• Judge Dredd: Under Siege #2

    Judge Dredd: Under Siege #2
    Released by: IDW Publishing
    Released on: July 4th, 2018.
    Written by: Mark Russell
    Illustrated by: Max Dunbar
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    The story so far…

    “Judge Beeny has gone missing while visiting Patrick Swayze Block, and Judge Dredd is ordered to retrieve her—but he soon finds that the block has been overrun by mutants. A small local gang, under the command of an enigmatic man known as “The Mayor,” are the only resistance. Despite his distrust, Dredd knows that an alliance with this band of criminals is the only way to get out alive…”

    When this second issue begins, the mutants have cut the power leaving the Judges and The Mayor’s gang in the dark. When they attack from above, managing to kick through the ceiling above them, a skirmish breaks out in the church while a robotic priest delivers a sermon about how man is the only living creature aware of its own mortality and how for that reason we’re always looking for something to believe in. A well-placed grenade takes care of that and the Judges head down the stairs with their new allies.

    They know they need to figure out a strategy. They’re outnumbered and the mutants keep coming at them from above. The Mayor tells them that level 15, the shopping mall that has been closed for years, will be easier to defend so they head that way and find that there are also functional backup generators there. We flashback then to the time before all of this, when The Mayor wasn’t The Mayor, but simply Gilberto and the mall was still alive, and how business got bad enough that the girl he liked – Tiger, now one of his crew - had to sell a kidney to help her family survive.

    In the present, however, they decide they’re going to need more people and that they’re going to have to go door to door and get anyone willing and able to fight alongside them. Grassroots activism. Dredd sets up defensive positions and strategically placed snipers while more flashbacks fill us in on Tiger and Gilberto’s backstory. And then the mutants come…

    Like the best Judge Dredd stories, this one is quite political. Russell’s story has a pretty serious social conscience to it, working in present day news atrocities like the ICE raids that have been going on across America and the child separation policy that was put into place recently and weaves them into the narrative. It’s not heavy-handed, but it is effective. It sets up Gilberto and Tiger’s motivations quite well and as the flashbacks unfold we get an understanding of why they’d start a gang and why they’d push back against law enforcement the way that they do. The alliance with Dredd and Beeny seems stable enough for now and it’s clear that the pair is learning to see people that they would normally see as perps as just that – people – but will it last once the mutant threat is dealt with? As they fight side by side with these people, once its over with will they still be seen as criminals, as outlaws? Lots of food for thought here, more than enough to ensure we want to come back next issue to see how all of this plays out.

    Max Dunbar’s artwork, nicely colored by Jose Luis Rio, is nicely detailed and has a good sense of movement to it in the action set pieces. Backgrounds are nicely illustrated, especially the scenes that take place in the abandoned mall (they feel a little bit like something out of the original Dawn Of The Dead, they’re very empty but still very much ‘mall’ looking) where little things like signs, billboards and graffiti help to set the mood and reward attentive viewers. Facial expressions do a nice job of conveying emotion and showing how the characters react to the events that they’re put through and there are some interesting camera angles and layouts used here to nice effect.

    All in all, a solid second issue to what has been, so far at least, a genuinely compelling read.