Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Meg 242 - Spirit Of The Glens

Richard Elson has the honour of drawing the cover for this Meg featuring everyone's favourite alcoholic mutie and a good bottle of "Ball's" 75% whiskey! Not much going on in the background, but I quite liked the cover. I'm a fan of Elson's work anyway...

Let's get into the Dredd story, Warzone, which I've been raving on about in these articles. Dredd and the crew of Space Corps are under siege and the battle did become rather chaotic. I managed to follow it OK, but there was little script and a lot of action in the artwork. I'm not saying that's a bad thing - nothing of the sort - I thought it added to the drama of the battle. And the last panel is priceless... I've seen Dredd look pretty hacked off before, but Holden has caught his expression beautifully! This is a fast-paced, action-packed story and I'm still loving it!

Part 3 of A Scottish Sojer saw Middenface and his gang launching a daring raid at the heart of the Scottish government. I'm not entirely sure how portraying Middenface as more alcoholic, less brave mutie is playing with me. It's a new angle to his character. He's always liked a drink and the lassies, but it seemed to focus a lot on the booze aspect in this episode. Maybe it's significant later down the line... This is continuing to build nicely, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes.

We had a one-page Sinister Dexter episode called A Night Off which was quite good. These one-pagers are probably quite tricky to pitch right, but this was one of the better ones to date. Good work by both Dan Abnett and artist Steve Roberts.

The less said about Whatever Happened To Alec Trench the better. He's not a character I'm familiar with and the entire story felt like one long in-joke that I wasn't in on. Quite self-indulgent. But I'm probably just annoyed I didn't know what was going on. Robin Smith's style was immediately apparent on the art duties, and it's Alan Grant on script, but it zoomed right over my head. Probably hilarious if you know who Alex Trench is. Possibly it's poking fun at all those people who write bad stuff and send it to 2000AD. But I didn't get it. Doctor Smith's opening editorial was about how tough it was to get a gig at 2000AD or the Megazine and extolling the virtues of the self-published comics community (more later on that) so maybe it was a dig at people. I hope not. That wouldn't be very nice...

But back on track with the excellent writing and artwork we have Messrs Rennie and Ezquerra on Part 2 of Malachi, the Cursed Earth Koburn story. Our hero is in a bit of a pickle as the walking mutation of doom, Malachi, has a brush with him. I do so love the adventures of Cursed Earth Koburn and the Malachi story is a particularly good concept and well executed. I genuinely have no idea what's going to happen, so am looking forward to getting stuck in next episode.

The fifth part of Shimura has left us on a knife edge... A real cliff-hanger. It has built steadily through previous episodes to get us to this point. Once again, this episode was full of action which suited the black and white art of Colin MacNeil. It's good stuff... You can't beat a bit of Robbie Morrison quality story telling!

Charley's War lumbered back into the telling of Blue's story. It's still pretty good, and it was nice to have a break and be back in London finding out what is happening with Charlie and Blue's attempts to dodge the Military Police, but I do still wonder how long it will go on for! I suspect this is Pat Mills' way of telling another side of the World War I history which had little to do with the British forces. And that’s OK - I'm cool with that. For now...

I mentioned the small-press comic scene earlier. It's like the micro-brewing scene to real ale, so the small-press scene allows writers and artists to be more experimental and pretty much create what they want! This text article covers a number of the fan magazine in the 2000AD world (Dogbreat, Zarjaz, FutureQuake, etc) as well as some notable comics away from this world. I found it quite interesting to read. I've seen the tables at Comic Cons but never really paid them much attention, so it was good to read about some of the many small-press comics there are out there. Sadly, I don't have time to read all the stuff from 2000AD, let alone getting into small-press stuff, but if you are looking for something truly original, get yourself along to the nearest comic con and chat to some of these producers (or Google is your friend, of course!).

David Bishop's brilliant canter through Magazine history, 15 Years Creep, finished this issue with a look at the Lord Alan Barnes era... Oh Sir Alan - why have you left us <sniff>... So I was on pretty solid ground here having read every Megazine mentioned. It was quite a different perspective for me, because I often read Bishop's looks at the history of comics with a more distant perspective as I usually haven't read any of it or don't remember it. Having read all these characters less than a year ago it was quite fun to read about how they were created, how some nearly didn't get off the ground and how Lord Barnes thought The Bogie Man was really funny and I didn't... But I'm glad we can agree the text stories were good, even if the majority of readers did not. Still, for me, that sums up the Great Man's editorship. He'd always try something different. I still believe this was a golden time for the Meg. If you want a slab of excellent comics writing, and you like Judge Dredd, you could do a lot worse than pick up issues 201 to 242 of the Megazine. Of course, I'm not saying Doctor Smith will be a rubbish editor. I very much hope he will keep the ship sailing forwards. Maybe create Diamond Age of the Meg!

It was interesting to learn that Hotshots was created to drive ad revenue. It's the funny thing with Hotshots. Mostly, they are a 'miss' rather than a 'hit' but occasionally something is of interest. Rob Williams' review of The Last Man being one of them.

Metro Dredd was a bit crap, and that was the end of this issue!

And finally... Brian Bolland was back in the letters page correcting a number of errors in the Joel Meadows interview of pervious issues... He's becoming a regular! Perhaps Doctor Smith should give him a column, like Gordon Rennie's old one. That I would love to read!

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