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JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE, #394 REVIEW

by Gavin Johnston on March 20, 2018

Writers: Arthur Wyatt; Si Spencer; Dan Abnett; Rory McConville; Alex De Campi
Artists: Jake Lynch; Nicolo Assirelli; Phil Winslade; Carlos Ezquerra; Henry Flint
Colourists: John Charles; Eva De La Cruz; Chris Blythe
Letterers: Annie Parkhouse; Ellie DeVille; Simon Bowland 


Dredd is trapped on Kong Island, where a crimimal gang of intelligent gorillas have led a rebellion. Opening with a rock concert which is immediately interupted by a massive robot ape, Judge Dredd: Krong Island just gets crazier as it goes along. The basic premise here is obviously very funny, with Dredd teaing up with intelligent gorillas, but there’s thrilling action and small moments of pathos too. Art by Jake Lynch gives us Dredd and his gorilla sidekick Heston working together to attack criminals from above, but only a few panels later Heston is left behind as Dredd doesn’t need his help. It's a small moment which reveals a huge amount about both characters. Krong Island is a fast moving farce, building on a very early 2000AD story in which Dredd battled a huge robotic movie prop, but there are frequent suggestions of something more going on behind the scenes. The reference to “heroes lost along the way” is a call back to the criminal O’Neill, who piloted the robotic Krong back in 1977. With the long history of apes in Mega City One, and Dredd’s own slow arc over the intervening years, it also makes sense the level of respect that Dredd shows to his fur covered companions, as does the fact that he appears to understand Chimpanzee.

 

Dredd’s Universe is, after all, a strange and vared place. Beyond the familiar walls of Mega City One, a whole range of different people and cultures exist. These places, however, often only appear in fleeting references. The city of Ciudad Barranquilla, often known as “Banana City”, which replaces present day Beunos Aires, is an often referenced symbol of corruption and urban sprawl, but hasn’t been the focus of a prolonged tale. The Returners: Irmazhina is a strange story, made up of a patchwork of seemingly unrelated scenes. Life in Ciudad Barranquilla is brutal, its justice department corrupt, and strange things are happening. The story opens with a building disappearing, moves to the fetishistic red-light district, and then a prison block. A judge is escorted from the city, and elsewhere a murder is discovered. Its difficult to know where The Returners is going. No characters are really established and no story is set up, but rather we get a feel for the chaos of this city and the constant fear of its crowded street. It looks like its going to be a wild ride.

 

In Lawless: Breaking Badrock, the settlement of Badrock recovers form the initial attack from the Munce Corporation, and Marshall Lawson gathers her forces and decides which of her unpredictable allies she can rely on. It’s a downbeat episode, as we catch up with a large cast of characters, but it is full of small details in the dialogue which reveal depths to their relationships. As always, the incredible line art from Phil Winslade, detailed and emotive, carries Lawless through its quieter moments. The detail given to the two very different amassing armies is truly outstanding.

 

Cursed Earth Coburn: The Law of Cursed Earth is a Western, and it’s easy to imagine this story happening in another place or another time, with only minimal changes. Big, chunky imageary from Carlos Ezquerra, whose art is frequently western-themed, is the perfect fit for Rory McConville’s terse script. Its a simple and straightforward story, but with small suggestions that even the villains have understandable motivations. Judge Boyle gathers his posse, blaming local mutants for the murders he committed, whilst Coburn and Judge Cleary rush to stop him.

 

A very different vision of the Dark Judges arrive in Mega City One in Dredd: The Dead World. The supernatural Judge Death and his lieutenants might not feel like the most obvious fit to the movie-version of Dredd’s universe, but with some great writing from Alex De Campi and Arthur Wyatt, new character is added to the monsters from another dimension.

 

This month’s Megazine also features written articles on the classic Charlie’s War, a review of which will appear soon on ComicsTheGathering.com, and an interview with Robert Bliss, whose Clown series graced the pages of 2000AD in the ‘90’s, and who later went on to work on some major movies.

 

Our Score:

10/10

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