I was completely blown away by last month's installment of Judge Dredd. It wrapped up an intense story line and introduced a shocker that likely will resonate for some time in the near future. But this is actually what I am beginning to expect from IDW's commitment to Dredd, staying true to the source material and adding some new elements that enhance what is already there. Issue #17 is a prime example of this as both old and new meet to form awesomeness. For the first story, The American Way of Death, well, THEY ARE BACK. THEY, are the Dark Judges. Horrific abominations who issue their own brand of justice on the living, led appropriately, by Judge Death. There are the Dark Judges we know well here from past stories ...Death, Fear, Fire and Mortis. But we also have some new ones too. I'm not going to disclose their names as they are new to the story. But I will say that the new ones are rather creative and every bit as deadly as their older and better known comrades. Anyway, these judges are tearing ass around Sector One of Meg City One and it looks like no one can stop them, especially Judge Dredd. "Why?" do you ask, "can Dredd not stop them?"
Well, Dredd is in route to The Saturn moon of Titan getting ready to serve a life sentence for a crime that he didn't commit, but confessed to in order to try to save his partner and friend, Judge Anderson. He is millions of miles away and one of the subjects of the second story of the issue, entitled Slammer. While landing, an incident occurs that may change everything with his sentence, and tie in some of the previous second stories that have been appearing within the last few issues.
The darkness from the previous issue continues here and even surpasses it as we see the destructive force that the Dark Judges represent, not to mention the coldness of Meg City One's leadership. They might just be worse than the Dark Judges themselves once all is said and done. Things are definitely going to be different for the future and I can't wait to see how everything comes together, especially as the two separate stories merge. The contents of the second stories have been more mystical than technological and they seemed quite different from the primary story. Now we know they were enhancements and Duane Swierczynski has written it perfectly allowing for that mystery until revealed. His writing is a nice mixture of serious suspense with just the right tampering of humor too. There are moments of both here and it works perfectly for a continuing string of very good issues.
Nelson Daniel likewise continues to capture vivid and disturbing imagery that adapts well to Swierczynski's script. We see art of unadulterated evil that is quite creepy, but also those little splashes of humor that match the tone needed perfectly. These two are gelling well together and making a seriously good comic. Artist Steve Scott who does the art for Slammer also does a perfectly good job not missing a beat with Daniels pace from the first story. I am not sure where everything is going, but I know that I sure as Hell want to see where it will finish.
Writer: Duane Swierczynski Artist: Nelson Daniel, Steve Scott Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/12/14