Sunday, January 5, 2014

What is the Megazine for?

When I returned to the 2000AD fold a few years ago I took out a combined subscription to the Prog and the Megazine because it seemed like the thing to do. But to be honest I've always regarded the Meg as the poor relation of the main event. Getting that weekly thrill power infusion seemed like the real thing. Meanwhile the Megazine had Dredd stories that seemed to have little consequence for the character and his world, and then there were other strips which baffled or bored me. And unlike other popular publications I don't buy it for the interviews which I rarely read.

However this year all that has changed. Possibly because the Prog has been struggling to match the heights of the Day of Chaos storyline, or the “kicking your door in” impact of Trifecta, but for whatever reason the weekly has not had the same impact. But the Megazine has taken up the slack and given us a cracking year. OK, so I am still perplexed by American Reaper and what was going on there, but we had a great Dan Francisco story, a terrific Henry Flint cover for the Dredd movie sequel, and the start of Rob Williams and D’Israeli’s Ordinary which is anything but.

The real star of the show for me this year has been the final chapter of Insurrection. Abnett and MacNeil’s space war epic had me eagerly anticipating each issue, and seeking out the first trade. Towards the end it had that same elegiac feel that I remember from the last episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, and it was all wrapped up with that beautiful cover to the November edition. Lovely stuff.

Turning to the latest issue Cliff Robinson gives us one of his iconic hard-arse Dredd covers . It might be Dylan Teague’s colours but this and their cover to 338 remind me of those classic images that Brian Bolland produced in his heyday, particularly on the Timeout cover from 1982.

Judge Dredd: Donner & Blitzin’ by Michael Carroll, Duane Leslie, Eva De La Cruz, & Annie Parkhouse.
A slightly cartoonish look to this story that gives us the other side of the stolen loot plot in Prog 2014. The best thing is the battle of wills between Dredd and Florence Donner, it feels like Dredd has met his match in terms of determination and knowledge of the law. So much so that the battle with the gang of robbers gets knocked into second place, and just feels like a bit of routine business for Dredd, although his hard nosed approach to Donner’s resettlement seems slightly out of place with the recent softening of his character.
If Leslie’s portrayal of Dredd and the cadets is a bit cartoony he more than makes up for this with some great panel layouts. He almost gives us a couple of circular panels like the ones that the Whittle admires so much in the early issues of 2000AD.

DeMarco P.I. The Whisper part 1 by Michael Carroll, Steve Yeowell and Ellie De Ville.
I’ve just read The Pit again so I’m nearly up to speed with Galen De Marco and her private investigations since she gave up being a Judge (the free floppy with this Meg also helps). Mike Carroll quickly fills in the background of her new assignment in Mega-City Two and Steve Yeowell seems keen to prove that he can do backgrounds by giving us plenty of cityscapes and mega blocks. The story about mysterious missing persons and an urban legend menace are intriguing and I’m hooked and ready for more in 2014.

Ordinary part 4 by Rob Williams, D’Israeli and HV Derci
The story is touching and funny, the artwork and colours are extraordinary, and there’s the mystery if what exactly Dr MacDonald’s super power is. All this with an added Kaiju, an Eric and Ernie song and dance number, and an appearance by Dr Bunsen Honeydew. It’s fantabulous, get on board now.

There’s a great one page teaser for the Dark Judges story coming in 2014 from John Wagner and Greg Staples with Judge Anderson looking a lot like a certain model. Let’s hope Wagner has found a new way to empower Death and his cronies and make them a real threat to what’s left of the Mega-City.

Anderson. Psi Division: Dead End part 1 by Alan Grant, Michael Dowling and Simon Bowland.
This looks very promising as well with an older, world weary Anderson up against something other than the usual psychic Satanic cult nonsense. Dowling’s coloured artwork is lovely and reminds me of european artists like Moebius in Heavy metal, or Geoff Darrow’s work on Hard Boiled. Personally I could do without Dredd popping up in this story and would just let Anderson take the lead but we’ll see where it goes.

An outstanding year for the Megazine which looks to be getting even better for 2014. And no, I still haven’t read the interviews yet.

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