Edited by Dave Evans and Richmond Clements
Contributors: Edmund Bagwell (cover), MJ Howard, Alex Paterson, Shaun Avery, Simon Bennett Hayes, Richmond Clements, Stephen Prestwood, Lee Robson, Kev Levell, Rich Wells, Nora Rodriguez, Samson Horn, Phil Vaughn, Dave Broughton.
Said it before, but bloody hell, that’s a great, great cover by Bagwell (after Weston), and to be honest it’s not the only thing in Zarjaz that would pass muster in an issue of 2000AD proper. As a fanzine, it may be a little rough round the edges in places, but there are some great strips here, made all the better this time I feel as I read it straight after a fairly disappointing Dredd episode in 2000AD proper.
Right off the bat we have perhaps the best in the comic, as MJ Howard and Alex Paterson really get it right with their two-parter bookending the issue; Finding Mino & The Promise. A great little self contained bit of Dredd, a simple Cursed Earth story that gets to do that classic Dredd thing of having the Judges and the Mega-City as background characters, something to hang tales from. And yet still manages to get over the essence of Dredd in a very few pages, all the fairness, all the determination, all the steel, yet stops short at sentiment. In fact it rather puts a gun in sentiment’s face and pulls the trigger.
Sure, Paterson’s art might look a lot better on a bigger scale, because he really tries to pack a little too much fine stuff in here for the A5 page, but it’s still damn attractive. Although he may want to reign in the chins. Yeah, Dredd is all about the chin sure, but this is a bit much even for Dredd.
(Judge Dredd – Finding Mino by MJ Howard and Alex Paterson)
Okay, now in between the bookends I really enjoyed there’s a little drop in quality. Still some nice stuff, but after that opener I felt a little bit spoilt really. But what we have is a solid collection of nice filler tales from MC1, the sort of thing that Tharg might drop into Dredd between longer tales perhaps; like this one, Gawkers, where Shaun Avery’s writing is a bit ahead of Simon Bennett Hayes’ art, but it’s an entertaining and easy on the eye 6-pager.
(Mega City One Tales – Gawkers by Shaun Avery and Simon Bennett Hayes)
The rest of this issue runs pretty much the same as Gawker, nicely told tales, with writers fitting in nicely to the short story format, and artists just slightly behind them in terms of quality. Too often the art just hasn’t got the polish it needed to really elevate the storyline into something great. But just the fact I throw that accusation at them does give you an idea of Zarjaz – it may look like a fanzine, but it feels like something more than that. In my eyes it’s getting to the level of companion piece to 2000AD proper, which is something I hope the makers will be very proud of.
One that does buck the trend on the art is Big Jimpin by Lee Robson, with David Broughton on art duties. It catches the eye simply because it doesn’t take itself quite as seriously as the rest of the strips in here, Broughton’s eye catching art more flighty, cartoony than the rest, a perfect match form Robson’s tale, of a Dredd impersonator going round Mega City One doing some very un-Dredd like things – raised a good smile that one did.
(Judge Dredd – Big Jimpin by Lee Robson and Dave Broughton)