Judge Dredd Megazine (#296, 299, 302, 312, 318) – Various

3 out of 5

Yup, totally random pickups, bought after the fact for their floppies. I’ll do my best to summarize.

In our main Dredd spot… Guy Davis! Really, a great reason to hunt this down: Guy on Dredd. But it’s also an excellent Rob Williams tale – Rob’s world-building tends to feel rather overwrought to me, but when he boils his concepts down to one-shots like this, featuring a Cursed Earth judge and muties, they can really pack a punch. Next up is a terse oner from Simon Spurrier and Pete Doherty featuring a prophesizing nut, also from the CE; then some forced humor from Al Ewing and Henry Flint concerning teen gangs (I think Al can be really funny, but this one feels like a vague idea kinda hurriedly molded into a story); Al returns in 318 for a slightly funnier Judge Pal-related Xmas story, featuring Ben Willsher’s beefy art. Inbetween, there’s the first entry in Family Man in 312 – also Ewing, with Leigh Gallagher, and concerning a vigilante assassin type. This is a good start, but… dealing with bits and pieces I don’t have the other parts, so the winner here is definitely that opening Williams / Davis entry.

Because most of these issues are at least a couple apart, I don’t have many ongoing stories – Meg entries tend to run for 2-4 parts. And alas, not a lot of this is super grabbing in individual thrills.

There’s… the first entry of a Tank Girl (Alan Martin, Rufus Dayglo) in which TG hunts down a clone; part of the try-hard Tempest, from Ewing and Jon Davis-Hunt – I get that there’s more going on here than just an overly-violent judge, but again, not much to grab on to in one entry; a Dredd “Lost Case” from Alan Grant and Paul Marshall, which is, admittedly, a fun way to dodge out of current plots and just do an old-school silly Joe strip; a confusing and underwhelming timey-wimey Black Museum from Arthur Wyatt and Davis-Hunt – in color though, which is weird; another Black Museum from Michael Carroll and Tiernen Trevallion which unravels kind of obviously – a judge finds the worst of the worst in the CE – but is appropriately twisted and dark; a Hondo-City entry from Morrison and Neil Googe, in which I have zero idea what’s happening but Googe’s art is cool – there are some weird creatures, and an evil psi; a couple Andersons from Alan Grant and Boo Cook – Cass versus a nightmare-inducing cult leader; Cass abusing a psi-drug to find a bomber – both of these are about average amongst Grant’s Cass stuff, long past his more poetic musings, but with a nice familiarity with the character that gives these a unique flavor; a part of Spurrier’s / Holden’s multiversal-agent Numbercruncher – I read some individual issues of this in comic book form from Titan, and always found it conceptually interesting, but the actual execution wasn’t very involving, and that holds true here; and, finally, a Rennie / Ezquerra (Carlos and Hector!) Cursed Earth Koburn, which… also doesn’t work well in this single part (318), though I’ve liked the character elsewhere.

Some unmentioned standouts: there’re a couple parts of Simon Fraser’s Lilly Mackenzie here, which seems like a sort of amusing sex romp at points, but the very casual nature of how that’s used – how Mackenzie eye-rollingly flaunts her nudity while ship-hopping across the galaxy – adds a little something extra to the story that’s suggestive of Fraser’s eye on world- and character-building, as opposed to straight-up antics. Fraser’s art is, as usual, very fun, and very cinematic; I’d be interested to read more of this one – it’s somewhat Nikolai Dante-esque, perhaps not coincidentally. There’s also the concluding part of a Gordon Rennie / P.J. Holden Johnny Woo tale, which is really just a big ol’ fight with some type of spirit / psi-powered creature / force, but… Rennie is so good at weaving scope and stakes into action, and Holden’s art looks so good on this, that it makes checking out the first part a necessity. And while I’m not sure I need to read more of Arthur Wyatt’s / Paul Marshall’s exposition-heavy Samizdat squad, this tale of a rogue pack of Sov-judges – still dedicated to the state, perhaps, but not to the way it was run – still feels like an interesting angle from which to explore the Dreddverse. On the other hand, while I normally haven’t found much to care about regarding tuff Brit-Cit cop Armitage, Dave Stone and Patrick Goddard bringing him together with Joe to tackle a psycho killer reads like the best type of 80s action movie popcorn stuff – another one to hunt down more of.

In addition – your usual assortment of text pages covering new comics, film reviews (until they stopped those), interviews, etc.