Comic news and new releases – March 2015
Mad Max: Fury Road spin-off and Judge Dredd: The Mega Collection among March's hottest comics releases
The List's David Pollock rounds up the top news and previews the best new releases in the comic world incoming this March.
Vertigo's Mad Max: Fury Road spin-off
As if we weren’t all bloody excited enough about George Miller’s forthcoming, Tom Hardy-starring sequel to his demented petrolhead dystopiana trilogy, the comic tie-ins have just been announced. Published by DC’s long-standing mature readers imprint Vertigo, the first instalment is Mad Max: Fury Road: Inspired Artists, a book of 65 pin-up interpretations by artists including Dave McKean and Cliff Chiang. It’s out on Wed 6 May; a couple of weeks later, a four-issue prequel miniseries written by Miller, one of the film’s co-writers Nico Lathouris and its storyboard and concept artist Mark Sexton will begin. The film’s third writer, of course, is sometime Judge Dredd artist and Shade the Changing Man cover artist Brendan McCarthy, who is oddly not involved in the comics.
The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1
Rooted in his dizzying knowledge of and enthusiasm for DC Comics’ decades of continuity, as well as a typically mind-altering approach to experimenting with the form, Glasgow’s Grant Morrison dishes out the penultimate chapter in his nine-issue arc of stand-kind-of-alone DC alternate earth tales in The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1. Chapter four (‘Pax Americana: In Which We Burn #1’, with his regular collaborator Frank Quitely) was named by many the comic of 2014.
This one promises head-messery in abundance alongside his Final Crisis collaborator Doug Mahnke, as we visit Earth-33, or Earth-Prime; this world, the real world, the world of the guy or girl holding the comic. ‘The most advanced thing I’ve ever done’, ‘the most frightening thing anyone will ever read’ and ‘a weapon’ is how Morrison described this issue back in 2011 to Comics Alliance. No pressure, then.
Judge Dredd, reworked
Part-works might not be the most classy item to endorse for the serious graphic novel collector, but in this case we’ll make an exception: 'this case' being Hachette’s recently-launched Judge Dredd: The Mega-Collection. It’s a reprint of the future lawman’s best adventures, cannily selected and gorgeously designed by the people (sorry, the droids) who bring us 2000AD every week. It was launched a few weeks back, but we’d like to draw your attention in particular to the first issue, which we’ve still seen on the stands recently.
Whatever your experience with comics or with Dredd himself, the story ‘America’ is definitive reading, told with customary clipped skill by Dredd creator John Wagner and illustrated with moody but clean lines by Colin MacNeil. It’s a tragic love story and possibly the purest example of Dredd’s cartoonish fascist state as a microcosm of the sharpest real world concerns, pitting Dredd – one of comics’ greatest antiheroic characters, with his blend of authoritarianism and sympathy – against democracy campaigner America Jara with bloody results. And it’s only £1.99, so buy the hell out of it now.
The late Brett Ewins and John Cooper
Staying on the subject of 2000AD, February saw the sad death of two of its earliest and most appreciated creators. The latter casualty was artist John Cooper, whose old-school dynamism lit up early Dredd stories as well as classic UK war and action characters of the 1970s Johnny Red and One-Eyed Jack.
Before him, we lost Brett Ewins, an artist whose struggles with mental ill-health in recent times in no way overshadowed a vibrant career which saw him bring a bright, punkish vision to Dredd (again) and to his creation of Bad Company for 2000AD, Skreemer for DC and, as co-creator and editor, the visionary UK adult comic of the early 1990s Deadline. Is this a good time to point out that his visionary, co-created series with writer Peter Milligan Johnny Nemo has only just been re-released in a collected format by Titan? Yes. Yes it is.