We have 10 armed Martians surrounding Dredd, who is wielding a daystick menacingly- win.
It’s by the frankly awesome Greg Staples- double win.
A crime syndicate is wiped out by the outcast Crusty Smalls and his henchman, who is revealed to be not of this Earth. With the crime rate down in Sector 301 Dredd is called in by Sector Chief Breyer to investigate as it isn’t down to his anti-crime policies. Something is amiss in the underworld. Corruption is rife in the Sector with the dregs of the Department being pushed here so he entrusts Dredd alone with the task of discovering why the criminal underworld is now being ruled by Smalls rather than a syndicate who have so far kept the lid on things.
In doing so Dredd comes face to face with what he assumes to be mutants with exotic weaponry and he is left facing death at the mandibles of a giant insect.
I liked this.
There are definite touches of Al Ewing here with the humour of the strip (“we will sell his bones as medicine for our sexual dysfunctions”) as well as a robot song with a legal bent (Heatseeker, Long Walk, Judge Death). Al loves his songs…
This humour aspect is sadly lacking in the dour and uninspiring IDW regular series so maybe Al could switch across and revamp the fuck out of that title.
The crime syndicate of Don Schnozelli (complete with Snork style nose pin), Don Travolta, Don Mumbletti and Don Hooverbot 9000 (a brilliant touch) is a superb intro to the humorous content of the art and script. The fact that these are led by a familiar ape is superb. We sadly don’t get to see Joe Bananas and Fast Eek who are killed off camera and appear only as smoking skeletons.
There’s also a reference here to lawyer droids, which is a very Dreddworld thing so already this is showing some credentials.
The art is a nice scratchy style from John McRea who fits the weirdness well.
I love the use of the trading cards with the flipside being used as a narrative, pun device (“see Card 23: Incinerating A Gerbil”) or a credit box. That’s clever stuff.
I also absolutely loved the pose of Don Travolta when he was getting zapped. Guess he won’t be Stayin’ Alive for part two. Hahahahahazzzzzzzzz. Moving on…
The Lawgiver is different to what we have seen before and at first I thought it was the movie style until the silencer came out. What else? Oh, yeah, the singing robot had a touch of the great Ian Gibson about it. Not sure if that was the intention but it looked good.
There’s also a fantastic shot of Dredd descending the staircase on page 11, communicating with Breyer as he goes and page 15 panel 2 is just brilliantly gory. Cool reflection of Joe in the compound eye on page 19, too.
As for where this fits in the grand scheme of things, it definitely isn’t our Dredd. The references to Otto Sump (tattoo on page 10), The Pit (since The Pit is Sector 301 it has apparently undergone the same post Apocalypse War renumbering process from Bob’s Law) and the appearance of Don Uggie when taken together are at odds with established continuity so perhaps it fits with the IDW Dredd.
Of course, that would imply that the IDW Dredd has already had a brush with the Sovs, Otto Sump and Judge Death, which for IDW would be a missed opportunity to approach the War, the Ugly Craze and the quintessential Dredd villain with a new and interesting brush.
It is a shame how a rich character like Don Uggie is diminished and disposed of so quickly as the IDW Dredd is crying out for such interesting figures. Still, plenty more where he came from in some 35 years of backstory…
In summary, this paces well for a first episode and I hope can this be sustained over 4 issues.