The Monthly Megazine Issue #444: Dredd Down, Deeper And Down
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!
Inside the May Megazine we have the finale of the excellent John Wagner and Colin MacNeill Surfer plus the final issues of the wonderfully over-the-top in all the right ways Hawk The Slayer by Garth Ennis and Henry Flint. There’s also a brand new Judge Dredd series, Q-Topia, from Arthur Wyatt and Ian Richardson, more from Lawless and Death Cap and the penultimate ever Diamond Dogs.
Judge Dredd Megazine Issue #444 is out wherever great comics are sold on 18th May.
JUDGE DREDD: Q-TOPIA – PART 1 – Arthur Wyatt and Ian Richardson, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Well, we open with the Justice Department extending its borders to bring Koko Cabana, the ape-run casino off Krong Island under MC-1 jurisdiction, thanks to Judge Maitland, plus we get to see Judge Heston in action again, and it’s all tied into Arthur Wyatt’s ongoing storyline involving the Red Queen – so this one’s off to a flyer in my book.
Meanwhile, old stoney face is off underwater on another mission to Atlantis with a couple from the Holocaust Squad and Judge Laughlin, the Brit-Cit liaison. And it’s all tied into Quaganon, last seen in ‘The Hard Way’ (2000 AD 2250-2255).
Yes… all of this is a direct continuation of the whole Red Queen saga. And that is a damn good thing. And although there’s no Jake Lynch along for the ride this time, Ian Richardson’s art is a fine, fine replacement, giving an action-packed storyline the movement and flow it needed so well.
It’s fascinating the way that the Dredd stories in the Meg have been carving out their own little portion of Dreddworld, what with Wyatt’s Red Queen and Rory McConville’s own big political saga spinning out of Project Providence. It really gives the Meg an identity, not to mention a series of damn fine Dredd storylines running through here.
DEATH CAP – PART 6 – TC Eglington, Boo Cook, letters by Simon Bowland
This episode… well sure, it’s Eglington writing this but it’s pretty much a silent episode and it’s one that’s all Boo Cook’s show.
As ex-Judge Goya succumbs to her Grubb’s Fungus infection, she’s carried across the landscape by the gang she was after. And that’s pretty much all that happens this episode.
Except that’s way, way off. There’s so much happening here, so much going on, all tied into the whole history and method of the fungus.
In a series of interconnected pages, multiple viewpoints, multiple times, we watch the mycelial network from Grubb’s Fungus grow and infect and grow and infect.
It’s quite simply a stunning moment when you realise, a couple of pages in, what they’re doing here, running those multiple narratives across each page, making the flow of information completely organic and flowing. A whole day goes by, sun comes up, rises, wanes, darkness falls, moon comes up, blood drips with a regular pace as Goya is carried forwards, the history of the place is told, the fungus manifests… all perfectly done across Boo Cook’s pages here.
I’ve been saying all the way through this series that this is Boo Cook’s finest work to date and this episode just shows you how far he’s going with his work. Spectacular stuff.
DIAMOND DOGS: BOOK THREE – PART 6 – James Peaty, Warren Pleece, letters by Simon Bowland
With the penultimate episode here, it’s all beginning to come together, Armitage confronting corrupt Judge Harding about his crimes, whilst Nia and the newly-revealed Sino-Cit undercover Judge go and rescue her friends.
It’s action-packed and yet manages to be equally packed with an emotional punch, poor Nia left alone, she’s done… but quite what that’s going to mean for her in the finale next month, we don’t really know yet. But it’s really probably not going to be great…
Peaty’s writing here is good and tight, he’s thrown us all the twists and turns and now is just seeing it all out. And Pleece’s art, as you’d expect, is just super controlled and stylish, just like it always is. All in all, if the finale is the very last we’ll see of Nia and the Diamond Dogs… first, I’ll be sad to see it go, although at the same time I’ll be impressed that Peaty and Pleece have constructed it as a thing with beginning, middle, and end. Second, I do worry about how it all turns out for Nia. Can she possibly get anything like a happy ending out of this?
LAWLESS: BALLOTS OVER BADROCK – PART 6 – Dan Abnett, Phil Winslade, letters by Jim Campbell
Ex-Marshal Metta Lawson has had herself a few rough days. The Badrock elections came in, she didn’t win, and she got herself a verbal beating from SJS McClure. So, as is her way, she’s very, very, very drunk.
Thankfully, there’s at least one person in Badrock willing to give her the time of day… even a job. Which is why ex-Marshal Metta Lawson is now helping run the town’s watering hole.
Meanwhile, Brotherley and SJS Marshal McClure are busy, busy, busy with the new Mayor and getting him to do just what they want. Unfortunately, Mr Smith also has his own ideas for what the new Mayor should be doing. Far too many ways this could all go wrong, just as both Lawson and Nerys were worried about.
And, in a busy, busy episode, Lawson gets another one of those notes…
Curiouser and curiouser. Again, just as he’s doing over in the Prog with Brink, Dan Abnett is completely on top of things in Lawless, all those twists and turns getting more and more twisty and turny, all the plot threads slowly, beautifully coming together. And of course, as you can clearly see, that Phil Winslade sure can draw up a storm.
SURFER: PART ONE – PART 6 – FINAL PART – John Wagner, Colin MacNeil, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Zane Perks is a wanted man. The Judges know who he is, they know what he’s done, they know the whole thing with the Chopper movie was bent. But they don’t care, Zane’s still a wanted man. Justice must be served and all that.
Anyway, Zane’s going to try and do one thing before he gets himself caught, because he knows that there’s no way he can hold off the Judge’s forever, no matter how fast he surfs. One chance to get his dad off the hook, one chance to make things even a little right.
Oh, poor, poor Zane. You really are too innocent for the world you’re living in, aren’t you?
Six episodes and done. And it’s been so good. Classic Wagnerian clipped dialogue, classic build-up of the storyline, excellent storytelling, and the art… well, in a Megazine with a hell of a lot of artistic talent, Colin MacNeill’s art still shines through. Amazing stuff, perfectly captures all the surfing moments with consummate ease, and those shadows… does anyone do shadowy like MacNeill does shadowy?
Against all the odds though, Surfer will return in Book 2, which is a superb bit of rather unexpected news. Although the way it’s looking Zane might be a fair few years older by the time we see him next.
HAWK THE SLAYER – ISSUE 5 – FINAL ISSUE – Garth Ennis, Henry Flint, letters by Rob Steen.
Time for the finale of the extra that’s been in the Megazine for the past five months now, as Ennis and Flint bring you to the end of a particularly fine piece of over-the-top sword and sorcery. And of course, it’s Hawk versus Voltan to the death…
And what an interesting (and particularly violent and bloody) death Ennis and Flint manage to give us. I’ll not spoiler it much but… well, let’s face it, Ennis is a huge, huge fan and he was always going to play this good versus evil sequel out with good coming through int the end, wasn’t he? There was never going to be one of those besoiling the hero sort of things. We did those in the 80s and 90s thank you very much.
It’s been a blast, it really has. Ennis has had the most fun doing it, it’s been a hell of a lot of fun to read. And Henry Flint adds a hell of a lot to the artistic talent pool that’s turned every Megazine this year into a spectacular. He’s just a superb talent. And we’re lucky to have him regularly working on either the Prog or the Meg.