Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Birthday, HellBoy

It surprises me that Hellboy is only twenty years old; he seems older. Of course, he is – he’s twenty-one according to Wikipedia, who list his pre-series cameos in other works, but Seed of Destruction published in March 1993 is the first Hellboy comic proper, and that’s where I start counting.
I love Hellboy, and I think the series loves me back, because it really hasn’t let me down yet. Sure, there have been some diversions where I didn't quite pay enough attention (our hero’s sojourn to Africa), and I generally don’t rate too highly HB’s appearance in other strips, but for me the core of Hellboy, when he’s scripted and drawn by Mike Mignola in his inimitable style, is where I’m happiest.

Hellboy has a genuinely interesting story, albeit a simple one: created to destroy the world courtesy of the mystical stony Right Hand of Doom he drags around, he is otherwise a simple American Joe trying to upset the powers of nature and fate to prevent that from happening, all the while hounded by immortal enemies and too many Earthbound agencies who would use his powers to their own end. There – a hopelessly simplistic explanation, because Hellboy is so much more than that. He’s a pulp hero, a tragic figure, a cosmic clown, an Everyman pilgrim, a noble warrior king and the very punching bag of fate. And he’s resilient – boy, is he resilient. You have to be to be able to straddle all those podia, but what seems to hold Mignola’s antihero together is his absolute moral centredness: he is a stubborn, occasionally grouchy figure motivated by love for a bunch of increasingly fragile and mortal friends – his ‘father’ and mentor Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, would-be lover and troubled pyrokinetic Liz Sherman and current squeeze Alice. Not to mention his non-human buddies Abe Sapien, Roger the Homunculus and the ectoplasmic Johann Krauss – each similarly as doomed as Hellboy (though I suspect Johann might somehow make it, being technically already dead), but none meeting his absolute clarity of purpose. In short, you know that Hellboy will probably ultimately lose, if not pay the ultimate price for betraying his doom, but you can’t help but cheer him on. 

I also love that the multifaceted Hellboy has accumulated a folklore legacy from all over the world – well, mainly Europe. It’s the strip’s ability to move effortlessly from nasty occult thriller to Lovecraftian horror to Luchero madness, Manly Wade Wellman’s obscure and grotesque Americana, Celtic myth, Slavic fairy tales and classical myth that have created a vast and elaborate backdrop and supporting cast. Where else could you read a story so audacious as to pit its demonic hero against the combined forces of clockwork Nazis, the goddess Hecate, Baba Yaga, Rasputin and the Ogdru Hem – the series’ nod to Lovecraft’s Elder Gods. It’s a world that has indeed bcome to broad and so textured that the parent strip spawned an ongoing series for Hellboy’s aforementioned colleagues, and while the BPRD stories are in every way as thrilling and intricate in its character development and universal scope, it has a bleak fatalism about it that, set against Hellboy, seems to me less optimistic, and less heroic. BPRD is a harder read. And I like my heroes. I even like the stories of the young child Hellboy - all bewilderment and melancholic perfection.
I’ve mentioned my happiness when Mignola himself is providing the pictures, but the series also rehabilitated my admiration for Duncan Fegredo, who I first encountered in the pages of the Judge Dredd Megazine to little enthusiasm, but who is easily my second-favourite Hellboy artist.The series introduced me properly to Poe, Wellman, and may yet get me back to Tennyson; and it got me to the movies where, with Jamas, I watched my last ever move at the diapidated and quite inadequate Manners St Hoyts. That first Hellboy movie was in fact my first brush with our hero, and it got me hooked.

So much more to say, but I've rambled on long enough.
Happy Birthday, Hellboy, and may destiny never find you!


Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Mirky Dozen: Elf Help

As mentioned in a previous post, if there’s one thing The Hobbit Too, Desultation of Smaug did for me, it was inspire me to work on another Tolkien project. Now, I have my old Grenadier figures, of course, but they can wait for another day. Instead, last year’s Oaken’s Twelve worked so well that I’m going to attempt another conversion-repainting project on some of Games Workshop’s old Lord of the Rings line. Why? Well, I’m seriously unlikely to buy any more GW product, much less their Hobbit line. Some lovely work in there, to be sure, but to put it succinctly, priced outside a justifiable budget. Not to worry, though, as I do have a back-up, and once again it comes from GW’s latter-day post-LotR movies, pre-Hobbit movies push, where all manner of appendices and marginal material from the Rings books were worked into lead and plastic to expand the Middle Earth war gaming world, if not actually pre-empt a Hobbit movie. No, really, I’m sure.

