2000 AD Online Forum

Spoilers => Megazine => : Funt Solo 09 August, 2018, 07:18:26 PM

: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Funt Solo 09 August, 2018, 07:18:26 PM
In attempting to get caught up on 8 years worth of back issues I wanted to comment on some of the best stories in the Megazine.

Best of the Meg from 298 to 323

In order of publication...


Lilly Mackenzie And The Mines of Charybdis (2010: 298-305)
Script & art: Simon Fraser
Colours: Gary Caldwell
Lettering: Simon Bowland

A space opera that focusses strongly on the relationship between the title character and her best friend Cosmo Judd (who has dwarfism).  Whilst we follow Lilly on a quest that ties back to her adventurous past, at the heart of the story is Cosmo's unrequited love for Lilly: whilst he seems destined to remain in the friend zone, Lilly clearly cares deeply for him.  There is a set up for a sequel, and so I'm hopeful there'll be more of this tale.

(https://i.imgur.com/vJLPY3R.png)


Hondo City Justice (2010: 300-303)
Script: Robbie Morrison
Art: Neil Googe
Colours: Gary Caldwell
Letters: Ellie De Ville

This stars Inspector Inaba, who started as a supporting character in Shimura and had a couple of titled series (Babes With Big Bazookas and Big Lix & Flying Kicks) from 1996-1998.  In this tale, she is teamed with Cadet Judge Junko Asahara: a sort of super-powered psi.  Glorious art with a manga bent, kick-ass female leads that aren't visually exploited, a plot that wouldn't blush as a powerful screenplay and a good mix of action and humour all tie together to leave me wanting a lot more.

(https://i.imgur.com/0kBZhjk.png)


Insurrection II (2011: 305-310)
Script: Dan Abnett
Art: Colin MacNeil
Letters: Simon Bowland

The first Insurrection (2008-2009: 279-284) proved that dressing Warhammer 40K's Space Marines up as Judges was a great idea.  With such a powerful first tale, the danger here is that we might get a tricky second album, but it holds together really well as a sequel: very much presenting itself as the middle tale of a trilogy.  Much more than the first act, this leaves us well and truly on a cliffhanger (which is a slight weakness).  In terms of growth, the characters' core dilemma is brought to the fore: can you fight effectively for freedom without hurting the master you once held dear?

(https://i.imgur.com/fHfB1ea.png)


American Reaper (2011-2012: 316-321)
Story: Pat Mills
Art: Clint Langley
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Pat Mills & Clint Langley collaborated for years on Slaine with The Books of Invasion (2002-2006) and Slaine the Wanderer (2009-2010) arcs.  One of the key aspects of Clint Langley's work on Slaine was a unique blend of photography and art: something that is also used here, and has a tendency to marmite the audience (as the blend of forms sometimes leaves us in the uncanny valley).  What's on offer here is just so fascinating, though: not just an art style, but an entire design aesthetic - a USA that's not only modern but also harks back to Happy Days or Grease.

Rather than just present the tale in comic strip form, there's also a supporting structure of adverts and wanted posters that provide depth to a world in which young people have become a commodity to be consumed by the old and rich.  The tale ends on a cliffhanger, promising a return in the fall of 2012.

If these are photographed people appearing in the strip, how come they don't get credit?  Are they pals, or hired actors?  Has there ever been a piece on how Clint Langley achieves this sort of thing?

(https://i.imgur.com/G2HgvOa.png)


Strange & Darke: New Blood (2012: 319-323)
Script: John Smith
Art: Colin MacNeil
Colours: Len O'Grady & Dee Cunniffe
Letters: Ellie De Ville

Somehow, this manages to normalize an animal-skull-headed Brit-Cit occult detective (Inspector J. Strange) and teams him up with new recruit Bekky Darke (Psi Division).  The tale is self aware enough to voice its own similarity to The Wicker Man, as Strange & Darke investigate the odd goings on in a remote Welsh village.  The art manages to masterfully blend beauty with disturbing horror and the tension throughout ramps up to an unusual climax and a denouement that's difficult to predict.

(https://i.imgur.com/41PtjFW.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: PsychoGoatee 10 August, 2018, 06:26:15 AM
Quality reviewery! I thought American Reaper looked kind of promising, haven't read that yet myself.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: IndigoPrime 10 August, 2018, 09:03:06 AM
American Reaper must be one of the most divisive things The Meg has ever run. Personally, I soon got fed up with it. The strip moved at a snail’s face, took up an absurd amount of each issue, and had art that just got boring despite its clear technical mastery.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: TordelBack 10 August, 2018, 09:24:07 AM
American Reaper must be one of the most divisive things The Meg has ever run. Personally, I soon got fed up with it. The strip moved at a snail’s face, took up an absurd amount of each issue, and had art that just got boring despite its clear technical mastery.

I had only ever seen the odd episode of AR before reading the latter 'books' in a big Meg catch-up. Having read the complaints in the review threads, and not being a fan of Langley's fumetti style, I was expecting an insta-skip, but it was actually a really good read: one of their best collaborations. 

Another case of slower pacing running afoul of a monthly schedule, I think.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Woolly 10 August, 2018, 10:10:24 AM
I think IP hit the nail on the head: American Reaper just took up too much space for not enough storytelling.

As Tordels said, it's a surprisingly good read in one go though. Hope we get some more one day (albeit with tighter pacing!) Really won me over in the end.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: broodblik 10 August, 2018, 10:40:07 AM
I liked American Reaper but IP is correct stating it took many pages to not really say anything.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Tiplodocus 15 August, 2018, 07:04:50 PM
This will be interesting to read as this is where I gave up The Meg. Will these reviews convince me to buy the back issues?
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: I, Cosh 16 August, 2018, 08:40:30 AM
This will be interesting to read as this is where I gave up The Meg. Will these reviews convince me to buy the back issues?
You could've had them for free a couple of months ago so I hope not!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Funt Solo 22 August, 2018, 05:20:32 PM
This will be interesting to read as this is where I gave up The Meg. Will these reviews convince me to buy the back issues?

