The next two volumes in the Mega Collection arrive bearing gifts in the form of some Judge Dredd coasters and two books that could be excellent contenders for that always tricky dilemma of what to hand to a new reader in the hopes of luring them in to the world of Dredd.
First off, Origins by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, Kev Walker and Colin MacNeil, with that famous Brian Bolland cover image. This does an excellent job of covering the back story that led to the Judges taking control of America while at the same time showing how Joe Dredd's character has developed since those early years. And along the way there's plenty of kickass action with cursed earth mutant gangs, deluded townships, and some bonkers robots. This is easy to review as it has several of the 2000AD elite creators all performing at the top of their game. The reproduction is perfect and there are some extra features with sketches by Carlos, an introduction by Matt Smith and a nice afterword by Michael Molcher. I think this is a great book to hand to a Dredd newbie and in fact that is what I plan to do with these volumes once they overtake the space I have available for them (about now in other words).
The Anderson Shamballa volume is similarly beautiful to hold and behold. Alan Grant explores all his interest in mystical matters while Arthur Ranson's artwork is simply stunning. As well as Shamballa this also includes the stories The Jesus Syndrome, Satan, The Protest, and R*Volultion.
Again it is all beautifully produced with another Matt Smith introduction and a very interesting five page essay by Mr Molcher. I have a friend who is into French and other European comics and I think I'm going to pass this one on to him as Ranson's glorious art reminds me of some of the work produced by Moebius and other European artists.