The Comicon Monthly Megazine Preview – Issue 409: The Red Queen Makes Her Move

by Richard Bruton

The Monthly Megazine – the regular Comicon preview of all things Megazine, the monthly sister publication to 2000 AD.

This month, two brand new strips I’ve been looking forward to starting since first hearing about them, Diamond Dogs and The Red Queen’s Gambit begins in Judge Dredd. There’s also a return to Banana City in The Returners and final episodes for two great series; Lawless sees the end of Marshal Metta Lawson’s adventure for now and there’s a suitably terrifying finale for the Dark Judges on Dominion in The Torture Garden. All of it under a Nick Percival cover capturing the whole horror of the Dark Judges.

Megazine Issue 409 is out in the UK and on digital on 19th June. Everywhere else- it will get to you eventually, make sure to ask for it by name at your LCS.

JUDGE DREDD: THE RED QUEEN’S GAMBIT – PART 1 – Arthur Wyatt, Jake Lynch, colors John Charles, letters Annie Parkhouse.

Dredd takes on the might of the Euro crime syndicate La Reine Rouge, continuing the fascinating plot threads from previous Wyatt and Lynch collaborations.

This is an organisation with a long reach, all the way to the moons of Saturn, hacking the robo-guards and freeing uplift convict Serpico Heston. An organisation that’s almost completely consolidated the Euro crime syndicates, and an organisation that includes the clone of Orlok the Assassin, in the form of the Red Prince. But running the syndicates is merely the start of it. The Red Queen wants to become a world power, targeting the anarchist Meditteranean Free States as their power base.

This is the joy of a good Dredd. It’s not all about Dredd simply going in and smashing heads. This is all about the build-up, with Judge Maitland looking at hitting the syndicate through finances rather than brute force. So, off goes Dredd, on a diplomatic mission, surveilled all the way. And it’s a great way to start this series off.

Lynch is surely becoming another one of the great modern Dredd artists, alongside the likes of Chris Weston, PJ Holden, Patrick Goddard, and Henry Flint. It’s been a pleasure seeing his art get better and better over the last few years… and here it’s on spectacular form.

LAWLESS: ASHES TO ASHES – PART 10 – Dan Abnett, Phil Winslade, letters Ellie De Ville.

Badrock has gone through the mill in ashes to ashes but now, six weeks on from the events of the last episode, things are getting better. Settlers are coming in, there’s an SJS taskforce in town, and new companies lining up to make their home in the brand new Freetown of Badrock. Metta Lawson’s grand plan is getting started, where humanity and Zhind coexist.

Some fabulous moments, as we say our goodbyes this time, including a perfect bit of Lawless comedy with the four SJS Judges stationed in Badrock…

The best news is… this isn’t the last we’ll see of Lawless. Next up, before the end of the year, we’re rejoining Badrock in Boom Town.

DIAMOND DOGS – PART 1 – James Peaty, Warren PLeece, letters Simon Bowland

Brit-Cit where the modern Mega-City dwarfs the last remnants of the old Britain. Inside the ruins, the street gangs fight over territory, with The Diamond Dogs one of the biggest and baddest, run by Jimmy Slick.

But Jimmy’s lieutenant, Nia Jones, is not all she seems. Because, when she’s not running with the Dogs, she’s doing this…

That’s the set-up for the new Brit-Cit saga from Peaty and Pleece, where Nia plays both sides and not from her own choosing.

And damn, it’s great to see Pleece’s distinctive artwork back in the Megazine. Diamond Dogs really does have all the hallmarks of a fabulous new strip.

THE RETURNERS: CHANDHU – PART 1 – Si Spencer, Nicolo Assirelli, colors by Eva De La Cruz, letters by Simon Bowland

In the first Returners, we met four unique people, academic Barrancourt, ex-Judge Mineiro, gangbanger Correira, and transgender street-walker Chavez in Ciudad Barranquilla, Banana City, one of the most corrupt and lawless places on Earth.

They all woke from their near-death experiences with new-found abilities to deal with the supernatural and cursed with immortality but not invulnerability.

But in Chandhu, the four are sent well away, dropped unceremoniously into The Mongolian Free Zone. The reason why they’ve been dropped into this cesspool of terrorists and pirates is simple… they received a message from the astrophysicist niece of the Sino-Cit Chief Judge… “Send the four who returned”. So they do. I’m imagining there’s more to it than that, something we’ll be finding out in the months to come. But they’re going to be going deep into trouble once more, that’s for sure…

In the meantime, it’s good enough to just go with it and really enjoy Assirelli’s artwork, all big open pages, minimal panels, a real lightness of touch and some great work.

THE DARK JUDGES: THE TORTURE GARDEN – PART 10 – David Hine, Nick Percival, letters Annie Parkhouse.

The marines are here on Dominion with a doomsday device that needs one of them to stay to trigger it, the only hope of getting rid of the Dark Judges.

It’s a strangely downbeat ending, Hine delivering an anthem of hope amongst all the darkness to close the book. But, as we all know, it’s so hard to keep a Dark Judge down for good.

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