Review – Judge Dredd: Urban Warfare (2000AD)

aaa - CopyPublisher: 2000AD/Rebellion
Script: Matt Smith, Arthur Wyatt
Art: Henry Flint, Paul Davidson
Release Date: 10th February, 2015 (US), 12th February, 2015 (UK)

In a parallel universe somewhere, the 20000000 Dredd movie was a massive global hit. Its sequel, Dredd: Origins, upped the ante even more, and the most anticipated film of 2015 isn’t The Avengers or Star Wars, It’s Dredd: The Dark Judges.

Nice idea isn’t it? Sadly, the universe we live in is stupid and Dredd crashed and burned, despite getting just about everything so, so right.

While the possibility of a sequel doesn’t look very likely at the moment, Tharg has let us see more of the movie Dredd’s world with Urban Warfare, a compilation of stories that have previously appeared in serial form in the Megazine.

Set in a grittier, more realistic Mega City One than we’re used to, Urban Warfare is a world not too different from our own. There’s no fatties, blobs or simps and the skies aren’t full of batgliders and skysurfers, making this future city a grim, violent nightmare that’s as believable as it is bleak.

Top Of The World acts as a prequel to the film, telling the origin of its villain, Ma Ma. Matt Smith does a remarkable job in only a few pages here, adding a vulnerable humanity to a character who we already know is destined to be a monster. One of life’s victims, the former Mary Madrigal’s tale is a heartbreaker, made all the more impactful by Henry Flint’s gritty art. No one-note villain, Ma Ma is a complex and layered antagonist and it’s a shame we won’t be seeing much more of her.

Underbelly jumps ahead to after the film finishes, with Anderson now a fully-fledged Judge. Much like the movie, this doesn’t revolve around a big event, merely just another day in the life of Dredd.  Script-droid Arthur Wyatt spins a grim tale of mutant trafficking and murder, fuelled by the appearance of Psych, the new drug on the street that has replaced Slo-Mo.  Wyatt gets Anderson spot-on here, acting – much like she did in the movie – as the emotional centre of the story. Her questioning of both Dredd and the justice system itself is smartly done and humanises Dredd no end.

The book wraps up with Uprise, a story that couldn’t be more topical with its focus on police brutality and corruption. A slum area in Mega City One called The Spit erupts in rioting over a new wealthy housing development, but this is only the backdrop to a story that draws into sharp focus what it means to be a Judge.

Urban Warfare is a note-perfect continuation of the film and requires no previous knowledge to jump right in and be immersed in Dredd’s world.  That movie sequel might never materialise, but in the mean time we have the next best thing. Let’s hope we get a lot more of it.

Rating: 5/5.

JULESAV The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy

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