Judge Dredd Megazine #222

Reviewer: Will Cooling
Editor: Alan Barnes
Publisher: Rebellion

What a week huh? Because this review is always massively long at the best of times I’ll save my goodbyes and thanks for The Roundtable. On with the review…

Judge Dredd

Title: Six Pt. 2
Writer: John Wagner
Artist: Chris Western
Letterer: Tom Frame

Last issue saw the former child mass murder P.J Maybe return to the Big Meg disguised as a Southern American businessman intent on killing a number of childhood acquaintances in a variety of sadistic and inventive ways with reference to the number six. Naturally Judge Dredd is onto his trail and is now aware that his hunch that the delivery of his heart from Banana City was too cute was correct. Now as Maybe strikes again Dredd faces a desperate chase to work out the madman’s motivation and save his intended victims.

Yay for this! An excellent story with Wagner being brilliant at building the suspense as the grisly series of murders near their climax with explosive results. Wagner has really got under the skin of Maybe with the stress of his resourcefulness and ingenuity when killing returning with some atheistically diverse, grotesque and inspired murders adding to our slightly sadistic enjoyment. Wagner also returns to the childlike nature of Maybe, which avoids the trap that Ennis fell into of making him a random and crazed killer but marks a welcome change to the humdrum motivation of money and lust. Dredd is superb in the story, with his extraordinary focus and determination being brought to the fore in some superb characterisation whilst we see the return of one the best parts of the Dredd vs Maybe rivalry, the (spoiler). You can add to this Chris Western’s superb art that just oozes class with superb detail that gives his work a heavily naturalistic feel and look. His characterisation is excellent with Dredd looking every inch the tightly controlled, obsessive yet all action sixty year old he really is. All in all way too short but still an absolutely brilliant story!


Cursed Earth Koburn

Title: Kuss Hard Pt. 2
Writer: Gordon Rennie
Artist: Carlos Ezquerra
Letterer: Annie Parkhouse

Last issue Koburn was presented by Judge Bonaventura with a mission to bring the organ-dealing Kuss Brothers to justice. The same brothers have sort the help of their fearsome mother Mama Kuss (hmm sounds familiar). Now hot on the trail of the Kuss Brothers Koburn and Bonaventura encounter a non-too pleased or helpful Mama…

Rennie has really gotten into this series developing a wonderful tone of lawlessness and a cast of grotesques that include the likes of Dweezil and Mama Kuss that in many ways hark back to the feel of classic Strontium Dog. Like Stronty this series mixes action and comedy something added by the easy-going, laidback attitude of Koburn who dryly punctures the machismo amongst the criminals. If there’s a flaw its that Bonaventura doesn’t feel a fully developed character with Rennie content to leave her as Koburn’s slightly naïve straight man person, although she does provoke some good lines. As for Carlos Ezquerra’s art, well what can you say? The man is an absolute genius and Rennie’s story with its parade of grotesques, dash of comedy and efficient use of action is right up his street.


Anderson, PSI-Division

Title: WMD Pt. 2 ~ The Empath
Writer: Alan Grant
Artist: Arthur Ranson
Letterer: Annie Parkhouse

Last issue saw the Judges organise a mission into Anderson head to exorcise Half-Life, the virus that Death had implanted into Anderson at the end of My Name is Death (as revealed earlier this year in Half-Life). The team is made up of an Empath King, a telekine Behr, telepaths Wain and Shakta and the Extispicist (witch) Gistane and already they have been confronted with the horror of Anderson’s scared and ravaged mind. Now they look at a mob surrounding an impaled Anderson as Death prepares to kill her, but all is never as it seems.

This cements the definite return to the occult/PSI brainf*cks after this strip’s nineties focus on Anderson’s humanity and I like it. Grant is very good at writing serious fantasy and the growing confusion and doubts amongst the Judges as the manifestations inside Anderson’s mind refuse to settle. His characterisation is very good with most of the Judges actually rising above the stereotypes of the PSI as unstreetwise, effeminate and sensitive, which is a damn miracle in Behr’s case given that she’s a blonde woman. Add to that some inventive action and Grant’s ability to develop a real sense of menace and who some great writing. All of which is brilliantly brought out by the superb paints of Arthur Ranson, for a writer sometimes accused of over-using photo referencing he is brilliant at developing some twisted character designs for the monsters and ghouls that inhabit this story. All in all a fantastic story!


The Simping Detective

Title: Crystal Blue Pt. 2
Writer: Si Spurrier
Artist: Frazer Irving
Letterer: Tom Frame

There’s something on the streets that going round like a 22nd Century Jack the Ripper offing prostitutes left, right, centre and left again. Now Jack Point, undercover cop and all round Simp hadn’t been paying much attention distracted by such things as the latest designer drug Crystal Blue as dealt by punk kids on grimy sidewalks. All that changes when he’s called into the meet the new boss who’s exactly the same as the mob boss. He’s warned to stay off the case lest he wants to set up for a crime that he may have committed at one time but they probably don’t know. Well like any good cop this piques his interests and he renews his investigations with new vigour, which led him to The Church of Grud School and then to well,

A RAPTUR NEST!!!

For those who don’t know a Raptur is an Alien rip-off (er don’t you mean “a creature similar to those featured Alien-legal and handbag fight avoiding Ed) creature that has all sort of nasty PSI abilities. Now after killing the one person any of them had any loyalty to (their creator) Point is running for his life as they go on the rampage. All while trying to build a case against Daveez and avoided a one-stop ticket to Titan. It’s a messy job’s but someone has to do it (because of you know of all the clichés and genre conventions).

Joking aside this is a great story (stop yer whining Metal_Jesus) with Spurrier’s writing showing real energy, verve and character (what did I tell you?) as he is obviously enjoying himself taking so many iconic yet ridiculous tics of the PI genre to the absolute max. Point is a superb character with so much personality, a real keeper. Frazer Irving’s art is as good as ever; with his looser; less angular variant of his usual style his developed for this series just working a treat. His Raptur is excellent managing to make them seem not the Alien rip off I accuse them off giving them a more maniacal and crazed characterisation. Some of their attacks look amazing. All in all an amazingly good story with great art and equally great writing (all right Metal_Jesus, I warned you!!!).

P.S Really hope this doesn’t get four parts otherwise we’ll get the whole Point having sex with a Raptur if it continues its alien riff.


Black Siddha

Title: Kali Yuga Pt. 5
Writer: Pat Mills
Artist: Simon Davis
Letterer: Ellie De Ville

The purpose of the Special Hostel has been revealed and boy it’s strange. You see Earth is the prison of the universe and all the criminals and bad, bad people of the universe get reincarnated as humans as punishment. Now some smiling yet sinister psychiatrists are pumping them with a drug Akto-Phase, which reverts them to their previous incarnations. Now Black Siddha is in the hostel and is ready to kick ass (well his a (whisper) superhero you know).

This is a fun episode with the beginning devoted to a good fight between Siddha and “The Doctor” with some good smack-talk and a noticeably slow-mo telling of it drawing attention away from the static nature of Davis’ art. Whilst the second half is devoted to a fantastic Zulu style assault on Siddha by the aliens, which allows Davis to deliver some fantastic visuals. These past few episodes have seen this series really recover its previous form with a sense of urgency, modernity and fun returning. Black Siddha getting more play as well is good with his haughty and imposing manner being almost a parody of the classic superhero placed in an Indian context. A good episode with some fantastic art.

*See 411Black’s final Writing From My Soapbox this weekend as to why!!!