Judge Dredd's run on IDW's label has offered several good original stories and superb classic reissues for a pretty good period of time now. Their commitment to this brand and in staying true to the source material is commendable and well worth the expense of money to follow it on a monthly basis. I have been a lifelong fan of the character and cannot help myself but to only heap praise upon it. Not every issue has been a big winner, but all have been well crafted from script to color and I have found very little fault (if any) in what has been released. Knowing the title and respecting it like I do, I must admit that few surprises have caught me off guard through the years. This is not a knock on the writers. I just know what I know about Judge Dredd and anyone sticking to the nature of this character typically will fall under certain parameters that can be predicted sometimes. Every now and then, I can and will be surprised. When this happens, I am completely stoked. That surprise has happened in Issue #16 and all I can say is DAMN!!! This issue followed the parameters and delivered as good of a blow to the reader as could be done. I don't think that any fan of the series could be unhappy with this one. It is awesome!
Concluding the 13 Badges story arc, Duane Swierczynski, drops some well placed bombs that will change this whole new run altogether, while at the same satisfying the most intense and serious Judge Dredd fans in the process. To say that things will be different after this one would be an understatement. Things won't be different. Things are different now. We'll done.
Swierczynski puts Dredd in a bad spot within the story's opening. After being beaten savagely, he is in custody and under the intense scrutiny of one Chief Judge Cal. Cal believes Dredd to be in collaboration with one rogue judge by the name of Tarjay. Tarjay has been killing judges and has Judge Anderson in his sights. Dredd has only one choice to make, and it is a doozy. Things progress from there and we eventually get to an ending that I did not see coming that ties everything into place, yet rattles the entire of Meg City One at the same time.
This is one really dark issue. It is as dark as one as I have read. Swierczynski doesn't only strip Dredd bare within these pages, he rips off skin and sinew (literally). At the same time however, a moral story of friendship, loyalty, and the law is being displayed. The story is as deep as it is dark and it really works well in leading the reader to the conclusion that seems to be a statement of what can happen to the law without friendship and loyalty. It ain't pretty, but perfectly placed and paced in this issue making for complete satisfaction. That's about all I can say. Anyone who has followed Dredd should be very pleased with how this ends, dark or not.
Nelson Daniel who is on the art detail, captures perfectly the dark undertones that permeate all through Swierczynski's script. We see visual depictions of pain, suffering, and ultimately evil, that will be hard to dismiss once you put it down. It is all just a wonderful tandem of visual display and written word. The best to date, I believe. I am really looking forward to seeing where things go next from here.
Writer: Duane Swierczynski Artist: Nelson Daniel Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/26/14