One last bit of shilling before tomorrow, because it needs to be said as often as possible: John Wagner is ridiculously underrated. Not by anyone who has ever read a story by him, mind, but his influence tends to be downplayed to a frustrating degree. People talked wonders of the early 2000s widescreen approach to comics, seemingly forgetting or plain not knowing that Wagner, with Alan Grant and 2000AD’s murderer’s row of artists had polished that form to a mirror sheen in the 80s. The Apocalypse War alone has more action in a single 7 page episode than whole TPBs of lesser comics, and its sense of pacing and structure is second to none.
But what’s most impressive to me about John Wagner is his sheer versatility, and his ability to reinvent himself. Judge Dredd could’ve remained a sci-fi action comic for all its existence, but Wagner brought in increasingly poignant bits of social commentary, tremendously gripping tales of police procedural and an ever-expanding supporting cast that has given the strip a sense of history without crushing it under continuity. And all that helped turn Dredd himself into this fascinating character who can be a faceless straight man, a ruthless fascist, a conflicted old war horse and an unrelenting badass, and have it all be perfectly in character. Wagner’s not content with playing one note; he writes the tunes.
And now he’s back. Not just in 2000AD, but in the Megazine, with a story drawn by John McRea of Hitman fame, who recently drew the drokk out of Judge Dredd vs Mars Attacks. And later on we’re finally getting Dark Justice, the Greg Staples-drawn return of the Dark Judges. But first, tomorrow we’re getting the first episode of Mega-City Confidential, with art by the ineffable Colin MacNeil, who I… well, let’s just say I have a piece of framed art by him hanging on my wall.
What, “bias”? Never heard of ‘er…