It's interesting.  One feeling I get on my mass-read is that the Megazine has to play an odd game.  It's the Judge Dredd Megazine, so nearly everything it does is set in the Dredd-verse.  But then it can't really change Mega-City One: it's more like it's the poor cousin that only gets scraps from the table.

Over in 2000AD, for example, we had the Chaos Day arc, which decimated the entire city.  In the Megazine at the same time: nothing happened.  As the city burns (say, around, prog 1784), in Megazine 324 we get The Adjudicators, a joke story by Simon Spurrier about a justice department PR wing.

So, the Megazine has a problem.  The MC-1 in 2000AD isn't the same MC-1 in the Megazine.  With so much Dredd content, and so many writers with so many angles: it's just impossible to hold it together as a believable, consistent fiction. 

When Tour of Duty was running in the prog, the Meg had stories with Dredd posted in The Cursed Earth.  So, there was an element of crossover.

Post Chaos Day, we have similar problems.  Some artists depict the city as it's always looked, but the dialog will indicate that it's after Chaos Day.  Some depict it as a steaming ruin.  I'm finding it difficult to follow what MC-1 is supposed to be like now.

(I currently haven't read beyond 2012, so I don't know how much this situation has altered over time.)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: IndigoPrime 22 August, 2018, 07:00:07 PM
The problem is, writers only had an inkling of what Wagner was planning. So loads of stories were scripted and written prior to finding out that he'd wiped out most of the city. Even those written after the fact have rarely grappled with what that would mean. It feels like the comics wanted something like a return to something resembling the status quo, bar the odd mention that MC1 is weaker and more broke than it once was.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: TordelBack 22 August, 2018, 07:29:05 PM
The rapidly-increasing population figures in the Nerve centre box also hint at the softest of soft retcons.  As we've noted here before, the city ought to be giant graveyard full of masterless robots, empty habs,  and pies of consumer goods for the taking, with disconnected pockets of blocks full of dislocated refugees, perhaps slowly expanding back into the devastation. There shouldn't be the deep histories of local gangs and established crime bosses and people living in the same block all their lives, there shouldn't even be extnded families, because almost everyone died, and the survivors were moved to 'safe' blocks that had been ruthlessly cleared: it was Year Zero for everyone. 

Aside from creating the stage for some genuinely good post-disaster storylines, I think there's a tacit consensus to just forget the fact that the city died.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Richard 22 August, 2018, 07:57:47 PM
Those were acceptable excuses for the first 12 months, but it's now been six years. Not dealing with this issue is a failure of imagination.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Dark Jimbo 23 August, 2018, 09:04:57 AM
Day of Chaos increasingly seems like the big missed oppurtunity of Dredd, all 40plus years of it.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: jabish 23 August, 2018, 09:58:28 AM
The idea of Dredd continuity seems to have ended with Day Of Chaos. Each writer now has their own Dredd world. The reason we talk of Dredd continuity in the first place is because it was handled for so many years basically by one writer. I read Dredd now like any other thrill not the must-read-first the minute it hits the mat on a Saturday morning (unless it’s a Wagner script of course). During Day of Chaos if I was away with work I would buy the digital version cos I needed to see what happened next. The best of times.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: TordelBack 23 August, 2018, 11:40:06 AM
That's pretty much my feeling too, Jabish. There are still perfectly enjoyable Dredd stories being produced,  but the excitement of reading Total War and Day of Chaos week to week,  thinking (however foolishly!) "This could be it!  This could be where Dredd finally loses!" is gone.  He did lose, his city was killed.  And it didn't really change anything. So why would anything else?
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: jabish 23 August, 2018, 01:23:11 PM
Well if there was ever going to be a last page of Dredd this would do. It had me in tatters when I read it first...


(http://futureshockd.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/judge-dredd-prog-1788-script-john-wagner-art-henry-flint-copyright-rebellion.jpeg?w=490&h=648)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: TordelBack 23 August, 2018, 01:38:27 PM
In many ways that is the final page of Judge Dredd (and one of my favourite single pages, and central image, of any comic ever) - but it didn't need to be.  The next episode, The Days After, set up a new world, with a humbled and broken Dredd and Justice Dept struggling to just keep going, to do what they can and to make amends. 

It could have been a radically new direction, effectively watching the remaking of the Judge system in an even grimmer post-apoc environment than before, but it would also have represented the killing of Rebellion's golden goose, just as the movie seemed to be promising renewed popularity.  Without a single enormously productive and creative writer (or cohesive team) to shape a new direction, everything just fell back into the old rut.

Wagner's sporadic post-Chaos strips are included in that, despite generally being excellent stories - does the cameras-in-the-walls scenario, or Block Judge, PJ Maybe and Dark Justice, or even Harvey, really continue the story that he left us at the end of DoC?
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Dark Jimbo 23 August, 2018, 01:57:00 PM
...everything just fell back into the old rut.

Right down to Hershey jumping back into the CJ's chair, like nothing had ever happened...!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: broodblik 23 August, 2018, 04:07:44 PM
As the meg is currently setup we might only get continuity issues when there is mega epics running in the prog. There was a stage when they tried the cross-over story line and people complained about it. The only story recently that I can recall started in the prog and continued in the meg was done by Mile Carroll. The Grindstone Cowboys (Prog 1973-1977, Meg 371-373) started in the prog and ended in the meg as well the story reclamation (Prog 1986-1990, Meg 374) story.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Colin YNWA 23 August, 2018, 04:28:06 PM
In many ways that is the final page of Judge Dredd (and one of my favourite single pages, and central image, of any comic ever) - but it didn't need to be....
It could have been a radically new direction, effectively watching the remaking of the Judge system in an even grimmer post-apoc environment than before, but it would also have represented the killing of Rebellion's golden goose, just as the movie seemed to be promising renewed popularity.  Without a single enormously productive and creative writer (or cohesive team) to shape a new direction, everything just fell back into the old rut...

