You all are invited to a Mega City Manhunt to the highest power. After some pretty smooth acts of treachery and sinister intent, Chief Justice Cal has rendered the entire city to be utilized to finding Judge Joseph Dredd who is a fugitive from the justice of which he once served. He is having to lay in deep cover with many enemies and few friends available to him at this time. The streets of Meg City One are chaos as the people are on edge and looking for trouble. Many are attacking any and everything that might be Dredd, or for that matter Chief Judge Cal too. The hunt is on and where it ends is anybody’s guess. On Issue #25, writer Duane Swierczynski really channels the “old” spirit of Judge Dredd and his 2000 AD roots here. We are given the highbrow drama with the corny comedy that is a nice testament to Swierczynski’s commitment to the title and its style. Along with the Dredd hunt, we are introduced to the story of Dubbie Cruz, an average Joe living in Sector 6 who has been in fear of his life recently due to a miraculous facial resemblance to one of the primary characters in this arc. I won’t say who, but it will be very obvious by the second page in spite of the shadowing that is used by artist Stephen B. Scott. We also get to see some of the street chaos at work as an incident occurs with another stone jaw judge who has a speech impediment that also has a resemblance to someone that he probably doesn’t want to have at this point in time.
This issue is the beginning of a new arc that freshly follows all of the wrap up and implications of the Dark Judges and their destruction laid upon the city and its denizens. And for the most part, I think the story hits a decent chord as it is a lighter mixture of more fun and less intensity as some of the material that has been covered in recent issues have been. That said however, I think the corny humor could have been turned down just a hair that would have given this issue a maximum “good” factor. I like the Dubbie Cruz angle and see potential for something very interesting occurring. But the street scene, just didn’t get it for me. Especially when you get to the Dredd and Cal parts that are stone cold serious. It almost felt like the issue didn’t quite know what it wanted to be; a light hearted comedy or an intense drama.
Regarding Scott’s art, it has been improving with each rendering first through the Dark Judges where he took over drawing duties during Issue #22 and all the way through this current issue. It is getting better and better and has more character clarity than earlier. Supreme Justice Cal for example, is depicted with a gleam of evil that nails the character and his essence. The same rings true for Dredd’s intensity as well as his current partner in crime, Pachoda who is inhabiting the body of a former corrupt Judge named Harvies. Harvies is kind of brute like, but Scott draws him with a more innocent look which works well with Pachoda’s character style. It is a nice aspect that shows a sound attention to detail.
Even so though, I think the over the top corny comedy moments keep this issue from being memorable. The dedication to the title is there, but maybe a little overdone in its depiction. I would expect a better balance in the future that I have seen time and again with Swierczynski in his writing. There is no doubt in my mind that the ship will be righted once again and this arc will deliver once all is said and done.
Writer: Duane Swierczynski Artist: Stephen B. Scott Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/26/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital