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JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE, #400 REVIEW

by Gavin Johnston on September 19, 2018

Writers: John Wagner; Dan Abnet; TC Eglington; Ales Kot; John Reppion; Leah Moore; David Hine; Alan Grant
Artists: Henry Flint; Phil Winslade; Boo Cook; Mike Dowling; Jimmy Broxton; Nick Percival; Inaki Miranda
Colourists: Chris Blythe; Quinton Winter; Eva De La Cruz
Letterers: Annie Parkhouse; Ellie De Ville; Simon Bowland 
Publisher: Rebellion



400 issues, Earthlets...400 issues in which we’ve seen some of the very best stories and creators comics the world has to offer.  The Judge Dredd megazine has had it's ups and downs.  From the peaks of America and Shimura, to the troughs of Wilderlands and issues made up almost entirely of reprints

 

This big anniversary issues kicks off with the extended tale of how the British Royal family was privatised. Judge Dredd: The Trouble With Harry has a future monarch travel to Mega City One, where plans are in place to monetize his royalness.

Writer John Wagner delivers an excellent police procedural, with the tale of the unfortunate Harry II overlapping with Dredd hunting perps. Henry Flint’s art is is as perfect as ever, with comedy characters banging up against the brutality of Mega City One. It might just be a fun one-off, but The Trouble With Harry is a great mix of the madcap and the more vicious and down to Earth side of Dredd’s world.

 

The people of Bad Rock are caught in the eye of the storm in Lawless: Ashes to Ashes. With the outpost under attack by the Munce corporation, the first wave has come and gone, and the outmatched locals are regrouping to await the inevitable.

Phil Winslade’s art is truly remarkable. The level of detail in every panel, most of it unnecessary, is staggering. Artists who don’t bother drawing backgrounds should take note. Wide, complex city landscapes take up the background, and there’s some beautiful lettering incorporated into the delicate line art.

This arc has been going on for a while now, but this episode provides a very capable introduction to the main characters. The bounce off each other as people do in a tight spot, and their personalities are organically revealed.

 

 

Devlin Waugh is a contradictory character: a proudly homosexual, sophisticated vampire, with the physique of a body builder, and who works as an exorcist for the Vatican. It’s the contradictions of the character, his complete unwillingness to be placed in any category, which makes reading Ales Kot’s Call Me By Thy Name such a delight. Within a few panels Devlin left an especially classy orgy and is on his way to an exorcism, proudly discussing his designer clothing and wielding a neon sex toy.

Despite almost entirely consisting of two overlapping conversations, the story manages to be thrilling. Devlin carries out an exorcism in a run-down apartment building, where a demon has been killing residents, mercenaries and property prices. Writer Ales Kot, new to Devlin, seems to be channelling Grant Morrison’s The Filth with a story that delights in the obscene, the disgusting and the outrageous.

 

Brit-Cit PSI Judge Lillian Storm returns in Storm Warning: Over My Dead Body. There’s an interesting mystery set-up, as an out of body experience gets out of hand. But it’s a little lacking in a sense of time and place. If it weren’t for a couple of panels with a sci-fi edge and a late direct reference, there be no indication of when or where this story was talking place.

Writers to the Dredd-verse have a long history of introducing female PSI judges who have unique quirks in order to differentiate themselves from the original, Judge Anderson. Storm hasn’t yet proved herself... but Over My Dead Body is a far more interesting set up than the standard murder investigation.

 

The Dark Judges have laid waste to the off-world colony of Dominion in The Torture Garden, the follow up to Dominion (look out for the upcoming review of the collected Dominion, review fans!).

The Dark Judges have been as subject to change as just about every other element of the Dredd-verse. In the hands of different creators, they’ve moved from Hammer Horror monsters, to outlandish black comedy, to Lovecraftian terrors.

Nick Percival’s depiction is possibly more disturbing than Dave Kendall’s recent work on the Deadworld saga. Percival’s characters are scrawny, rotting skeletons, with raw gaping wounds. Dave Hine writes these characters with more sadism than any writer before him. Usually, Judge Death wants to kill you in the same way Dredd wants to lock you up. Hine’s Judge Death wants to hurt people.

Dominion’s final girl hides from the gruesome gang, trying to make contact with the outside world to warn them for the horror unleashed upon this tiny outpost. This story hits all the horror-in-space notes.  It's a decent enough horror, although feels a little predictable.  t’s basically Aliens, but with immortal zombies rather than xenomorphs.

There's an immediate shift in tone to light hearted, celebrity-based satire in Anderson, PSI Division: Jordan Ramzy's Kitchen Nightmare.  PSI Judge Cassandra Anderson reflects on her forty years on the streets before stopping a robbery and running into an unnecessary parody of a celebrity chef.  This is the sort of story 2000AD once egularly produced, satirising popular culture and famous people.  It feels a little old fashioned.  It comedy is based on a single pun, and the story could easily have survived without it.  There is some lovely chunky design from Inaki Miranda, with an enormously oversized Lawmaster...although the final swandive from four storeys seems silly.

400 issues in, and the Meg continues to meet a high standard.  It's not a perfect issue.  There are a few bum notes, some stories that might not iediately grab you, but when it's good its extraordinary. 


 

Our Score:

9/10

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