Yes all this really. Its such an astonishing image and could quite happily have been the end of Dredd.

As it is, while I wouldn't say current Dredd is 'in a rut' as that underplays what I think are some fantastic storylines in the same fantastic formula, it does feel a shame that a bolder world building line wasn't taken.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Dark Jimbo 23 August, 2018, 05:20:20 PM
There was a stage when they tried the cross-over story line and people complained about it. The only story recently that I can recall started in the prog and continued in the meg was done by Mike Carroll...

'More crossovers' is not really what Funt was advocating...
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: broodblik 23 August, 2018, 05:43:19 PM
'More crossovers' is not really what Funt was advocating...

I was only trying to point out an alternative to keep a degree of continuity. I believe this will not be a popular choice. Personally I don't mind it since I am getting both
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Magnetica 23 August, 2018, 10:02:46 PM
It's interesting.  One feeling I get on my mass-read is that the Megazine has to play an odd game.  It's the Judge Dredd Megazine, so nearly everything it does is set in the Dredd-verse.  But then it can't really change Mega-City One: it's more like it's the poor cousin that only gets scraps from the table.

Over in 2000AD, for example, we had the Chaos Day arc, which decimated the entire city.  In the Megazine at the same time: nothing happened.  As the city burns (say, around, prog 1784), in Megazine 324 we get The Adjudicators, a joke story by Simon Spurrier about a justice department PR wing.

So, the Megazine has a problem.  The MC-1 in 2000AD isn't the same MC-1 in the Megazine.  With so much Dredd content, and so many writers with so many angles: it's just impossible to hold it together as a believable, consistent fiction. 

I tend to agree. I have always considered the Meg as an accompaniment of the Prog and that if anything major was going to happen to Dredd or Mega City One it was going to happen in the Prog, not the Meg. So whilst I read it every month, it has never been “essential” Dredd.

It is though perfectly possible to have fantastic stories set in the Dredd-verse that don’t need to impact on Dredd or MC1 continuity. Prime examples being Insurrection and Lawless, which I would argue are as good, of not better than anything in the Prog. But those two do benefit from brillant writing and art.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Frank 23 August, 2018, 10:30:31 PM
It's interesting.  One feeling I get on my mass-read is that the Megazine has to play an odd game.  It's the Judge Dredd Megazine, so nearly everything it does is set in the Dredd-verse.  But then it can't really change Mega-City One

I tend to agree. I have always considered the Meg as an accompaniment of the Prog and that if anything major was going to happen to Dredd or Mega City One it was going to happen in the Prog, not the Meg. So whilst I read it every month, it has never been “essential” Dredd

Even during the brief period when Wagner was only writing for the Megazine*, the one story he wrote that moved The Big Story forward was the very end of the final Mechanismo - and that was so it could dovetail into his taking up the reins at 2000ad once more with Wilderlands.

Next time Eamonn's interviewing Dave Bishop, he should ask whether it was explicit policy that only the 2000ad stories were allowed to kill characters off and change the status quo.**


* 1992-1994

** Unless Megazine stories were tying into 2000ad epics, like Volt eating a bullet during Doomsday
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Funt Solo 27 August, 2018, 04:51:15 AM
Judge Dredd: Great Executions
(2012: megs 325-327)
Script: Robbie Morrison
Art: Dave Taylor
Letters: Annie Parkhouse


A disturbing futuristic re-imagining of Great Expectations with beautifully evocative art.  It's a complex, tragic morality tale about the danger of obsession.

There's a misogynistic streak to the main character: he forms a lifelong obsession with his first sexual partner even though she's always been remote and cold with him and shown not even the remotest interest in anything beyond an initial dalliance of her youth.

There's a sense that the story wants us to have a concrete reason to accept that perhaps she deserves her ultimate fate, and yet it seems a steep price for someone to pay for being self-serving.

Certainly, there are no heroes here: only a doomed romanticism.

(https://i.imgur.com/CHFUDIw.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Funt Solo 23 September, 2018, 03:36:30 AM
Some of the best of the Meg from my catch-up read...

Snapshot
(2012: megs 322-330)
Script: Andy Diggle
Art: Jock
Letters: Clem Robins


Beautifully set in San Francisco, this is a movie-like action thriller fueled by fast-pacing and dynamic framing.  It's a fish out of water tale, in which a comic shop worker accidentally finds himself embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a shadowy killer.

(https://i.imgur.com/qnX391c.png)

Jock's art is superb and the setting well researched - that's definitely San Fran we're seeing - although there's a clear British sensibility sneaking in with references to Axel Pressbutton and Zenith.

(https://i.imgur.com/bd0nIBr.png)

The narrative drive is frenetic and the puzzle-pieces come together fast enough to keep our interest without explaining everything.  Ultimately, though, like many movies, this has a tricky third act and at one point it drives off the rails with a metaphysical (and terribly coincidentally located) endless corridor of somehow non-rotten severed body parts.  The end is ultimately ambiguous but getting there is still a wild and worthwhile ride.


Anderson, Psi-Division: Stone Voices
(2012: megs 327-331)
Script: Alan Grant
Art: Boo Cook
Letters: Ellie De Ville


There's often been a sense that Anderson's judgement is flawed: as far back as her accidentally releasing the dark judges by transporting herself to Deadworld (progs 416-427, 1985) without bothering to tell anyone.  The other narrative sometimes explored is that the emotional detriments of the job drive her to seek escape, as in Postcards From the Edge (M2.50-M2.60, 1994). 

(https://i.imgur.com/Uxb9abv.png)

This tale brings both those threads to the fore as Anderson (beautifully rendered by Boo Cook) tries to solve a spate of grisly yet mysterious decapitations whilst being hamstrung by an administration that doesn't fully trust her.

(https://i.imgur.com/cBCLkMQ.jpg)

Ultimately, Anderson wins out over the immediate threat but the suggestion during the denouement is that she may once again seek to leave the Justice Department.


