Thursday, September 27, 2007

23. The Three Amigos

August 1995: The relaunched Megazine has a very strong lineup this summer. It includes Anderson: Psi Division by Alan Grant and Arthur Ranson, Missionary Man by Gordon Rennie and Simon Davis, Harmony, which is, for the first time, unmissably good, by Chris Standley and Steve Sampson, and two Judge Dredd episodes.

The first major multi-part Judge Dredd adventure by Wagner since "The Exterminator" in the winter is a seven episode story by John Wagner and Trevor Hairsine called "The Three Amigos." It's a very amusing story in which Dredd teams up with Mean Machine Angel and Judge Death to infiltrate and wipe out a mutant gang in the Cursed Earth. Taken on its own merits, the story is a great success. You don't believe for a minute that Dredd has really turned his back on the law and taken up with his two most notorious recurring foes, and you're not really meant to. The beauty is that Wagner drops the readers in at the deep end, and doesn't provide any explanations or backstory until the third episode.

On the other hand, by this point Judge Comedy Death is getting a little difficult to defend, and is just this side of utterly ponderous.

Following the fourth, and what arguably should have been last, battle with Judge Death in 1990's "Necropolis," the character settled into a groove of over-the-top black comedy and appeared far too often to take seriously as a threat. This story doesn't rehabilitate his reputation any, as it's a broad, amusing comedy, but Hairsine's art is amazing, and there is a hilarious payoff in the final episode which is worth selling a kidney to see. "The Three Amigos" was reprinted by Hamlyn Books in 1996. It is out of print, but occasionally shows up on eBay.

The other Dredd episode is a one-off by Chris Standley and, yes, Mike McMahon:

To dislike Mike McMahon is to dislike life. Or to be my ten year-old kid, who hasn't figured this artwork out yet. An "Art of Mike McMahon" book would be a lovely idea for Rebellion. It could include his color artwork from this period and the various covers and pinups he'd done for the early 90s Complete Judge Dredd comic, and all those great pages from the Dredd Annuals of the early 1980s, and maybe even some Muto Maniac from Toxic!...

Next week: The shadowy conspiracy of Vector 13...

(Originally published 9/27/07 at LiveJournal.)

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