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2000 AD Prog Slog

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 1.6

It must be intimidating for new boys Garth Ennis and John McCrea to find themselves working alongside such established greats as John Wagner and Alan Grant. In Earth, Wind and Fire, we learn that Chopper didn’t die at the end of his last story (see 2000 AD). Instead, he got better and moved to the Radback with friends. Problems begin to occur for this group of solid, down to earth buddies when the Stig Corporation decide to tap into the song lines at the very spot that the group have made their home. It’s a prime example of corporate arrogance, delusion and vindictiveness that Chopper and the now over weight Jug feel built to stamp out.

It’s a fine and engaging story which works all the more successfully because there’s a sense that both Ennis and McCrea are good friends themselves. There are places where the artwork seems to falter but it feels mean to dwell on those when there are pages that crackle with energy and, overall, the spirit of the strip is upbeat. I would say that the boys performed well when compared with their more established peers.

Elsewhere, one of the most affecting Judge Dredd stories ever, America, reaches its penultimate episode. The story is told from the point of view of Benny, a successful comedian who, for all his life, has been in love with a girl called America. Ami unfortunately, has been pushed to extremism after the judges’ brutal infiltration of the 16 million strong march for democracy a few years before and has joined the terrorist group Total War.

Reading America, it’s surprising how far Judge Dredd has come over the years; from a pop moody law man versus criminal strip in 1977 to this, an individual’s futile scream into the face of fascism. It is proof I think that Judge Dredd has the scope to tell stories about almost anything from sweeping global warfare to heart felt doomed love. It’s impressive that writer John Wagner has always recognised this, had the insight, imagination and ability to make each of these stories as engaging as each other and now has the space to tell a diverse range of tales. Artist Colin MacNeil seems to understand that he’s painting something memorable here; his work on America is the best he’s done, as far as I am concerned.

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