Orlok is not well this week since after opening this comic, his face melted like he’d looked inside the Ark of the Covenant.
Dredd is in the new Undercity with a flaming torch as his only companion. Again there are some great colours and detail on offer here and it’s a far cry from what we get inside.
Imagine if you kidnapped a tribesman from a hitherto unknown and uncontacted South Pacific island, kept him in fearful isolation and sleep deprived him for 72 hours before sitting him before an English language typewriter and forcing him to write a story with a gun at his temple. After twenty minutes of him tearfully batting away at the keys, the resulting gibberish would still be a more cogent Dredd story than this. And that is a problem.
A great question is asked at the start of this comic. It is a fundamental query that could define Dredd’s character in a way never before seen. The question is, if the Big Meg is now gone, is Dredd still a Judge? He was born a Judge and he will probably die a Judge but that title is only relevant in the culture that spawned him. When that is gone, what remains of the man?
That’s something that the comic touches upon with a whisper but then waves away because this isn’t that type of story.
Instead of sailing into uncertain waters with an exploratory heart bent on unravelling this existential mystery, our creators instead cruise around the shallows and hoist the brown flag of mediocrity.
Layout wise, the alternate page setup works very well indeed and cleverly plots Joe’s progress with Lolo’s until both lines converge.
There’s a great few panels of Dredd’s descent into the undercity and these darkened pages work exceptionally well and him dropping stones into the gloom to gauge the distance to the ground was well done. He could maybe have used his cybernetic eyes but still…
The colours are pretty lush in the undercity scenes and I did like the punch that Dredd throws at the troggie, which was very reminiscent of the Fist of Dredd panel.
The panel of Dredd being visible through the hold in the troggie’s face later was pretty cool too.
The story is a different matter. With Iggy, Quill and Lolo throwing eyeballs around, they are approached by a creepy old man. This is not going to end well and it turns out that they work for a paedo ring. There’s a shock.
Luckily, Lolo is so ugly even they won’t touch her so she is sportingly left behind to progress the story.
A gigantic (no really, it is fucking huge- so huge it could never even get in a doorway on its hands and knees) Mechanismo unit guarding the gate and ripping interlopers to pieces is there to deny Lolo the chance to get into the city which then means that plot convenience occurs in the form of a flash flood which drops her into the underblock.
In the bowels of the block, Dredd’s battery torch gives out so he makes a new one with an incendiary round. Making it to the Resyk sub-facility, he comes across some troggies which look like a cross between Dr Zoidberg and Lady Gaga.
Conveniently, Dredd saves a puppy which comes in handy a few panels later but first, there is the Forum Custodial Services angle. They have been expecting Dredd and there is another Judge there who appears to be linked to the block in some way. I initially thought that this Judge was Anderson what with the blondish hair, but it turns out to be one Judge Berger covered in grass.
This is some amazing plot convenience since Dredd is informed he is not the only Judge and before he can ask why, Berger then dies. Nobody at the FCS explain this at all. It’s just there and you have to deal with it. Dredd is not arsed but instead gets co-ordinates from Berger’s pad.
His story then combines with Lolo’s (who is now calling Dredd “Joe” for some reason) and while he is now trapped in the FCS for no good reason, the puppy shows up and shows it is amazingly smart by bringing pads to Dredd so he can get the door open. He doesn’t ask the others in the place to open the door for him of course. That would involve the writers actually having an idea about continuity.
Regardless, Dredd rescues Lolo who then blames him for Iggy and Quill’s abduction. He is very sorry.
Before we can pick our jaws up off the floor at this revelation of culpability, Lolo produces the helmet from earlier in the story which has presumably been up her arse all this time (it certainly wasn’t visible earlier) and puts it on the dog.
He’s now Judge Pug.
Dredd’s answer to this?
There are times in this story that you realise that the writers have no fucking idea how to write for this character. None at all. This is one of them and sadly it is not an isolated incident.
To top this off, Lolo also mentions that Dredd is not the only Judge and instead of pursuing this amazing knowledge, Dredd moves past it as he has apparently seen the script and knows it is not in the story’s best interests to discuss it right at this moment. No, better to leave it as a surprise for later, eh?
At the end of this shitfest we have more letters of praise. I feel certain that there must be a They Live sunglasses situation going on here.
Reading this was like being picked up by a trusted friend and taken to a surprise Britain First rally where you watch the faithful clap their approval while your stomach turns in disgust.