Dredd: Underbelly is the comic-book sequel to Dredd (2013), and takes place after the fall of Ma-Ma. Judges Anderson and Dredd have gone their separate ways enforcing the Justice Department’s order. When maintenance workers drain a radioactive pit and discover the remains of over two dozen mutants, Anderson and Dredd are brought together again to investigate. When Dredd leads a raid into sector nine, the notorious pleasure district in Mega-City One, he finds Psych the latest drug that replaced Slo-Mo. Anderson has been investigating the rise in mutant trafficking and is convinced the two are connected.
Wyatt’s story does a good job contrasting the tactics both Judges use when following leads, and provides insight to its characters albeit flimsy. Anderson is much more resolute towards her fellow Judges when they mistreat the second class mutants, and even has a conversation that might have Dredd questioning his definition of justice. Nevertheless Dredd continues to represent the faceless Justice Department and their brutality.
Flint did such a great job illustrating Karl Urban’s likeness in the prologue Top of the World Ma-Ma, which is odd that his rendition seems so off in this installment, but his depiction of Judge Anderson is a good representation of Olivia Thirlby. Through the use of muted colors and tones he also effectively captures the grime of Mega-City One. Readers will finally get a glimpse of Mega-City One and the Scorched Earth, the radiated wasteland, but the story is so focused on the task at hand that it never really explores its surroundings. Making it feel as confined as the mega block Peach Trees.
Like many sequels before it Dredd: Underbelly suffers from sequelitis. The plot seems too familiar to the original film except on a larger scale, which would have worked if this wasn’t a one shot. Dredd writer Alex Garland revealed his story ideas for a Dredd trilogy; the sequel would explore the fascist side of judging and eventually introduce The Dark Judges. It’s a shame that Garland’s vision will never be recognized since those ideas have so much potential.