This book. This book, this book, THIS. BOOK! I love it so, I really do. Most crossover books (and I mean ones that integrate disparate universes, not company-wide crossovers) require some kind of conceit or winking, nodding “just accept this ludicous-even-by-superhero-standards plot device and have fun”) but not Mars Attacks Judge Dredd. Mars Attacks Judge Dredd just declares, proudly, “yeah, there were aliens on Mars in the Judge Dredd universe...what??” Space travel has never been at the core of Judge Dredd, (there have been a couple of storylines that feature a Space Corps, for instance) so while there may have been a storyline that debunks this notion, it's not a prominent one. Al Ewing continues to have an amazing knack for threading the needle on satire and gut-churning action. The writing in this book is so sharp and so on-point that he even manages to introduce a talking crimelord chimp and make it seem like a part of Dredd’s universe. Judge Anderson makes her presence felt in this issue, finally getting to the bottom of the martians’ plans, but it may be too late to stop them from executing them. I especially love the ongoing theme of the martians' inane, vapid dialog (universal translators, just accept it) and how grossed out they are by the monkey crimelords “weird feet-hands.” Perhaps we’re not so different, they and we.
John McCrea’s art on this issue eclipses his previous work on the series, as far as I’m concerned, and his previous work was VERY good. We finally get some martian-on-Judge violence (though much more vice-versa) and McCrea’s linework is hard edged, yet fluid. The action jumps from panel to panel with a certain messy grace, and a lot of this is due to Jay Fotos’ basic-yet-detailed colors, which are the chocolate to McCrea’s peanut-buttery throwback style. This book looks like it could have come from the the heyday of Judge Dredd, but fits in just perfectly today.
There’s a throwaway reference to “your princess is in another castle.” This little reference stuck in my craw and I might not normally point it out but for the fact that it’s SO out of place in Judge Dredd’s universe. You’re telling me that not only was the Nintendo Entertainment System a thing, but that references to Super Mario Brothers will still be made in this dystopic future of the 22nd century?
There’s an event that happens in this issue that is nothing short of absolutely cataclysmic. I get that stuff like that DOES just “happen” in Judge Dredd (never forget the Apocalypse War!) but it’s always had major consequences. I’m not sure this book is “canon,” but if it is, it’s going to have a MAJOR impact on the main story.
Canon or not, this book is amazing fun. From the 70s VS 50s sci-fi mentality, to the lantern-jawed parody of action movies that Dredd has always excelled at, to the martians hilariously, unexpectedly inane dialog, this book holds a very special place in my heart. For any fan of sci-fi in general, it’s absolutely worth picking up, but for a fan of either title, or both, it’s an absolute must-read.