Gavin Johnston's Comic Reviews

Reviewer For: Comics: The Gathering Reviews: 55
8.2Avg. Review Rating

8
2000AD #2077

Apr 17, 2018

The heartfelt and tender conversation between Johnny and Wulf provides nostalgic moment in which we can appreciate just how good Strontium Dog used to be, back before Johnny became quite as emotionally damaged as he is now. Does this mark a turning point for the character, and a return to the carefree days of old? Or, is writer John Wagner setting us up for yet anotherdevasting loss?

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8
2000AD #2078

Apr 24, 2018

Kenton Sternhammer is on the hunt for the dangerous Glazers gang, whilst Johnny Alpha follows behind, trying to keep the inexperienced Kenton out of trouble. In terms of plot, this episode of Strontium Dog: The Son more important than thrilling. It’s a necessary stage between action scenes. But writer John Wagner keeps the pace up by throwing in a nicely concise shoot out, and a callback to the good old days by arming Kenton with his late father’s weapon of choice.

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9
2000AD #2079

May 1, 2018

Things go badly for Kenton Sternhammer as he confrontsthe Glazers in Strontium Dog: The Son. Whilst the plot hasn’t done anything unsurprising, it’s a nice story which has set Alpha on the possibility of a new path. Ezquerra’s art is a little rough around the edges in some panels, but does have yet another typically icon full page panel, and has an interesting twist in that some of the action takes place in the shadows...and things get much darker towards the end as Alpha's self loathing takes hold.

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9
2000AD #2080

May 8, 2018

This revealing episodes builds Alpha and Kenton’s relationship, packing in a huge amount of action and character development. That writer John Wagner does all this so casually is a sight to behold. It looks like Kenton Sternhammer could be here to stay...

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9
2000AD #2081

May 15, 2018

After going to some dark places, The Son ends on a high, with a gleeful caper featuring Alpha and Sternhammer Junior. Its a simplistic ending, which swerves the moral questions inherit in their trade by introducing a comedy robot villain, but it captures all the fun of the Strontium Dog golden era. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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7
2000AD #2090

Jul 18, 2018

Grey Area: KIA kicks of with some familiar nationalistic fear mongering. The Earth’s border control agency are back on duty, protecting the planet from immigrants and immigarnts from the planet. After a very slim-line introduction we are thrown into action, with the agency battling against an oversized foe. Mark Harrison’s art is full of detail, colour and craziness, often difficult to follow but perfectly capturing the madness of warfare.

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7
2000AD #2091

Jul 25, 2018

Death and politics continue in Damned: Fall of Deadworld. Chief Judge Death has remained in the shadows so far, shifting the pieces on his chessboard as madness spread around him. Until now Death has been portrayed as sadistic and coldly efficient, but in his first real appearance he’s shown to have reached Norman Bates level of comedic insanity. It’s a fine line for writer Kek-W to walk, given how quickly the character has fallen into cackling, Joker-style madness in the past. Regardless, it’s an episode full of twists we know will be inconsequential, and we can but hope that this version of Death veers away from the more comedic elements.

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10
2000AD #2092

Jul 31, 2018

This week's jaw-dropping finale has at least three shocking moments...but don't expect any answers until at least the Christmas special in five month's time.

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8
2000AD #2093

Aug 7, 2018

Unit 86 is back in Grey Area: 86...or at least some of them are. After the shocking death of some of the gang, this episode introduces new members, and the awkward interactions that take place as different ways of working are thrown together. Mark Harrison's art is as action-packed as ever, with alien crowd scenes as the border control agents have conflicting ideas about dealing with a peaceful protect. This episode is mostly set up for the conflict to come, but its a nice reintroduction to the characters and the conflict to come.

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8
2000AD #2094

Aug 14, 2018

Another big fight in this week’s Grey Area: The Laundry Room. It’s an all action five pages with a twist you were probably expecting, as the conspiracy at the heart of the Grey Area get darker. The neon art from Mark Harrison is packed with action and disjointed panels, and letterer Elle De Vile does well to guide us through this strange adventure.

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7
2000AD #2095

Aug 22, 2018

Grey Area’s big reveal last prog is examined further, as a conspiracy is slowly revealed in Objectives. Having faked the death of two characters in order to recruit them to a black-ops squad, its hinted at how this new force will be used. Mark Harrison’s busy, crowded art, really captures the chaos of the Exo Zone. The decision to fake a couple of characters deaths, though, needs a big payoff. We'll have to wait and see if that happens.