Hondo City Justice: Revenge of the 47 Ronin
(2013: megs 332-334)
Script: Robbie Morrison
Pencils: Mike Collins
Inks: Cliff Robinson
Colours: Len O'Grady
Letters: Ellie De Ville


Judge Inaba and Cadet Asahara investigate a supernatural threat to Hondo City that begins with a flashback to the ancient legend of the titular 47 ronin.  The flashback sequences are beautifully framed and styled and give a sense of depth to the setting.

(https://i.imgur.com/gQMQ5ne.png)

In classic runaway zombie style, each person killed by the resurrected ronin rises as a new threat and so the story becomes a race against time to stop them before their numbers grow too large.  The early scenes of peace here foreshadow the later threat:

(https://i.imgur.com/LMQsFx8.png)

Ultimately, our heroes prevail, but we end on a cliffhanger that informs us that the ronin's puppet-master has a familial connection to Inaba, and for reasons unknown wishes her demise.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Funt Solo 24 January, 2019, 04:19:58 AM
The best of the Megazine from 2013, in order of publication:

American Reaper [II]
(2013: megs 332-337)
Script: Pat Mills
Art: Fay Dalton, Clint Langley
Letters: Annie Parkhouse

Ostensibly a second series, this is narratively a continuation. Detective John Slaine is a Reaper: tasked with tracking identity thieves who are stealing young peoples' bodies to use as their own (a one-way switch of consciousness in which the "donor" is erased). 

SlaineReaper
(https://i.imgur.com/5jc1dV7.png)(https://i.imgur.com/TznrDTy.png)

It's sort of sits between gritty noir thriller and gaudy soap opera in terms of styling, and (like series one) causes marmite-like audience reactions with its photo-story style art.  Whatever you think of that, you can't deny the level of commitment on offer here as you don't just get 79 pages of body-theft action (and gala dinners), but you also get world-building extras (ads & movie reviews) and even an entire spin-off strip (Reaper Files).

(https://i.imgur.com/VaRbXqt.png)


Insurrection III
(2013: megs 334-342)
Script: Dan Abnett
Art: Colin MacNeil
Letters: Simon Bowland

With two series behind it with a narrow focus this wisely expands our universe and becomes somewhat the story of a new character in a new insurrection.  I don't want to spoil the plot any, just in case, but suffice to say it's grim, with the merest hint of hope.

(https://i.imgur.com/dbYxbBG.png)

I think the series does reach a natural conclusion here and whilst it would be great to see more of Abnett and MacNeil's galactic Justice Department, it's also wise to end strong.  This is hands down the best space Judge stuff that's been done, with The Corps & Maelstrom (back in '94) being the main contenders (and to some extent having laid some groundwork).


The Streets of Dan Francisco
(2013: megs 335-339)
Script: Arthur Wyatt
Art: Paul Marshall
Colours: Chris Blythe
Letters: Elle De Ville


(https://i.imgur.com/WbjSXhI.png)

An intro like that deserves to be applauded: it's just madly beautiful.  Post-Chaos Day Mega-City One turns out to be a great place for a redemptive tale about the media savvy ex Chief Judge.  He stalks the ruins but is in turn stalked by gang violence that is in the ascendant.  There's this brewing feeling that Judges have become far more vulnerable.


Dredd: Underbelly
(2013: megs 340-342)
Script: Arthur Wyatt
Art: Henry Flint
Colours: Chris Blythe
Letters: Ellie De Ville

Movie Dredd (the good one) in an action procedural that blends in some of the mutie themes presented in the comics that spawned the movie that spawned this comic.  The only double whammy here is from bone-breaking action blended with the bleak realities of futuristic organized crime. 

Check out the bravura framing of this double page raid:

(https://i.imgur.com/aR6Of1n.jpg)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Funt Solo 19 June, 2019, 06:54:28 AM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

The best of the Megazine from October 2013 to July 2014, in order of publication:

Ordinary
(2013-2014: megs 340-345)
Script: Rob Williams
Art: D'Israeli
Lettering: HV Derci


Instead of a zombie apocalypse, here we get a superhero pandemic: everyone on the planet suddenly develops superpowers (with predictably disastrous results) - except for Michael Fisher, who's just too ordinary.  Really, this is a story of hope for someone who can't even get a break in his fantasies: in the opening scene he's dreaming of dating Scarlet Johansson but gets put into the friend zone, and meekly accepts his lot.

As the world goes mad around him, he sets out on a quest to help his disjointed immediate family: but his value as the only immune human on the planet sets him up as a target for various powerful factions.  It's a great tale with lots of bleak humor, dark characters and pathos. 

D'Israeli does an amazing job of bringing it all to vibrant life: whether its talking bears, baseball collusi or presidents whose thought bubbles are visible to everyone around them.

(https://i.imgur.com/aBqE3Lu.png)


DeMarco P.I. - The Whisper
(2014: megs 343-347)
Script: Michael Carroll
Art: Steve Yeowell
Lettering: Ellie De Ville


DeMarco last had her own series in 2002 scripted by Robbie Morrison.  Here, Michael Carroll does a good job of creating a murder mystery for her to solve and wisely chooses neutral ground to do it.  Instead of basing the adventure in Mega-City One, we get relocated to SovSec (in MC-2), where Mega-City citizens with Sov heritage have been relocated post Chaos Day in order that they didn't get lynched.

There's a bit of repetitiveness where we get DeMarco pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior but getting let off because she's an ex-Judge.  Lots of "I'll let this go this once, but try it again and it's the cubes", but then she keeps bending the rules and it doesn't result in any problems: shooting a guys leg off as part of an interrogation is perhaps the most egregious example.

Yeowell's art is at turns sublime and confusing (as a character with unique facial protrusions is tackled by a guy with ... unique facial protusions).

We don't get a neat resolution regarding the origins of the key antagonist, which is problematic in terms of understanding the potential threat. As with "Creep" (1993-94), it's a point of confusion for the reader to have magical villains whose power-limitations seem based on the whimsy of the author. 