GW’s Wood Elves are a case in point: elf models had been created for the Fellowship of the Ring movie tie-in, but they were usually the High Elves of the movie’s flashbacks to the Last Alliance, so were appropriately armoured and High Elf looking. Also created were some unarmoured Lothlorien Elves, but it wasn’t until well after the trilogy was complete that some affordable plastic Wood Elves were made, for GW’s ‘Fall of the Necromancer’ supplement. These Elves were ostensibly supposed to represent either Lothlorien (i.e. Galadriel’s) forces, or Thranduil’s Rhovanion/Mirkwood crowd. Sculpted by the Perry Brothers, they’re… fine. But that’s about it. As I recall on their release there were lots of gripes, particularly after the quality of the Dwarf models of the Khazad Dum range. Instead, the Perrys’ Wood Elves are light on detail, odd in posture, and just a little bit bland. Plus, they’re waaay too small, being dwarfed not only by their lead counterparts, but also the Mordor Orcs they would presumably be fighting. All in all, a disappointing set, and once I painted half of mine, I didn’t bother with the rest - heck, I didn't even base the ones I did finish.

Until now, that is. I’m going to convert these bad boys, and this is my new project: The Mirky Dozen. Here are my figures as they are now – not painted in the Shadow Greys and Catachan Greens of GW’s box art, but something a little more bright and, well, a touch Christmassy now I see it: That paint job will go, and I'm thinking I’ll instead base their new colour scheme on GW’s Mirkwood Rangers set, the new Hobbit release. I do like those new models, but even at 70$ for half the number of figures I have of my Wood Elves, I’m not going to go there. Instead I’ll be relying on some slight re-posing, additional green stuff and more imaginative basing to ‘Mirk’ them up. Beyond the GW set, I’ll be drawing some inspiration from Weta’s design books, the movies themselves, the invaluable wisdom and work of other modellers, and maybe also GW’s own Warhammer Fantasy line of Wood Elves, which have some rather cool elements in themselves. Where I can (as I did with Oaken’s Twelve) I’ll also consult Tolkien’s original text to give me some more ideas. Hopefully this job will be quicker than the Dwarf project, and there’ll be fewer posts as a result. Wish me luck!

[Post Script: As for Oaken's Eleven the title may be misleading number-wise, as a Mirkwood-themed project seems to me to offer a good deal more to paint than just twelve tetchy plastic midgets]

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lead Time Lords: The Sixth Doctor

“He’s a loathsome, offensive brute – and yet I can’t look away!”

For what it’s worth, I like the Sixth Doctor. This is the only version of the Sixth Doctor anyone has made, as far as I’m aware. Harlequin’s model hits most of the notes, but leaves something to be desired. It’s definitely the Sixth Doctor at his most haughty (no bad thing), and the pose strikes an appropriately Hartnellesque air – something Baker was keen to hint at.

The sculpt’s a bit off in places, though – as AnEvilGiraffe has noted on his blog, the head is a bit skew-whiff; I purchased a fine saw with the intention of decapitating the model and putting this right, but I’m still too squeamish to do it! The coat has also needed work. True to the most fussy and deliberately garish ensemble of the show’s history, there’s much that’s frustrating here, in chief that the various panels lined out on the figure don’t match the TV version, meaning that the resulting paint job would reduce the clashing colours and textures. In addition, there’s no rear venting button or front lapels (I made both in green stuff). The hands cover the Doctor’s cat badge – not a big deal, it’s one of his signature accessories, but beggars can’t be choosers.

As you might expect, this challenges the painter somewhat, and believe me when say I’ve watched a LOT of Sixth Doctor stories trying to get the colours right and not too noisy, nor too subdued. It’s been an education – I didn’t even know until now that his coat sleeves are different colours, but they are! And I feel as though I could reproduce the various panels and their colours in my sleep now. As if that’s not enough, there’s both tartan and stripes to do. Here’s an early attempt at the cuffs: Technically they’re great, but they highlight a no-no when painting small scale models. On small areas the width of these stripes are good enough, but on a larger area (say, the trouser legs) the detail would swamp the colour and darken the shade, so the detail has to be dialed back. It’s an interesting dilemma! Finally, the base. As the pose again seems to be struck from Baker’s first full story, the unloved The Twin Dilemma, this base references the slug-ravaged surface of Titan 3, as the new Doctor contemplates his future as an outcast pariah, cut off from space and time. Famous last words, eh?

