Fish out of water stories are a dime a dozen and that’s because it pits the protagonist right with the audience: Completely clueless as to what is going on. It’s an effective way to introduce the plot and world and it’s something Judge Dredd is unfamiliar with. That’s right, Dredd is in a world that’s nothing like his Mega-City One. but is it good?
Judge Dredd #1 (IDW Publishing)
Technically it’s the same world, but something is fishy. For starters, plants are growing and his coms aren’t working. Usually, Dredd’s strength is in knowing his surroundings and being heavily equipped to take out scum. Not so anymore!
Why does this book matter?
The premise is intriguing since the usual Judge Dredd story pits him against a mysterious villain or group of villains but the rest stays the same. Now the world itself is changed and Dredd can’t just shoot his way out of it. Instead he needs to do some detective work and that’s a new side of Dredd we don’t always see.
Wizard of Oz vibes here.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
A lot of folks might have trouble enjoying Dan McDaid’s art as it has an almost smudged look, but he was stellar on Catalyst Comix and believe me, it grows on you. It’s sort of like Walter Simonson’s work as it’s dark and earthy, but instead of a pencil McDaid uses a thicker marker to do the same sort of work. Overall the world and Dredd himself look great throughout this issue. When he fights some robots the blasts are big and booming and there’s one hell of a panel with a character being torn in two. The style suits the world and character and gives the overall story a sense of unfamiliarity that works.
Ulises Farinas [editors note: and Erick Freitas] is certainly writing a whole new take on Dredd and it’s quite exciting if you’ve read the character all these years. That’s because the power Dredd holds is shifting away and that opens up the possibility of character development and new interesting stories. You know it’s going to get a lot harder as the series goes on when Dredd recounts how much ammo he has early in the story. If he truly is in a world that no longer has judges and their respective ammo he’s going to have to think of something fast to get himself out of hot water.
Which is what this issue is all about. Dredd is confused but still resilient in arresting perps, yet his abilities are quickly proven to be lacking in this new world. You’re going to constantly wonder, “what am I reading?” and I think that’s the point. This new world is confusing and different. In some ways I got a Mad Max: Fury Road vibe as the world is in shambles but god dammit our hero is still going to enact justice.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This issue lacks answers which could be frustrating for some. It is the intro issue, but if you’re expecting a grand world view or a strong premise explained you won’t find it.
Now that’s justice.
Is It Good?
A fish out of water story that delivers action and intrigue with strong Mad Max: Fury Road vibes.