Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Nelson Daniel
Release Date: 17th September 2014
Judge Dredd #23 is a totally enjoyable read, overcoming some of the issues of #22, while unfortunately highlighting the difficulty in combining two wildly different stories into something cohesive.
The issue continues the ongoing saga of Dredd, a disembodied Anderson, the Dark Judges and the scheming Chief Justice who spawned them to push through a social surveillance system. As with last month, the dichotomy between the ultimate evil and threat of the Dark Judges and the implementation of the surveillance system prevents both stories from reaching their true potential. Dredd literally passes through a wall which separates the separately affected areas of Mega City One, and here it feels like he is having to force himself back into each story, so difficult to connect they are. The NSA allegory story works better in this issue, with the populace’s terrified reaction to it being a very heightened one, which better suits the Judge Dredd universe. Previously this storyline had aligned too closely with real-life reactions, and this only served to highlight how ridiculous using the Dark Judges to bring about such a passé scheme was. However, this new lease of life for one storyline comes at the cost of the other, as the Dark Judges feel very much an afterthought in the issue as Dredd forces his way back into it. With such iconic and terrifying villains it seems a shame that they have to share screentime with an allegorical piece which did not really require them to get started. I admire the attempt to weave these stories together, but both are clearly not able to fully spread their wings.
On a more positive note, the use of Judge Anderson’s spirit as an internal companion to Dredd works fantastically, bringing a new dynamic to this powerhouse duo. The dry delivery on a line about having to experience Dredd’s heart exploding for an entire month showcases the different methods each Judge prefers, but shows an easy friendship as well. Anderson does her best to keep Dredd informed and advised as he faces seemingly insurmountable odds, kind of like if Deadpool’s multiple personalities ever had useful thoughts.
My impressions of the art in this issue is that it feels every inch a modern take on the classic 2000AD style, using simple colouring, complex shading and a fantastically expressive style to bring Dredd’s world to life. Dredd is seen as much more lithe and agile in this issue, helping to sell the main premise of this rebooted series; of a younger and faster Dredd, unburdened by a continually-running continuity that has seen him age a year for every real-world year since his appearance. The sections set in the not-on-fire parts of Mega City One also present an environment which is more dirty sci-fi future than fully post-apocalyptic near-present, which I have always felt is essential to the unique character of Mega City One.
The individual parts of this issue continue to impress on their own merits, but the execution remains flawed and is only becoming more of an issue as each story tries to build up to a climax. The great art and improvement to the social surveillance allegory manage to boost this issue from a 2/5 to a 3/5.
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The Writer of this piece was: Andrew Stevens
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