And now, with the Sixth Doctor completing the set I have struck my own hiatus! Heresy and Crooked Dice are, I am assured, currently producing their own model stand-ins for Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor, while CD are also striking ‘Professor Kane’ - their version of John Hurt’s War Doctor (Heresy have done him already but I don’t have him yet) and “Marwood – an Edwardian scientist trapped forever in New Year’s Eve”. Looks like I’ll get my better McGann wish granted after all! I may have more to paint come the middle of the year and winter’s approach, so until then, in the words of John Nathan-Turner: ‘Stay Tuned.’

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lead Time Lords: The Seventh Doctor

Second-to-last Time Lord time, and here’s Harlequin’s Seventh Doctor played by Sylvester McCoy – one of two versions available. Here’s the other with his tricked-up detector bodge-up: It’s quite a nice sculpt; full of character and definitely one of Harlequin’s best likenesses, and his height works well alongside his immediate predecessor and successor. I started this paint job out with McCoy’s jacket his early bone-coloured option.

Rather willfully, I even wanted to paint his scarf in tartan and give him a base with the occasional vivid blue rock, provocatively marking him out as being from the Seventh Doctor’s debut story, the infamous Time and the Rani. However, on seeing a fob chain present on the model I realised he had to be in his chocolate-coloured ‘dark Doctor’ jacket, which also means the more familiar Paisley scarf and hanky combo. A shame, as this version of the Seventh Doctor seemed to be a persistent fan favourite in the Nineties for its ‘harder’ iteration, something I wanted to kick against. But I lost!

 Lots of detail put this guy to the back of the queue until my confidence recovered: there’s the check patter of his trousers, the two-tone golfing shoes and that dreaded question mark pullover, not to mention the formerly-mentioned scarf and hanky. A figure of this size and detail deserves the effort, however, so I hope it shows. One day, maybe, someone will do a model of McCoy in his TV movie duds: no pullover, scarf or umbrella, and distinct enough in its way, until then this version will do, representing his last televised BBC story, 1989’s ironically-named Survival.

Coming up next: I saved the best for last…

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lead Time Lords: The Eleventh Doctor

Matt Smith, we hardly knew ye. Well, so it would seem with the number of variant lookee-likees going around at one stage. Heresy began with their Nerdlord, and followed it up with a second pose, while Crooked Dice produced their own Tweedy Mattinson, followed by some variant heads (one bearded, one be-stetsoned, one fezzed-up) AND THEN, after Smith changed his wardrobe dramatically last year to a grey and mulberry palette, CD brought out a bespectacled version. I haven’t seen too many of those painted up, and wonder how it’s sold?

My figure here is the original, and is by no means the most accurate (I couldn’t say which one is, to be honest), but seems to capture adroitly the early days of Smith’s reign, somewhere between the first DWM photocall (hence the pose and hair style), the costume unveiling, and his actual performance which, if anything, really galvanised the character of the Eleventh Doctor. I swear you could actually see poses and sculpts being adjusted in keeping after his first few stories. Nevertheless, this is my Eleventh Doctor, and I’m happy with the figure as is. Smith’s first year is my favourite of his, so it’s no contest.

What can I say about this figure? Trousers are black and grey with a blue wash over the top; I had a go at the Harris tweed of the jacket, but your mileage may vary, his bowtie is red which means (I think) he’s in the past according to once-popular fan theories (it’s blue for the future, apparently), and the most-welcome ‘pop’ of green from his increasingly multi-functioning sonic. Oh just give it its own series, why don’t you?

With the ‘modern’ sculpts and the Eleventh Doctor done we’ve nowhere to go but back to my notable omissions: the dreaded Eighties Hiatus Doctors!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lead Time Lords: The Tenth Doctor

A month ago in 1986 BBC Controller Michael Grade put Doctor Who on ice, imperiling the series and effectively sacking its star. In 2014 we're mercifully nowhere close to that sort of real-life drama, but for myself I am approaching something of a hiatus, as I'm running out of Doctors to paint! Oh, sure. I have a few in reserve - some alternative Tom, Jon and Bill, and a conversion idea for Pat. Plus there are more recent Doctors (War and the Twelfth) to come, but I don't have those, and so with four Time Lords left to post it's time for me to wind this thread down and move on. Thank God. So, with no further ado here he is, Heresy’s Dr Hugh McCrimmon, doubling nicely for David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor.

