Dredd: Underbelly ReviewFebruary 7, 2014
Long have I waited the sequel to 2012s Dredd film. While I never really used to be into reading the comics from 2000AD, it was the film that got me hooked onto it and going back to read the older stories. From that point on, I never looked back. When I found out that 2000AD would be releasing Dredd: Underbelly, I knew I had to get my hands on it.
As the week of January 29th arrived, the company announced that copies had already pre-sold out in the United States and United Kingdom. Luckily, I’m in Canada and my local comic book shop had ordered copies so I was in luck (and I may have also picked up a Dredd Pop! figure as well…) and got a copy in my hands as soon as I could.
The comics story by Arthur Wyatt (writer) and Henry Flint (artist) was originally published as three installments in Judge Dredd Magazine. Now it has a brand new look with Flint’s interesting artwork included that brings the otherwise recycled-feeling storyline to life.
I say ‘recycled’ because we’ve seen the premise before in 2012 film. We’re back in Mega-City One, the gritty, dirty scenes are set beautifully in the first couple of panels. The comic focuses on the same idea that the film did; there’s a new drug called Psych that has replaced Slo-mo as the next big thing, making slo-mo “look like candy”, according to one of the Judges. Did I mention there’s another female drug lord controlling it all? There are some twists and turns here and there, talk of the Cursed Earth and a couple rather grisly scenarios with mutants to round everything out and make the story feel a little more full.
We get to see psi-Judge Anderson back in action, though she takes a much smaller role than she did in the film. Despite that, the small moments between her and Dredd are key, bringing us back momentarily to the strange kind of bond between mentor and student we saw in the film. Anderson is also a strong point in the comic; storyline aside it’s Flint’s art that really comes into play here. Traditionally, we are used to seeing females drawn in a way to accent their beauty and curves. Anderson still maintains that beauty to her, but she’s a tough woman and the thick lines that Flint uses captures her perfectly as someone you’d never want to mess with and captures Olivia Thirlby’s look fantastically.
Dredd’s appearance on the other hand is more Bruce Campbell or Jay Leno than Karl Urban, but I suppose it’s hard to capture an actors look purely by the chin and permanent scowl on his face. His chin is massive, and only a little bit distracting, but otherwise the Judges look great.
Page by page, Flint brings the story to life with slightly disjointed panels–while this may bother some comic readers I found it incredibly suitable to the storyline of wanton destruction and corruption in Mega-City One. A highlight of the art is a two-page spread of the judges working through a warehouse on a raid; the background is a layout of the warehouse and the panels show what happened at each checkpoint; a unique layout that I rather enjoyed.
All in all, this comic is what it is–a movie tie-in, but it is bringing people who generally don’t follow comics in by being so. I’m the kind of person that can’t keep up with weeklies if my life depended on it, but because I needed more Dredd in my life, I picked this up and wasn’t incredibly disappointed. The art alone is more than worth picking this title up, especially for any Judge Dredd fan that wants to know what happens after the film.
Still, we could use another Judge Dredd film sequel.