The Comicon Monthly Megazine Preview – Issue 404: Prelude To A New Dredd Epic + Operation Overlord

by Richard Bruton

Ladies and gentlemen, we probably have a winner for pun of the year, and it’s only January. Seriously, ‘Crystal Tips & Alien Stare’ is sublime in pun terms. And obscure as well. Perfection. (If you really need to know, it’s from kids’ TV show Crystal Tipps & Alistair, a fabulously 70s animated thing.) But, regardless of the pun, that’s a damn fine Blunt cover from series artist Boo Cook.

Anyway, it’s the first Megazine of the year, with brand new, done in one Judge Dredd, a new Storm Warning featuring the marvellous Judge Lillian Storm, and continuations of Lawless, Blunt II, and The Dark Judges.

Megazine 404 is out on 16 January in the UK and digitally, although you North American folks may have to wait awhile for your copies.

JUDGE DREDD: THE RED PRINCE DIARIES – Arthur Wyatt, Jake Lynch, colors John Charles, letters Annie Parkhouse.

I’ve long been a fan of Lynch’s angular artwork, reminiscent of the best of McMahon’s work, and it’s so good to see him on Dredd once more here. And, oh boy, he does a damn fine Dredd chin.

As for the story, it picks up a few threads from the fun Krong Island, and the tale will continue in a few months in The Red Queen’s Gambit, but The Red Prince Diaries is a done in one prelude from Wyatt and Lynch. And it’s a rather brilliantly intriguing thing, with MC-1 subject to a spate of killings, where the murderer, The Red Prince, carves the heart from his victims on the street, in full view of plenty of witnesses. Dredd is on the case, and the final scene turns up a very familiar name.

This is a great little opener for the forthcoming Red Queen’s Gambit, all tense and intriguing, full of foreshadowing, setting up the forthcoming tale so well. I read the prelude and I’m really looking forward to seeing the continuation.

LAWLESS: ASHES TO ASHES – PART 5 – Dan Abnett, Phil Winslade, letters Ellie De Ville.

Badrock was under siege from the immense power and machinery of Munce Inc. and Colonial Marshal Metta Lawson and her ragtag group of resistance fighters. And then the Zhind show up.

Which leaves us questioning just what the hell has happened inthe first few pages here, as we’re looking at a wasteland that’s blooming, with the narrator telling us that this is what’s left after Badrock died.

An old woman wanders out amongst the land, past the graveyard, with instantly recognisable, and heartbreaking, names.

In the pages that follow, we realise that this is years hence, with Badrock long gone, the woman a last survivor, the land not hers, Justice Department presence on the planet, includng the SJS Judge giving her some particularly unwelcome news. It’s an episode of quiet despair, of dark reverie. And it’s a major turning point in the tale of Lawless. And it’s quite magnificent.

STORM WARNING: GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND – PART 1 – Leah Moore, John Reppion, Tom Foster, colours – Eva Del La Cruz, letters Simon Bowland.

Well, I wasn’t expecting the last series of Storm Warning, with art from Jimmy Broxton, to spin straight into the third series, with returning co-creator Tom Foster on art once more. I’ve spoken before about my enjoyment of Storm Warning, mostly down to the portrayal of Psi-Judge Storm as everything Anderson tends not to be. Storm is grumpy as all hell, pissed off with the world, as you would be if you had to deal with the daily pressures of being a psi. But more than that, both Foster and Broxton portray her as she would look, old beyond her years, knackered constantly, worn down, exhausted by it all.

And so it is in the new serial, Green and Pleasant Land. Which is England, although I very much doubt the England of Lillian Storm is green or pleasant.

So, we open with the wonderfully grumpy Judge Lillian Storm being wonderfully grumpy while investigating a high profile murder, no signs of entry, no murder weapon, nothing on CCTV, which is why Storm’s been called in. When all else fails over in Brit Cit, they tend to assume it’s supernatural. Especially as this now makes three murders in 48-hours, all with a supernatural aspect.

Yes, I do enjoy Storm Warning, and a special note here to the very British look to things, particularly once Storm gets into Brit-Cit Psi-Div HQ, all low tech detailing, beautifully detailed by Foster.

BLUNT II – PART 5 – TC Eglington, Boo Cook, letters Simon Bowland.

That cover by Cook gives you an idea of what to expect in this episode of the organic thriller Blunt, where the survivors on the planet are only now uncovering the threat the very planet poses to them. That, and Cook’s beautifully organic artwork, has been the highlight of Blunt, with a very different approach to sci-fi, where the sheer alien-ness of the flora and fauna of the world is the danger. Eglington’s been working hard to include aspects of biology and gene theory, resulting in a great story with a scientific background to the sci-fi.

That’s the first couple of pages, but the rest of this episode is given to Ilya tripping down in the crytalline cave, with Cook going wonderfully overboard in his visuals and colouring, even getting to play fast and loose with the panel construction, all to give us a perfect sense of the wild trip Ilya’s going on.

THE DARK JUDGES: THE TORTURE GARDEN – PART 5 – David Hine, Nick Percival, letters Annie Parkhouse.

The Torture Garden takes the Dark Judges into philosophical territory, with Judge Death falling in love with poetry and waxing lyrical about all things whilst waiting for the ship full of Marines to arrive from MC-1. The survivors think it’s a rescue, but Death merely sees it as more life to extinguish and a way off planet. And as for that Marine mission… well, let’s just say things aren’t exactly going to plan there.

Finally…

In every copy of the Megazine, there’s a special bundled graphic novel. And this month (and the next three months), there’s a very special, special extra graphic novel this issue. Rebellion are publishing the epic graphic novel series Operation Overlord, by Michael Le Galli and Davide Fabbri, previously published by Editions Glenat.

Telling the story of the D-Day landings, from multiple points of view, on both sides, the series was a huge success in Europe and, with this new translation, it’s now available to an English audience. The series takes the epic nature of the mission, with more than 160,000 troops deployed to the beaches of Normandy and drills down to the personal stories of bravery, sacrifice, and honour.

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