Judge Dredd Megazine (# 421 – 423) – Various

3 out of 5

Solid, if unremarkable, Dredds; solid, if unremarkable and repetitive Devlin Waughs; same-same Tales from the Black Museum; thank-god-the-end-of-Blunt; and then Dan Abnett, keeping everything in check with the page-turning mastery of Lawless’ Boom Town arc.

Two of the Dredds are from Rory McConville, which, still, guarantees a certain level of quality. That said, neither entry here really offered up anything necessarily memorable, but at the same time, they’re absolutely quality strips that I’d continue to take in monthly dosages, especially when paired with the damn impressive stable of artists that are kicking around the progs and megs lately, like Staz Johnson and Ben Willsher. (I’ve had my problems with Ben’s sort of open, bland panels before, but Rory gives him colorful characters and scenery to play with and it looks pretty great.) The standout Dredd is actually from Arthur Wyatt and Jake Lynch, though, following on their Orlok clone thread for a pretty devious bit of misdirection and violence.

Ales Kot and Patrick Goddard work well together on Devlin Waugh – Goddard’s a great match for the burly wrestler type of Waugh – I’m just getting a little worn on the formula Kot keeps going with for Devlin, which has him bantering with his demon-possessed dildo and using a lot of double-entendres. I like the relationship that he’s building between the two, but the pacing of the strips feels a bit predictable.

Tales from the Black Museum: one from Alec Worley, with the delightfully garish artwork of Leigh Gallagher; one from David Baillie with Anna Morozova. Anna’s new to me, although it seems like she (I’m assuming pronoun on the name) had a bit in a 2019 prog I should dig up and check out, because her artwork is impressive as all heck. Both Black Museum tales, though, are cluttered – something I generally find true of that strip. The whole framing narrative and need to differentiate itself from Future Shocks seems to make the various entries over-written.

I’ve complained about Blunt enough, and I’ve made conclusive statements like that before as well. It wasn’t for me, and I’m glad it’s (seemingly) over.

On the flipside of that sentiment, I’ve gushed over Lawless a’plenty, and I cannot believe how well Abnett has extended the concept. After the big ol’ Zhind battle, I didn’t know what to expect, and the direction he’s taking it here – which I guess should be obvious, but damn, since we’re so invested in the characters it really has allowed Dan to work in some devious quirks – is to basically followup on…. what happens after the end credits roll. This should be a “happy ending,” but no, politics and the fussiness of people still rule the day, and we’re seeing the complicated machinations of that. It’s fascinating and epic stuff.

Also, The Vigilant had its conclusion in a messy bit of mess in issue 421.