Judge Dredd: Underbelly – The Sequel We Never Got

Judge Dredd: Underbelly

 

It’s been a few years since the world witnessed the grimacing mug of Judge Dredd. After the wonderfully executed, but poorly attended Dredd movie in 2012, the man who makes the claim, “I am the law” has remained silent. This month 2000AD, the home of Judge Dredd since the late seventies, is releasing Underbelly, a one-shot that picks up where Dredd the film left off.

Mega-City 1 has a mutant problem. The illegals, those with deformities or special powers brought on by the fall of the old world, are sneaking into the city to try and make a better life. Problem is, those who have brought the mutants in are looking to turn them into prostitutes, drug dealers, slave labor and worse. While the mutants are in Mega-City illegally, those exploiting them are committing an even more heinous crime.

Dredd: Underbelly reunites Anderson, the psychic rookie from the film, and Dredd. They still see things very differently. Dredd is still black and white about the law, while Anderson has empathy and attempts to read the shades of grey. When a large number of mutant bodies are discovered, the two team up to find the killers. Along the way, they discover a new drug, Psych, which is taking the place of Slo-Mo, and a nasty group of dealers using mutants as guinea pigs. In the end, the dealers are no match for the Judges, who continue dispensing justice with extreme prejudice.

Regardless of the story, which is pretty standard Judge Dredd material, it’s nice to see a return to form for the world’s most violent cop. Writer Arthur Wyatt takes some cues from the older comic series, but keeps most of what he’s doing within the scope of the film. Nothing here is world ending – it’s all within the scope of a single crime within a single city. The violence is over-the-top, though not as graphic as the film. The end also leaves the Judge Dredd world open for further exploration. Hopefully, a new monthly will be right around the corner.

Artist Henry Flint brings Judge Dredd and his world to life. His work is rough around the ages, but has a visceral charm that works with Dredd. The lines are thick, as are the inks, which helps give each panel a weighty definition. Flint’s action is right on, as is the tension of the panels. I do wish the violence had been more in your face, something I’ve come to expect in Judge Dredd comics.

Judge Dredd is back, and oh yes, there is going to be trouble

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(3.5 Story, 3.5 Art)