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Meg Review: 266

Megazine 266Quote of the month: “I’d recommend to anybody working on their relationship that they should try embarking on a sixteen-year elaborate pornography together. I think they’ll find it works wonders.” Alan Moore

Cover: Cliff Robinson draws Dredd, Armitage and new character Tempest. Workmanlike and always a crowd pleaser, it is nonetheless nothing we haven’t seen before.

Strips: Judge Dredd, Armitage, Tempest, Bob the Galactic Bum (reprint)

Features: Interrogation (interview with Alan Grant), Dredd Files (summary of Dredd strips from days of yore), New Comics (Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie’s The Lost Girls), New Movies, Dreddlines (letters)

I’ve been reviewing 2000AD every week here for a while now, so why not the monthly Judge Dredd Megazine? Well, the short answer to that is that I often don’t read all of it. The Megazine has always been less consistent than 2000AD and some of the strips contained within it have been very weak indeed. I remember reading an interview with Alan Grant in the 90s when he confidently predicted that 2000AD would merge into the Megazine before the decade was out; so much for that theory.

Why has it always been the weaker of the two titles? Partly it is because it has always had a very confused identity. Various editors have sought to rebrand it as either the JUDGE DREDD Megazine or the Judge Dredd MEGAZINE. The former implies a comic focussed on Judge Dredd and his world, which has meant that most of the strips over the past 18 years have been about a Judge in another country or setting (A Samurai Judge! A grumpy Inspector Morse-type Judge! A Wally Squad Judge [lots of Wally Squad Judges in fact]!) or a direct spin-off from the Dredd strip itself (Anderson, Hershey, DeMarco, Mean Machine, Chopper… you name it).

The latter implies something more generic. For a period in the early noughties this meant a series of strips that were related to Dredd in the sense that they were noirish, focussed on crime and/or filled with black humour. This lead to strips ranging from The Bendatti Vendetta
through to Xtnct (by Doctor Who/Human Nature scribe Paul Cornell).

More recently though, this has implied taking a more magazine-ish approach to the comic, leading up to the current vogue to make the publication its own fanzine. This has had mixed success. Some of the articles have been stronger than others and occasionally they have dominated to the extent that it resembles a magazine about British comics, complete with free fannish content, with a monthly Dredd strip included as an afterthought.

The other big problem it has faced is its monthly format. While in the US, monthly, single-strip comics continue to thrive (if thrive is the right word for it), in the UK we have tended to opt for weekly anthology titles (a gross simplification if ever there was one since 2000AD, Beano and *ahem* Dandy Xtreme are the only ones left!). Once again, the Megazine has flitted between the two extremes. Monthly comics are tough to follow, especially the wilder ones such as Pat Mills and John Hicklenton’s recent Blood of Satanus III (which was sadly not worth the wait when I finally got around to reading it in one go last month) and while most successful 2000AD strips tend to be between 10 and 15 parts long, such length is an impossible task for a monthly strip.

Sadly, going fortnightly didn’t seem to help the comic either, as it was in the mid-nineties. While that enabled it to develop a stable of ongoing strips and helped develop a number of careers including Robbie Morrison, Frank Quitely and Gordon Rennie, much of its content was at best rushed and a worst downright rubbish. The then-fad for sub-Bisley painted artwork didn’t exactly help either.

Nonetheless, it certainly has its moments and has launched the careers of several top flight artists and writers. The fact that it has survived at all is pretty remarkable given that for a good year in the late nineties it only had 16 pages of original material in it every month.

As of this issue, the Megazine has had a relaunch and yet another reboot (although a less extreme one than some of its predecessors). Gone are the indy backup strips (an opportunity for upcoming artists to show their wares; a bunch of free material for the magazine); back is the cheap US reprint material.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here commenceth the review:

Spoilers… Continue reading Meg Review: 266

Tooth Review: Prog 2008 (obligatory spoiler warning)

Prog 2008Quote of the issue: “Did you see my televised debate — the one where I made Richard Dawkins cry? I wanted to use a picture of that on my personalised Christmas cards but the Archbishop wouldn’t let me.” Unnamed Church of England operative, Caballistics, Inc.

It’s finally arrived! And it’s a good’un…

Cover: Clint Langley draws Dredd in the foreground, with the other characters featured in this issue in the background.

Bit of a damp squib this. The non-Dredd characters are merely taken from other artists while there is something about the face of Dredd that I don’t like. I think it is the slightly pointed helmet.

The twin-logo design doesn’t exactly do it any favours either. I hope this “2000 sideways AD” logo isn’t here to stay as it is awful – a complete throwback to the bland logo they used around 2000. The fat exclamation mark design is a classic – if there’s no reason to change the name, there’s no reason to change the logo.

