Judge Dredd: The Mega Collection – Devlin Waugh – Chasing Herod

Judge Dredd: The Mega Collection – Devlin Waugh – Chasing Herod
Judge Dredd Mega Collection Devlin Waugh Chasing Herod review
  • UK publisher / ISBN: Hachette
  • Release date: 2015
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

Devlin Waugh’s second Mega Collection volume features John Smith’s best outing on the character he created, accompanying his final Waugh story.

If you’re just following the Mega Collection packages, Waugh was introduced in Swimming in Blood, where we saw him entering an underwater prison infested with vampires as a prime physical specimen spouting great dialogue, and emerging as a vampire himself. Crucially, in the way of rich heroin addicts, he’s able to keep the worst aspects under control.

The title story opens with Waugh attending the premiere of the movie purporting to portray his hard fought victory. He’s been a recluse for years, and isn’t interested in taking the Vatican’s calls about a world-shattering threat stolen from their vaults. Smith has refined Waugh’s personality. He’s still capable of the razor sharp one-liner, but the contrived ennui of his earlier appearances has become reality, and his retirement masks a lack of confidence. This isn’t entirely apparent from the opening portion of the trilogy, when he’s reluctantly drawn in, but does his part.

Chasing Herod is Smith’s James Bond movie, substituting the supernatural for technology. It’s conceptually dense, the humour is broadened to encompass the absurd, and since his earliest work Smith has learned to pace a story. A lot of new characters are introduced, almost all interesting, and this is a complete success.

Steve Yeowell’s art is a major factor, clean, compact and with storytelling so refined it passes by without being noticed, as intended. There’s a considerable supporting cast, and Yeowell invested a lot of time designing them and ensuring they’re can all be distinguished, while their personalities show through the designs. A small quibble about an otherwise satisfying thriller is Waugh being relegated to a member of massive ensemble cast during the ‘Plague of Frogs’ section, but he’s back as relevant and centre stage for the finale.

‘Innocence & Experience’ is equally well drawn by Peter Doherty. Smith delivers some great lines as he expands on Waugh’s fractious relationship with his embittered mother as she prepares to write her memoirs. This develops into Waugh relating his own past counterpointed by a mysterious threat. Unfortunately, though, it’s the lead-in to something never delivered. Still, the two chapters here can be seen as Smith closing a door as he departs the series and supplying new mystery if needed.

If you want to sample Devlin Waugh, the options are varied, but this is the best collection. It stands alone, has great art and both stories hit the mark.