• Judge Dredd: The Blessed Earth #2

    Judge Dredd: The Blessed Earth #2
    Released by: IDW Publishing
    Released on: May 31st, 2017.
    Written by: Ulises Farinas, Erick Freitas
    Illustrated by: Daniel Irizarri
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    “Judge Dredd awoke a thousand years in his future to find Mega-City One in ruins and its 800 million citizens gone without a trace. After a long, strange journey, Dredd managed to locate and free them all. And now, ten years later, society continues to pick up the pieces…”

    When we last left Judge Dredd, he was behind the walls of the town of Forsaken with a noose around his neck. He managed to escape but the overall situation hasn’t improved at all. At the nearby outpost, a gang of newly resurrected citizens, formerly of ‘the grass,’ are voicing their displeasure at having been woken up after a perfect thousand year dream to the post-apocalyptic reality they now find themselves in. It isn’t a pretty scene and there are corpses left in their wake. With that taken care of, they head out to intercept the newly operational Mega-Rail system.

    Elsewhere, Quill speaks to a new crew of Judges and cadets about their mission – the secure the latest Mega-Rail extension at Forsaken. They cannot carry lawgivers, which is cause for concern amongst some of them. She tells them they don’t need a gun to be brave and that Dredd won’t be as forgiving as she is – which is probably a fair point. Dredd, however, isn’t in the best of shape. A medical officer updates Quill about his condition. Dredd needs an operation but won’t let them put him under, so they’re proceeding with him awake and he’s basically talking them through all of this. He needs a new skeleton and he’s got roughly a year to find a donor. Quill, understandably concerned, talks to Judge Hershey about it. She reminds Quill how tough Dredd is. He’ll be fine, she tells her.

    Just then, Quill and Hershey are alerted to what happened at the outpost – there’s no formal station out there, it was the location of a science lab. Quill wants to cancel the ceremonies due to this but Hershey refuses. The Mega-Rail will keep going, no matter what gets in its way. Justice Department orders.

    If that weren’t complicated enough, Lolo, in full Judge’s attire, launches a one woman assault on the compound that the former grassers are using to ‘cook’ something. She takes them out but again, they tell her ‘you shouldn’t have woken us up.’ Nobody wants the Judges here, they see them as illegitimate. The train arrives and the new recruits emerge – they’re promptly told off by the people gathered around. At the back of the group stands Dredd, Hershey by his side. He’s on a lot of pain killers but he’s still sharp. The crowd chants, sloganeering from both sides – “Make Mega-City One Great Again! Build that rail!”

    That night, things take a strange turn when a green gas is unleashed inside the city. Dredd orders Lolo to head into the fray and ‘take out the greeners,’ She obliges, the very model of efficiency, only to find out that their next target is the Mega-Rail… causing Dredd to make a very serious judgement call.

    Lots of great action and carnage in this one, but again, there’s a social conscience behind all of this. While the ‘greeners’ are definitely the bad guys we’re at least given a reason to try to understand why they do what they do. The Judges do their collective duty as they always do but this time around they’re dealing not so much with a traditional criminal element as they are a terrorist threat, one that plays towards populism and that stands against the establishment that the populace doesn’t want around anymore. If you take a look at it in comparison to the current political climate in the United States and the U.K., well, it’s not subtle but it is smart, thought provoking and challenging. Farinas and Freitas have never been ones to shy away from using Dredd and his world as a metaphor for our own (and to be fair they’re not the first ones to do this, the series has always had an element of political satire to it) but now more than ever it seems completely fitting to do so. It’s also interesting to see the contrast between the experienced lawman that is Dredd and new recruits like Quill and Lolo. Both of the younger female Judges approach their job from different viewpoints, Quill the humanist who ponders the consequences of her actions and Lolo essentially a killing machine with a badge. It’ll be interesting to see how their actions have consequences in future chapters of this latest series.

    As to the artwork, it’s top notch stuff. Daniel Irizarri’s art style might seem more at home in an underground comic than in a fairly mainstream series like Judge Dredd, but it really works quite well here. The line work has a good amount of detail to it and he really brings his own style and his own look to the series. His style also really fits the post-apocalyptic western tone of the story, while the coloring work from Ryan Hill helps bring it all to life in a big way. All in all, another great installment in a series that continues to challenge its readers while at the same time offering them some seriously wild entertainment.