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8
2000AD #2096

Aug 28, 2018

The calm, rational art of Karl Richardson is entirely countered by the deliberate disorder of Mark Harrison. Grey Area: Objectives looks like it was painted using raw neon. Its panels overlap and in places seem to be out of order. It’s the perfect style for the map cap action taking place within the cramped and diverse Exo Zone. In this episode, Grell’s black-ops squad are put to work, and their true purpose of revealed – as is the fallout of their actions. Credit is also due to Ellie De Ville, who managed to squeeze a huge amount of dialogue into the panels, an orderly path guiding us through the madness.

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8
2000AD #2097

Sep 5, 2018

The darkest plot of all can be found in Grey Area: Evidence. The deaths of Kym and Bitch have been faked, with the pair press-ganged into joining a black ops death squad. As their colleagues struggle with grieving their loss, former boss Bulliet searches for answers. And begin to unlock a vast conspiracy. Grey Area is a visual explosion, with varied alien characters, packed crowds, and randomly placed sound-effects creating a real sense of the crowded and chaotic environment.

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8
2000AD #2098

Sep 12, 2018

It looks like Grey Area wont return until next year, but it's going to be worth waiting for.

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7
2000AD #2099

Sep 19, 2018

This Prog is rounded of with the Future Shock: Talk’s Cheap, in which an eco-terrorist is interrogated using some controversial new methods. This marks the first appearance in the Prog of writer Mark McCann and artist Adam Brown. Its an interesting idea, and delves quickly into thoroughly brutal and nasty waters. However, it might spend too long on set up, giving the details of the terrorist’s crimes before splurging a dialogue heavy explanation.

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10
2000AD #2100

Sep 26, 2018

Artist Dave Taylor is best known round these parts for his busy skylines and strangely organic machinery. In 1812, his art is stripped back, with wide and beautifully bleak landscapes that radiate cold. Credit is also due to letterer Annie Parkhouse, for producing something a little bit special.It's not always like this. Sometimes, 2000AD will have a couple of stories that don'thit themark. But when it' s good, it's very good. A mix of genres, from a whole bunch of creators who are willing to take risks. Prog 2100 is 2000AD doing what it does best.

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9
2000AD #2101

Oct 3, 2018

Exciting cups of tea, Victoriana and the Napoleonic wars not exciting enough for you? Luckily, there’s a nice helping of Kingdom: Alpha And Omega to rounds things off. The pack's return to Earth is rudely interrupted and we’re straight into action, as a pack of wild Aux hunt down Gene, Pause and Leezee. Kingdom is clever, with interesting characters...but more often than not it’s just a big, glorious fight. Five pages of colourful action, as Gene finds himself outmatched

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9
2000AD #2102

Oct 10, 2018

More conversations and catch-up in Kingdom: Alpha And Omega. Gene has been captured by the Riders, who are kind enough to provide a brief monologue on their relationship with the Tick, the Masters, and Them. Whilst the Riders might have immediately appeared as bad guys, they're given a decent reason for their actions...could Gene find a new place in this pack? Another faction is added to the increasingly complex and smart world of the Kingdom.

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9
2000AD #2103

Oct 17, 2018

Over in Kingdom: Alpha And Omega, the wild riders take on the newly arrived purebreds, whilst Gene spends the episode tied to a tree. One of the nice things about Kingdom is its dialgue, which bounces between science-babble and the broken future-English spoken by dog-soldiers. Major Canis, leader of a squad of super-dogs conveysboth his powerful position over the humans and his duty to them with a simple line: “Stay, Master. We’ll fetch”. It’s simple, but like so much in these pages, it says much more than is immediately obvious

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10
2000AD #2104

Oct 24, 2018

No such stillness in Kingdom: Alpha And Omega. The military assault on the wild-Aux didn’t go well, and the human Numan finds himself alongside Gene, captured by the tribe. There are more helpful monologues, catching us up with how the world changedwhilst Gene was away. The explaination has been going on for a while now, but the frequent action means the pace of the story never slows. Gene is faced with a terrible choice - is it worth giving up a part of yourself, just to survive? Big, brawling dog soldiers and philosophy! Nuance!

