The penal colony on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, has long been a part of 2000 AD’s Judge Dredd world, having first appeared back in 1977 when Dredd’s criminal brother Rico finished his term and came back for revenge. More recently, the prison played a prominent role in a run of stories written by Rob Williams, with art by Henry Flint, which are now collected in this new volume.
In the title story, Titan, Dredd is sent to the colony to deal with a breakout led by former Wally Squad judge Aimee Nixon. This is followed by Fit, a one-shot exploring Dredd’s increasingly erratic behaviour as a result of injuries sustained during the Titan mission. Then there’s Enceladus: New Life and Enceladus: Old Life, a sci-fi horror epic in which the escaped prisoners, having ended up on the icy moon of Enceladus and subsequently been possessed by an alien force, return to attack Mega-City One. Finally, there’s Melt, a Christmas one-off only thematically linked to the rest; it’s a take on classic animation The Snowman, except in typically brutal 2000 AD style – amusingly subversive!
It’s an exciting collection of stories, and Williams deftly brings in characters and plot threads from past Dredd strips, such as Nixon’s grudge against Dirty Frank, without relying too heavily on them, making this suitable for hardened fans and new readers alike. What really sets this apart from the typical Dredd story, though, is the focus on his increasing age – the character has been appearing in 2000 AD since 1977 and, unlike many other comic book characters, has been aging at the same rate as the publication. Throughout this volume, younger Judges call out his age, he makes mistakes, gets seriously beaten up, and his competence is called into question – an intriguing development which hints at major changes to come for Old Stony Face.
But don’t start thinking this is a Last of the Summer Wine comic just yet – Dredd’s days as the Big Meg’s toughest Judge aren’t over, and Flint’s artwork lends a cinematic touch to the action-packed story that plays out. There’s a heart-pounding freefall sequence, a horror-inflected infiltration of the prison, and a truly epic finale as the alien force attacks – a complex action sequence handled expertly to maximum effect.
Titan is a very impressive Judge Dredd volume, a thrilling sci-fi adventure with a layer of character development that makes it an important addition to any fan’s bookshelf. The question now is – how long can it be before Dredd trades in his Lawgiver and helmet for a pipe and slippers?
JUDGE DREDD – TITAN / AUTHOR: ROB WILLIAMS / ARTIST: HENRY FLINT / PUBLISHER: REBELLION / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 16TH