Mike McMahon

Judge Dredd 18 (April 1985)

Judge Dredd #18Not a lot happens this issue–well, there’s a lot of block warring and very little the judges can do about it–but there doesn’t seem to be an overarching story. Except why everyone wants to fight in a block war. I was sort of hoping Wagner or Grant would lay out the battles with some connections, but they just hop around.

The blocks all have memorable names–everyone and everything in Judge Dredd has a memorable name–and the initial conflict does have some block vs. block motivations, but pretty soon everything goes crazy and they don’t much matter.

There’s a lot of good art from McMahon and Smith and the writers definitely keep the comic moving–not the easiest task as it’s a compilation–but it’s all action. There’s personality, sure, and some great details, but there’s not a lot of ambition (even measured, Dredd ambition) going on.

B 

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artists, Mike McMahon and Ron Smith; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

Judge Dredd 16 (February 1985)

Judge Dredd #16One of Dredd’s cases comes back to haunt him, with the sole survivor of a criminal family hunting judges. He’s a Cursed Earth mutant–with an evil super rat as a pet. McMahon draws them both very creepy.

And Wagner’s script plays up that creep factor. The villain is methodical, with Wagner showing his aptitude for the crimes. It creates a sense of foreboding, especially after the villain successfully assassinates a judge. Between the action itself (which Wagner immediately sets up as a big deal) and the eventual kidnapping of Judge Hershey, Wagner definitely implies this story–a collection of chapters from 2000 AD– has high stakes.

There’s a lot of action in the story too, with McMahon toggling between suspense and brawling. It’s an excellent longer story.

The other story, with Garry Leach on art, is short, to the point and successful.

Overall, it’s an excellent issue. Rather excellent.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, John Wagner; artists, Mike McMahon and Garry Leach; colorist, John Burns; letterers, Tom Frame and Tony Jacob; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

Judge Dredd 15 (January 1985)

Judge Dredd #15The issue has Wagner looking at various aspects of the future–block life, block wars, reasoning apes, what happens when a judge needs to retire–but none of them really stand out.

The first story, resolving the Judge Child storyline while Dredd deals with a block war, has art from Brian Bolland. It’s gorgeous, but too static, too constrained. Bolland doesn’t have any fun with the future, but he also doesn’t have any fun with his composition.

In contrast, Mike McMahon goes crazy in the other pages. There’s humor built into the panels and the composition is inventive. The McMahon stories–even Mills’s pointless ape one–come off a lot better; there’s something distinctive about them, whereas Bolland’s is purely functional.

Of course, Wagner’s handling of that first story is a lot more functional and less narratively playful than the rest.

It’s a mixed bag, but with some definite pluses.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Pat Mills; artists, Brian Bolland and Mike McMahon; colorist, John Burns; letterers, Tom Frame and Tony Jacob; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

Judge Dredd 14 (December 1984)

Judge Dredd #14It’s a really weak issue. Both writers–Wagner and Mills–go as melodramatic and sappy as possible. How can Judge Dredd be sappy?

For most of the issue, Wagner focuses on Dredd’s sidekick robot, Walter. The joke with Walter is he is annoying and an issue of Walter stories seems a little too much. The Judge Dredd Christmas story, for example, is about as saccharine as Judge Dredd should ever get it but the subsequent stories take it even further.

In some ways, Mills’s story with Judge Rico’s return is even worse. Most of the story is told in summary with Mills focusing on tender moments from Dredd’s life. The ending is even worse. The difference between Wagner and Mills being Wagner makes Dredd sympathetic in the context of the comic, Mills tries to make him sympathetic overall.

Some nice art from McMahon but this issue is a stinker.

C- 

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Pat Mills; artists, Mike McMahon and Brian Bolland; colorist, John Burns; letterers, Tom Frame and Tony Jacob; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Quest 5 (December 1984)

Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Quest #5It’s not a bad ending. It’s not a good one, but it’s also not a bad one. Writers Wagner and Alan Grant–one of them does a terrible job on the first half of the issue, with the resolution to the Angel family, where the writer goes overboard with exposition. Especially about Dredd’s judge training.

The Angel story, with McMahon art, is vaguely pointless. The second half of the issue resolves the Judge Child, but the first half is basically a western. There are a few good moments, but it’s all rather derivative of other, familiar Westerns. The writer doesn’t set up the setting well, which doesn’t help either.

The last half of the issue has Dredd fighting a robot army. It figures into the big plot, but it’s still okay. Again, there are a couple surprises.

