Ok… this is the last one, honest!
Couldn’t let it go without letting our resident offensive f*cker (which is a stretch when I run this web site) have a crack at the book. The review does contain quite a few spoilers though so I’ve hidden them behind a link. Click below to check out the review…. and here’s another pic from the book I havent posted up yet.
Thanks to Orlok for doing this and as always for his honest, no bullshit approach
Dark Judgement 2
I don’t read any kind of fan fiction as a rule. I’ve had nasty experiences with it.
One minute Johnny Alpha is taking out a million cred bounty target with a number four cartridge and the next he has a mouthful of Wulf’s happy stick while the Gronk is up to his elbow in Durham Red’s sausage wallet.
To be fair I probably shouldn’t have sent *that* particular story to Tharg and definitely not distributed it at the local schools. But, you live and learn.
However, I actually loved this. It’s a great concept and for me it yanks one (if not all) of these four bad guys back from the comedic stable and into the realm of true villainy where they belong.
This has a concept which,without wanting to claim credit for, actually crossed my mind way back in the Necropolis story. The Sisters of Death were on the telly banging on about the weather and the fact that many cits had offed themselves rather than be Judged. “What would happen if Judge Fear went on the telly?” I thought. “Would his fear stuff work or does it have to be a personal touch?” “Would Sidney throw his teddy in the corner if Fear beat his kill count?” “What if I were registered blind or were looking away at the time?” “Is it ok to get aroused when having testicular exam?”
Well, here we find out the answer to some of these searching questions.
Judge Worley (nice homage there), is well realised with the trauma of his experience showing in his screwed up face and him using his hand to cover it while explaining himself to Joe.
The art is great and reminds me an awful lot of Will Simpson’s early Dredd work in black and white. That panel of the overhead view of the stadium is particularly good, showing not only a great and intelligent design, but also perspective and lots of foreground detail to carry it off and make you think you are close to the action. It also relays the sheer number of people there in one fell swoop so there is no need to put a figure on it. The use of the faded backgrounds in some of the close up shots is also a good move and served to de-clutter the panels and focus your attention where it needed to be.
There is a nice touch with the hand of the falling cameraman covering fear’s face so the reader is not subjected to the power of the Dark Judge.
Likewise the “Justice is done” line with the close up of Fear shutting his visor is deftly done. There is a great look of the crowd too when the fear hits them, complemented by the rioting panel which not only looks realistic but also is pretty horrific when there is no escape from the place.
My only quibbles with this story were Dredd bitch slapping Worley (I think from Dredd a chewing off would have sufficed) which he has only done in extreme circumstances. The appearance of the new shooters was a puzzler as I am not sure Fear has been out and about since the new guns were introduced. Also, the Judges have circled Fear so any bullets going through him and his undead form would carry on into the helmet opposite- bad technique by the Jays.
They should have just cornered him and blown off his arms and legs so he can’t escape or scrum tackled the bellend and pinned him face down. He has no death, decay or flame touch after all…
Fear is awesome in the panel where he is facing down the Judges and his cooly delivered “No” is superb writing. Nothing flashy, nothing excessive, nothing funny- just businesslike evil.
That last (pre) punch line is a belter too and Dredd looks mean as drokk.
Artwise, some nice stuff again. The changing angles shows skill and versatility and brings something refreshing to the story. The lettering “projected” on to the bottom of page 1 shows a lovely sense of maturity too as there is no need to overdo the computer dialogue here which will ruin the flow. Hill’s face in the big reveal is *horrifically* scarred and that is something that the artist pulls off brilliantly. It is genuinely shocking to see and there is no nobility in it like you see with other Judges wearing their wounds as a badge of honour. There’s an old style lawgiver here and the panel of it melting while giving out the warning is very well executed.
Hill being torched alive is nice and serves him right. The panel of Fire holding the glass blade and talking to Jenkins (revenge part two) in pre-mortem banter is actually pretty chilling and for me is a real stool-loosener. He can kill you with fire which is bad enough, but he’s going to slice you up first and probably tell you how much he is enjoying it.
Hey! Is that computer rendered smoke at the end?
Scriptwise this is a nice revenge story turned on its head. Judge Hill may be in shock at his injuries and trauma but isn’t acting like a Judge or a rational human being. He, more than most, should know that Fire cannot be killed. His folly turns into a bit of payback as he is burned to death by his enemy. Also, Fire wearing Jenkins’ melting skin at the end to fool the sensors is very clever and only a sick mind could come up with that..
Quibbles? Well, ok then…why is Fire on his own in this place? Weren’t the Dark Judges all stored together?
Would Hill still be a Judge without the use of his eye? Granted he won’t get a job in PR, but he still seems to be a Street Judge.
Why can’t he see the escaping spirit form of Fire? Though I suppose it could have blindsided him.
His intention to use a hi-ex at that range also seems odd as it would probably blow off his legs too.
Finally when Fire was released all sorts of alarms should have gone off and the building should have been locked down. If you are still inside, tough luck. Hang tight til the cavalry shows. Or kill yourself.
A Judge Wedding, complete with the slapping on of those all important (and story centric) cuffs. Why hasn’t that ever been used before- brilliant!
There is real suspense here of the couple trying to get out of the carnage while bound together and while they are both still alive. This is the best metaphor for marriage I have seen in a long time!
When the bride finally cops it I actually felt rage at the sheep skulled horror. Had it had been me I’d have gone crazy ape-shit insane with those broken bottles and given Mortis a good Newcastle Brown Haircut before he put me down. Rarely does a comic bring this out of me (except when it is penned by Mark Millar but that is another story) so all credit to Rich for this.
However, there is a nice turn around when the groom turns out to have not been the best of nuptial bets after all and uses the bottles to hack off his dead wife’s wrist. That great panel of him looking through the ring with a slight smile made me want him to die and lo and behold Sidney shows up to make this happen. A nice bit of come-uppance there.
Quibble- One of the guests says “oh my God”. This is a Gruddist city, my girl.
Artwise- Less spectacular than the rest I thought, but I loved the panels of Mortis making his way through the crowd and killing as he goes. He is a genuinely creepy figure and this is a nice revisit to the up close and personal nature of his Judging.
Art- That is a great image of the city. I absolutely loved it.
And that splash page with the falling mini-panels of the plummeting cits is just superb. I mean really, really good. Even the taxi driver is astonished!
The irony of a “no jumping” sign on the side of the pedway is not lost on me either.
Death here is only slightly comical, but in a sinister way and not in the panto villain vein that we have seen in later years. This warm up banter gives way to some full on horror as old Sidney lays out the pointlessness of it all in chilling and logical fashion. This is shockingly well done and it does bring home the worthlessness of the lives of these citizens. What do they get out of it?
He is not screwing with their minds, he is just telling it like it is and letting the truth (and human nature) do its work. Clever, clever stuff as we never see him as a psychological threat (except when he is inside someone’s mind), but only as a physical one and in that regard he is criminally underused.
The end is very open too. The implication is that the homage friendly Judge Wells, having discovered the empty room, turns the gun on himself…but did he? Did he just snarl in rage and shoot out the speaker? Guess we’ll never know if Death won him over or not and that too is great writing.
Quibbles? Wells states that there are 20 cits trapped in there with Death but it looks a lot more than that.
Probably Fear as he is pretty bad ass when facing off with the helmets and the art is a real stand out for me.
All in all, I enjoyed this. Fan fic it may be, but it is also intelligently written, bringing the horror back to these characters and Conor is a real find.
Get those future shocks submitted, lads.
And the bad news? Well, I liked it so much I have to go and read the first one now. Damn you!