Monday, April 28, 2014

Definitely Maybe

The Complete P.J.Maybe by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Garth Ennis, Liam Sharp, Anthony Williams, Ben Oliver, Pete Doherty, Chris Weston, Carlos Ezquerra, and Tom Frame.

Judge Dredd doesn't have many recurring villains in his rogues' gallery. Dredd either shoots the bad guys or incarcerates them in the iso-cubes, which unlike Arkham Asylum tend to keep the doors locked. Apart from Judge Death and the other Dark Judges one other character who has returned again and again is the notorious serial killer Philip Janet Maybe (his parents wanted a girl). This paperback collects all of Maybe's early appearances up to the point where he returned to Mega-City One in the guise of Byron Ambrose before becoming elected as Mayor.

Like many great Dredd stories old stony face is largely a peripheral character in the early episodes with Maybe's exploits and his narration (with his characteristic terrible spelling) taking centre stage. Later on as Maybe's infamy grows Dredd takes charge of the investigations and the stories become more about the battle of wills between these two driven individuals. Maybe is a fairly typical Wagner and Grant creation with that mix of dark 2000AD humour teamed with the gritty details of a police procedural. He makes us laugh when we know we probably shouldn't. I should add that Maybe does escape from the cubes but at least there's a good reason for it as opposed to the revolving door policy that Arkham operates.

Liam Sharp is the artist for the early episodes and does a fine job. Obviously King Carlos rules the roost, but Sharp's stuff was nice to look at, as was some early Chris Weston. And the story progresses in an enjoyable fashion with Maybe clearly being a character that Wagner likes to return to from time to time. Once I finished this edition I re-read the Gingerbread Man story from the Henry Flint Collection, so now I'm just about caught up on Maybe right the way through to the events of Tour of Duty and Day of Chaos.

Good fun stories with Maybe and Dredd on great form, this book gets an emphatic Yess (sic) from me. It also has some back matter from Liam Sharp talking about his apprenticeship with Don Lawrence and showing off some early pages and sketches. Sharp also provides a touching tribute to legendary letterer Tom Frame who died shortly before this volume was released, and to whom the book is dedicated. A few simple extra pages and I'm happy, Rebellion.

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