The Monthly Megazine Issue #426: Dredd And The End Of America?

by Richard Bruton

The Monthly Megazine – doing just what it says, taking you through the latest goings-on in the sister monthly to 2000 AD. From Dredd to Death, a little look-see inside the latest…

Cover by Tim Napper

Another month, another collection of five Megazine strips… so that means it’s the next instalments in Megatropolis, Dreadnoughts, The Returners, and Deliverance. Plus the conclusion to the latest John Wagner penned Dredd – ‘The Victims of Bennett Beeny’.

The latest Megazine hits shops and digital on 18 November. Of course, in the UK right now it’s Lockdown 2, the return of quarantine, so getting hold of a copy might take a bit of doing – phone that newsagents for delivery, get one put aside at your local comic shop… and keep safe, mask up, wash your hands.

Okay then, shall we venture inside?

JUDGE DREDD: THE VICTIMS OF BENNETT BEENY – PART 3 – John Wagner, Dan Cornwell, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Just three episodes of this one and it’s transformed from a simple Total War takeover of the rich BB Block to possibly a final Wagner coda to the America Jara saga.

After all, all those rich folk who’ve died here in the Total War takeover of Bennett Beeny Block are far from the only victims on Bennett Beeny.

Wagner’s input on Dredd has been reducing over the last however many years, with ‘Day of Chaos’ being his last really big storyline. And his finale has to happen sometime. It might be a thing he decides and gets announced, or it may simply be that, a few years later, we look back and realise that something like this was his final moment of Dredd. And, you know what, if ‘The Victims of Bennett Beeny’ is that moment, then it would be a fine little moment to bow out on.

And, although this was meant to be a Wagner and Colin MacNeil gig, you have to give full credit to Dan Cornwell for stepping in and absolutely making this his own. He’s long been a Dredd artist, but this three-parter seems to have really cemented him as a mainstay for Dredd for many years into the future.

MEGATROPOLIS – PART 3 – Kenneth Niemand, Dave Taylor, letters by Jim Campbell

The alt-MC-1 storyline continues, with reporter Bernice Hershey reliving just what happened to her… all of it involving the ongoing corruption in this retro-futurist nightmare.

Turns out her rescuer was – well, we’re not entirely sure, but whatever he/it was, they were dressed like a Judge of sorts and were definitely wielding a lawgiver…

Dredd? Who knows, but it’s looking more than likely, after all, he’s pretty much the only MC-1 character that hasn’t shown up yet in one form or another.

Whoever he/it is, they’re on the side of the angels here, and there are precious few of them. Rico, Amy Jara, maybe DA McGruder and a few of her boys, but that’s really it.

So, LA Confidential in MC-1 continues apace, giving us the real Elroy vibe amongst some typically gorgeous looking Dave Taylor artwork. It’s a fine tale, hitting all the beats just right.

DREADNOUGHTS – BREAKING GROUND – PART 3 – Michael Carroll, John Higgins, colours by Sally Hurst, letters by Simon Bowland

Judge Glover, newly appointed Judge in the world before the time that that was all there was to law enforcement, is on a mission to investigate a kidnapped child, an investigation that’s taken her to a survivalist group, home to the estranged mother of the child.

Watching Glover work here really does cut to the essence of Dreadnoughts, the way she commands any situation she’s in, the distrust of all around her – citizens and cops, the single-minded determination she has to deal with everything.

Carroll writes her really well, using her experiences here, on the ground, to show us what’s happening across the country as the Judges take over law enforcement and the judiciary.

And Higgins and Hurst’s artwork is shining through as very special, especially with that opening in the pouring rain.

THE RETURNERS – HEARTSWOOD – PART 3 – Si Spencer, Nicolo Assirelli, colours by Eva De La Cruz, letters by Simon Bowland

The Returners venture into a haunted house, giving Assirelli plenty of chance to go large, as his Returners pages tend to be, with the haunted stuff, whether that’s ghostly military creatures with hidden messages or tapestries reaching out from the walls. All of it, of course, done beautifully.

But the problem with The Returners is that old chestnut of it simply being too decompressed with, at most, four or five panels to a page, often just three. There’s simply not enough space to get on with the story. Essentially, this episode could be boiled down to this – Returners get into haunted house, investigate, see ghostly things, and get a message from beyond.

Yes, it’s lovingly, beautifully done, with Assirelli’s big, open artwork a treat, but it just seems to be episode after episode of so little going on, making it a very difficult series to get involved in.

THE DARK JUDGES – DELIVERANCE – PART 3 – David Hine, Nick Percival, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Okay, it’s more death and destruction in ‘Deliverance’, as we get closer to what seems like the inevitable return of Judge Death and the rest of those happy souls of the extended Dark Judges family.

Judge Whisper has re-routed the Kimodo, with the remaining poor souls from Dominion, including young Rosco, to the planet of Thanatopia. And waiting for Whisper there is the Mortarian Death Cult and Judge Death, still wrapped up in Boing for the time being.

Basically, not good, not good at all.

This episode, Whisper gets to play with the last remnants of them that escaped Dominion and Rosco goes from the proverbial frying pan to the fire.

Grand fun, all leading to the inevitable of course – but after all, everything always leads to death in the end, why should this be any different?

And of course, Percival’s artwork is still its grisly, nasty best, especially here with those scenes of Judge Whisper coming into bloom, reminiscent of those old Totleben Swamp Thing pages.

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