Heresy produced two versions of this in the end, including one without the greatcoat, but this is the one I like. It has enough detail in the posture to evoke both the youthful cockiness of Tennant’s early photocalls (I’m guessing this shot here) with the older, wearier, more aloof Tenth toward the end of his tenure (or second tenure, according to Time of the Doctor.) I could say a lot about what I think of this incarnation, but, er, I feel the eyes of a fellow fan burning over my shoulder as I type this. So I’ll just close on saying that he’s an interesting Doctor, and like his predecessor seems to deliberately go through a character change culminating in his regeneration. Seems to be a New Series thing, that.

Tennant’s costume stays pretty constant through his time as the Doctor, with no change in coat and a seasonal change in his suit – your choices are brown with a blue pinstripe, or blue; cobalt blue shirt or ivory (as in his last story), and a burgundy tie. I feel the browns work best together, though I’ve seen a few attempts at matching the blue to the fawn of the coat (it’s sofa upholstery, apparently) and to me the effect looks a little… forced, maybe. As is, my pinstripes here probably add enough blue to the suit. Basing was fun, as I’ve not done a snow effect before. I stared with a coarse sand primed grey then layered in lighter shades of blue before a final heavy dry brush with white and two generous dustings of Force9 snow flock. I’d been told that this is pulverised marble chips, but it feels more acrylic than anything. Never mind, the blue comes through where I want it and the effect (an attempt to render a Christmassy scene, or perhaps the Ood Sphere) is good enough for me.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bakshi's Balrog restored

As reported by here,two short segments from Ralph Bakshi's 1970s animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings have been restored and can be seen online.

Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings has not aged well, Indeed, it creaks painfully like a high school rostrum in places, but it’s animation history and it’s Tolkien history, and I like it. In its day its rotoscoping (of which there are both great and poor examples in the film) was regarded very highly by animators –  lest we forget that, one day, Peter Jackson’s efforts too will be subjected to harsher criticism than they’ve had so far. For my part however I like Bakshi’s work because after my brother’s telling of the story, this is the version I encountered Tolkien in, and bits of it are still with me. I actually think the Moria sequence is one of the more effective and faithful parts of the movie – but it does feel rushed, and maybe this recovery shows why.

The Balrog scene is, alas, infamous for showing up some of the film’s shortcomings. Chiefly, it’s a pivotal scene diminished by time and budget pressures – the rotoscoping is jerky in places, the design work is in serious need of a rethink (I’ll abstain from criticising the look of the Balrog itself as there is plenty of this on other sites already); in the end the actual battle between Gandalf and Durin’s Bane is truncated, replaced by Bakshi’s much more exciting looking concept paintings. What Eddie Bakshi has done is restore and reassemble the animation produced but abandoned – something that an enterprising animator might have been able to have done in recent times, but for the willingness and the time, I guess. Heck, I had links to those very brief sequences on Ralph Bakshi’s own website for a long time, but have no idea how to put it together seamlessly myself. In the mean-time Bakshi Sr flogged off cuttings of the Rings sequences (including, presumably, this piece) in recent years, further imperilling the chance of the footage being ever restored.  I presume, however, that those reels which did get snapped up fell into the hands of enthusiasts – and Ralph Bakshi certainly has those, even if they’re not strictly from the Tolkien fan community (who can be no less snooty than everyone else about the film, it seems.)

So there’s hope we might see more of Bakshi’s Rings out there; sure, bits and pieces – we’ll never see the story completed with a further movie as intended, nor indeed a complete Balrog sequence in this recovered style, but there are storyboards which provide tantalising snippets of what might have been – the Ents’ storming of Isengard being one. And if Eddie’s not for the task then there are fans of Bakshi’s work who have proved themselves enthusiastic – in the heyday of the last trilogy a fan-made movie script to complete Bakshi’s was being passed around the Bakshi forums, and there are  fans with knowhow and determination – witness the brave soul who has made it is purpose in life to [NSFW!] restore the censored gore and general disrobedness of Teegra in  Bakshi and Frazetta’s Fire and Ice. Amazingly, that man is married with children. Sir, I truly don’t know what to say.

