The Monthly Megazine – Issue 440 – Kicking Off 2022 In Mega Fashion
by Richard Bruton
The Monthly Megazine – doing just what it says, taking you through the latest goings-on in the sister monthly to 2000 AD, 30+ years and still going strong!
Yep, it’s the first Megazine of 2022 and I’m way late with it as it’s already out on the stands.
Hey, life, y’know.
Before we get into the guts of it, take another look at that gorgeous cover. As always, SK Moore has written up a pretty damn wonderful piece for 2000 AD’s Covers Uncovered on it that you should check out. And in case you were wondering, one huge inspiration on this cover was the classic Judge Dredd: The Graveyard Shift, from Progs 335-341, by John Wagner, Alan Grant, and the incredible Ron Smith, Stewart’s first memory of seeing Dredd sitting and waiting, watching out over MC-1.
Anyway, onto the actual innards of the Meg this month…
We have the second parts of all the strips that began with the Christmas Meg last month. So that’s second parts to Cursed Earth fungal madness and redemption in Death Cap, Brit-Cit crime drama in Diamond Dogs Book 3, electioneering craziness in Lawless, and we take to the skies in the Wagner/MacNeil Surfer. And then we get a brand-new multi-part Dredd, Praise Zort! which picks up from Rory McConville and Staz Johnson‘s Project Providence storyline from last year.
And in place of the usual bagged collected edition, this issue sees the first of five issues of the Garth Ennis and Henry Flint Hawk The Slayer sequel, revisiting the characters and the world of that cult 80s fantasy movie.
Megazine #440 is already in the shops, so head on out to wherever fine comics are sold and pick up your copy!
JUDGE DREDD: PRAISE ZORT! – PART 1 – Rory McConville, Staz Johnson, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Annie Parkhouse
Last year we had McConville and Johnson’s Project Providence, where the MC-1 boffins got caught out when their latest time-travel tech project was revealed to be stealing secrets from the other Mega-Cities around the world.
It’s months later now and MC-1 and Chief Judge Logan is still dealing with the fallout from getting caught, with diplomatic manoeuvring the order of the day – which is why he’s addressing the Assembly of Nations, with every Justice Department around the globe wanting him held to account.
Into all this comes Profundia, a Pan-African enclave with a habit of praying to aliens since the Church of Zort took over – and Logan is desperate for their vote at the Assembly, something that seems in the bag with a little smoothing along of matters, MC-1 style.
Well, in the bag until…
And that’s when Dredd gets involved, sent down to Profundia with a new ambassador after the old one had a strangely timed accident.
So, what we get is a fascinating start to this, made all the better as McConville is determined to give us an entire episode of talking heads and getting deep into the whole diplomatic relationships. It’s the sort of thing I love when Michael Carroll does that with Dredd and now McConville is taking on the mantle of it. Sure, you know Dredd’s going to end up putting the boot in at some point, but with the story as good as this, it’s really not needed.
And credit as well to Johnson, with some really great looking artwork this episode – just look at the second page in the preview below to see how much drama he gets into a page of to-and-fro perspective shots.
Oh, and kudos to McConville for next week’s title – ‘Down with that Zort of thing,’ the sort of line that always makes me think the writer came up with that one first and then based the while story on it.
DEATH CAP – PART 2 – TC Eglington, Boo Cook, letters by Simon Bowland
After a damn fine first episode, promising a hell of a lot, the second of Death Cap just keeps things going, as one of the most promising new Meg strips in a long time ramps up the fungal nightmares.
As ex-Texas City Judge Goya is still reeling from the massacre of the place in the Cursed Earth she called home, including the brutal deaths of her husband and kids, things are about to take an even more horrible turn.
But we’ll leave that one as a spoiler, suffice it to say that Goya’s pursuit of the gang spreading Grubb’s Fungal infection everywhere they go isn’t going to be smooth sailing.
This one is simply a thriller, Eglington taking the wild west of the Cursed Earth and spinning a body-horror tale on top of it, with Cook’s artwork looking every bit as lush as you’d expect and then some. His last project with Eglington, Blunt, looked stunning, but this manages to up the ante and he’s on career-best form right here.
DIAMOND DOGS: BOOK THREE – PART 2 – James Peaty, Warren Pleece, letters by Simon Bowland
With young Nia Jones now being run by Armitage as a Brit-Cit informant, things in her life have just gone from bad to worse, with the stakes ever-higher.
She’s been given the task of infiltrating the Silver Apples crime syndicate, but this really is a step-up for Nia. Bad enough she’s having to piss off a lot of the Brit-Cit underworld to get the in, but there’s a big hint that some of those above Armitage aren’t on their side at all.
This is the final series of Diamond Dogs, a three-series and out thing and I can’t help but wonder if she’s going to get out of this one in one piece, such is the peril that Peaty’s obviously throwing her into. It’s been a good old series, doing it all well, the slow build of investigation and infiltration, just as with the prior two series, are what’s going to take up most of our time here, but that’s just fine, as Peaty, along with the usually sterling artwork of Pleece, has a real handle on what makes this sort of simmering crime thriller work.
And as for the future, could I be the first to suggest that, after they’re done with Nia, they’d be a perfect fit for a new Armitage series?
LAWLESS: BALLOTS OVER BADROCK – PART 2 – Dan Abnett, Phil Winslade, letters by Jim Campbell
So, Metta Lawson’s quit as Colonial Marshal of Badrock and is now running for Mayor of the frontier town of Badrock. Talk about going from frying pan to fire.
The town’s all a-flutter with electioneering and Metta’s beginning to realise that might be even more dangerous than everything she’s faced before. And worse still, giving up the Marshal’s job has pissed off the only friends she really had in the town…
So, whilst it might be a change of pace in one way, it’s also got all the hallmarks of everything that’s always made Lawless just so damn good. All the characterisations by Abnett are all there, he’s a master of juggling the ever-growing cast, and the substitution of the threats from outside Badrock with the internal political manoeuvrings make the whole thing no less exciting.
So many different plot threads are all up in the air, all slowly being teased out to perfection.
And of course, you only need to look at any of the pages we show you as part of the preview to see just how glorious that Phil Winslade artwork is. It’s still amazing to see the amount of detail that he can pack into each and every single page, none of it looking anything less than incredible.
SURFER: PART ONE – PART 2 – John Wagner, Colin MacNeil, colours by Chris Blythe, letters by Annie Parkhouse
The return of Wagner to the world of skysurfing, bringing MacNeil along for the ride – now that’s a great way to start the year.
In Surfer, we’re following young, disaffected Zane Perks, a kid with skysurfing in his blood who’s just landed the role of stunt stand-in for the lead in a Chopper movie that’s planning on recreating the famous Supersurf 7.
All of which means we get to see MacNeil doing thrilling sky scenes, vertiginous drops, fabulous buildings… the whole thing. It’s just gorgeous.
But against all that we have Wagner being Wagner, with a tale of MC-1 that’s packed with all the familiar Wagnerian beats. Right now, it might be all about the surfin’ but there’s more to Surfer than the board action. Although, you know what? I would have been fine with a multi-parter with nothing more than Wagner and MacNeil detailing the Chopper movie being made.