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Mega-City Under Cover Vol. 2

01/05/2012. Contributed by Eamonn Murphy

Buy Mega-City Under Cover Vol. 2 in the USA - or Buy Mega-City Under Cover Vol. 2 in the UK

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pub: Rebellion. 144 page graphic novel. Price: GBP14.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78108-041-2.

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The very famous Judge Dredd is the most fearsome law enforcement officer in Mega-City One but there are others. The Wally Squad is a group of Judges who work undercover in the low-life section of Dredd‘s city. They are: Aimee Nixon, a lady with a robotic left arm who can beat any lie detector; Dirty Frank, who has been under cover so long he is insane but still upholds the law; Eric (Mortal) Coil who was mutated back into baby form after exposure to radiation in the Cursed Earth and Thora, a young female Judge surgically altered to resemble an aged crone. This volume contains four stories about the Wally Squad.

First up is ‘War Without Bloodshed’, script by Rob Williams and art by Rufus Dayglo. Aimee Nixon investigates a union that has organised human labour on the docks. There should be no human labour on the docks as it’s all done by robots but the union boss sort of threatened the owner of one company and he sort of preferred human labour to death. Aimee thinks the work rather pointless and is scathing about the dignity of labour that the new workers value so much. It turns out there is more to the union than meets the eye. A good story. The art of Rufus Dayglo is striking rather than realistic but that is the fashion nowadays in comics. Hal Foster is turning in his grave but perhaps Jack Kirby is looking down from New Genesis and smiling.

The second tale is ‘Creation’, script by Rob Williams again but art by D’Israeli this time around. The art of D’Israeli is slightly more pleasing to mine eyes than that of Rufus Dayglo and the script was great. I love Dirty Frank, a hairy maniac who talks with a rich vocabulary and a mordant sense of humour. Rob Williams admits that the character’s appearance was inspired by Alan Moore but I think his dialogue is Moore-ish too, though the creator of ’Watchmen’ does not talk about himself in the third person. It occurs to me that calling Alan Moore the creator of ‘Watchmen’ is like calling Ringo an ex-Beatle. It’s a tag he is stuck with for life.

Anyway, Frank, it has been decided, is now too mad to be a Judge anymore. He must spend his last days grooming a replacement. This is a young man called Cameron who believes that judging is all about violence, intimidation and really big guns. Creation is a new drug hitting the low-life streets of Mega-City One and they must investigate. It all gets very biblical and chaotic but Frank can cope with the madness because he is crazy anyway.
‘Jive Turkey’ is a short tale by the same writer with art by Smudge, which was pretty good. Dirty Frank has infiltrated a gang of fatties and must share their Christmas feast to maintain his cover. This was amusing. Darker stuff follows.

In ‘Hostile Takeover’, Dirty Frank has infiltrated another gang which seems to control most of the vices in the low life area. It is run by a mysterious entity called the big man. The idea of a super-criminal genius big man running all the rackets came early to comics and has stayed the course. The hostile takeover of the title is by a gang of samurai swordspersons who not only behead the big man’s gang members but many of his customers, too. Matters are confused by corrupt Judges and no one knowing who to trust. The story is by Williams again and the art is by D’Israeli. There is an unresolved ending so I presume more follows in ‘Mega-City Under Cover Vol. 3. I look forward to it.

A very enjoyable collection in an odd way.

Eamonn Murphy

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