Mars Attacks! is a lot of fun, largely because it captures that B-movie vibe in the comic book format. It’s silly, gory, and hell bent on entertaining you at the basest levels. So when IDW decided to team them up with Judge Dredd how could I not get excited? The tricky thing is, B-movies are sometimes so bad they’re just plain bad, so is it good?

Mars Attacks Judge Dredd #1 (IDW Publishing)

I was a huge fan of Mars Attacks: Zombies vs. Robots, partly because it was jam packed with humor and robot on Martian action.

So color me surprised when this issue opens with… gangsters? It appears there is a gangster in Mega-City One who’s getting help from Martians. Luckily we have Dredd to help out with this little issue. The upside to Mars Attacks! Zombies vs. Robots is that it’s a one-shot, which means instant gratification. This issue however, is setting up an elaborate story to sustain a couple of issues.

Knife fight! Where’s Michael Jackson?

Once this oddly complicated plot involving gangsters is ironed out this issue starts to roll. Writer Al Ewing brings Dredd into the streets as he’s trying to figure out why the gangster activity has calmed down. That allows Ewing to show off the humorous and lascivious nature of the city. We get to see Dredd do Dredd things, like beat on dudes, encounter some science fiction things and… yes, take on a Martian.

New meaning to “knocking boots.”

The issue sets out to do a few things, namely to setup a basic outline for how the Martians will be used. Usually they just put boots on the ground and attack, but clearly they’re being used in a more covert way here.

That means less of the all out warfare we’ve been accustomed to with these types of books, but it also means a more complicated story to chew on. Unfortunately this issue doesn’t delve too deeply into why the Martians would ever help some two bit gangsters, and aside from some brief encounters, Dredd doesn’t get beyond realizing something bigger is brewing.

Ewing also closes the book with a giant insect attacking Dredd which seems a bit off. We want Martian vs. Dredd, not some random bug vs. Dredd! Maybe the next issue will reveal why this bug is even part of the story, but from the first issue it seems random and a bit off base.

Is she supposed to be sexy?

The art by John McCrea goes a long way to keep things sketchy and gritty. The world Dredd lives in is grimy and dangerous, which is conveyed well by McCrea’s pencils. There’s also a couple pages that are hyper dramatic, even though they’re quieter exposition scenes, that help set this book as a blockbuster rather than an average action comic.

Martians attack!


  • Has the grit a Dredd comic excels on
  • Hey, we get some nice Dredd on Martian action!
  • Confused by the direction of the series…so far

By issue’s end I’m not sure of the intentions of this series. I know Dredd is facing Martians, but there’s something going on behind the scenes we don’t know about yet. That makes things more interesting, but also less B-movie schlock fun. The identity of these Martians is also odd, as if they are being mind controlled, which might explain why they aren’t doing their typical all out attack on Mega-City One. The art is perfectly suited to Judge Dredd though, and at this point I think if we hang in there this series will deliver.

Is It Good?

Close to great, but definitely good.