What a difference an issue makes. During the last issue, the “Mega City Manhunt” arc ended, putting our hero and super future cop Joe Dredd back in redemptive territory after spending the last several issues as a marked man, hunted down like a dog by the little/big man Chief Judge Cal. Dredd has been near and almost complete death several times up until that issue. But now everything is all good. Judge Cal has made a full reverse and has freed Dredd from the ruthless game that has been playing with him, exonerating him of all the crimes for which he was accused. Now, everything is a virtual love fest in the Meg. Hey, just look at the primary cover if you don’t believe me. Love is in the air and good feelings are everywhere. What happened last issue that changed the tides for Dredd? Well, the main thing that happened was Judge Anderson who is still without body, taking over Cal, leaving him trapped within his own mind. She has been calling the shots since and she miraculously changed Cal’s desire to destroy our purveyor of justice. It was really a nice master stroke for writer Duane Swierczynski, as he showed some serious creativity in putting a bow at the end of that arc.
But like everything in Meg City One, those good times are always pretty short lived as a new threat comes just around the corner. This time, we continue with the Dead Eye Syndrome illness and its debilitating effects on the public turning people into unmoving statues. Within this issue, the source of the Dead Eye becomes known after things strip down so to speak and we see the victims in a whole new light. These poor people are pawns to the dreaded robotic Guardians of Drokk or G.O.D. as they are affectionately known. G.O.D. has interfaced (or made love to, not sure which) the Justice surveillance system and seem to have all kinds of nasty dirt on the department and citizens making an already unsteady situation worse for everybody.
But threats aren’t just only on the outside in the Meg as there is some inner strife at work too. SJS Verrity seems to suspect something fishy between Judge Dredd and Judge Cal’s little “chummy” relationship after months of bitter vitriol between the two. She suspects something and will not stop until she finds the truth, even if it may bring down the top.
The forces of G.O.D. are likewise working to bring down the justices, and society at large as well, showing everybody’s dirty little secrets. (Citizen Daniel Nelson is a little bit freaky). Some order needs to be established before everything falls apart. Enter Judge Cal/Anderson to be the leader deciding to speak to the people to bring order. In theory, that sounds good. But the real Judge Cal has some secrets of his own too that might put Judge Anderson in a whole lot of danger before things end. We have a pretty detail story as this new arc “Crowd Control” begins.
There have been some really good issues in this title and then there have been some just kind of ok titles. The series has never necessarily been bad. But it hasn’t always been great either. Issue #29 I must say has been one of the better issues of the run.
Duane Swierczynski is always at his best when he channels into the old source material of John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra and this issue feels like an extended 2000 AD Prog which plays into its favor. The dialogue and story flow is really smooth and enjoyable to read as we get the varying degrees of the mighty Meg and all of its intricacies. Artist Nelson Daniel’s art has always been a hallmark of the entire series and he opens up his toolbox with this issue drawing citizen, judge, guardian, and even pleasure bots with a great amount of flicker and flare. The city is alive in this issue and it is such a nice change of pace after all of the interdimensional goo issues that have been recently depicted. This issue is really alive and likable ready to be read and enjoyed by the most advanced Judge Dredd follower or even just an average Joe who doesn’t really know the Joe Dredd of the comics world.
Altogether, I found Issue #29 to be a wonderful breath of fresh air that is the standard for the series at large. This one was well worth reading and enjoying and it was nice to see Swierczynski and Daniel back in their impressive mode making the potential for a new legion of followers for such a classic character.