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10
2000AD #2105

Oct 30, 2018

Finally, Gene considers his future in Kingdom: Alpha And Omega. There’s been a lot of time spent on debating whether or not Gene should accept the inevitable, and join the partial hive-mind of the wild-Aux. Happily, the philosophical pondering has been interspersed with violence and bloodshed. That continues this Prog, as Gene reveals that he holds a secret that could end the war.

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10
2000AD #2106

Nov 6, 2018

Gene has been presented with a simple dilemma that we’ve all faced at some point in our lives: Either you battle the humans who created you and the giant bugs who conquered the Earth...or you learn to live in peace and harmony witha mind-controlling tick affixed to your body, regulating your every thought. That sounds nice. Gene, however, has never witnessed the trash-fire of Twitterand so continues to struggle with the choice.Deadlines have been set, with the humans ready to nuke the entire gang if they don’t get what they want. Here, the immediate danger is dispensed with, an odd choice storytelling wise. But more drama is added as Gene reveals a secret, and the Riders decide to force the situation. Just as things were getting a little too philosophical, a dog soldier comes through the door with a metaphorical gun

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10
2000AD #2107

Nov 13, 2018

Action suddenly takes hold in Kingdom: Alpha And Omega. After discussing the future of the planet for quite a while, it’s a relief to have characters shooting at each other. It’s all expertly done and well paced, with a sudden surprise ending...

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9
2000AD #2108

Nov 21, 2018

The humans do what they do to retain control in Kingdom: Alpha And Omega. A nuclear bomb, off target and early thanks to the work of Pause, pushes Gene back into what he does best: shouting and killing things with a big knife. All this philosophising has gone on for a bit long, so it’s a relief to see Kingdom get back to havingbig, chunky characters beat each other up. Long may it continue.

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10
2000AD #2109

Nov 28, 2018

There’s a bit of a catch up in Kingdom: Alpha And Omega, as Gene finally escapes the Riders, and joins up with Lezee and Pause. The art is becoming increasingly dark and gritty art asthe tension mounts. The Ticks start to show their true colours, as the riders get themselves a new leader. Kingdom has survived it’s shift in time and groups, and is set up for future adventures.

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8
2000AD #2110

Dec 4, 2018

The Sea Beneath The City could have just been Finnigan and Ramone delighting in the bizarre Bond antics of bad guys with secret underground lairs, over the top plots to conquerthe world, and women with suggestive names. Instead, it piles on layers of jokes. Ramone still has an unfortunate case of the thought balloons, there are workplace conversations about the inequality inherit in the capitalist system, the problems of a mechanised workforce, and jokes about eels. If 2000AD teaches us anything, it's that even nonsensical stories can have a message.

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8
2000AD #2111

Jan 11, 2019

The vampire Constanta has made it to the Great War in Fiends of the Western Front, the latest instalment in the Fiends of The Eastern Front mythos. It follows the expected pattern of an old soldier remembering when he was a young and naive, falling under the sway of Constanta’s vampire squadron. This time the soldier in question is Wilson, an officer in the British Royal Flying Corps. Cue some biting dialogue from the aristocratic officers as they battle the Bosch, and bi-planes in action against giant bats. Fiends manages to neatly tie-in an entirely separate property recently acquired by Rebellion to create an original whole in a quadruple-length episode.

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5
2000AD #2113

Jan 9, 2019

Some people who have never encountered zombies before come face to face with zombies in...well in almost every piece of fiction involving zombies, but also in Tharg’s 3-riller: The Scorched Zone. This might be a victim of the threeriller format, with an overlong explanation of backstory, but still without any differentiation between characters.In all, a disappointing Prog which is hopefully a blip in this long period of quality Thrills.

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5
2000AD #2114

Jan 16, 2019

Will a mass sacrifice call forward their strange Gods and bring forth a glorious new era for the dying human race? Or are they just a bunch of crazies? The wonderful strength of Brink is that for three books is has skirted around the idea that maybe the whole thing is just a nonsense, and that people do strange things when frightened and alone.

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7
2000AD #2115

Jan 23, 2019

Skip Tracer: Louder Than Bombs feels like storytelling from a previous era. Whilst it’s a decent story with some nice art, it also feels a collection of ideas that you’ve probably seen in other comics or movies. This Prog, Nolan has a conversation with an angry mechanic who somehow knows what happened in a top-secret military base in the last story...but the whole thing just seems to be an opportunity for something predictable to take place elsewhere.

