Judge Dredd: Dead Zone

Judge Dredd: Dead Zone
Judge Dredd Dead Zone review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: 2000AD - 978-1-78108-425-0
  • Release date: 2016
  • UPC: 9781781084250
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

Invasions and devastation have impacted on Mega-City One before, but nothing has resulted in the death toll and rubble resulting from the Day of Chaos. The full story was related previously in The Fourth Faction, Endgame and Fallout.

The tragedy has resulted in some changes, not least that the reduction in population means those previously banished to the Cursed Earth as undesirable have an opportunity to settle in the city. Not all make it, however, and long time Dredd writer John Wagner has constructed a real horror for Yodie and Belle, a young couple waylaid to toil in the body mines. This is countered by Dredd undertaking an investigation at the newly installed Day of Chaos memorial garden and monument. The joy here is the anticipation as Wagner signposts from the start that something’s dirty in this exploitative facility, running the previous investigation by an accountant in parallel.

It appears this is latter day Wagner, to some extent going through the motions, yet professional enough to produce a story worth reading, but he then introduces a new element, and what that leads to opens up a whole new raft of story possibilities. Yodie and Belle are in the grand Dredd tradition of sympathetic, but none too bright innocents caught up in circumstances beyond their control, and there’s the best Henry Flint art on Judge Dredd for some while. It’s individualistic, stylish and really horrific when needed, and he uses his fine sense of design.

The title story is accompanied by the slightly shorter ‘Breaking Bud’. Bud Biggard is made redundant: “I’ve awarded myself a rather large bonus this annum. Economies have to be made. You’re the economy.” Wagner turns the screw on Biggard, simultaneously drawing attention to the real world injustices on which he’s basing elements of his script by moving Biggard to the Duncan Smith Block. Ian Duncan-Smith was then the unpopular government official implementing social security reforms.

Although nicely drawn by Richard Elson, this sequel doesn’t match the tension or individuality of the story it follows, taking a linear path with few diversions. It does, though, leave a door open, and that pretty well ensures a follow-up.