Comics: Judge Dredd Megazine 396 - Reviewed

Judge Dredd Megazine is a British anthology series released by the company 2000AD and mainly devoted to its best known character, Judge Dredd. It also features other characters within the Dredd universe. Each issue features several different stories from different writers and artists. This issue contains five stories and a bonus prologue, with a cover from John Higgins.  

The first story is the explosive new thriller of “Judge Dredd: This Corrosion Part 1” and was written by Michael Carroll, art by John Higgins, colored by Sally Hurst, and lettered by Annie Parkhouse. Razorjack is a character that was created by Higgins in 1999 and this is the first epic crossover between Razorjack and Dredd. Described as a more evil version of Satan and Genghis Khan, she and her biomechanical monsters are only interested in destroying other worlds. The story is narrated by Pree, a being that was captured by Razorjack and her warriors and used to test the safety of their dimensional warp-gate. Wreaking havoc on Mega-City One, Dredd must find a way to stop them before they annihilate everything. There is a great deal of action and violence packed into this sci-fi/horror tale and it's beautifully drawn by Higgins, with so much intricate detail and linework. The soft color palette mostly employs a selection of light blues and purples that juxtapose the chaotic yellows and reds that are used for blood and fire. This one story is worth checking out and I'm very much looking forward to seeing what happens next.

This is followed by “The Returners: Irmazhina Part 2” and was written by Si Spencer, art by Nicolo Assirelli, colored by Eva De La Cruz, and lettered by Simon Bowland. Ciudad Barranquilla, 2140 AD. This South American city is poor and rough, with many people meeting untimely ending. In part one, we were introduced to four very different people who all died. Only these four people can get past a forcefield to examine a mysterious ancient ruin that popped up from out of nowhere, all of whom died and resurrected. It's Suicide Squad meets Indiana Jones as this ragtag group maneuvers through a temple filled with dangerous traps. Once again, the conclusion of this part leaves one of the members in great peril. Assirelli's art is terrific and filled with a decent amount of black shading and his figures are so descriptive with excellent facial gestures. The colors from De La Cruz are fantastic and really make the artwork pop, featuring a muted earth tone palette.

The third story is “Chopper: Wandering Spirit Part 2” and was written by David Baillie, art by Brendan McCarthy, and lettered by Ellie de Ville. This is the first time Chopper has appeared in a Megazine since the first issue in 1990. Marlon Shakespeare AKA Chopper was one of the greatest skysurfers , winning the illegal Supersurf 7 before retiring to the Oz Radback. The aboriginal people of Oz believe that there is another reality, one that can be accessed while dreaming. In this part, Chopper navigates both of these worlds while searching for hi missing friend, the medicine man Karadji. The art from McCarthy is truly something special to behold, containing a rich tapestry of bright psychedelic colors to match with this strange world of dreams and monsters. 

This is followed by the finale of “Cursed Earth Koburn: The Law of the Cursed Earth Part 5” and was written by Robert McConville, illustrated and colored by Carlos Ezquerra, and lettered by Simon Bowland. Koburn is a circuit Judge in the Radlands of Cursed Earth, patrolling the outposts and townships in this desolated area and maintaining peace in the chaotic area. The veteran Judge Boyle has gone mad and a war has broken out between the Judges, mutants, and bandits. The violence and potential political events leave the door open for this to greatly affect future stories featuring Koburn. Koburn is beautifully crafted by the legendary Ezquerra (co-creator of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog) and the art is just rich in his unique look and style. It is full of interesting details and loaded with an immense amount of violence. I look forward to seeing more of the character in the future.

The fifth story is the finale of “Dredd: The Dead World” and was written by Arthur Wyatt & Alex De Campi, illustrated by Henry Flint, colored by Chris Blythe, and lettered by Annie Parkhouse. Set in Mega-City One, Judge Dredd is battling creatures that have crossed over from an entropic dimension. This is straight horror as Dredd takes on these scary creatures and the mirror world that the dead inhabit. The finale is a fitting conclusion that sees Dredd take on horrifying creatures that resemble something you seen in the likes of The Fly and The Thing. Flint's art is fantastic and filled with heavy dark shading, a great deal of line work, and some excellent gore-filled scenes. The colors only further enhance each panel, adding some extra depth to these creepy monsters.

If you like Judge Dredd, sci-fi, and futuristic stories then you really should pick up the Megazines. With multiple tales in each issue, there's always little bit of something to appeal to everyone.