Script: John Wagner
Art: Colin MacNeil, Peter Doherty, Manuel Benet, Jock
Release Date: 4th February, 2015
The second volume in Hachette’s new partwork doesn’t quite keep up the quality of the first (a pretty hard ask considering the series launched with America), but it’s still a solid enough entry in the canon.
Mechanismo shows what happens when good intentions go badly wrong, with the first hints that Chief Judge McGruder’s judgment might be as flawed as it was the first time around.
With the numbers of Judges on the streets down to an almost-critical level after the unnatural disasters of Necropolis and Judgement Day, McGruder authorises the deployment of robot Judges. Given the same powers of arrest and sentencing as their human counterparts, the machines are immediately denounced by Dredd as a very bad idea and sure enough, things start going wrong very quickly. Starting off with a basic malfunction, it’s not long before the robot Judges are causing absolute carnage. It is Mega-City One after all.
The idea of Judges being supposedly infallible robots (metaphorically speaking) has been booted about by John Wagner more than once but Mechanismo is where he took that concept literally, highlighting just how human his increasingly totalitarian lawmen actually were by putting them up against some actual machines.
The first chapter is beautifully drawn by Colin MacNeil, his gorgeous art every bit as eye-catching as it was in the previous volume. His design for the Mechanismo in particular is a real joy, massive but sleek too, with a bolt of sheer metal below the visor giving each one a chin to rival Old Stoney Face himself.
Where this volume falls down is when MacNeil departs, leaving the art duties on the later chapters (Mechanismo Returns and Body Count) to Peter Doherty and Manuel Benet. While neither man is a bad artist in themselves, there’s nothing stellar about them either. It’s average comic art at best, nothing more, the kind that plagued 2000 AD in its leaner years.
It’s a shame, as both sequels are full of lovely little Wagner touches that a better artist would really have brought to life.
Saying that, for a paltry £6.99, this is still an absolute steal. A beautifully put together hardback volume with high production values, this is a worthy addition to any bookshelf.
The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy