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Judge Dredd: Mega City Two Review

by on August 13, 2014
 

Dredd takes in the sun and the sand with a gun in hand.

Dredd is going to the sunshine state, going Californee way! As part of a judicial exchange program, Dredd is sent packing to Mega-City Two, a sprawling city covering 5000 square miles of the California West Coast and centered in what was once known as Los Angeles, where he soon discovers that they do things differently here and where image is everything.

judge2That’s the premise behind the latest Dredd adventure from IDW Publishing all collected in graphic novel form; its written by Douglas Wolk and the artwork is done by Ulises Farinas. This is a collection that takes Dredd out of his comfort zone of Mega-City One and drops him into a very new environment; he’s basically like a great white shark in a strange new place. Is this new Dredd adventure something that you will likely be adding to your collection or is it a pass and wait for Dredd to come back to familiar territory and his previous Lawgiver ways?

For those new to Dredd and who have only experienced his ways of doling out justice on the big screen, jumping into this book as a first comic book experience will be a bit of a shock. There isn’t as much Dredd tearing through creeps and judging those who have broken the law; in fact he’s even forced to give up his Lawgiver from Mega City One and is instead given a new gun that features a bear on the side of it, and features heavily on non-lethal force (until Dredd is able to right that wrong and find lethal ammunition). The stories within feature heavily on the comedic side as opposed to the action. Don’t get me wrong; some of the situations that Dredd is put in are quite funny. It just seems to me that a great action character such as Dredd is out of place, although he would give Charles Grodin a run for his money as far as being able to dead pan his way through comedic pieces.

The journeys that Dredd embarks on are split into parts where he takes a turn with all the different branches of justice in Mega City Two, all with a camera crew in tow to film the whole adventure so that it can be broadcast to the people. At the same time, Dredd is there on a mission from his own Chief Judge Goodman from Mega City One, who let Dredd know that there is corruption in the Mega City Two system; criminals from Mega City One’s iso-cubes are being let go and somehow ending up in Mega City Two. Dredd is unsure of who to trust, but is choosing his own rotations in their system and is investigating as he goes. For example, Dredd goes undercover, attempting to infiltrate the Children of the Lesser Grud, which is a bloodthirsty gang of cult outlaw artists. Dredd takes on the persona of a Cursed Earth biker, which works very well with slick writing from Wolk in that regard. Areas of Mega City Two are named after old movies and movie stars as well, with easter eggs all over the place if you look closely in some of the wide shots of Mega City Two, which is a credit to the artwork of Farinas.

The story sees him dealing with various issues that are relatively new to him being that he is from the East Coast and deals with much more harsh crimes and is forced to respond with force. However, the subplot that something is corrupt on the West Coast is ever-present with each mini-story in some way related to the over arching story which was great. Nice, clean writing kept everything linked and moving at a brisk pace. The writers have done a great job keeping Dredd true to his character, all while providing a new story outside of Mega City One, and adding comedy into the mix. I won’t ruin any of it, but there are some pretty great set pieces they have brought in to this story.

judge3

The art style is in sharp contrast to DC or Marvel fare; instead of going for a realistic look to the characters and scenery, the characters are very “Saturday morning” cartoon style with the faces and backgrounds. There is not much violence that is so familiar now in the usual Dredd comics; it’s there but it’s not really the focus of the scene. The art brings back nostalgic memories of watching cartoons, which really makes you enjoy the read even more. This is not the gritty, hardcore style of past Dredd books, and really it doesn’t need to be because it is not set in Mega City One and really suits the attitude of things in Mega City Two.

I will be honest; I’m not as well versed in Judge Dredd as I am other comic books. Most of my Dredd experience comes from watching the two feature films, one which was strange (Stallone) and one that was incredible. I had also played the video games related to the character, and have read through a few of his adventures in Mega City One. He is a great character that has this extremely tough, gritty exterior, so this time out it was quite the surprise to see Dredd in such a different light with very different scenery. It may take the reader a bit out of their comfort zone but that’s a great thing, and the results in the end are a great, engaging story that is well worth the price of admission.

Judge Dredd will always be a great character who will provide all the thrills and story to make for a great comic book. I definitely suggest going west with Dredd and see California as it is in Dredd’s post apocalyptic future. You’ll be able to pick this title up in graphic novel form online or from your local comic book shop beginning September 2, 2014.

4stars

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