Maybe if there’s anything positive that comes from the work of Eddie Bakshi, it might be to inspire another young animator with an interest in traditional animation and Ralph Bakshi’s vision of Middle Earth (not to mention the free time) to bring this forlorn chapter to life once more.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pan-African Judge

What, another Judge so soon? You ain't seen nothin' yet. Last week was the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Pan-African Parliament (the 18th of March), so...

Here's the Pan-African Judge, anyway, based on the highly stylised work of artist Ajibayo 'Siku' Akinsiku. The story of the Pan-African Judges is a little more complicated than things seem. It's late on a Sunday night - let's go to Wikipedia:

The concept of a Pan-African Judge first turned up in a poster for the 1988 Judge Dredd Mega-Special drawn by Brendan McCarthy: the text said they had the hardest job of any Judge, "policing a society that mixes centuries' old tribal law and customs with high 22nd century technology. Applicants chosen for linguistic and diplomatic skills." The design would make a brief cameo at an international summit in the Judgement Day storyline but after that it would be replaced by a Siku design, starting with 1993's first Pan African Judges. In an article in Judge Dredd Megazine #238, Siku said he got the job after criticising the McCarthy design as too stereotyped: "I asked, why do people think all Africans run around in animal prints? [Editor] Dave Bishop challenged me to come up with something better."
In the same article, Siku referred to Paul Cornell's first Pan African script as being well researched but flawed in its approach - "imperialism, jungle safaris, that's the way Westerners see Africa". (The second Pan African strip was written by Siku alone and had Yoruba gods attacking the continent.) He did enjoy having a "token white guy" Judge. Cornell himself referred to his work as "a trudge", feeling it had too many competing ideas in one story and that his dialogue was "overblown"; he was happy, however, with his decision to deliberately show Islam and a Muslim Judge, as he felt the Judge Dredd universe was "a little too disconnected from the real world" by turning all the world's religions into the worship of Grud

[Your blogger would like to mention that the issue of Grud being a near universal deity is also addressed in another African-based judge system, of which more at a later date]

That's pretty much the basics of what you need to know. Two main PAJ stories, plus some supporting cast in John Smith's Devlin Waugh/Dredd team-up story Fetish, also illustrated by Siku and typically ker-razy high concept stream-of-consciousness stuff from Smith. But I fear that in having such iconic characters as Dredd and the musclebound Terry Thomas/Noel Coward/Freddie Mercury occupying centre stage we're treated once again to future Africa in a pretty colonial viewpoint, so it's hardly progressive. As far as I can see this is something still to be addressed satisfactorily, although Siku's involvement was promising, though it seems to have been a one-off. For myself I only have single episodes of all three stories - so I sort of get the gist of it, but none make a great amount of sense, even though Cornell's is the most straight-forward narratively speaking.

Hey look, I'm waffling on and did I mention it's late on a Sunday? Here's the illustration. 

And what does a Pan-African Judge look like? Well, green, gold and white, which is a nice, neutral scheme, and Siku's design is assuredly better than McCarthy's very Eighties neon Africa go. I'm not sure on the rhino horns on the shoulder pad, or the warthog tusks on the belt - hopefully they're bendy or something otherwise ouch every time you fall over, frankly. It's is worth noting that the suggestion remains that in different surviving African states, including some Islamic-based territories, the uniform changes, with turban-styled headdress, for example. 

If you've read down this far then thanks, but I also owe everyone including Siku an apology. Like a lot of my judge drawings this illustration was done years ago in short form - maybe ten years for this effort. It was only in Googling the chaps for colour references that I discovered that my composition here is based almost directly off a portrait by Siku.: oh, it's superior in every way, and I am officially embarrassed.  Mea culpa. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Who's made an Exhibition of himself?

Whups - this was supposed to synch with Jamas' post, but nevertomind...

In our on-going adventure into local exhibitions Jamas and I checked out an add-on to last month's Symphonic Spectacular, a temporary exhibition of Doctor Who at Capital E. Now, we very nearly walked right past this on the day due to Capital E having been temporarily relocated post-tremors last year for earthquake re-rstrengthening (alarmingly, Al and I still use the Land Sea bridge which roofs the original site on a regular basis for our walks). The nwe site is in the TSB Arena, next to the main doors, local folks, and you should check it out. It's free for one, and it'll take five to ten minutes of your time.

