The Megazine - Prog 400
I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. It’s not that the line up is ridiculously stellar, it’s more down to who is not there than who is, although Wagner and Grant are a nice addition.
Going into the issue and the first concern is that the Wagner Dredd strip is a one off, so we could be back to mediocrity in the very next issue.
Anderson is also a one-shot and Kot on Waugh appears to be one issue only, so he’s not permanently taking over from McConnville’s bland efforts. So next issues line ups are not as strong as it appears.
Wagner and Flint
This is worth the money alone, as Wagner shows he has lost any of his passion, launching into a cutting, somewhat controversial attack on the Tories, privatisation, the financial sector, the corporate world, and the Royal family. Within 1 page I feel like I’m in comfortable territory. It’s a sharp blast of Wagner’s finest, blackest humour reserve.
Flint is brilliant as ever.
Only complaint is that this could actually have been a lot longer, there’s quite a lot squeezed into 10 pages, it could have easily provided enough material for 5 or 6 episodes of 200ad Dredd, amping up a mystery angle as Dredd investigates what they find in the contaminated pools.
Brilliant none the less.
By Abnett and Winslade
You know what to expect by now. This is probably the Megazine’s top strip over the last 2 years. This new story is up their in quality with the rest. Winslades detailed lines are astonishing. Impeccable storytelling and the way he depicts the rain lashing down is so atmospheric.
This is the calm during a storm which precedes the metaphorical storm that is incoming as the Marshall Lawson and the citizens of Lawless await the impending onslaught from Munce.
Abnett is probably in my top 10 writers at this stage. The guy brings me so much joy with his ability to tell compelling stories with excellent characters.
There’s a brilliant interview with the outspoken British comics legend, Alan Heben, which coincides with the release of the El Mestizo collection with Carlos Ezquerra. Interesting to note that Hebden is currently writing for Commando and has been for the last 30 years, having written over 300 stories for the pocket war comic.
There’s also interviews with 5 of the Megazines previous editors, which is fascinating, even if one or two of them were arseholes.
The interview with Steve McManus is a reminder of just how strong the Megazine was with him editing, and Wagner and Grant acting as consultants. Possibly the single strongest issue of any 2000ad publication.
Contrast this to the era where David Bishop takes over, which should forever act as a cautionary tale. No matter how nice a guy he comes across now, revisionism should never be allowed to erase just what a disaster he was as an editor and how he treated some of the greatest creators in the history of UK comics.
Speaking of whom, the Dave Bishop interview consists of him slightly overplaying his role in discovering creators who I think really produced their first work elsewhere.
He mentions Robbie Morrison as one of the ‘success stories’ of the Comic - which is simply not true. Shimura was mostly notable for Quitely’s art, the series itself was not particlaurly good. His work for the Megazine was not up to the standard of his Dante series.
Dave Stone, who Bishop cites as as not getting the ‘credit he deserves’ was a one of the 90s stalwarts who I’ve never really missed seeing, along with Armitage - which was a series that failed to grab me, aside from Sean Phillips brilliant art.
The Armitage legacy itself seems to get better the further away everyone gets from reading it. No matter how much Bishop tried to protest otherwise. Perhaps I’m being too harsh, it’s been a long time since I read it and I would like to dig these old issues out again and see if my memory serves me correct or maybe my older self has more appreciation for some of the strips that bored me at the time.
Ormston is a tremendous artist, but let’s not forget his art was the only good thing about Harke and Burr.
John Smith was already working for Crisis and 2000ad and I’m almost certain that Sean Phillips was working at Crisis as well.
Don’t get me wrong it wasnt all bad, Swimming in Blood was published under Bishop’s tenure as were some other decent series, but there was a lot of rubbish stuff too and it gradually got worse until Diggle took over. Who I’ve also heard bad things about in terms of how he dealt with older creators, but I do seem to remember the Megazine improving under him.
I would need to credit Bishop with a lot of good artists however. This was maybe his forte over writers or good stories.
Eglington & Cook sees the return of a series that I didn’t care for first time around, but a writer and artist that I’m not over keen on.
The series opens with an interesting philiopshical monologue on mankind’s relationship to the environment around us, in relation to our relatively short time in existence.