(https://i.imgur.com/pa1YPVg.png)


Anderson Psi-Division - Dead End
(2014: megs 343-349)
Script: Alan Grant
Art: Michael Dowling
Lettering: Simon Bowland


There's stupendous art (dynamic gun fights and panoramic cityscapes) from Michael Dowling in this mysterious tale as Judge Anderson (hard hit by the depressing and repetitive nature of her work) starts to contemplate suicide. 

At around the mid-point we get a major reveal (her suicidal feelings are being planted in her mind) and the focus of the narrative naturally shifts.

This is some of the best Anderson in what seems like a good while: a long-form procedural in which the character seems to grow.

(https://i.imgur.com/SOwKoJB.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Funt Solo 16 July, 2019, 11:56:11 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

The second half of 2014 stands out with four strong series running concurrently.  In order of publication:

The Man from the Ministry
(megs 348-353)
Script: Gordon Rennie
Art: Kev Hopgood
Lettering: Simon Bowland


I'm ignorant of the actual influences behind this story, but it seems filled with nostalgia for a very British kind of yarn. A bit like the setting for Ministry of Space (Ellis & Weston 2005), this is set in a Britain that developed more advanced space travel sometime after World War II.

The once well equipped E.T. department (tasked with defeating hostile flying saucers in near space) is in the present day poorly funded and chronically understaffed (at two) and deals with only sporadic outbreaks of dangerous xenomorphic life that makes it to the surface (hinting at Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Day of the Triffids). 

But the past pays a visit and we're launched (also: literally) into a battle against the alien foe in which science, a stiff upper lip and derring do will out. The end leaves the way open for further adventures, and there are some threads dangled about potential alien allies.

(https://i.imgur.com/G5y3obD.png)


Judge Dredd: Dead Zone
(megs 350-355)
Script: John Wagner
Art: Henry Flint
Lettering: Annie Parkhouse


An adventure in two parts: in the first half Dredd solves a murder mystery set in a Chaos Day burial pit memorial centre out in the Cursed Earth.  A downtrodden couple (Yodie and Belle) get caught up in the local brutalities and it's only the chance discovery of a hi-tech bracelet that allows them to escape: to Mega-City One.

That leads us to the second half (subtitled Invisible), where Yodie discovers that with great power comes great Judicial and criminal interest: and we find an answer to the puzzle of the origins of the bracelet.  The resolution leaves some new players for Wagner to return to at a later date.

Something of a shaggy dog story, this holds together really well over six episodes, with layers that keep it from being just a run-of-the-mill procedural.

(https://i.imgur.com/pprljMq.png)


Lawless: Welcome to Badrock
(megs 350-354)
Script: Dan Abnett
Art: Phil Winslade
Lettering: Ellie De Ville


Dan Abnett's follow up to Insurrection takes us forwards five years after the battle against the Zhind on the planet of 43 Rega.  Asides from that, this is nothing to do with Insurrection and everything to do with Colonial Marshal Metta Lawson: newly arrived in the remote township of Badrock and tasked with keeping the peace between the brewing hostility of various factions.

There's plenty of rope here for a long-running story: with (religious) Meks, Uplifts, muties, settlers, corporate goons and the local Abs to contend with (not to mention Lawson's somewhat mysterious predecessor). 

In order to get around the surface, Lawson disdains a horse, finds a Lawmaster trike too limiting and eventually settles on a refurbished CATT (Combat All-Terrain Transport) that, along with her pulse rifle, give her a distinctive look and (coupled with her pragmatic attitude to peace-keeping) sets her clearly on the periphery of normal Justice Department protocol.

(https://i.imgur.com/GHvnkiy.png)


Dredd: Uprise
(megs 350-354)
Script: Arthur Wyatt
Art: Paul Davidson
Colours: Chris Blythe
Lettering: Simon Bowland


Movie Dredd (Karl, not Sly) continues his paginated adventures in the Megazine with another episodic by Arthur Wyatt.  This alternity Dredd is set in a Mega-City One where the Justice Department struggles to maintain order: even moreso in The Spit, where continuuing riots threaten to overwhelm the Judges and threaten a new upper crust* development.

There's a nod to Mechanismo with some robotic law enforcement and an interesting twist that sees corruption from unexpected sources.

(https://i.imgur.com/as3Xiwe.png)

*The origins of the phrase "upper crust" are well explained in Modern History TV's Food: How Healthy Was Medieval Food? (https://youtu.be/i9RDaf8j2Yg), which also includes details on the importance of daily piss-tasting and securing your spices.  That this is all co-presented by Rebellion's CEO, Jason Kingsley, is (medieval) gravy.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: BPP 17 July, 2019, 09:44:06 AM
The page count of the meg went up when American Reaper was in it so ‘it took up too many pages’ arguments are a bit redundant.

Unless you just don’t like it.

I enjoyed it a lot, it was silly but fun and amazing to look at.

Great strips mentioned in the article - wish Frazer could find a way to do more Lilly.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: IndigoPrime 17 July, 2019, 10:47:48 AM
Lawless: Welcome to Badrock
I’m a bit jealous you get to read this one for the first time, and in a concentrated blast.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Funt Solo 17 July, 2019, 04:52:51 PM
The page count of the meg went up when American Reaper was in it so ‘it took up too many pages’ arguments are a bit redundant.

I wondered about that and had to go and check - the size of the Meg is the same before and after Reaper (books I & II, at any rate - as I'm only up to Meg 355).

Maybe you meant strip pages?  There were 37 before Reaper, then a sequence of 51, 46, 47...

So, yeah: you must have meant strip pages.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: TordelBack 17 July, 2019, 05:06:25 PM
So, yeah: you must have meant strip pages.

