The Monthly Megazine Issue #427 : Naughty, Definitely Naughty
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. And this month, if you can’t tell… it’s Christmastime…
Yes, it’s Christmas, a time of year to shelter from the world outside, nestled in the bosom of our families, eat far too much, drink far too much. Oh, right, we’ve all been doing that for the plague year off and on and we’re all probably sick of family, have put on at least 5lbs more than we’re admitting to, and really don’t see the prospect of staying home being a bonus. Bah Humbug indeed.
So why not settle down somewhere quiet for an hour and indulge in the new Megazine, complete with five strips to take you away from 2020 in the best way.
The latest Megazine hits shops and digital on 16 December. Inside, there’s the usual seasonal Judge Dredd tale, ‘He Sees You When You’re Sleeping’, and continuations of the brilliance of alt-MC-1 in Megatropolis, the past MC-1 in Dreadnoughts, the continuing return of those Dark Judges in ‘Deliverance’, and more of those Returners.
So, take a deep breath, you can get through it all, keep to your lockdowns, keep wearing your masks, we can and will get out the other side of this. And yes, it’s okay to admit that Christmas isn’t always wonderful. Got that? Right then, on with the Megazine preview…
JUDGE DREDD: HE SEES YOU WHEN YOU’RE SLEEPING – Rory McConville, Agustin Padilla, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Of course, it’s a Judge Dredd Christmas tale, it’s become a tradition. But obviously, we’re not going into It’s A Wonderful Life territory here. In fact, we’re going more towards that classic Christmas movie, Jingle All The Way with this tale of Christmastime consumerism as Mega-City Max becomes this years’ must-have toy.
But this isn’t your ordinary toy…
Yes, it’s a Justice Department undercover surveillance thing, get the toys into homes and see what the perps have to say. Hell, maybe make a little extra cash for the Judges’ Christmas party or something along the way.
McConville does these sort of done-in-one Dredds very well, beginning, middle, end and out. Sure, it’s fair to say it’s not the deepest or most insightful of things, but it’s a fine little read, complete with new (to 2000 AD and the Meg at least) artist Agustin Padilla, giving us a very impressive debut on Dredd, part Ben Willsher at times, veering into the Sienkiewicz vibe at others.
MEGATROPOLIS – PART 4 – Kenneth Niemand, Dave Taylor, letters by Jim Campbell
Still loving this alt-MC-1 storyline, the whole Dredd meets LA Confidential, Dave Taylor going heavy into the retro stylings and stunning designs and Niemand obviously enjoying throwing in all the familiar names in unfamiliar roles.
Megatropolis is now aware of the vigilante amongst them, the one that we saw last time, looking rather familiar. Or, as the celebrity psychic says… “Dread. He felt only Dread, when he saw what had come to judge him.” You can practically hear Niemand cackling with delight at throwing everything into the mix here.
We’re back on the beat with Detectives Rico and Amy Jara. And the battlelines are being drawn, DA McGruder on one side, the cops on the other, setting everything up nicely for the series as it continues. And hopefully, we’ll be seeing Megatropolis return after this initial outing ends, it’s far too much fun, full of far too much potential to end after just this first series.
DREADNOUGHTS – BREAKING GROUND – PART 4 – Michael Carroll, John Higgins, colours by Sally Hurst, letters by Simon Bowland
Whilst Megatropolis does the whole fantasy alt-reality MC-1, we also have Dreadnoughts, taking a look back at the earliest days of the Justice Department and America’s descent into its fascist regime. Completely different sure, but both doing the alt-history in the future thing so very, very well.
Michael Carroll’s long been involved in the history of Dredd, having been writing the Judges prose books for a while now. And John Higgins should need no introduction at all, save to say this is the best work of his career, aided and abetted by Sally Hurst’s fabulous colouring.
We’re in the middle of it now or thereabouts, so we’re used to seeing Judge Glover, fresh to the Justice Department as one of the new Judges that are rolling out to work alongside traditional law enforcement and the courts, dispensing the new justice and getting pushback from those she’s taking over from.
Here, we’re getting a glimpse into her past, something that might cast an even darker shadow over the new regime if it comes out.
But before that, there’s the kidnapping case to work on, and Carroll and Higgins do this so well, with Glover getting a hot tip and heading off to the scene.
It’s the way that they’re mixing the small and the big here, the personal moments, the procedural moments, and then the huge, world-changing moments… this sort of thing…
Yes, this is the big deal about Dreadnoughts, the enforced change, the loss of America, and the chilling line Carroll uses…
‘Nothing is illegal for those who make the law.’
A brilliant piece of Dredd work by two creators really hitting the heights right here.
THE RETURNERS – HEARTSWOOD – PART 4 – Si Spencer, Nicolo Assirelli, colours by Eva De La Cruz, letters by Simon Bowland
Now, this is the one dip in this Meg. It’s a great big concept, bringing a group of misfits back from their near-death experiences renders them invulnerable and brings them into contact with the supernatural. And the art, as I keep banging on about, is quite gorgeous, big big imagery dominating things, pages with four or fewer panels the norm. And there’s the rub, with so few panels, there’s that sense of very little happening every episode, leading to very little meat on the bones of the story.
For example here, it’s the Returners in a haunted house, looking to lift their curse. But it’s pretty much they go in, break down a door, find a library, open a book, get possessed. That’s the lot.
It looks great, it just hasn’t got the necessary depth or weight that makes the other strips in here work so well.
THE DARK JUDGES – DELIVERANCE – PART 4 – David Hine, Nick Percival, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Okay, so you could also throw the not that much really happens in every series of Deliverance, but the thing is that Hine is milking the fun stuff here for all its worth, putting layer after layer of dark ridiculousness into these tales of the Dark Judges.
And of course, Nick Percival on art is just so perfect for this, his painted artwork is so full of all the grotesque detail needed for these characters.
This time, the SS Kimodo lands on Thanatopia, with Judge Whisper joining Judge Death with the Mortarian Death Cult. It’s a load of fun.
Basically, it’s a huge load of fun with a huge load of death and fabulous artwork.
Where it’s actually going, no real idea, but it’s one of those strips where being along for the ride is what it’s all about.