Judge Dredd Megazine (#347 – 349, 352, 356) – Various

4 out of 5

So over here in the Americas, it’s effing hard to get my hands on 2000 AD and the JD Megs.  My not-so-local comic shop – Midtown – supposedly carries them, but having them set aside as part of a subscription list rarely works out on a consistent basis.  The 2000 ADs are at least sold in monthly packs, so while it might not divide up story-wise evenly, at least I get to feel like I’m reading something serialized.  But since the Dredd mags are already monthly, and then we skip random months, it’s been hard to divvy them up for reviewing.  Ideally I’d review when the headlining Dredd story concludes; in lieu of that, I’ll aim for groupings of 6.

The featured Dredd tale I have the most parts of, here – Rad to the Bone – is unfortunately a little silly, just a small gang war scuffle.  And I know the kids love Boo Cook, but his preference for pastel-y colors always distills the expressiveness of his art.  But elsewhere, the single chapters of tales of Rob Williams, Al Ewing, and master John Wagner all have groovy elements of seediness and corruption and world-building and make me wish I had the other pieces.

Regarding another classic writer, Alan Grant delivers an Anderson tale about tracking down a mind-swapping killer.  It’s a got a good buildup and pretty sweet art from Michael Dowling, but the concept feels sorta played out for a Psi-Div story.

Man From Ministry bubbles up in a couple of these issues and fails to find its hook, same with Pat Mills’ photo comic Reaper, which draws boringly from generic sci-fi tropes, and the “movie universe” version of Dredd, ‘Uprise.’  The kids are split on that one; I agree that movie Dredd was perfect for the movie – the Stallone version of the film basically tried to include the cheekiness ‘Dredd’ left out.  Switching the platforms, movie Dredd in comic form – a cheeky-less Dredd – is pretty much just another comic book tough.

The Meg also decides to drop the text stories after issue 348, or at least in the issues I have they’re all interviews or features.  I admit that these are generally just sales pitches, but I like the way they make the Meg feel more like a magazine than 2000 AD.

There’re also a whole bunch of one-shots – Tales from MC-1, Tales from the Black Museum – that get to explore oddball corners of the world, and some shorts – DeMarco P.I., Lawless – that do the same.  And it’s really these pieces that always ratchet up my appreciation of the Megazine, even when issue to issue, the success rate may seem less than that of 2000 AD: The focus on the Judge Dredd world, with smart editing by Matt Smith to spread the coverage out to various corners of that world, is inspiring, realizing how giant this thing has grown since the 70s, but not in a Marvel / DC sprawling way… much more linear.  Characters and stories are created and stick around.  It’s a great sense of history.

So: a scattered review.  But the best I corral these bits and pieces.

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