Judge Dredd : City Of Courts
By Douglas Wolk, Ulises Farinas
Review by Seth
Introduced in the “Cursed Earth” mega epic; Mega City Two was the first of the neighbouring city states identified in the Judge Dredd universe. To save the city, Dredd was sent across the atomic wasteland of the Cursed Earth to deliver an antidote to its plague-ravaged citizens. Not a lot of detail was forthcoming of this west coast counterpart of MC1, but what we did see didn’t seem a lot different from the Big Meg (at least at the time).
Over the years it has seemed that despite the development of the other mega cities (Brit Cit, Hondo, Cal Hab, Texas City and of course the Sov Blok cities) MC2 was not destined to follow them into, if not adulthood, then at least a late spotty adolescence. Mega City Two was the permanently pre pubescent late developer. Underused and unloved.
No one has seemed know what to do with MC2. In fact it appears only briefly, notably in Chopper “Song Of The Surfer” and the only significant appearance after that was as a means of showing the magnitude of the war against Sabbat in “Judgement Day”, when a Garth Ennis scripted Dredd decided that the zombie infested city needed to go, possibly as one upmanship over Necropolis and the Apocalypse War.
Since then, the city is being redeveloped and been repopulated by MC1s Sov immigrants (an Alan McKenzie scripted Chopper tale resurrected the city as a Hondo development, but nothing more has been made of that, thankfully – McKenzie – eww)
So, in my inimitable way – by metaphorically going to London via the South Pole, and in short; this series is the first in over 30 years that gives any detail as to how MC2 works and how it differs from its east coast sister city.
Dredd is the MC1 participant in an MC2/MC1 judicial exchange programme, comparing law enforcement techniques, processes and systems and to increase co operation. However, he has a secret mission. To locate an escaped perp’ known as Oswald Slump suspected of smuggling other perps in to MC2.
The series acts as a primer to life in MC2. Each of the 5 issues can stand alone, Dredd acts as a guide through the different regions and cultural groups in the city. A loose plot links the series together, and showcases the equally bizarre, fame obsessed / beach bum hippy lifestyle on the west coast. The hardnosed, no nonsense MC1 way of policing gives way to the laidback, perp’ friendly techniques of MC2; non lethal firearms, widespread use of fines, and a willingness to “overlook”. Surfer dude touchy feely judging. The biggest difference is that MC2 has a system of courts in each district, anathema to Old Stoney Face. To make matters worse and to his chagrin, Dredd is followed around by a camera crew and his exploits are broadcast to the city.
Compared to the regular IDW series, this is a revelation. A great debut by Wolk. Apparently a long time fan of Dredd he contributes articles on the background to MC2, though occasionally the plot doesn’t make sense, but I think that is more my advancing years than any fault on Wolk’s part. He certainly has 22nd Century life down pat, but somehow doesn’t quite get Dredd’s voice. Is it the script, or is it the art? Great deadpan humour, not quite the dry wit of Wagner or Grant, but definitely with a black satirical edge (particularly issue 4)
Ulises Farinas, has a great European style, reminiscent of Yan Shimony. His detailed backgrounds are remarkable and evoke the spirit of king of eyestrain Geof Darrow, there are loads of Easter Eggs and you can spend hours scouring the panels, but his figures look like they were made from Play Doh. However, his monsters kick arse. Not sure if he is a great Dredd artist, but there is no doubting his talent.
I’d buy more from this team. More please?