Duane Swierczynski has carried the torch on a title that has a long and storied legacy of some of the best British talent getting their start, or cementing their rep, on. And while his one of the few, if not only, American writers to tackle the character longterm, he’s proven his mettle many times over the last twelve issues. There’s plenty to laugh at here, as the terrifingly deranged, morbidly obese Butter Lady's hideous reserves are shown to actually be a sentient, primordial ooze that has fallen in love with, of all things, Mega-City 1. Dredd convinces the being that its love is in danger and it must release him so that it be saved, and the ooze does more than that. Meanwhile, poor Dannn the many-eyed mutant precog has been blinded in sight, but discovers an all-new, and very, very humorously rendered, way to foretell the future. Out in the wastes, the biting satire of Judge Dredd is somewhat muted, but that’s always been the case and it’s been replaced by making the book bizarre and outlandish while Dredd stays stoic and unfeeling. His lack of reaction to the cavalcade of strangeness that happens around him is the source of a lot of laughter.
Nelson Daniel provides the art on the title, and he does an absolutely fantastic job, as always, at showing the stark, dead land outside of the Mega-Cities and gives us glimpses of the terrible violence that holds sway out there without ever crossing into gratuitous or overly-vicious territory. His characters are well-defined and outlined beautifully and the colors, a place it would be easy to phone it in on given the setting, pop on every panel. The backgrounds, as well, are unique and interesting, never upstaging but always giving a great sense of place.
I feel we’ve been a little TOO long in the Cursed Earth. We left Mega-City 1 in highly dire straits and while we do finally return to it, the resolution leaves more questions than answers in many ways. This felt like an odd detour through the central plot, but one that lasted just a bit longer than it should have.
This book remains one of the best action-comedies on the shelf and this issue does little to derail that reputation. It gives the reader plenty of head-tilting bizarreness that even when it veers a little too far off the trail, it always rights itself in the end AND the trip is always worthwhile. There are a few hiccups along the way, but nothing to seriously hamper the experience.