PUBLISHER: PENGUIN AUDIO AND REBELLION PUBLISHING| RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
America is broadly considered to be one of the key stories in the Judge Dredd cannon. The majority of Judge Dredd stories tend to be action-packed adventure tales that tend to sweep the harsh reality of Dredd’s post-apocalyptic fascist world to one side. Instead they tend to focus on one thing to examine and parody. Conversely, America is a meditation on the nature of law and justice and one of the more cerebral Dredd stories, which explains why Penguin Audio and Rebellion Publishing have turned it into a full cast audio book.
Judge Dredd: America eschews the usual tales of reality hopping horrors, weird telepathic children and crazy citizens in favour of a tale about the consequences of power and the cost of justice. In the world of Judge Dredd, the USA is long gone, replaced by places such as Mega City One. The city’s judges are also the jury and executioner and they rule with an iron fist. America explore’s Mega City One’s Democratic movement; a team of men and women who want to subvert the harsh control of the Judges and replace it with something saner.
The pace is both slow and brutal. We don’t meet the titular character, a pro-Democracy advocate called America Jara until we are well into the story. The narrative itself is about as subtle as a tonne of bricks, but at its core, this is a story about how a society governs itself and the sacrifices it’s willing to make. It is a tale that will always be relevant, no matter what is happening in the news today.
It’s a very solid production. Joseph Fiennes puts in a powerful performance as Dredd here, though he’s leaning on the ‘Dirty Harry’ interpretation of the character rather than something gruffer and more heroic. It’s a strong take but it does take a little getting used to. Becca Stewart is brilliant as America and Paterson Joseph’s narration keeps the narrative going throughout.
This is a solid adaptation of a classic Judge Dredd and if you haven’t had a chance to read the comic, this is well worth a listen.