Strips: Droid Life, Judge Dredd, Shakara, Kingdom, Nikolai Dante, Stickleback, Sinister Dexter, Caballistics Inc, Strontium Dog.

Features: Best ever covers, letters, three “great moments of thrill power” pinups (The Apocalypse War by Boo Cook, The Angel Gang by Clint Langley, Nemesis the Warlock Book IV: The Gothic Empire by Bryan Talbot.

Spoilers… Continue reading Tooth Review: Prog 2008 (obligatory spoiler warning)

Tooth Review: 1566 (Obligatory Spoiler Warning)

Prog 1566Everything comes to a full stop. Except for the Third Reich!

Cover: A simple yet impactful shot of a hand holding a gun against a blood soaked background. Once again Frazer Irving shows off his sense of design.

Quote of the Week:

The Voice: Harry, listen, it wasn’t my fault. They forced it on me. I was very … content with our arrangement.
Harry: I’m glad to hear that, Steve. I thought it was something like that. Fair enough, no hard feelings then.
The Voice: You-you mean it?
Harry: Sure, am I the kind of man to bear grudges? Oh, by the way, I dropped by your house this morning and strangled your wife.

– Button Man

Spoilers below… Continue reading Tooth Review: 1566 (Obligatory Spoiler Warning)

Tooth Review: 1565 (Obligatory Spoiler Warning)

Prog 1565Two weeks to Prog 2008, and things are coming to a close (I’ve been saying that for a while now, haven’t I?)

Cover: The mysterious Karel Toten from The Red Seas, as rendered by Steve Yeowell. A dramatic enough image, and Steve Yeowell is on good form at the moment.

Quote of the Week: “Slaughterhouse! The is Dredd! Kitty is dead! The woman you think is your wife is just an empty shell! They tricked you Slaughterhouse!” Judge Dredd (speaking through the cybernetically-controlled corpse that was Slaughterhouse’s wife)

Spoilers (in addition to that one)… Continue reading Tooth Review: 1565 (Obligatory Spoiler Warning)

Tooth Review: 1564 (Obligatory Spoiler Warning)

A really scrotnig issue as the storylines begin to slot into place.

Prog 1564Cover: A Peter Doherty-drawn montage of the main characters in the current Mandroid storyline. Well drawn and timely if a little underwhelming.

Doherty is currently doing colourist duties on Dredd and in that respect is woefully underutilised. When will he resume artistic duties? He doesn’t seem to have drawn anything of substance in over a decade.

Quote of the Week: “Amassed! The man was a bloody menace! You couldn’t put anything down for a minute without him whipping it! Half the lost treasures of the ancient world ended up stuffed down his trousers!” (Erebus, The Red Seas)

Spoilers below… Continue reading Tooth Review: 1564 (Obligatory Spoiler Warning)

Tooth Review: 1563 (Obligatory Spoiler Warning)

Face offs galore this week as the new strips start to get going.

Prog 1563Cover: Simon Davis draws Finnegan Sinister John Woo style. Not sure about that gun chain – seems a little taut and impractical. I have visions that he must have something similar for his gloves, bless him. For those new readers wondering why Sinister has such a white face, it’s a Simon Davis thing.

Spoilers a-go-go… Continue reading Tooth Review: 1563 (Obligatory Spoiler Warning)

Tooth Review: 1562 (Obligatory Spoiler Warning)

The Red Seas is back – sort of. And the final showdowns begin in Button Man and Judge Dredd.

Prog 1562Cover: Frazer Irving draws Harry Ex. Effective but quite dark, meaning it doesn’t exactly leap off the shelf at you.

Spoilers ahoy! Continue reading Tooth Review: 1562 (Obligatory Spoiler Warning)

Tooth Review: 1561 (obligatory spoiler warning)

Best issue in a while as the new strips get into their strides.

Prog 1561Cover: A great painted Dredd by Boo Cook. Boo’s art has been coming on in leaps and bounds in recent years and he really captures Old Stony Face here. It’s all in the chin.

Spoilers below… Continue reading Tooth Review: 1561 (obligatory spoiler warning)

Tooth Review: 1559 (Obligatory Spoiler Warning)

A return to form for Dredd and Button Man IV, a great send off for A.B.C. Warriors, but the worst was left til last for Stone Island…

Prog 1559Cover: Disappointing. Mek-Quake is a peculiar-looking robot and drawn from this angle just looks rubbish. Clint Langley can’t seem to decide whether to give him a neck backed with hydraulics, as here, or a Bisley-esque snake-like one, as in the strip inside. The guns firing just look like particularly bright torches.

To top it off, the quote from Death Ray magazine (“A very well presented, well-balanced modern comic”) sounds about as inspiring as Iain Duncan Smith. Overall, not great. Still I bought it anyway.

Spoilers below… Continue reading Tooth Review: 1559 (Obligatory Spoiler Warning)