Luke reviews the latest IDW JD mini series. No, wait! Come back!
Judge Dredd : Toxic 1-4 complete series
Paul Jenkins, Marco Castiello, Vincenzo Acunzo, Jason Millet
and Shawn Lee
IDW strike again, the latest in their series of mini series sees Paul Jenkins debut on the character. Paul Jenkins is one of those Brit writers that circumvented the whole 2000AD apprenticeship thing and went straight to the States, working for Tundra, Caliber and most significantly, Marvel.
Jenkins, goes all topical with this one. Introducing the “scrubbers”, the humans who have volunteered and are genetically modified to work on the waste that builds up under Mega City 1. They work hard to contain the spillover of waste, preventing the city from “popping like a blister”. The scrubbers are invaluable to the city, yet shunned due to their ugliness and what is seen as their impurity.
Judges Dredd and Scammon are investigating the murder of a scrubber who has been living in a city block. It turns out, some of the scrubbers aren’t as revolting as they ought to be, and this is down to an influx of small alien beings that bond with a host and enhance their bodies, making them fitter, smarter, and more aesthetically appealing. These “Blender” look like a bit like an enlarged tardigrade if it were covered in filo pastry.
The reappearance of the scrubbers in mainstream MC 1 life of a previously unknown alien life form illegally in the city gets certain sector of society’s dander up.
Out come the anti alien lobby, prompting tension and violence across the city. Note the close resemblance of this character to the leader of the free world :
It all goes explodo; the city erupts in block wars and rioting. Dredd and co head into the undercity to prevent the Anti Alien League from massacring the blenders and their scrubber hosts.
The story begins with some clumsy exposition, and some unlikely (okay, downright wrong) dialogue. Jenkins’ suffers from what all new writers to Dredd have difficulty with, dialogue is occasionally trite, even fatuous , and worse, out of character.There are some annoying little things too, for example what’s with the bearded judge? Did they learn nothing from Lopez? (Judge Child reference). Dredd himself comes across less as a hard arse and more like a dogmatic and anal civil servant. Anderson’s characterisation is about right, but Scammon is just annoyingly sycophantic – but (small spoiler) I guess that may have been the point.
The art is nice. Gritty enough for 2000AD with a good feel for the city and some good storytelling. Castiello bring in lots of nice touches in the backgrounds, there are some nice touches with cameos from 21st Century figures reincarnated as TV presenters and Dredd’s transport for his mercy dash to MC-2.
It’s not a great Dredd strip, but it has some interesting ideas. But much like the last series, it lacks the punch of the best of the Prog or the Meg”. The series of mini series and rotating creative teams isn’t a bad idea, but IDW are peddling a watered down version of the Judge, and that’s not doing anyone any favours.