Advance Review: The Best Of The Megazine Continues In ‘Lawless Book 3 – Ashes To Ashes’

by Richard Bruton

Summary

One of the best strips from either ‘2000 AD’ or ‘The Megazine’ in the last decade, Abnett and Winslade’s sci-fi western begins with doom coming to Badrock and ends with a dynamic new direction that should hopefully give us many years of future stories. In between? Well, you get 100 pages of thoroughly entertaining, beautifully drawn, magnificently written ‘Lawless’.

Overall
10/10
10/10
Spectacular wrapround cover to Lawless Book 3 by Phil Winslade

Coming out on Thursday 5th August, the third volume of one of the best strips to come out of Judge Dredd Megazine in many years – Dan Abnett and Phil Winslade’s Lawless Book 3: Ashes to Ashes

Olly covered it back in May, but the release of this one is just around the corner now, so I reckon it’s time to have a look at one of the standouts of Judge Dredd Megazine for the last fair few years – Lawless.

It’s the welcome return of the continuing adventures of one Colonial Marshal Metta Lawson, who’s been making a good old life for herself in the back end of nowhere (and that’s just the way she likes it) since 2014.

Since first setting foot in Badrock, on the colony world of 43 Rega, Lawson’s lain down the law in her unique way, quite often from the local bar. She’s made firm friends in her clerk/deputy Nerys Pettifer, and done much to bring the township together, including building bridges to both the Uplift and Mek residents.

But she’s also been making enemies. Big ones. Primarily Munce Inc, who really don’t like the way she’s been doing things. Which is pretty much where we are right now…

Badrock knows too much about Munce Inc’s activities, activities that could get them in big trouble if word managed to get all the way back to Mega-City One.

But MC-1 is a long, long, long way away and Munce Inc are, seemingly, just too big to be beaten. Not that Lawson and Badrock aren’t going to give it their very best shot.

And all that means that Munce Inc are determined to wipe Badrock from the face of the planet… literally.

In about 50 minutes’ time Badrock is gonna start turning into one long smear.

There’s a massive reckoning coming for Badrock, as Munce’s top unviable asset disposal operative comes into town…

After this, things go rapidly downhill for Badrock, as this sci-fi Western saga goes for its version of the last stand, no one really expecting to get out of this one alive, including Marshall Lawson.

And in the final showdown of this latest stunning volume of Lawless, expect unexpected alliances, expect deaths (plenty of them), expect sacrifice, all whilst Abnett builds and builds on one of the big themes of Lawless so far, that sense that it’s all about cooperation and compromise, all about building family wherever you are and whoever that family may be. In the end, Badrock’s various factions, meks, humans, uplifts, have come together for the town they’ve all made.

But in the end, it’s a futile triumph. The end inevitable…

But then comes the moment of Abnett brilliance, pulling a beautiful twist on us, and on Marshall Metta Lawson. It’s something you just didn’t see coming, not at all, and something that not only solves Badrock’s problems of the now but also transforms the series into something with even more potential going forwards… this moment…

 

From there, we’re transported somewhere different, and Abnett and Winslade seemingly tear out our hearts with an ending to the story. Suddenly, Lawless becomes not just the spectacular tale of the sci-fi Western we’ve been enjoying all this time. It’s been transformed into something of a quiet lament, a reverie on loss and making things right.

No more spoilers at all from me with this, it’s one you really do need to see for yourselves, one of the finest bits of comics that’s come from 2000 AD or the Megazine, or British comics in general, for the last decade.

And obviously, no small part of that is from Phil Winslade’s art. An insane amount of details going in to every single panel, whether that’s just a simple shot of the characters or a completely mad view of the battlefield and the thousands of combatants piling towards Badrock. No matter what, it’s all so beautifully drawn, a black and white piece of brilliance that’s so full of gorgeous moments, stunning moments, incredible moments, with this possibly my favourite moment of Winslade wonderfulness (okay, so I said no more spoilers, but this is more a little tease).

So, time to appreciate what seems like the end to this first phase of Lawless, as Metta Lawson’s world shifts and changes. She came to Badrock as an outsider, a refuge from somewhere else (and we get the compete, definitive confirmation of what we already really knew here as well), and here we see both her transformation and Badrock’s transformation.

Of course, she’s still the belligerent, sarcastic, hard-nosed lawmaker of old – that’s never going away, still with those great lines that Abnett comes out with, giving us those moments of comedy in amongst all the very dark goings-on in this one.

It’s an end for Lawless. Just not the end for Lawless. ‘Ashes to Ashes’ is the end of the opening part of the sage perhaps. What we get by the end of one of the best books to come from 2000 AD in many years is something different. A different Lawson, a different Badrock, but all the same brilliance.

So, raise a glass – to Marshall Metta Lawson and to Badrock…

LAWLESS BOOK 3 – ASHES TO ASHES

Written by Dan Abnett, art by Phil Winslade,

Originally serialised in Judge Dredd Megazine 400-409

Published by 2000 AD / Rebellion on 5 August.

 

Now., extra bonus, a preview of how it all opens…

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