Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Mega Collection issues 2 and 3

The Hachette part works collection continues with issue 2 which confusingly is volume 24, and issue 3 or volume 36 for those who are keeping score.

The Mechanismo volume includes Mechanismo by John Wagner, Colin MacNeil and Annie Parkhouse; Mechanismo Returns by Wagner, Peter Doherty and Parkhouse; Body Count by Wagner, Manuel Benet and Tom Frame; S.A.M. by Wagner, Val Semeiks, Cliff Robinson, Chris Blythe and Tom Frame; and finally Safe Hands by Gordon Rennie, Jock, Chris Blyth and Tom Frame. The full colour reproduction seems good all the way through, I'm guessing that the original art plates from the painted era all survive so there are none of the problems that trouble reprints from the older black and white Progs. I've previously reviewed the Mechanismo storyline so won't rehash my thoughts but safe to say it is nice to have all these stories collected in a neat shelf sized volume.

The Apocalypse War includes the complete Block Mania by Wagner, Alan Grant, Mike McMahon, Ron Smith, Steve Dillon and Brian Bolland; and The Apocalypse War by Wagner, Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. Lettering is by Tom Frame throughout. Again it's good to have these iconic stories collected in a neat compact sized hard back, but there are some reproduction problems. The original colour double page spreads from the Progs are reprinted in black and white throughout, and there are large blocks of very dark blacks in the block mania issues, particularly affecting McMahon's art. The Dillon pages look similarly dark. Fortunately Ron Smiths's detailed line work stands out beautifully and the Bolland pages look fine.

Most of the Ezquerra pages are lovely too behold. There are couple of pages where the art appears as washed out greys that look like unfinished pencils. They are the same in the Case Files so the fault must lie in the original plates. Correction: The 2000AD forum quite rightly tells me that this is how those pages appeared in the early Progs and that Ezquerra was using the technique to indicate flashback sequences.

Sadly I don't have the original Prog to compare it too but here is how Tom Mullin corrected the page in the lovely IDW coloured edition that I have previously raved about.

The other problem affecting the King Carlos episodes is some central gutter loss on the double page spreads particularly towards the middle of this volume where the binding seems tight. The IDW edition and Case Files 5 do have similar problems but their larger size makes it less obvious.

Extras in these issues are limited to full colour reprints of the Prog covers, introductions by Matt Smith and afterword essays by Michael Molcher. However subscribers also got a rather lovely ceramic coffee mug and a metal Dredd badge which is a bit small for cosplay but does look spectacular on my mantle piece.

Overall these are nice compact volumes that sit well on the shelf and are lovely to pull down for a quick dose of thrill power. I am still going to recommend the IDW volume as the best version of the Apocalypse War out there at the moment. This Mechanismo issue wins out on previous editions by virtue of those two extra stories of more Mega-City robot madness.

The excitement of receiving my subscriber copies has to be balanced against the thought of how much shelf space the full set will take up, and, of course, the full cost of continuing to all 80 volumes. Space and money are limited resources so it remains to be seen whether enough 2000AD fans will continue to double or even triple dip with these stories for Hachette to make it to the end.

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