There's no doubt that I have thoroughly enjoyed Judge Dredd's new run. IDW's original stories and classic reissues have been great, allowing me to return to my youth in following the plight of Mega City One and its top law enforcement officer. Issue #13 breaks from the traditional continuity however, and goes off into another direction entirely...A place where the men were men, the women were "dames" and everybody smoked. Appropriately titled "French for Black" (play on "Noir"), this issue finds our Purveyor of Justice slightly out of his element. A virus has been unleashed in a small section of Mega City One throwing everything and everyone in the area back to the days when Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson ruled the territory with silky smooth coolness. Enter Dredd who gets thrown into this dark world, and it doesn't appeal to him. People seem to be mouthy to him. And as for his fierceness...It appears that his intimidation factor has dropped a few notches, much to his displeasure. Ever the perfectionist though, Dredd fights through these setbacks to try to make things right in this crazy noir neighborhood. Lesson to be learned, remember that Dredd is Dredd no matter the surroundings.
The story is written well enough by Duane Swierczynski and the art of John Staniski captures the "Noir" nicely. I especially love the rain. It really adds a nice effect to the art here. Still, I liked the issue but just didn't love it. Being a one shot stab, the story felt like the number of pages just weren't enough to make this story spectacular. I would have liked to have seen more here. But it still is a readable and nice enough issue to give it a go, especially if you are into the Judge Dredd universe (like me). It didn't suck.
I would say that "French for Black" is a modest effort for an iconic character that doesn't hurt the story, but doesn't put it to the next level either. It is just ok in a series that I have seen much better in past months. Still "French for Black" is priced right and will give you sufficient entertainment with great artwork.
Writer: Duane Swierczynski Artist: John Staniski Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/27/13