’s doing here, each episode delivering enough little snippets of character alongside the action and Assirelli’s moody visuals perfect for capturing the ever-present threats of the pyramid. Think a little bit Crystal Maze just with supernatural demonic things out there trying to kill you!

(The Returners: Irmazhina – Part 3 –
Si Spencer and Nicolo Assirelli, colors Eva De La Cruz, letters Simon Bowland)

Chopper: Wandering Spirit – Part 2 – David Baille and Brendan McCarthy

It’s perhaps the perfect storm here; Brendan McCarthy’s visuals are always staggering, psychedelic-tinged things, but when he gets to go wild with the Aboriginal imagery, those Dreamtime apparations are an amazing thing. In many ways, the story here is secondary to McCarthy’s visuals, and I’m pretty sure Baillie would be just fine with that.

But the story is there, throwing up questions, as both Chopper and his Aboriginal shaman mate, Wally, make their way through Dreamtime, whilst back, in reality, a gang of redback muties are on the hunt for them both. We’re getting a little more of what brought Chopper out here, a death on his conscience maybe, but the way Baillie and McCarthy play it we can’t be sure what’s truth, what’s Dreamtime nightmare. All we know by the end is that Chopper’s got to get back on the board, the sins of his past coming back to haunt him. He’s off to get Wally back from the muties, but he’s going to have to prevent the Dreaming from dying to do so.

Oh, this is simply a beaut, just what the Megazine is all about, the longer episode length perfect for Baillie to stretch things out more, let McCarthy go wild with the visuals. Superb.

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

Cursed Earth Koburn: The Law Of The Cursed Earth – Part 5 – Final Episode – Rory McConville and Carlos Ezquerra

The end for what’s been a damn fine series. McConville has taken the brilliantly hard-bitten Judge-Marshal Koburn and crafted a Cursed Earth tale that plays on issues of our own world, right here and now. This episode is all mop up, with Koburn putting Boyle away at last, and getting to deliver his verdict on the trouble caused. 2000AD, like all great sci-fi, when it’s at it’s finest delivers commentary on what ails us now. And McConville’s final words from Koburn are perfect. Boyle’s crackdown on muties might be over, but the long-term effects will hit hard.

“There’ll be a clampdown. More helmets. Fewer deputies. The town-ships can probably kiss their self-governance plans goodbye.
Locals probably wont be happy about any of that. Resentment will grow, followed by radicalism…

“Yep, Boyle’s lit a nice little powder keg for us.
Just have to be ready for when it goes off.”

Oh yes, McConville, alongside other newer 2000AD and Megazine writers such as Michael Carroll and Ian Williams are circling around MC-1 right now, pitching their flags in their own little patches. From these I’ve got a sense that, sooner or later, we’ll be seeing one or more of these writers explode, crafting the sort of mega-epics that rock Dredd’s world. But until that point, just seeing McConville develop into a writer that’s clearly at home in Dredd’s world is a wonderful thing. And of course, when you get to see Carlos Ezquerra’s beautifully gritty visuals effectively doing a fabulous Cowboy tale in the Cursed Earth, you simply can’t go wrong. And they didn’t.

(Cursed Earth Koburn: The Law Of The Cursed Earth – Part 5 –
Rory McConville and Carlos Ezquerra, letters Simon Bowland)

Dredd: The Dead World – Part 5 – Final Episode –  Alex De Campi, Arthur Wyatt and Henry Flint

Since the Dredd movie (the Karl Urban one, not the Stallone version!) 2000AD has put out several of these Dredd Movieverse stories. Marshaled by Arthur Wyatt, latterly working with Alex De Campi, and with spectacular art from the great Henry Flint, arguably the best modern Dredd artist, they’ve delighted us with tales of a younger, simpler Dredd. Playing with the movieverse allows us to rediscover all the classic Dredd elements. And in The Dead World, it’s been a joy (for us, not so much for Mega-City One) to see the Dark Judges appear for the first time.

But it’s been decided it’s time to retire this movieverse Dredd. I’ll not go into it any more than that, but it’s definitely a FINAL episode here. Wyatt and De Campi have obviously had the most fun delivering this ending…

“Looking up at the miserable, grey nothingness of the world directly above him, he is seized with the terrible and absolute knowledge that he is too late.
He will fail, and Mega-City One will die.”

And without giving anything away, the ending is definitive, satisfying, and right.

The Dredd movieverse just had its epic sendoff.

(Dredd: The Dead World – Part 5 – Final episode
Alex De Campi, Arthur Wyatt and Henry Flint, colors Chris Blythe, letters Annie Parkhouse)