The Monthly Megazine Issue #429: Justice Is Served

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, 30+ years and still going strong!

Cover by John Higgins

The latest Megazine hits shops and digital on 17th February with another done-in-one Judge Dredd, the finale of Dreadnoughts, and more from The Returners, Megatropolis, and Dark Judges: Deliverance.

Fear not though, Dreadnoughts might be finishing this issue but there’s already a second series in the works; ‘The March of Progress’. It’s great news as Dreadnoughts really has very quickly become a high point of the last few years here in the Megazine. Although, with Megatropolis‘ wonderful alt-universe Mega-City One and the dark comedy chills of Deliverance, 2021 really has gotten off to a great start.

JUDGE DREDD: DESTINY’S CHILD – Kenneth Niemand, Simon Coleby, colours by Len O’Grady, letters by Annie Parkhouse

Niemand really is becoming something of the go-to guy for Dredd right now, both here in the Megazine and over in 2000 AD. And that’s no bad thing as he does do a very good Dredd.

Anyway, we also have the second Dredd appearance this month from Simon Coleby, recently in 2000 AD Prog 2218 and now here in the Meg – always so good seeing his very recognisable art on Dredd.

Here, it’s the tale of a woman who keeps meeting Dredd – and it keeps not going the way she wants it to go…

Yes, Apocalypta Freely keeps meeting Dredd, keeps getting busted, but she’s determined to tell her story, get Dredd to acknowledge the connection between them.

It’s yet another of those Dredd stories that do much more than simply tell a tale of daring-do, more a Dredd that explores the mythos of the city and Niemand really does seem to have that Wagner-esque tone down just right.

MEGATROPOLIS – PART 6 – Kenneth Niemand, Dave Taylor, letters by Jim Campbell

The alt-history version of MC1 continues and at any other time, it would be the absolute highlight of the Megazine. But right now, this, Dreadnoughts and Deliverance make up a trio of the very best of the Megazine for many years.

Right now, Rico and Jara are off to chat to Professor Fargo, the city father, designer of MC-1. We even get yet another moment of familiar recognition when Maria and Walter are introduced.

Meanwhile, the city cops are laying a trap for Dredd, the lone vigilante carving his way through the corrupt cops of the city.

There’s a twist in the end here that you could see coming the moment you saw Fargo’s robotic servants, but that’s not really a problem as the rest of it is building so satisfyingly to a rich and fascinating tale that’s so entertaining and so gorgeous to look at.

DREADNOUGHTS – BREAKING GROUND – PART 6 – FINAL PART – Michael Carroll, John Higgins, colours by Sally Hurst, letters by Simon Bowland

Damn, I was hoping this would be more than just six parts, I really was. But as mentioned up top of this preview, there’s already a second series scripted with John Higgins getting on with the art in the coming year. Frankly, it’s been a fabulously good, really well-told series with some absolutely top-notch artwork from John Higgins and Sally Hurst.

Along with that stellar artwork, it’s the way Carroll has set it up that’s made it work so well, with a storyline that emphasises the huge nature of what’s going on in this shifting world where the rule of law is changing to the rule of the Judges, but does so by focusing on the issues on the ground, concentrating on Judge Glover’s kidnapping case in Colorado.

Here, one final time this series, we get to see the changes taking shape on the ground, just in the little things, such as the faceoff on the first page, the prison guard going by the old book, Glover going by the new rules of Judges say jump, you jump. And that’s not to mention the horrors of the prototype iso-cubes.

And after that, we get a chilling, brilliantly done moment when Glover comes up against the simmering distrust and hate from the old guard law-enforcers that we’ve seen growing all through the six parts of Dreadnoughts.

That’s just a beautifully done moment of comics in a series that’s been absolutely full of them.

I cannot wait to see what Carroll and Higgins come up with for series two.

THE RETURNERS – HEARTSWOOD – PART 6 – Si Spencer, Nicolo Assirelli, colours by Eva De La Cruz, letters by Simon Bowland

In a Megazine full of stand-out strips, I’m increasingly finding The Returners too slight and too lacking. As I’ve said time and again, it’s not that it doesn’t look bloody marvellous, because it does, with Assirelli’s art given so much space to breathe… but there’s the problem, each episode has so little going on that it becomes a speed read of a thing.

Literally, this episode… The Returners are trapped with the bric-a-brac thing, she tells of how she got here, they realise they’re trapped. End of episode.

Yes, it’s lovely to look at, but in an anthology with just nine pages per month, surely it’s necessary to have more meat of the bones of a gorgeous looking corpse?.

THE DARK JUDGES – DELIVERANCE – PART 6 – David Hine, Nick Percival, letters by Annie Parkhouse

And finally this month, time for a little Dark Judges catch up. Hine and Percival really have established that perfect balance of chills and threat and light comedy that means this Dark Judges saga doesn’t feel like it’s played completely for laughs.

Instead, what we get is a slow build chiller with the laughs added as extras to enjoy.

Here, it’s all coming up to the Day of Deliverance, the moment where the death cult brings back the Dark Judges.

That is, unless Rosco and the Wild Ones manage to come up with something to stop them?

Yep, not really that likely.

It was inevitable, of course, it was, we were always going to get the band back together, but with Hine and Percival pulling the strings, we’ve had a load of fearful fun getting here.

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