Review – Judge Dredd: Under Siege #1 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Mark Russell
Artwork: Max Dunbar
Colours: Jose Luis Rio
Lettering: Simon Bowland
Release Date: 30th May 2018

Football is illegal. Wait… football? Well, in “Under Siege” it is, and opening with such an apparently mundane bust scene both heightens and underplays the politically charged commentary at the heart of this first issue of a four-part run. The teams playing the unlawful game are the debtors and the migrants. Hmm.

This is a familiar Mega-City One and a classic looking Dredd with a simple narrative. Namely, a presumably missing Judge in a rowdy block spiralling out of control. I mean, what’s not to like? Dredd goes it alone like the iconic stranger come to clean up the town, on a mission to assess the situation and rescue/recover his fellow Judge. It’s really nice here to see the Lawmaster get a few lines to ease us into Patrick Swayze block and all its troubles.

Yep, Swayze. I’m sure there’s a reference or two hidden amongst the panels.  Speaking of which, I found a cheeky nod to Segal’s Under Siege. On the subject of hidden gems, the artwork is gorgeous. Dunbar and Rio have combined to do a damn fine job. The level of intricate cluttered detail breathes life into what otherwise is a stroll around a concrete high-rise, and you really owe it to yourself to scan through all the posters, signs and paraphernalia for a wealth of nods, winks, jokes and clues. In particular, Kidney Hut – priceless (for everything else there’s donor card?)

The story quickly unfolds to find our missing Judge, Beeny, pinned down by mutants. The block is full of them and they’re ugly and angry, not to mention beautifully realised as falling on just the right side of believably twisted. Swayze block was a new build that made a number of hollow promises. Cheap and decent homes, self-sufficient with jobs for all. Of course that never came to be and a neglected waste disposal business became the downfall of the block and a beacon to the mutants. Oh, and to top it all off the mutants have an idealistic leader, Talleyrand, resplendent on a throne of junk.

The ‘Mayor’ and his gang (alluded to as a threat earlier on), all armed to the teeth make their presence and feelings known – this is their turf, their home, their fight. The Judges may be welcome to tag along but you know there has to be a reckoning in future instalments. In the eyes of the law ‘Mayor’ and his cronies are criminals; no better or worse than the rampaging mutants.  We close with battle lines being drawn, each faction readying for the fight to come. The Action so far has been quick and sharp – well played-out, snappy encounters – I eagerly await a couple of larger set piece battles.

Russell isn’t a writer I’m familiar with but I am pleasantly surprised by the layered story he has presented here. The modern sociopolitical commentary expertly wrapped in Mega-City One’s dystopia is both thought-provoking and entertaining. Highly recommend.

Rating: 4.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Alex McElhinney
Alex Tweets from @UnicronsBeard ‏

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