Are there any other kind?  ;)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Funt Solo 17 July, 2019, 05:50:02 PM
So, yeah: you must have meant strip pages.
Are there any other kind?  ;)

Not in my current Meg catch-up: I just don't have time to read all the articles.  The Interrogations alone would form a mighty tome.  Thrill-Power Overload was about 250 pages, and the Interrogations (from 2004 to 2014) are 900 pages!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: IronGraham 16 September, 2019, 01:53:35 PM
Looking forward to more updates to this.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Funt Solo 16 September, 2019, 06:50:16 PM
Thanks, IronGraham - I've been dividing my time a bit this summer between:

 - a mega overview starting from prog 1 (there's a thread "2000 AD in Stages" (https://forums.2000ad.com/index.php?topic=45960.0)), which has really sucked me in, time-wise. It's way too much fun.

 - taking a bit of a break from my Thrill-Coma catch-up, but I've started up again and am currently in the first quarter of 2015. More reviewing as and when: but the Meg takes longer to generate content. I really need to get caught back up to 2019 ... but it'll probably be 2020 at least before I manage that.

 - enjoying a three-week vacation in sunny Scotland, where it rained. That's over now, but having a young family is keeping me on my toes, and the holidays are done and it's back to full-time teaching. Curses! (But I love the wages.) How did I survive three weeks without my PC? Barely, is the answer.

 - starting up a solo game of the Pathfinder card game, because clearly I need another hobby vector.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Funt Solo 12 October, 2019, 03:38:28 AM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

The first half of 2015.  In order of publication:


American Reaper [III] & Reaper Files
(megs 355-360)
Script: Pat Mills
Art: Fay Dalton, Clint Langley
Lettering: Annie Parkhouse


In this part-comic part-photo-story ("It's a little bit more complex than that!" (https://youtu.be/brQw15Xz7Go)), strap in for mucho melodrama and some double-bluffing, carpet-pulling twists and turns as we try to figure out if Detective Matherson's daughter (Jessica) has had her mind replaced by an evil older woman intent on an extended life and a new, younger bod.

One of the key plot elements has been whether or not the Reapers can trust their identity theft detection goggles: which (perhaps unintentionally) leaves open the question of whether Matherson accidentally offed his son in the first series.

Seguing into over-wrought silliness at times (a fraught but extended conversation being held between father and daughter as she dangles precariously from the door of a burning flying machine) there's also a disturbing sense that Jessica only exists to be owned by men (whether that's her father or the bad guy). The oddly pitched supernatural coda (Happy Deathday, Detective Matherson) only reinforces that idea by pushing key female characters into unseen relief.

(https://i.imgur.com/s2gkCo4.png)


DeMarco P.I.: Déjà Vu
(megs 355-357)
Script: Michael Caroll
Pencils: Steve Yeowell
Inks: Lee Townsend
Lettering: Ellie De Ville


In a plot most video games would be proud of, DeMarco wakes up in the street with no memory of how she got there, a gunshot wound in her abdomen and with all her bank accounts empty (when apparently she was rich before).

The shaggy dog story that follows of course fills in the blanks on the way to the denouement, but the tone strays a little close to Minnie the Minx territory, with some rapscallions hired to throw half-bricks at Judges who chase after them shouting "Oy!" I mean, if someone chucked a rock at Dredd he'd shoot them in the legs just as an opening gambit.

The finale sees Jack Point relegated to sub-par Mel Gibson-isms:

(https://i.imgur.com/4NOI9KJ.png)


Judge Dredd: The Cop
(megs 355-360)
Script: Al Ewing
Art: Ben Willsher
Lettering: Simon Bowland, Adam Brown


A convoluted plot that's heavy on the style might leave the audience wondering who's who as Dredd and, erm, someone else eventually take part in a short remake of Dredd, the movie The Raid. The incongruous inclusion of a Holocaust 12 partial reprint (meg 359 after M3.20 & M3.21; Script: John Smith, Chris Standley; Art: Jim Murray) left some of the readership scratching their heads until the next issue, when it turned out to be a well-timed reminder.

(https://i.imgur.com/qeB67Rm.png)


Angelic
(megs 356-359)
Script: Gordon Rennie
Art: Lee Carter
Lettering: Annie Parkhouse


Something of a tour de force, this re-imagines Pa Angel as a somewhat sympathetic character by telling a tale of his early years (pre-Angel Gang), up against a group of corrupt Texas City Judges who've murdered his wife.

Visions of the future from a mutie psychic suggest that this could be an alternate timeline, and the plot structure demands that we pay attention with a flashback within a flashback to contend with.

Adding to the angelic veneer we also get the superbly timed Tales From The Black Museum: Rising Angel (meg 358, Script: Michael Carroll, Art: Nick Percival, Lettering: Ellie De Ville), with a stupendous cover of an aging Mean Machine (http://www.2000ad.org/functions/cover.php?Comic=megazine&choice=358).

(https://i.imgur.com/ArYNV4p.png)


Anderson Psi-Division: Mutineers
(megs 359-360)
Script: Emma Beeby
Art: Andrew Currie
Colours: Eva De La Cruz
Lettering: Ellie De Ville


Somewhat confusing storytelling had me thinking that I'd missed part one, but I eventually got to grips with the structure so I could follow a tale that sees Anderson's Daughter and Cadet Flowers investigate a giant insectoid menace threatening a mutie township.

(https://i.imgur.com/o2Zx31M.png)
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: IndigoPrime 12 October, 2019, 02:11:26 PM
DeMarco feels like a constantly missed opportunity. I’m not sure why she was stripped of her millions. To me, that actually added to the character, rather than forcing her into the more conventional PI character. I’d quite happily never see Jack Point in her life again (a very reductionist decision by Spurrier), and she needs another big ape sidekick, because that was a lot more fun and MC-1.

Angelic: whatever happened to that? Did Gordon Rennie just stop writing it? I thought this was an interesting soft reboot. Fab Carter art, too. Also, the sole saving grace of an otherwise dire Hachette volume.
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: DrJomster 12 October, 2019, 11:09:09 PM
Re DeMarco, the latest story is hitting the right notes in my book.

