Now this was what I was missing when I recently reviewed Judge Dredd #13. That story was okay… the story in Issue #14 (or actually “stories” as there are two here in this issue) are both quite good and entertaining and usher in a return to what has been the norm for this new run of Judge Dredd by IDW Publishing. They have taken an iconic hero and made him viable in current times. In Issue #14, we get to see the “law of the law” in its capacities. Both tales deal with the SJS who regulate the judges for better or for worse. In the first story (entitled “13 Badges, Part 1”), someone is assassinating judges and it is believed to be the work of a rogue judge named Tarjay of whom Judge Dredd was unable to apprehend in the past. When he is awoken from a deep sleep after being away for a while in the Cursed Earth, Dredd is accosted by Judge Cal of SJS telling him of the problems and forbidding him to investigate the nine killings that have occurred during Dredd’s absence. This simply can’t happen however as Dannn, a precognitive friend of Dredd’s is shot in the open and (thought to be) “safe” confines of the Academy that draws our hero into the fray. Now, with the help of another Academy precognitive named Anderson, they will investigate the crimes to try to figure who did it and why.
This story has a good old-fashioned investigative element to it that works well for the flow of the story. Duane Swierczynski does an excellent job at allowing words to flow introducing some of the facts, but never divulging too much. We have a mystery on our hands and Swierczynski teases us with just small glimpses of what the truth will be. This is very good storytelling here. The art of Nelson Daniels in“13 Badges, Part 1” is gritty yet high contrast making for a nice modern-day “noir” detective look in the high future. High praise should go to both as their tandem of work makes “13 Badges, Part 1” a super good story. I particularly liked the hues of light blue used during the “talk” with Judge Cal and Dredd. It had a pomposity to it that seems to fit the attitude of the SJS based on the storytelling.
For story number two called “Harsh Conditions, we are introduced to Agatha Pachoda, a hard as nails felon who is a survivor in every sense of the word. And to Judge Harvies, an overweight, out of shape judge looking to make a deal with our felon. The deal seems to be on the up and up, but events happen that do not quite work out for Ms. Pachoda’s favor. Still, she is determined to persevere and get her vengeance and not even the prison moon of Titan can stop that desire.
This story is also written by Swierczynski, but is drawn by Staz Johnson, and it is equally as good as “13 Badges, Part 1”. It takes on a darker tone however and the art of Johnson addresses that darkness well putting in a lot of shadow and coloring as the “harsh conditions” are addressed.
I give “Judge Dredd #14” high marks as it hits” it” in all areas and gives the reader two very good stories that make for a super value with the $3.99 price. This is what good comic book making should look like.
Writer: Duane Swierczynski Artists: Nelson Daniel and Staz Johnson Publisher: IDW Publishing Price $3.99 Release Date: 12/4/13