Mega-City Undercover Vol. 03

Mega-City Undercover Vol. 03
Mega-City Undercover Vol. 03 review
  • UK publisher / ISBN: 2000AD - 978-1-78108-458-8
  • Volume No.: 3
  • Release date: 2016
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9781781084588
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

The final volume of Mega-City Undercover continues the plots for ‘Low Life’ that Rob Williams established in Vol. 02, which improved greatly on the opening selection. This is as good, and funnier as well.

Aimee Nixon, the character who began as the series headliner is missing, believed dead by all but Dirty Frank, now recalled from undercover duties and again in a Judge’s uniform. His time in Low Life has irrevocably altered him, and so the uniform may have changed, but the speech patterns and unconventional attitudes remain. It seems he’s finally going to be on his way out when instead he convinces the Judges to send him to Hondo City undercover to investigate the assassins who recently laid waste to Low Life. It’s a smart turnaround from Williams, accompanied by more stunningly accomplished and imaginative art from D’Israeli, whose Hondo City is a miasma of cultural influences. Not that Williams isn’t feeding him visual gold with the idea of Kaiju fighting contests.

A relatively early revelation is that Aimee is still alive, and in Japan, although as Williams notes, death can take many forms. It’s one of several surprises in what’s another great Dirty Frank outing, in which Williams really gets into the mechanics of what Frank is and what he actually wants. Being haunted by an apparition of what Judges ought to be is perhaps a little too obvious as a manifestation of his demons, but Williams needs a method of prodding at Frank, and it does the job. We learn the identity of Low Life’s former crime boss the Big Man, which is a very satisfying surprise, and this is an excellent end to a very good series. There is an epilogue, though, also good.

Mega-City Undercover opened with the story of Lenny Zero and closes with his surprising return a decade after he was last seen, now with a far more experienced Andy Diggle writing. He starts by explaining what happens to all the cash Judges confiscate from criminal raids, and then comes up with a novel way that Lenny, a former Wally Squad Judge, might be able to access it. Lenny has now fully embraced the Low Life lifestyle and all the life-endangering problems that come with it, like the debt he’s built up. He’s in a massive hole and needs a big score.

Diggle sets up a thrilling caper in a plot that’s forensically constructed, introducing complications and dangers while involving several other people who could potentially double cross Lenny. It’s drawn by Ben Willsher, who tells the story, and gives people personalities, but without any great sense of cinematic vision. Too much is seen in close-up when the viewpoint needs to be wider, and it impacts on scenes such as a conversation with a big robot gangster. It results in a story that rolls along beautifully for 75% of the pages, but then can’t supply an ending in keeping with the remainder. The level of uncertainty persists, but Diggle opts to increase the comedy and thereby decrease the thrills.

Despite that, there’s enough to Lenny’s heist to ensure that coupled with Williams and D’Israeli’s excellence this is a very recommendable collection.