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8
2000AD #2116

Jan 30, 2019

That INJ Culbard’s art has been so reserved and structured until now just adds to the impact, as the order fades away in a shocking few pages. Brink has been a masterpiece of storytelling and design, and even as we rush to the end it continues to surprise.

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8
2000AD #2117

Feb 6, 2019

Finally, Jaegir returns with Bonegrinder, where Kapiten-Inspecter Atalia Jaegir does the good work of the Office of Public Truth - a sort of Internal Affairs Division of the brutal Nort military. Opening with a memorable set-piece that highlights the pointless slaughter of the Nu-Earth War, this is a gritty and grimy introduction to the most interesting expansion of the Rogue Trooper universe. Previous Jaegir stories have taken their time weaving tales of hidden secrets and betrayal. Here, though, we’re right into the action with a straight forward story and clear moral purpose. It's a strong start.

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8
2000AD #2118

Feb 13, 2019

Why does a powerful psychic so frequently stumble into traps? Does Nolan have any reason for doing the things he does? All these questions and more may be answered, next Prog...

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8
2000AD #2119

Feb 20, 2019

So here goes… Skip Tracer: Louder than Bombs is like cheesy 80’s Sci-fi. This week, Nolan meets some freedom fighters and falls into another trap. If you like that sort of thing, and want something untaxing, then maybe Skip Tracer is for you.

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8
2000AD #2120

Feb 27, 2019

Having taken command of a squadron of Nord forces on the verge of defeat, Kapiten Jaegir negotiates surrender in Jaegir: Bonegrinder. Despite the politcking, Jaegir never slows down, and the whole thing is non-stop battlefield action.

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7
2000AD #2121

Mar 6, 2019

And on the theme of strong female characters, Jaegir: Bonegrinder sees Kapitan Jaegir make a heroic sacrifice in defence of her troops. Jaegir is a heady mix of politics and war, with a beautifully swirling, toxic palette. Writer Gordon Rennie expertly delivers some fairly wordy exposition, whilst never letting up on the action.

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6
2000AD #2122

Mar 13, 2019

The action leaves the frontline in Jaegir: Bonegrinder. Jaegir’s support characters move to the forefront, as they put together a plan to save their Kapiten from Souther forces. After all the gunfire, it’s a nice change of pace, building their universe even further. Suitably dark, with a decent mix of intrigue and action, Jaegir introduces a new villain and heads off in an unexpected direction...

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10
2000AD #2123

Mar 20, 2019

The alien race known as the Congruence are invited to Earth for a political summit in Grey Area: Making History. Last week came with a warning that Grey Area’s Black Ops team are planning something bad for the summit, and Bulliet and his team plan to stop them. Grey Area is usually packed with action and detail, and this episode is especially word-heavy. Action shifts from different points of view as the historic events unfold, and there’s a huge amount to take in. Despite this, creators Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison manage to cram in humorous details, such as familiar aliens packed-in behind a fence. Again, it might not be the most inviting introduction to the Grey Area, but it’s fun and fast moving, and opens a new era in the long running story.

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10
2000AD #2124

Mar 27, 2019

The Black-Ops squad launch an attack during an intergalactic peace conference. Grey Area: Making History is a flurry of chaotic action and technical jargon as the Grey Area authorities try to grasp control of the situation, and Bulliett and his teammates try to take revenge. Mark Harrison’s electric art jumps between scenes, capturing the madness of a surprise attack. Grey Area has taken some risks in the past, and Making History ends with a final twist that changes the game all over again.

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10
2000AD #2125

Apr 3, 2019

Yet another excellent Prog from 2000AD, with a generous mix of different types of story, each with something original to say.

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7
2000AD #2127

Apr 17, 2019

Okay, not quite. But mostly. Kingmaker continues to riff on Tolkien’s classic, with it’s characters undertaking a similar, interminably long journey, under the watchful eye of an unknowable, immense intelligence. But this time it’s a bunch of aliens rather than what ever Sauron was. Kingmaker is visually beautiful, blending fantasy and science fiction, but if the population can be divided into those who have read Tolkien’s classics, those who have not, and those who pretend, then there’s a whole bunch of people who aren’t going to get joke.

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7
2000AD #2129

May 1, 2019

An army of space-elves do battle with some honourable Orcs in Kingmaker: Ouroboros, just as everyone's dad shows up. After riffing on Tolkien for a few weeks, Kingmaker pulls an unforeseeable twists from it's pointy wizard hat. A sudden act of violence turns the story on it's head, and things get super strange. So much so, the last panel might completely lose readers who have only been paying a normal and healthy amount of attention. So it goes...

