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JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE, #396 REVIEW

by Gavin Johnston on May 15, 2018

Writers: Michael Carroll; Si Spencer; David Ballie; Rory McConville; Arthur Wyatt; Alex di Campi
Artists: John Higgins; Nicolo Assirelli; Brendan McCarthy; Carlos Ezquerra; Henry Flint
Colourists: Sally Hurst; Eva De La Cruz; Len O'Grady; Brendan McCarthy; Chris Blythe
Letterers: Annie Parkhouse; Ellie De Ville; Simon Bowland
Publisher: Rebellion


John Higgin’s reality-jumping super-demon Razorjack comes to Dredd’s world in Judge Dredd vs Razorjack: This Corrosion, which begins this issue. After a short written introduction explaining the history of the Razorjack for those unfamiliar with the character, we’re immediately thrown into the invasion of Mega City One by monsters from another dimension. Despite the huge amount of new information, this still manages to be an action-packed ten pages. With Higgins on art duty, we are provided with two beautiful worlds, and some extremely gory and violent art. As alien invaders arrive, citizens and judges alike are massacred in graphic detail. The Judges put together a plan to take the battle to their new foes, with Dredd leading a squad of marines into the warzone.

 

After a very unusual and shocking starter, The Returners: Irmazhina settles into familiar territory. Four unpleasant characters are forced to investigate the mysterious appearance of an ancient structure, and are faced immediately with an “Indiana Jones in a haunted house” scenario. After a fast moving opening which threw these characters together, it would be expected for things to slow down a bit whilst we catch up with who these characters are. Background detail, however, still isn’t forthcoming as the gang struggle with a series of booby traps.

 

Skysurfer Chopper struggles through a psychic storm in Chopper: Wandering Soul. When his friends come under attack from Mad Max extras, medicine man Wally communes with the spirits as Chopper battles with his past in this strange episode.

Chopper is a long running Dredd character, first a graffiti artist who frequently outfoxed the Judges, later as a championship skysurfer who fled across the Pacific with Dredd on his tail to compete in an international competition. By the blood soaked ending of the Song of the Surfer storyline, way back in 1989, Chopper was apparently dead, the final victim of a contest which had become a deathrace in pursuit of ratings and corporate sponsorship. It was a fitting end for the character, but instead he returned several times, to little critical acclaim.

In Wandering Soul, as a hallucinating Chopper remembers elements from his past he faces the idea that he is dead, and that everything since Song of the Surfer has been a refusal to accept that fact. Its a strange route fro a writer to take, questioning the very basis of his own story. There are some nice touches, including the ancient Australian Aboriginal spirits just being some normal guys who are as confused as everyone else. We also get some extremely outlandish art, there’s not a huge amount so far to justify Chopper’s continued adventures.

 

Western Cursed Earth Coburn: The Law of the Cursed Earth comes to a brutal ending this issue, with Coburn and his deputies finally catching up with the deranged Boyle, whose vicious bigotry had inspired a mutant massacre. Its a downbeat ending, with a sudden outbreak of violence and some important lessons learned. Cursed Earth Coburn has been fun, but all too spartan by way of character.

 

Another downbeat ending in Dredd: The Dead World, which is intended to be the last of the “movie-version” Dredd stories. Since the release of the Dredd movie in 2012, fans have been eager for a sequel and the idea of introducing the Dark Judges to the more grounded version of the world that appeared on screen had great appeal. The Dead World did just that, but utilised a very different version of Judge Death & Friends. As the final “sequel”, Dredd certainly has a definitive and shocking ending. It also subtly raises important points about the internal struggle of the character - the idea of Dredd as a man without ego, and his need to enforce unfair rules...but it’s perhaps not an ending which would have had cinema audiences applauding. This has been an interesting tale, but as the movie universe is quietly packed away, we can ready ourselves for the next chapter in Judge Dredd’s multimedia adventures…

 

This month’s Megazine is bagged with Block Judge, a Dredd story from Wagner and Ezquerra from only a few years ago, which sees Dredd assigned to Gramercy Heights Block. Block Judge is a great series, which combines the claustrophobia and violence of Dredd with some genuine detective work.

Our Score:

9/10

A Look Inside