Good point re Angelic! Is that coming back at all? The art was gorgeous, as you say. More please, Tharg!
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Funt Solo 18 December, 2019, 01:35:24 AM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

The second half of 2015: powerful thrills from masters of the craft.  In order of publication:


Judge Dredd: El Maldito
(megs 361-364)
Script: Gordon Rennie, Art: Carlos Ezquerra, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


In an Amazon-run a company-run facility in the Cursed Earth, a private security operation is violently subjugating the (latinx) work force, which is poorly paid and over-worked. A shadowy figure, El Maldito, stalks the alleyways of the settlement, gunning down those who would hurt the innocent.

As Dredd arrives to investigate the killings, there's a question as to who he has to fear the most: the ghostly freedom fighter, seemingly a spirit of vengeance, or the corporate guns guarding their investment.

Played out like a western in the atmospheric mould of High Plains Drifter, but also telling a very modern tale of a forced economic underclass, this manages to send a message as powerful as that of Third World War, but with a grander subtlety.

(https://i.imgur.com/HIPkwju.png)


Storm Warning: The Relic
(megs 361-366)
Script: Leah Moore, John Reppion, Art: Tom Foster, Colours: Kirsty Swan, Letters: Simon Bowland


Brit-Cit Psi-Judge Storm is given an immediate origin story in the first episode and then sent on a mission to find a mysterious object [see title] that she is instructed not to take too great an interest in. Strange & Darke (from 2012's Megazine) feature as background characters in a clever way (they're either talked about or blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameos) that provides this tale with a sense of place and depth without getting in the way.

There's a great sense of foreboding about the titular relic, and a sense of dread and the kind of unease that Tales of the Unexpected was great at engendering. Storm herself is an uncomfortable character: she hates to be touched (the psychic horrors she has witnessed tend to spill over into the other person's consciousness), and stalks from place to place - determined and taciturn.

Despite all the gloom, there's also a lightness and a humour in places. The scene where a citizen nervously fires at approaching Judges only to apologize embarassedly does the job of lightening the mood just prior to a rug-pulling moment of tension. Also, setting some of it at the seaside provides a quaint Britishness usually missing from Brit-Cit set stories.

There's something about the computer-assisted art that leaves some scenes too neat and empty - as with the trenches and the lone tree at the beach, but nothing that the 20th anniversary Director's Cut can't fix. Altogether, a great thrill that the Meg can be proud of, and hopefully one that will spawn sequels.

(https://i.imgur.com/Nsmth5F.png)


Lawless: Between Badrock & A Hard Place
(megs 361-366)
Script: Dan Abnett, Art: Phil Winslade, Letters: Ellie De Ville


Actually two adventures sewn into one sub-title, the ongoing tales of Colonial Marshall Metta Lawson's western-styled tenure in the new frontier of Badrock have become vital reading in the Megazine (to the extent that - like Dredd - it's getting so's I can't imagine the Megazine without her as a cornerstone character). Of course, Dan and Phil need a break from time to time, so unless a raft of other artists are drafted in I doubt I'll get my wish.

The first half follows the targeting of a Munce Inc. accountant by hired killers, which leaves the inexperienced Pettifer in the line of fire. The second part expands on the idea that Metta might have a mysterious past by introducing a new Judge figure who calls her out as an imposter. Ultimately, this thread leads Lawson out into the badlands, and a disturbing cliffhanger.

One of the joys of this story are the strong characterizations, from the hard-drinking Lawson to the fractured (ex-Marshall and psi) Hetch (who we never know when to trust), through to every denizen of the town. You can't help but crack a smile as Pettifer snorts at bounty hunter Rondo's flirting while he's teaching her how to shoot. It feels like a real place: they feel like real people.

(https://i.imgur.com/lvw1d8g.png)


Judge Dredd: Terror Rising
(megs 365-367)
Script: John Wagner, Art: Colin MacNeil, Colours: Chris Blythe, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


Marking twenty-five years of the Megazine, we get a tale featuring Judge Beeny: still haunted by the death of America Jara at the foot of the Statue of Judgement, and the Judges in their turn still stalked by terrorist group Total War. The tale is a procedural investigation, trying to track the hub of various terror cells that are murdering Judges across the city: including a high-ranking member of the Council of Five.

Wagner, MacNeil: the America saga. It doesn't really get much better than this: the action and the plotting are always just super-taught, and the ongoing story of Judge Beeny seems like a natural part of an amazing arc. I'm not sure who else in comics gets to do this - a twenty-five year arc that itself is part of a much longer one, overlapping with the less personal story of Hershey's rise to Chief Judge.

There have been periods when the Megazine has seemed less vital, but here's another example of where the weekly readers who don't buy both publications are really missing out on important work.

(https://i.imgur.com/28g4wE3.png)

---

(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/megazine/mediumres/362.jpg)
---------------------------------------
(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/megazine/mediumres/363.jpg)
---------------------------------------
(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/megazine/mediumres/364.jpg)
---------------------------------------
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Funt Solo 25 March, 2020, 08:50:44 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

The first half of 2016: one of the key events during this period was the crossover with Michael Carrol's epic Dredd tale, which here in the Meg consisted of Dust to Dust (not to be confused with Dust - see below) and From the Ashes. I reviewed those over in my prog thread, so they don't get further mention here. 

Without time to cover all the varied content, here we focus on the best of the Meg: so if I haven't covered something from this period, well, it was either text content or it just didn't stand out.

In order of publication:


Dredd: Dust
(megs 367-371)
Script: Arthur Wyatt, Art: Ben Willsher, Colours: Chris Blythe, Letters: Simon Bowland


Dust was a five-parter whose last episode coincided with the first episode of Dust to Dust: which is enough repetitions to award the Megazine the Eagle Award for Best Homage to Spam (https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2hwqlw), 2016.

The Dredd series that's a spin-off of the 2012 Dredd movie has managed a neat trick in being a compelling version of Dredd: free to reinvent the setting to some degree (lawmaster quad bikes, for example), even though there's a danger that this Dredd has no soul, but rather just an attitude. Does this Dredd wear tight boots? Where does he stand on the mutie question?