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10
2000AD #2130

May 8, 2019

No doubt it will be dismissed as a marketing ploy by the usual internet suspects, unhappy that something isn't being marketed directly to them for once...but it's great to see Rebellion do something new in targeting younger readers with such an uncynical and upbeat issue...especially with young women and people of colour front and centre in their character line-up. There's so much here that Prog 2130 feels like more than just another issue of 2000AD " this feels like a pitch for an entirely new comic, packed with talented creators and original stories.

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7
2000AD #2131

May 15, 2019

In all, a decent if confusing Prog, aimed at readers with long memories and a lot of patience. If you're one of the newer readers who started picking up 2000AD after last week's special, prepare to get very lost.

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8
2000AD #2132

May 22, 2019

After the weird tangent last week, Kingmaker: Ouroboros gets back to having a big fight. Cirux returns from the dead with superpowers, having met God/Vonnegut. A big, glorious fight, dazzling art, is intersperses with just enough humour to stop the whole thing descending into fantasy silliness. Visually beatifull even through nothing much happens.

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7
2000AD #2133

May 29, 2019

Scarlet Traces: Home Front reintroduces characters from earlier books, as a gang of rebels fight against the Martian tripods who have returned to Earth. Friendly banter makes the return much easier, and even if it’s too much to follow, there’s great beauty in artist D’Israeli’s ruined London. As the sun rises, deep shadows and the glow of distant fire makes even the piles of corpses gorgeous, and the tension of an empty blue sky is chilling.

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10
Brink #2

Jul 25, 2018

Brink was a police procedural set in space, which hinted at low level religious extremists who sought to end the world. Book Two takes the story to the next level, with a more awful future imagined for the last surviving humans. It ends with new discoveries and many questions unanswered...

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8
Judge Dredd Megazine #395

Apr 18, 2018

Usually bagged with a “floppy” graphic novel reprint, this month’s Meg breaks with tradition and instead comes with a seventy page booklet on Pat Mills’ Nemesis, examining the origin and impact of the 2000AD classic. A nice collectable for seasoned fans, or a lovely enticement for new readers.

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9
Judge Dredd Megazine #396

May 15, 2018

This month’s Megazine is bagged with Block Judge, a Dredd story from Wagner and Ezquerra from only a few years ago, which sees Dredd assigned to Gramercy Heights Block. Block Judge is a great series, which combines the claustrophobia and violence of Dredd with some genuine detective work.

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8
Judge Dredd Megazine #398

Jul 18, 2018

This month’s Megazine also incudes written articles on what makes up a decent Future Shock story, and a short piece on the new Strontium Dog miniatures game.

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10
Judge Dredd Megazine #399

Aug 15, 2018

The Megazine also includes two written articles: one on the upcoming Vigilant comic, which teams up classic characters from British comic’s yesteryear, and the second on a new Dredd tabletop game from designers Game and a Curry. The Megazine is also bagged with a selection of “lost cases” - new Dredd stories, set in the midst of classic epics. These are great stories, and wl worth the cover price alone.

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9
Judge Dredd Megazine #400

Sep 19, 2018

400 issues in, and the Meg continues to meet a high standard. It's not a perfect issue. There are a few bum notes, some stories that might not iediately grab you, but when it's good its extraordinary.

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9
Judge Dredd Megazine #405

Feb 20, 2019

It’s topped of with a touching obituary of spitfire pilot and legendary artist Ron Smith, who passed away last month, aged ninety. Mr Smith’s colleagues heap well deserved praise upon the man whose clean lines, lean Dredd, and wonderfully batty characters like Citizen Snork and Otto Sump helped define the strange world of 2000AD.

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4
Slaine: The Brutania Chronicles: Archon #4

Aug 8, 2018

There’s an audience who adore Slaine, and will snap up Book 4 of the latest saga to add to their ever swelling collection. But this is a dozen pages of a storystretched across a hundred pages of art. Republished in this format so soon after it’s initial publication, it feels cynical, topped off with a final, literaldeus ex machina.

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6
Sniper Elite: Resistance #1

Aug 29, 2018

Resistance is well executed, with nice clear art and decent dialgoue. It begins to suggest layers to its main character, but at the moment he's little more than a placeholder. It's sound, but doesn’t feel very original.

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