What's there? A smattering of props and replicas from nearly every era of televised Who. Naturally the TV Movie Doctor played by Paul McGann has no props to speak of*, having been auctioned off or junked years ago, or are otherwise in A-Merkin hands, but just go with it. I did.

You'll see a Dalek (classic series), a Cyberman (new series), a TARDIS (new series, 90% scale but still noisy and lovely to stand next to), and a couple of masks, replica props and costumes. I believe my cultural companion was amusingly faked out by thinking he'd encountered a Matt Smith ensemble on display, but wouldn't you know it - it was the Dream Lord all along. Still, the mood seemed right for him to indulge in this particular show of horseplay, and punters being as low as they are, nobody seemed inclined to kick us out, despite CLEAR NOTICES SAYING DO NOT TOUCH BEING BREACHED IN THE ACT.

Like a lot of Who stuff for public consumption in this enlightened Eccleston Tennant Smith Capaldi era, there's more than a hint of exposition about the display, with monitors looping key scenes from each Doctor - even the Eighth (but pity the poor Capital E staff trapped there with nothing but the same footage in their ear all day!), and a chronological wall chart which maps the series and more key moments over the past fifty years. Fifty years is a lot to chart in a room as small as this one, but it's well organised and mostly harmless. In all, a fine little diversion.

 *okay, maybe some Eighth Doctor stuff in that there's some knitting.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Vegas Judge

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the creation of the Nevada territories, so why not mark it with a picture of a Vegas Judge?

Yes, they have judges in Vegas, and yes, Vegas exists in Dredd’s world. Or rather, both did. We can thank Pat Mills for both via his epic The Cursed Earth, which is a lot more anarchic and disjointed than its reputation might otherwise suggest. Like The Judge Child Quest it’s essentially a line of small adventures for Dredd and cohorts en route to a greater destination – in The Cursed Earth that destination is Mega City Two, and Vegas is, as you might expect, pretty much right on its doorstep, the penultimate obstacle to the completion of Dredd’s mission of mercy. It even shares the MC-2 skyline of floating debris.

Like a lot of the places in the story, Vegas in Dredd’s world is none too subtle. The implication is that this is a smaller city that had a judge system modeled on its neighbours, but organised crime being the very bedrock of the place, the mobs take over the justice system itself, turning the whole place into a parody justice, where the condemned take part in life or death games to clear their name, and citizen and Judge onlookers alike place bets on the outcome. It sort of fits the wonky and black satire of the Dredd strip, but as I say, it’s laid on pretty thick with its ‘God-Judge’, gangster machine guns and vintage cars, cod Mafioso accents and characters like ‘Judge Fingers’. Mick McMahon brings it to life in his early, sketchier Cursed Earth style, but it’s a short life, and the location and its judges once put right by Dredd don’t bother the main strip (nor indeed the Dredd World map) for nearly thirty years. Even Garth Ennis forgets to nuke it in Judgement Day.

The Vegas Judges eventually returned in the climax to John Wagner’s My Name is Death and its follow-up The Wilderness Days, itself a rehabilitation story in bringing back seminal undead baddie Judge Death for some genuinely despicable exploits during his wanderings in the Cursed Earth. Fraser Irving is on art duties here, and it’s rather spectacular; grim and ghoulishly funny in places. Once Death makes it to Vegas Wagner overturns the rather pat (sorry) decision of Mills to have had Dredd effect a change to Sin City’s moral heart, and the Mob have reasserted itself. Of course, with Death now there and his own living nemesis (not Dredd) in pursuit you can’t expect a happy ending. And so Vegas gets the nuke that Garth forgot to drop, and is officially no more.

My Vegas Judge uniform is an amalgam of McMahon’s original with Irving’s curvier modifications. You never actually see their helmets – perhaps they’re a rare judge system in not having one, but I’ve taken inspiration here from a jackpot machine in McMahon’s strip that looks like an existing helmet may have been put to less law-abiding function. So there you go. I didn’t intend to be covering the Vegas Judge, but I had this pencilled from the days of Irving’s story being serialised, so it’s finally done.