Judge Dredd: At Home With The Snozzburns makes me worry for writer Alan Grant's sanity. In case you couldn't guess, it's a piss-take of The Osbournes, with all the family present and correct, all (except for Sharon, excuse me, Karin) with huge noses (hence the title). Dredd investigates death threats, suggests he should bring Snozzy in on an obscenity rap, solves the case and, in the end...ah, I'll leave you to find that out for yourself. A triumphant one-shot story, exquisite art by Ian Gibson, makes one hanker after the good old days.
Said good old days are being relived in the second strip, Savage: Book One: Taking Liberties: Chapter Five by Pat Mills and Charlie Adlard, a more modern rerun of Mills' Invasion from years back. A brilliantly moody cover adorns the issue, another chapter in the fightback against the Volgans' (aka Russians) invasion of Britain. I'm not taken by the subplot of Bill Savage faking his death and pretending to be his brother, Jack, it's not convinced anyone - even if the bad guys fell for it, they'd know from their informants that there was another just-as-nasty terrorist waiting for them...at this stage, it seems somewhat pointless.
Nigel Kitching's and Richard Elson's A.H.A.B. is up next, and they seem determined to complicate the plot with every issue. This is episode five, and there's no indication that this is only book one, so it's gonna be a hell of a job to wrap it all up in a few issues' time - unless there's one mother of a firefight and virtually everyone except Ishmael, the most personable alien on this crew of aliens, snuffs it. The crew are supposedly taking a rare cure back to earth but more inclined to sell it for muchos buckaroos on the black market, they are being led by an impersonator (Ahab) who's real identity they've yet to rumble, and Moby Dick has already been caught and ripped to shreds. Interesting, nonetheless.
Lowlife by Rob Williams and Henry Flint delves into the life of Wally Squad judges, criminally under-used in the past and yet always a favourite. The Wally Squad are undercover judges, so Williams gives it a Philip K. Dick-esque twist and asks how far undercover is too undercover, at what point does an undercover judge "turn", and how do "real" judges know when one has turned...or one hasn't turned? WSJ Aimme Nixon knows she's kosher, yet she's being set up - by whom? Another WS Judge? Someone on the Lowlife (aka the Mega City Mob)? Justice Dept themselves??? Although the mystery keeps you going, you can't help but feel this will read better as a single book when complete. It'll be a cracker.
And finally, Chopper: The Big Meg, Part Five brings up the rear, courtesy of John Wagner and Goddard & Teague. Chopper is back in Mega City One on a fool's errand, it's obvious to the reader that he's being played by the beautiful Callista (she claims some rich dude is holding papers which make her fulfill his every perverse desire), she's twisting him around her little finger - and it all seems such a blatant setup. I'm hoping Wagner can pull something different than the expected betrayal out of the bag...but all signs aren't looking good.
So a mixed bag as always, but much better than usual - better even that the last couple of issues, it seems that as these writers get into their strides on their stories, they really hit new heights. Good stuff.
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