The focus here, then, is wisely on the threat: and it plays out as a mix of horror movie and revenge thriller. First, a dust storm sweeps into the city, bringing with it (as with The Fog) a preternatural foe, and then Dredd sweeps back out into the Cursed Earth in an attempt to solve the mystery.


(https://i.imgur.com/PDlNGln.png)


Realm of the Damned: Tenebris Dios
(megs 369-376)
Script: Alec Worley, Art & Letters: Pye Parr


This is a Black Metal wet dream combined with Hammer House of Horror tropes and the same amount of blood, violence and attitude that made Blade such a kick in the ass back in the day. Now: if all of that sounds like a turn-off, then perhaps this isn't the Marmite sandwich for you.

There's a troubling start where it seems almost as if we're supposed to be siding with the Metalheads and their complete disregard for things like, oh, the lives of their best friends, but then Van Helsing grimaces into frame (in the Blade roll) and proceeds to take names.

You have to wallow in the tropes, to some extent, but if you can get over the vampiric cliches and go with the flow then the action takes over and then it's just pages and pages of gore-ridden action. Segues into lycanthropy are almost predictable (although I hadn't seen the transforming howl before), but the mummy stuff was really unexpected and fun.

(https://i.imgur.com/PVQBuKt.png)


Lawless: Of Munce & Men
(megs 371-376)
Script: Dan Abnett, Art: Phil Winslade, Letters: Ellie De Ville


Lawless has quickly become the best thing in the Meg, with its absences sorely noted. This series starts of strong with Nerys Pettifer left in the uncomfortable position of acting Marshal as Lawson is missing, presumed dead. The first act of this series explores how she rises to a challenge which she never wanted.

The action dials up in stages until there's a train set-piece that threatens to jump the shark, but manages to land well.

(https://i.imgur.com/pkrhmqg.png)


Judge Dredd: The Carousel
(megs 375)
Script: Michael Carroll, Art: Ben Willsher, Colours: Chris Blythe, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


Here's one that's noteworthy as it directly addresses Dredd's age, and how he can keep going after all this time.

(https://i.imgur.com/YtBer41.png)

---

(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/megazine/mediumres/367.jpg)
---------------------------------------
(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/megazine/mediumres/369.jpg)
---------------------------------------
(http://www.2000ad.org/covers/megazine/mediumres/374.jpg)
---------------------------------------
: Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
: Funt Solo 14 June, 2020, 01:22:35 AM
(https://i.imgur.com/cUg4r1y.png)

Some of the best stories from the Megazine from late 2016 through early 2017, in order of publication:


Judge Dredd: Monkey Business & Ape Escape
(2016, megs 376-377 & 2017, meg 386)
Script: Arthur Wyatt, Art: Jake Lynch, Colours: Richard Elson & Gary Caldwell, Letters: Annie Parkhouse


The very title "Monkey Business" puts me in a good mood - not least because it clearly evokes the classic Monkey Business at the Charles Darwin Block (progs 184-185): both in its title and the final pay off line: "No one apes the law!". There's that deliberate sense of golden-age Dredd - from the subject matter, to the designs (with a classic, Apocalypse War-era, striped carapace H-Wagon on show).

Harry Heston is an intelligent ape who's modelled himself on Dredd and set himself up as the law of a near-wall shanty, which is when Dredd shows up to investigate reports of a jimp in the neighborhood. Our sympathies lie firmly with Heston, but Dredd follows the law and by the end of the story he finds himself destined for the cubes.

It seems deliberate that this harks back to an earlier age of Dredd, and yet it feels utterly fresh. There's a feeling when reading Dredd that sometimes the writer hasn't quite "got it" - it's clearly a complex strip to write well for. But Arthur Wyatt nails the world and Dredd: and both are key.

The follow-up (Ape Escape) has Heston bump into Dredd again, and there follows a wonderful back and forth between Jimp and Judge leading to a happy denouement that promises more in the future. There are certain characters that deserve follow-up stories and carve out their own little niche in the Dreddverse: Harry Heston is a welcome addition.

(https://i.imgur.com/c5gyvsT.png)


Angelic: Home is the Hunter
(2016-17, megs 377-380)
Script: Gordon Rennie, Art: Lee Carter, Letters: Simon Bowland


Mad Max meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as the alternity backstory of the Angel Gang tells us a second chapter. There's some weird mash-ups, as a character very much like the original Pa Angel is introduced, along with his collection of miss-fit "boys" - like a be-horned guy that looks a bit like Mean Angel, a critter in a pit for all the world Fink and a mean cuss that could be Junior. But these are the Kreegs, and the actual Pa Angel of this tale is making an honest living in a nearby town, trying to do the right thing.

Well, as with all good westerns, the peace is upset and good intentions don't amount to much against the devilry in the hearts of men. In some ways, you could still see "Mister Angel" and Linc form the Angel Gang we know. The critter we meet here pretty much is the nascent Fink. The seeds are sown for the idea of operating on someone to turn 'em mean. Part of the interest here is wondering how this history could fit into the one that exists - or even if it means to.

(https://i.imgur.com/eAuR7yU.png)


Lawless: Long-Range War
(2017, megs 380-385)
Script: Dan Abnett, Art: Phil Winslade, Letters: Ellie De Ville


I really enjoy Lawless because of the strong characterization, the fact that it never sits still, the depth of threat (be it from corporate assassins or strong foreshadowing of an alien invasion) and the filthy patina of the world.

There is a sense that with this series and the previous one (Of Munce & Men) we've started stretching away from the grit and a little far into cartoon-ish farce. The Munce agents on their ACME buggy-bikes don't seem real anymore - just an endless series of cloned goons with no character or sense of their own safety. And the busy artwork (at times wildly creative with it's free-form framing and dynamic action) is sometimes too busy and suggests a game of Where's Wally.

(https://i.imgur.com/YXEbpFl.png)