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Judge Dredd Megazine #245

One month into a seemingly drastic relaunch, the all-new Megazine comes out fighting. Following on from the rather insubstantial April issue, new editor Matt Smith's "mostly killer, some filler" approach presents us with a line-up that displays more potential than actual greatness, but one that will hopefully give it's readers something to look forward to in the coming months.

Judge Dredd: Splashdown

Dredd makes his presence felt...

Script: Simon Spurrier Pencils: Laurence Campbell Inks: Kris Justice Colours: Chris Blythe Letters: Tom Frame

First up, there's political shenanigans afoot as Judge Dredd accompanies some diplomats to recover an alien artifact which has crash-landed in the Black Atlantic. But unbeknownst to Dredd, Mega City 1 have already sent in a very secret agent, Domino Blank-One, the latest young upstart to show-up the aging lawman. Domino has apparently already appeared in an earlier strip which I haven't read yet, but it looks as if she's intended to be a recurring character, which I think could be a very good thing. Even if she does talks like all Spurrier's lead characters do - delivering a running commentary to the action full of sarcastic asides. One of the most interesting aspects of this story is Dredd's anger at being used as a pawn by his own city so they can get their hands on the artifact - he's used to being the big man, but here he's just a tiny cog in a larger machine, and he doesn't like it. Domino's presence makes the world in which Joe Dredd operates look a little shadier, and a little less black and white than before, which can only be a good thing.

I can't remember Lawrence Campbell's art ever being coloured by Chris Blythe before, but they make a fine combination. I particularly like the moody use of blues and greens in the opening pages. Kris Justice's inks add an appealling angular quality to Campbell's drawings. I can't fault the art in this strip at all, superb job.

Fiends Of The Eastern Front: Stalingrad

the interrogation begins

Script: David Bishop Art/Letters: Colin MacNeil

Twenty-six years late, the sequel to WW2 vampire saga Fiends Of The Eastern Front finally arrives. This story begins on the Russian front, where a young female translator has just arrived to help interrogate the only survivor of a German suicide mission, a man with a dark secret to tell. And it looks like we might have to wait to find out what that is, because this first episode ends rather abruptly after six pages. This feels like a prologue to the main action more than anything else - Bishop is content to drop lots of dark hints without giving us much to go on yet. All the same, I really do want to see more of this. It's a shame the Megazine's page count has been curtailed, because this could really do with being longer. All praise to Colin MacNeil's art, however - his use of grey washes adds a touch of class to this strip, and I hope he gets to do more than "people talking in a darkened room" in forthcoming episodes. I wish he'd change his typeface, though - Comic Sans MS? Oh dear.

Comic Auteurs: Grant Morrison

Text: Matthew Badham

This brief history of the man they call Morrison is competently written and does at least contain a few factoids I wasn't aware of - I had no idea Morrison and Frank Quitely had designed the sleeve of Robbie Williams' last album, for instance, and the references to his early years as a newspaper cartoonist are intriguing, if short on detail. Unfortunately, the writer chooses to concentrate largely on Morrison's contributions to 2000AD, which, Zenith aside, has never really been his strongest work. So accordingly, The Invisibles gets short thrift, his DC work is relegated to a sidebar, and New X-Men isn't even mentioned. The other major flaw in this article is that it manages to ignore some of the really esoteric weirdness related to Morrison - alien abductions, chaos magic, occultism(see his Wikipedia entry for more on this) - and as such, ends up a little bland. As an introduction to Morrison for newcomers it's useful, but lacking in any real meat.

Judge Dredd: Language Barrier(reprint)

communication problems

Script: John Wagner Art: Jason Brashill Letters: Tom Frame

Originally published in 1995, "Language Barrier" feels like a throwback to the time when Simon Bisley was still the hottest thing in comics, and every young artist with an airbrush was imitating his heavily painted style. To his credit, Jason Brashill's recent work has been much more of his own style, notably last year's Dredd three-parter, "After The Bomb". Everyone has to start somewhere, I suppose. John Wagner can turn these comedy strips out in his sleep, but unfortunately in this case I think he did. The "unhelpful translation" gag was funny when Terry Pratchett did it, but not particularly amusing here. Filler material, definitely.

Black Siddah: Return Of The Jester

Ashwini lets it all out

Script:Pat Mills Art: Simon Davis Letters: Ellie De Ville

I really can't think of a whole lot to say about the return of this Indian superhero saga. Like "Fiends" it's a prologue episode, introducing a couple of interesting potential foes for Ronan in The Jester and Uncle David, and presumably setting up a lot of future developments. I've always enjoyed this strip in the past, so I'm not sure why I'm feeling so ambivalent about it this time. Hopefully the action will pick up in the next episode - Ronan donning the Black Siddah costume on the final page is a promising sign. While Simon Davis's art is as fantastically detailed and unusual as ever, what on earth is up with David's legs in the very first panel? Unless it's an obscure plot point, I'm pretty sure they shouldn't actually bend like that.

Small Press Roundup/Springheeled Jack

There's a handy round-up of online comics here, and the first episode of an intriguing gothic horror from small press regular Dave Hitchcock, Springheeled Jack. I always feel like I've never quite given the small press scene the attention it deserves - in fact I think I may check up on some of those websites when I've finished writing this.

Top Twenty Comic Convention Tips

This is a reasonably funny piece by 2000AD Review columnist Sprout, making his Megazine debut. Most of the jokes here are pretty obvious, but it's worth reading just for the mocked-up front cover of a non-existent 1978 Judge Dredd comic, which for a throwaway gag is quite brilliant in it's attention to detail.

Tales From The Black Museum: Headshots

Another tale begins

Script: Dan Abnett Art: John Ridgeway Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Tales is a new series of one-offs in which each story relates to a relic of Mega-City crimes past. This tale from the ridiculously prolific Dan Abnett sounds like it shouldn't work, but oddly it does - as long as you don't question the logic of how a bullet can survive puncturing glass, metal and human tissue without so much as slowing down. This strip also benefits from having been drawn by the great John Ridgeway, who's work I've admired ever since I encountered it in Doctor Who Magazine way back when. Here he's chosen to augment his striking black and white linework with some grey-scaling, which proves a lot more successful than his previous experiments with digital colouring.


Overall a strong issue, with the choice of reprint material being the only real disappointment. A solid line-up that should hopefully prove there's still life in the Megazine after it's recent ill-fortunes. Here's to Meg #246...

About this entry


Nice one Phil! Good review, look forward to reading more....

By Bexmen
May 22, 2006 @ 10:40 pm

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