The Monthly Megazine #453: Watch Him Wreck The Mic, Watch Him Wreck The Mic… Psyche
by Richard Bruton
Welcome once more to The Monthly Megazine – doing just what it says, taking you through the latest goings-on in the sister monthly to 2000 AD.
Second Megazine of the year in the new format of everything in one squarebound volume. So that means five regular strips and three reprints, plus the usual text features all under one cover.
The five regular strips this month are all continuations – the second part of Judge Dredd: One-Eyed Jacks, featuring the unlikeliest of team-ups from MC-1 and ’70s New York City, Storm Warning: Dead & Gone, Dark Judges: Death Metal Planet, Devlin Waugh: Karma Police, and Surfer: Book Two. As for the reprints, it’s the third issues of the IDW Comics reprints Judge Dredd: Mega-City Three and Mega-City Two, plus a look at the new David Roach Treasury collection, A Very British Affair, which collects the best of the classic British romance comics.
Megazine #453 is out on Wednesday 15th February, which means it’s time for a preview of all that’s inside…
JUDGE DREDD: ONE-EYED JACKS – PART 2 – Ken Niemand and Kieron McKeown, colours by Quinton Winter, letters by Annie Parkhouse
A change of artist with Kieron McKeown taking over from Ian Richardson, but no change in the action, as we have a tale involving both current-day Mega-City One and 70s New York City, with Judge Dredd and Jack McBane (One-Eyed Jack from classic Valiant/Battle Action Weekly comics of the ’70s).
There’s perps turning up dead in both eras, and both Dredd (on medical light duties) and Rico in MC-1 and McBane in NYC are breaking skulls to figure out who’s behind it. It takes one very dead Psi-Judge before Joe & Rico figure out just who it might be… except he’s meant to be on ice in the vaults.
Well, he’s meant to be anyway…
So, now that we know the how it’s all happening – the why is the same as always, power-mad psychopath etc etc – it’s going to be down to Dredd and Rico and McBain and his crew to work the case in both times.
Loads of fun playing out well in both times, with new artist McKeown filling the pages with solid action sequences and some great faces all the way through.
STORM WARNING: DEAD & GONE – PART 5 – by John Reppion and Clint Langley, letters by Jim Campbell
Over in the Prog, Clint Langley’s currently making the Joe Pineapples strip look a damn sight better than it deserves. Thankfully, here in Storm Warning, we have a combination of Langley’s excellent visuals telling a great story from John Reppion that’s twisted and turned nicely over the past few months.
So, as the events play out across the then and now, we have more intrigue with just what happened to put new Chief Psi-Judge Pelham in the position to take down the ex-Chief Psi-Judge Campbell – was it merely that Campbell had lost control of his curse or was it something more?
But we also have the now of Lillian Storm taking a Psi-dive into whatever works as hell around these parts.
Whether it’s really hell or just a psi-manifestation of it doesn’t exactly matter, as Reppion and Langley sell you on it anyway, because the storytelling and build-up’s been good enough to make you believe in what’s happening.
Like I’ve said before, this one’s been the most complex and most enjoyable of all the Storm Warnings, with Langley’s art just perfection for the story that Reppion needed to tell – a classic case of fitting the artist to the story and seeing it work perfectly because of it.
DARK JUDGES: DEATH METAL PLANET – PART 5 – by David Hine and Nick Percival, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Speaking of the perfect artist for the strip – can you ever imagine anyone doing justice to the Dark Judges after Nick Percival? The style just has all the nastiness, menace, and outright grotesquery needed but also manages to fit into with the current storyline which has taken us into slightly lighter territory.
The lighter territory? Well that comes from the storyline here, the ridiculous idea of a death metal band being dumb enough to consider freeing Judge Death and all that comes from that. But Hine and Percival have managed to avoid the old problems of the Dark Judges being comedy villains here by having the ridiculousness fall upon those around them. Here, no matter what the situation, Judge Death is still a nasty piece of work, especially when you get this sort of thing from the hands of Percival…
So, all of this means we have a laugh at what’s going on and yet still get chills from the idea of what this all means for Dreddworld. Of course, this is Dreddworld 25 years into the future, so it could all be written off as some alt-timeline if they need to bring Death back into the main timeline. But right now, ‘Death Metal Planet’ is delivering comedy and horror in good measure.