This was actually ok, albiet confusing, it would have been better if I could work out who is who, there’s 3 or more different groups or factions involved here and names mentioned that I don’t feel we were ever introduced to. For example, who is Boyd?
If we are expected to remember this from a series that ran about 2 years ago that’s just a poor job by the editor not picking up on this.
Devlin Waugh: Call Me By Thy Name
By Ales Kot and Mike Downing
I was hoping for an improvement on the previous 2 series. And we did get it, but not without some complaints.
Kot gets the dialogue a bit closer to what I’d expect for the character although he plays up the camp side a few notches and I think the massive green dildo at the start, although amusing, was further in tone than Smith would normally take things.
So initially I’m thinking there’s an uncharacteristic mistake from Simon Bolland on the lettering, where he mixes the placement of a boxed response to a question with the placement of a word balloon, which puzzled me until I remembered what had been asked in the previous panel. Again, I thought this was something I’d expect to be picked up in editorial then fixed before releasing for print.
And then I realised that there’s dialogue that takes place in the car then dialogue that Waugh is speaking when he’s on his on own in an adandoned factory. Only the small panels that are used for the conversation in the car are the same size as the one Waugh is in the factory in at the start and well yes this is another example of Ales Kot not understanding the basics of comic books narrative structure or sequential storytelling.
Here, read this and see what I’m talking about
When you make the reader feel like they have a fucking brain tumour while trying to read your comic then it’s time to chuck it or go back to fucking writing school, smart arse.
Once I calmed down and read it for the 3rd time it was actually really good. There’s some cracking lines, my favourite being ‘Darling, I am the Filth’ which is genius.
Basically Devlin Waugh has become a camp, x-rated carry on John Constantine now and if that’s the direction Matt Smith wants to take him in then who am I to argue. However this wouldn’t be out of place in The Viz. Binding a demon to a magical dildo pretty much sealing that.
Maybe John Smith will return one day.
Also on the plus side, Mike Downing has found what appears to be an increasingly looser art style, which is still great, even if he’s dropped the Arthur Ranson influenced precision lines for Joe Kubertesque thicker, looser inks - his art is still superb and I think it’s letting him balance 2000ad work with his work on Vertigo books. Good to see him getting lots of work, because he’s brilliant.
John Tomlinson’s interview comes across as very humble and regretful that his stint was so short. He takes lterally no credit for any of the series that were published during his short time in the hot seat.
There’s another fantastic interrogation, this time with the legendary Ian Gibson which is pretty no holds barred. Although I don’t feel it really emphasises how much great work he did, it kinda ends on a low note.
By Leah Moore/John Reppion and Jimmy Broxton.
I’ve struggled to get into Moore\Reppion stories in the past but this was a great opening chapter. Really good idea really well executed in a nicely paced, straight forward manner. This one was a pleasant surprise.
Andy Diggle’s time as editor is a lot shorter than I thought it was. I seem to remember an uptick in quality when he appeared, but perhaps this was on 2000ad. His greatest legacy is introducing the creator interviews to the Meg, which is still one of my favourite components to this day.
The new Dark Judges story follows on direct from Dominion. This time with David Hine taking over from Wagner, who turned down writing another. It’s essentially a vehicle for Nick Percival’s art.
It’s actually a classic horror set up, this time Rosco, a survivor from the previous installment is trying to stop the Dark Judges reaching Earth.
It’s a nicely told classic horror set up, and whilst I don’t think it is going to blow us away, that was quite a promising opening epsiode.
Matt Smith, rightly gets a lot of credit for this glory era of 2000ad - however the job Alan Barnes did almost gets lost in that. He put the comic back on track. This interview highlights what a great job he did in fixing what Bishop had done over the years and he made a lot of smart decisions.
anderson by Grant and Miranda is a celebration of Cass’s 40th year on the streets, delivered in a humourous and action packed manner. I’m sad to see that it’s not an ongoing.
This means next issue’s line up is effectively Dredd (a lottery these days), Brink, Storm Warning, Dark Judges and Lawless - providing we don’t get Wyatt, McConville or Eglington on Dredd I’m hoping For a sharp uptick in quality to what we’ve been exposed to recently.
This was £8 but it took me hours to read and overall was a good package. I’d recommend it if any of you are on the fence.