Monday, 12 August 2013

Meg 214

Happy Christmas everyone and all the very best for 2004! Well, in Meg land anyway! Didn't much like this cover, just lots of characters standing around posing. Didn't like the Anderson in particular, but I am quite fussy about my Anderson artists. If it ain't the long flowing locks of David Roach or the cool 80s bob of Brett Ewins, I'm not really interested. More on Anderson later... Oh, and my Meg didn't come with all the freebies either - think what I could have done with that 2004 calendar :-)

Let's start with Charley's War. Still fantastic, thought provoking and moving in places. I suspect a lot of my reviews of this strip will say that. And that was the only reprint this issue, as lots of other strips appeared as one offs.

Let's talk about the holiday special: The Dredd story, Turkey Shoot. This started out as a bit of a turkey but did win me round in the end. In the Cursed Earth, a farmer has bred sentient turkeys that actually want Christmas. But when a gang steal them, the turkeys find life is more complicated than they thought. It is a John Wagner story with art handled by the god that is Henry Flint. I refuse to say anything bad about Henry's art, pretty much because there is nothing bad to say, and in the end I did enjoy Wagner's story. At 16 pages its a long one.

The other single episode story was Whatever Happened To Tweak? This is the further adventures of the alien Dredd rescues in the Cursed Earth saga. Tweak is back on his home world under the protection of Dredd himself. But when a human comes calling, Tweak fears his happiness may be short lived. Pat Mills scripts this one, the original Tweak creator, and pencils are taken on by the marvellous Chris Weston, inked by Ungara (who I haven't come across before). It's a short story, and it's OK. The pace is right, so it doesn't feel cramped in its 6 pages and I do like good black and white penned art. There will be more of these "Whatever Happened To" stories, and they have the potential to be quite fun.

Talking of quite fun, the Judge Death saga changed pace this time, breaking the cycle I described last time. Jay D has finally found what he is looking for, a way to end life on a massive scale. Can he be stopped? I was back to enjoying it this issue, but I do wonder how long it can keep going for.

XTNCT writer Paul Cornell rolled the story dice this month and came up with "sex". Sorry Paul, that was last month! You missed it, fella! I'm being mean (apologies Paul) because it was quite a good episode. I can't help but like this story, there is something about it that works when perhaps it shouldn't. D'Israeli's art helps a lot, and Raptor is the star, but its a bit 'out there' and I think I like that slight weirdness.

Two new sagas begin this issues, Blood of Satanus II and Anderson: Half-Life. For those not familiar with Satanus, there is a very decent write up before the story starts about the history of this character, as well as the falling out Pat Mills (his creator) had with Andy Diggle (the then editor of 2000 AD) when Diggle asked another writer for a Satanus story. Still, Pat is on writing duty for this story, drawn by some fella named Duke Mighten - an artist I'm not familiar with. I like his style though, black and white pen and ink, and look forward to seeing if he pops up again. I don't know how long this story will last but the first episode is one huge prologue. I'm not entirely sure I know what's going on, so I will cover this more next time. Going back to the David Bishop text article about Satanus, it was good to see one of my favourite Ron Smith frames used with the immortal line "Stomm! It's Peters... The man who drank the blood of Satanus!".

The Anderson story also felt like a massive prologue. I was utterly confused by it until it sort-of became clear in the last page. It didn't help the place looked like an episode of Grange Hill from the 80's, but that disorientation is key to the story and the pay off in the last page is worth it. I was in disbelief through the story, wondering why Ranson's art was so weird. Still, looking forward to seeing what happens next time.

And Apocalypse Soon finished - sadly with a bit of a whimper for me. It was a two page episode that seemed routed in a socio-political commentary. I know it was the era of Bush and Blair and Iraq and WMDs and all that nonsense, but it was a crap ending without all of that anyway. Oh well, I enjoyed the first few episodes, but I felt rather cross at being let down as I have been championing this strip and looking forward to the conclusion.

Moving on to the text articles, in addition to the Satanus analysis, Bishop provides us with The Dredd Files; a full analysis of each of the first 18 Dredd stories to appear in the Prog. He gives a synopsis, discusses characters and the strips development and then rates each story out of 5 stars. I skimmed it. It's not really something that interests me, but others will no doubt enjoy it. Gordon Rennie predicts what will happen in 2004 in his column, You're Next, Creep and for the most part is completely right ;-) Well done Gordon! He gets a bumper double page to himself as a Holiday treat...

There was a Dredd text story called Bernard written by Jonathan Morris. I rather enjoyed this one. The first few paragraphs are quite gory, but that eases up and a good little yarn ensues.

And finally... my 2000 AD forum buddy, Mabs, is also on his own personal Meg Voyage over on his Nexus Wookie blog. Well worth a visit if you have a few minutes - Mabs writes excellent book and comic reviews and is covering some of the later Megs I haven't got to yet (contains some spoilers).

And finally - er - finally! I'm going to include a link to the discussion of this issue of the Meg over on the 2000 AD Forum from now on. These are views written at the time of publication, and act as an interesting comparison to my own. Often, creators will chip in to the discussion to. Here's this months:

Meg 214 on the 2000 AD Forum

Quite a long blog entry this time - thanks for sticking with it!

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