• Judge Dredd #12

    Judge Dredd #12
    Released by: IDW Publishing
    Released on: November 23rd, 2016.
    Written by: Ulises Farinas, Erick Freitas
    Illustrated by: Dan McDaid
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    “The Story So Far: In a sprawling 22nd-century city overrun by crime, police have the authority to act as judge, jury, and executioner. Among these Judges, Joseph Dredd is the toughest of them all! But Dredd now finds himself the only Judge in a Mega-City One that he barely recognizes. Joined by a trio of feral girls, Dredd has taken on his most challenging case: to uncover what happened to the city he has sworn to serve and protect. After a long, strange odyssey, Dredd is finally closing in on Judge Berger, who’s responsible for putting 800 million people in suspended animation for 1,000 years.”

    Dredd and Quill burry their pug and literally hack their way through the brush with machetes until they come face to face with what was clearly once The Grand Hall Of Justice. Quill makes a break for it and Dredd tries to stop her but before he can… she’s in Mega-City One. The real Mega-City One, not the overgrown remnants that they’ve been trapped in for some time now. She’s overwhelmed by the noise and the traffic and while she calls out for Dredd, he’s not there. Other Judges are, however, and they grab her assuming that she’s suffering from ‘future shock syndrome.’ It’s then that Judge Lolo shows up, calls them off, and welcomes her. She’s a high ranking Judge here, there’s even a statue of her – she tells her she’s fixed everything, she’s even found Iggy. She invites Quill to join her, to be a Judge, to answer to her… just like Judge Berger.

    Dredd realizes she’s gone into the grass. He tries to get into the server, but no dice. With no other choice, he opens a canister of pollen and when he arrives in Lolo’s Mega-City One, she beats him. He tries to reason with her, to get her to acknowledge the fact that this isn’t real, that Iggy isn’t dead, but she’s not having any of it. And then Berger, who Dredd believed to be dead after learning how she was shot down on the steps of The Grand Hall Of Justice, arrives. She accuses him of spreading misery, he accuses her of condemning eight hundred million lives. Iggy starts to snap… she doesn’t want to be dead, she doesn’t want reality. Berger argues that she’s stopped crime, made the world a better place and to prove it she lets some of the city’s most nefarious criminals come back.

    Dredd tries to talk Quill into helping him, but she can’t turn her back on her sisters. This leaves him to deal with Berger on his own, and we’ll leave it at that.

    The Mega-City Zero run that has taken up these last twelve issues of Judge Dredd has been a breath of fresh air since the first issue, and this finale doesn’t disappoint. The writing team of Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas has been consistently pushing the envelope, taking a character that can easily be tossed aside as formulaic no matter how cool he might be, and doing something decidedly different with him. At the same time, this vision of Dredd is pure. He’s still the same character he’s always been, they’re just making him, along with the readers, think about things from different angles and perspectives. This shows us what happens when the very merits of the entire concept of law enforcement is called into question. This shows us what happens when a man who never shows sympathy is forced to care. Dredd’s never wrong – but what if he is? What is, as Berger accuses him, he and the other Judges really are responsible for so much of what is wrong with life in Mega-City One? As Dredd ponders these questions and reacts to them, we’re tasked with applying some of the same ideas to the real world – and as interesting as it is to do so, it’s equally frightening. While this final chapter (for now) brings the story to a completely satisfying and unpredictable conclusion, the themes that this run deals with stick with you long past the moment where you flip that final page over. The best kind of science fiction isn’t told with lasers and space battles and Death Stars, it’s told with complex characters put in the types of situations that we could very well land in years down the road. On that level, this series has been a major success.

    As to the art, again, Dan McDaid has been kicking ass and taking names from the beginning but there’s on page here that might be the best of the entire series (colorist Ryan Hill deserves his share of credit for his work on the series as well – he’s done a top notch job). Without spoiling how we get there, a bloodied characters look to the sky while this character’s tear heads down. As it does, there are three panels below that go a long way towards explaining how and why it ends the way it does, before that same tear approaches the ground. The way that the writing and the illustrations combine on this single page say so much, it’s striking. The rest of the book looks great too, especially once Mega-City One’s worst come out to play – some great combat and action sequences on these pages – but that page with the tear sticks in your brain, a beautiful illustration of man’s often misguided intentions and the ramifications of actions spurred on by said intentions.

    Where things will go from here obviously we’ve yet to learn, but here’s hoping this isn’t the last Judge Dredd storyline we see from this team. It won’t appease those who want their Dredd to be a simple cookie cutter super cop, but those who appreciate thought provoking sequential art delivered with a social conscience and a whole lot of bad ass style should step right up.