There comes a time when a comic book experience requires a bit of extra effort on the reader’s part. You can’t expect a few punches and exposition to get you all the way through, but need to read carefully to understand the underlying meaning. I had this type of experience with Judge Dredd #2: is it good?
Judge Dredd #2 (IDW Publishing)
Last issue opened with Judge Dredd waking up in an idyllic field very much not Mega-City One. He eventually finds some folks who are outside a building that looks familiar. Guarding the building are some Judge looking robots who use lethal force if anyone tries to get in. Dredd gets in along with some new friends and the world is a very different place.
Why does this book matter?
Judge Dredd in a world where there are no Judges. We aren’t even in the same timeline, which is an exciting take on the character. Usually Dredd has telekinetic backup, plenty of guns and the security of knowing the city inside and out. That’s all gone. It’s just Judge Dredd vs. the chaos that has risen since the law has fallen.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas write a compelling issue as we delve deeper into what makes this world tick. Essentially I think they are writing about what the world would be like if social media became the most important aspect of living and trolling was considered the worst crime in the land. It’s a fun story to decode as it’s not inherently at the surface. Take for instance a moment when the characters don’t believe he’s a real Judge and call him a Trog (essentially a troll in today’s speak). They are told to ignore him, but it makes him incredibly popular among a certain set and “genuine” recreations of his wardrobe go on sale. As Judge Dredd goes further into the rabbit hole of this world the madness of these characters and their world becomes more apparent. Their infatuation with calling people Trogs is interesting because all Judge Dredd wants is to figure out what is going on, but he’s silenced immediately.
Later when Dredd meets a person willing to help him he seems sane enough, but soon begins calling himself a Trog and actually takes pride in it. Like the trolls who love to start wars online he too wants to start a war and soon becomes a real threat to Judge Dredd. Aside from being a fascinating exploration of internet trolls, Judge Dredd #2 is also quite funny and the characters’ madness is reminiscent of many a toxic message board.
These are the worst types.
It’s not all dialogue about trolls though as the story continues with an action sequence that’s filled with gore and surprises. Dredd wants to keep the kids he brought into this city safe, but it’s difficult with a raging trog on his hands!
The art by Dan McDaid continues to be heavy on the inks with a dark and dank look and feel. The world inside this city isn’t spacious nor is it welcoming. It feels poisoned, from the mutated Trog to the trolls’ own lair. At times the book feels almost too claustrophobic, albeit it’s competing with a lot of dialogue on the page, but it never gets in the way and helps sell the concept in play.
It can’t be perfect can it?
If you’re not up for the challenge this book will come off as confusing and slowly paced. Deciphering the point and purpose of Trogs is part of the fun and it’s a bit of a philosophical experience to say the least. That will of course fly over many people’s heads and might just piss off some!
Is It Good?
This is a comic you’ll want to read more than once as it’s the strongest example of science fiction exploring something we live and deal with everyday in a funny and enlightening way.