Oh, and finally, Nick Percival also gets to put both himself (he’s in the first panel carrying the beers) and one of his daughters into this – that’s her on the left getting the Runt signature…
According to Nick, the daughter was thrilled to be dispatched by Death later on in the episode but his wife, not too keen. Oh well, sometimes you just can’t please all of the family all of the time!
DEVLIN WAUGH: KARMA POLICE – PART 5 – by Ales Kot and Rob Richardson, letters by Simon Bowland
Devlin, Titivilus, and Kafka have headed out to see one of Devlin’s ancestors and see about this ancient family curse. It hasn’t gone too well at all, which is why Devlin starts the episode falling. Death? Hell? Or something far, far worse?
No prizes for going with something far, far worse.
The whole of Karma Police has seen Devlin being taken to places we’re all unfamiliar with, a fresh darkness as he explores what it means to be a Waugh and Kot and Richardson are really pushing it further and further. This isn’t the vampish dandy anymore, there’s a genuine sense of threat and desperation about Karma Police.
It’s a strange, unsettling read, coupled with the stark, stripped-back artwork and colours of Richardson and something that I can only imagine will take us to the next phase of Kot’s work on the character.
SURFER: BOOK TWO – PART 5 – by John Wagner and Colin MacNeil, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Simon Bowland
He’s been to collect enough drugs to put him in the cubes for life and now Zane’s attempting to get back into MC-1 with it all on his back.
Cue another glorious set of pages from Colin MacNeil showing Zane’s night surf into the city, beautiful page after beautiful page of darkness and shifting viewpoints. Just perfect comics art.
It’s no wonder that John Wagner is rather sitting back narrative-wise at points in Surfer, a great writer plays to the strengths of a great artist after all.
At the end, it’s Zane backed into a corner, as you knew was always going to happen. This is a strip with a character that’s doomed. But watching it happen is a superb example of comic storytelling.
JUDGE DREDD: YEAR ONE – PART 3 – Matt Smith and Simon Coleby, colours by Leonard O’Grady, letters by Chris Mowry, cover by Greg Staples
The reprinted material in this latest Megazine continues with the third issues of the IDW Comics, first with this very familiar reading Dredd from Smith and Coleby, a Dredd that could have quite easily have fitted into the Megazine. It just looks and feels exactly like Dredd is meant to, albeit with Smith taking far more time over things given the increased page count of a typical US comic as opposed to the constraints of Dredd in the Progs or the Megazine.
In terms of the story, this is young Dredd’s first experience of alternate & parallel realities, although I’m not entirely convinced that Dredd would have just leaped through the reality fracture he found to see what’s on the other side. That aside though, it’s a damn fine bit of Dredd, running the two parallels stories in tandem, Dredd getting used to the strange post-event MC-1 and what’s left of the Justice Department there whilst his MC-1 attempts to hold off a teen-psi uprising.
JUDGE DREDD: MEGA-CITY TWO – PART 3 – Douglas Wolk, Ulises Farinas, colours by Ryan Hill, letters by Tom B Long
Completely different sort of Dredd in terms of the artwork, but there’s no doubting Farinas knows how to tell a story well, even though it might not be to everyone’s taste. Again, that’s one great thing about Dredd and 2000 AD in general, there’s always been room to absorb any and all styles and anyone who tells you otherwise just hasn’t been paying attention over the years.
So again, we’re in the strange world of Mega-City Two, where things aren’t done quite how Dredd’s used to. But he’s here looking for high-level corruption, although things are moving a little slowly here in that respect. Instead, we have a story that’s meandering somewhat, albeit one that’s full of fascinating and incredibly detailed artwork.
A VERY BRITISH AFFAIR: THE BEST OF CLASSIC ROMANCE COMICS – curated by David Roach
And finally for the reprints, a gorgeous selection of pages from David Roach’s latest project for 2000 AD and The Treasury of British Comics. A Very British Affair looks at a sometimes overlooked but quite incredible period of comics in UK history, that of the postwar Romance comics.
The book looks amazing and even these few examples makes it a must-buy for anyone interested in the rich and varied artistic styles here – I’m still waiting for my copy but as soon as it arrives I’ll be showing you just how good the whole thing is.
Fascinating to see that Carlos Ezquerra is in here, with art that’s completely different from what we might know from 2000 AD et. al. but still has elements that are recognisably Carlos. And the other artists are just as good, that stark black and white and those glorious design elements, it’s just a beautiful thing to see.