Review by Frank Plowright
Legacy is an appropriate title for this book in a meta-sense as it refers not only to the son of one of Judge Dredd’s most troublesome foes, but the difficulty of following artwork by 2000ADs most unique and experimental artist, Mike McMahon.
Fink Angel was an afterthought addition to the Angel family, decimated by Judge Dredd during the course of the Judge Child Quest. Writers John Wagner and Alan Grant were taken by surprise at the reception for what they’d considered eccentric and disposable villains, so created The Fink, their elder brother, absent during the fatal encounter with Dredd. McMahon designed a memorable slavering and skeletal character in an old bowler hat, accompanied by a giant rat draped around his shoulders, wearing a miniature bowler. “Pizen” is the Fink’s speciality, dispensed via slingshot with gleeful relish. The five chapters even allow for glance at the other Angels as the Fink recalls his youth. This along with the following ‘Destiny’s Angels’, nowhere near as good, were both previously seen in Judge Dredd and the Angel Gang, and reviewed in greater detail there.
The two artists illustrating the remaining material couldn’t have more differing styles. Peter Doherty is precise and there’s a touch of Moebius in there, but from his Jean Giraud days illustrating Westerns. Doherty supplies a fantastic sparse and heat-searing landscape for the Cursed Earth, immediately contrasting that with an equally extreme torrent of rain, and his suitably scabby design for Ratfink, son of Fink Angel is appropriate. Wagner’s plot merges elements of grindcore cinema and the classic townies vs hillbillys of Deliverance. Townies take a joy ride into the Cursed Earth, but when their hover pad breaks down they’re isolated and vulnerable. The unfamiliar territory and environment works equally against the judges who come to investigate their disappearance, as Wagner’s taut story is every bit as frightening as the McMahon tale of Ratfink’s father.
Tiernen Trevallion takes Doherty’s design for Ratfink and creates a demented avatar of hillbilly hate, although sometimes reminiscent of Slaine’s grovelling companion Uggo. Trevallion’s art is design led and visceral, and his version of the Mega-City’s underbelly as Ratfink’s natural environment is ideal for the scampering fiend. Alan Grant’s tale is simpler than Wagner’s, but equally suited to the character, making good use of both rats and the underworld community.
Legacy contains two really great Judge Dredd tales, one that would be a highlight in any other company and some superb art. Although not marketed under Judge Dredd’s name, it’s a Dredd collection worth having.