It’s too bad the finale is so rushed. It definitely needed more pages.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artists, Mike McMahon and Ron Smith; colorist, Ian Stead; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Quest 4 (November 1984)

Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Quest #4It’s another strong issue, with Wagner giving Dredd a series of imaginative sci-fi encounters. The first one is the most traditional, with Dredd trying to track down a human visitor to a strange alien world. But Wagner has already established the character–who has contracted a strange alien disease–so Dredd has to enter that story.

But there’s also some drama with Dredd and his fellow judges based on his treatment of one of the other judges. Wagner probably could tell this subplot better but it works well enough.

The second big story has Dredd and company against an intergalactic salesman. It’s s silly story, but s fun one. Some very nice start throughout it too. Smith handles the action well.

The last story has the Angel family on a desert planet. It’s a little too much how Wild West Wagner makes the planet.

But it’s still real strong.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, John Wagner; artists, Brian Bolland, Ron Smith and Mike McMahon; colorist, Ian Stead; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Quest 3 (October 1984)

Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Quest #3A lot of the issue is rough going. Wagner tries out a few things on the second two planets–Dredd and company go to three–and has some success. But the adventure on the first planet, which has a bunch of different alien species at war, but as televised entertainment, is tedious.

Still, Wagner somehow distracts from Dredd not getting any clues about the location of the Judge Child. It’s just a trip through the galaxy, really.

The second story is more horror-influenced, which leads to some silly elements (like a giant monster in outer space grabbing Dredd’s spaceship), but the stuff in the scary castle is good. McMahon’s art on this section is utterly fantastic; he revels in the creepiness.

The last planet is prehistoric cavemen, with Wagner narrating from a storyteller’s song. It’s a cool little digression. Nice art from McMahon too.

That first story hurts though.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, John Wagner; artists, Mike McMahon and Ron Smith; colorist, Ian Stead; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Quest 2 (September 1984)

Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Quest #2Wagner takes Dredd and company–though the company is rather indistinct–on an intergalactic quest. They’re in pursuit of the Angel family, who have kidnapped the Judge Child. There’s not a lot on the pursuit, but rather a series of imaginative sci-fi encounters.

The first has Dredd encountering a space station where the computer has taken over. Kind of 2001 with a lot of action. Not entirely original, but it works.

The second encounter, on a planet where the humans can download their consciousness into chips to live forever (another person loans out their body for the consciousness’s usage), is the best. This section is where Dredd gets a sidekick and Wagner gets to write the most.

Since Dredd is hopping from planet to planet, it never feels episodic.

The finale has him against a living, hungry planet.

Some great art from McMahon, Bolland and Smith throughout.

Excellent stuff.

A 

CREDITS

Writer, John Wagner; artists, Mike McMahon, Brian Bolland and Ron Smith; colorist, Ian Stead; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Quest 1 (August 1984)

Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Quest #1Judge Dredd heads into the Cursed Earth looking for a mutant child who’s going to have to save Mega-City One, or so one of the pre-cogs says. Writer John Wagner comes up with some decent encounters for Dredd–this issue’s primary villain is a “garbage god” who has thousands of slaves mining antiques from pre-apocalypse Memphis for him. There’s an ancient Egypt thing too; it doesn’t make much sense, but the Brian Bolland and Ron Smith are is excellent so it doesn’t need to make any.

The series is more compiled entries from 2000 AD but never feels too bumpy–with Wagner so focused on Dredd trying to find the child, it’s mostly action. The biggest bump comes after the end of the Garbage God episode, with Dredd continuining his hunt into Texas.

That finale, which leads to the cliffhanger, makes the issue seem a tad bloated.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, John Wagner; artists, Brian Bolland, Ron Smith and Mike McMahon; colorist, McMahon; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

Judge Dredd 13 (November 1984)

Judge Dredd #13Wagner finishes the Chief Judge Cal storyline. There are a couple surprises before the end, with Wagner in something of a hurry. Smith doesn’t get much space on the art, which is unfortunate, but he uses the space he gets really well at times. It’s a satisfactory conclusion, but the denouement is way too abrupt.

The next story has Dredd contending with a block where people are reverting back to apes. Wagner gets a lot of good jokes in, especially with how he writes the misadventures of the affected residents. But he’s just as sympathetic when things go really bad. It’s an excellent story, with wonderful art from McMahon. He does well with the ape people in action.

The last story, with Alan Grant and Kelvin Gosnell writing, is a little obvious. Dredd is suspicious of an amusement center where people act out their violent urges.

Overall, it’s fine stuff.

B 

CREDITS

Writers, John Wagner, Alan Grant and Kelvin Gosnell; artists, Ron Smith and Mike McMahon; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

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