Judge Dredd: Fetish

Judge Dredd: Fetish
Judge Dredd Fetish review
  • UK publisher / ISBN: Hamlyn - 0-6005-9432-7
  • Release date: 1997
  • UPC: 9780600594321
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Horror, Science-Fiction

Fetish was one of the final 1990s album sized reprints of Judge Dredd and associated material published for the book market by Hamlyn, and one of the poorest.

A recurring visual joke about Judge Dredd is the size of his chin, but as painted by Siku (Ajibayo Akinsiku) he looks to have Desperate Dan’s chin grafted on as an extension. It’s an artistic experiment that doesn’t work, not least for being the only attempt at humour apparent in Siku’s art. These are painted pages, and Siku takes a painter’s approach by concentrating on the single composition per panel rather than panel to panel continuity. It’s a valid method, but not when there’s absolutely no consideration given to a story being told. Following that story is made more complicated by Siku using spreads with small panels built around a single image, although within that there are some clever contrasts. A downside is Siku not being comfortable painting people, even allowing for his style.

John Smith’s plot begins with the discovery of a corpse in Mega-City One looking as if savaged by an animal. The person concerned had been in Africa, and Dredd is contacted by a sorcerer to let him know this was a case of natural justice, which isn’t good enough for Dredd. The fetish and a spirit demon are tools very efficiently used by the sorcerer, despite creating magic from several thousand miles away. Dredd decides to pay a visit to Simba City to sort things out.

Conceptually this is a decent idea. Smith’s done his research about African artefacts and beliefs, and treats them respectfully. Also respectful is using a Nigerian artist to present the Africa of the future, which turns out to be rather timeless. However, it’s a difficult story to follow, and while improved for Devlin Waugh turning up it never makes the most of its opportunities. It can also be found in Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 26 and the 2005 edition of Devlin Waugh: Swimming in Blood.