Saturday, 7 September 2013

Meg 225 - Ladies Who Punch

In the words of Bart Simpson, "Aye Kurumba!". What a slinky cover from Cliff Robinson. I guess some may tut and say that, once again, the Meg has put some nice looking ladies on the front cover holding guns, looking smokin', hoping to entice male readers... The Duke of (Alan) Barnes is very clear in his editorial that he wishes to reflect a different side of heroes rather blood, guts and gore. And these ladies aren't just pretty faces, they really do kick ass in their stories...

So lets kick off with the heroines. The Simping Detective, where Jack Point and Galen DeMarco (left side cover star, oddly a red head, not the peroxide blonde of the strip) get off to a bad start before being forced to work together in the second part of Innocence: A Broad. But after it all goes a bit pear-shaped, Point and Cliq (the super-nasty alien killing machine that took a shine to Jack in the last adventure) are left with a tricky task. Quite a bit of scene-setting in this episode, quite a lot of dialogue to read and I rushed through the first pages in an excited haze only to back and have to read bits again... Worth the effort though, some really great characters and dialogue.

Our right-hand side cover star turns up in Shimura Executioner and she is Judge-Inspector Inabai of the Hondo Cit Justice Department. Having failed to keep a eye on Dredd, she has been busted down to traffic duty, until she a receives the call to start hunting down the Ronin known as Shimura. I really hope this story is given the space to breath as two episodes have pretty much been setting the scene. If it rushes to a conclusion in the next episode, I shall feel a bit grumpy. There seems to be plenty of material to work with, so I hope this one runs for a bit.

To the Dredds! Bite Fight concluded, and it concluded well I thought. I still thought the art worked well, despite painting not being my favourite comic medium, and it seems to have finished with a couple of loose ends not tied up. I wonder if we will return to those, or whether they were loose ends that weren't tied up. I thought Smith got the pacing of this story right over the two episodes, so a good job all round.

The other Dredd, 2%, was also a painted story and I didn't much like this one. The Alan Grant script wasn't great, but I also really struggled getting through Shaun Thomas' art. It may have been the reproduction, but some areas were very dark and I found it a struggle to see what was going on in the panels. It wasn't a long story, and it was an extremely dark subject, discussing those Judges that go down under the strain of the job, but it didn't work for me. Maybe I like my Dredds action packed rather than moody and dark and I didn't agree with the sentiment that the only judges that were successful were "natural aggressive psychopaths". I don't think Dredd enjoys killing people, not in that way. He's certainly not adverse to it. Other judges in other story lines, such as Judge Manners, are nut jobs - but Dredd is too controlled for all that.

In the Anderson tale, WMD, we finally got to meet the half-life virus. And it's a whopper. Again, lovely art by Ranson, but again, I'm not really gripped by this story. I will read it still to see what happens, but am still waiting to be excited by it. I'm fearing it just may not happen.

Young Middenface turned very nasty with the muties in full rebellion against the norms, told through the impassive commentary of a member of their parliament. I liked that as a story telling medium. The politician narrating one thing, the art panel showing you what really happened. I've seen this technique used before and I like it. I have a horrible sense of dread (not Dredd!) for the muties. Surely the norms won't stand for all this, and the commentary - which is being told by the narrator looking back on events in his past - would seem to indicate my fears are not unfounded. The difference between this strip and Anderson couldn't be more pronounced. Genuine tension in Middenface versus genuine apathy towards Anderson. Ah well...

Not much Charley's War, but the episodes were pretty brutal, so perhaps it was all the reader could take. Another relatively decent Metro Dredd too.

Onto the text articles. Didn't enjoy the Dredd story, Passive / Aggressive, as much as the last issue's fiction, but it wasn't too bad. Certainly not the worst short story I have read. In the Heatseekers section, the Cult TV was Spooks (which passed me by so I skipped it) and the Movies was Hellboy (as with last issue's, written by Si Spurrier and it was OK). The Orient article gave us a brief history of Monkey, the strange Japanese TV show that I loved as a kid. It was a great read. Comics profiled Bernie Krigstone, and was an interesting insight into a subject I knew nothing about. You're Next Punk saw our Gordon tackle 2000 AD characters who were killed in action. As with a lot of Gordon's stuff lately, if you have a great knowledge of the Prog from issue 1 this is a great trip down memory lane. If, like me, you don't, it's vaguely interesting - but not much more than that.

David Bishop paused long enough from reading through old Progs for The Dredd Files to interview former 2000 AD art editor, Robin Smith, for Interrogation. Smith had some interesting insights into those early days producing the Progs, but it did feel at times like it was repeating ground covered in Thrill Power Overload. Smith didn't seem to like many strips either, ones that many people have fond memories of. He didn't think much of Meltdown Man or Halo Jones describing the former as "bloody awful, absolute rubbish" and the latter as "okay" (after saying Alan Moore was a cult favourite so Halo Jones was thought to be better than it actually was). To be honest, Smith came across as quite negative about the way the Prog was produced, the people he worked with (particularly Pat Mills and Richard Burton) and some of the creators. That's his opinion, he was there, and that's fair enough - but I can't say the article was particularly entertaining for it...

And finally... Floyd Kermode was back in Dreddlines rallying against people who thought he had too much airtime in Dreddlines. Please, can we stop now, and get back to letters about the Meg. Although, to be honest, nobody has anything interesting to say in most of them, so they are a touch dull. Can't we have some children writing in? Those early Prog letters pages were way more fun...

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