COMIC BOOK REVIEW: DREDD: URBAN WARFARE / AUTHOR: ARTHUR WYATT / ARTIST: HENRY FLINT / PUBLISHER: 2000AD / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 10TH
Dredd: Urban Warfare is a return to the world of the 2012 film, three stories that first appeared separately in the Judge Dredd Megazine, now collected for the first time in one smart hardcover volume.
Top of the World, Ma-Ma tells how the movie’s villain began her rise to power. While it’s debatable that the character really needs an origin story, it’s a gripping read that creates sympathy, although it does destroy some of the mystery surrounding her. It also serves as an ideal, if uncomfortable, introduction to the cinematic Dredd; this is 18-certificate stuff that pulls no punches, and as such may be somewhat shocking to those used to the usual Judge Dredd strips.
Dredd himself takes centre stage in the two stories that follow. Underbelly can be read as a searing indictment on the mistreatment of migrant workers, or an action-packed thriller where Dredd finds a new drug threatening the streets of his city. There’s a double-page spread in this story that’s worth the price of the whole volume, a glorious depiction of an assault on a building that will have wide eyes glued to it until they gather dust. Uprise, somehow able to leap over the bar that’s been set so high by its predecessors, is a tale of urban renewal, rebellion and conspiracies, where Dredd is one of precious few decent men within the Judges ranks. It has a Cyberpunk-like atmosphere, portraying an unsettling and believable future that feels around the corner rather than a century ahead.
Dredd: Urban Warfare is a first-class combination of creative talents throughout, one that offers thrills and excitement, along with food for thought. It may be a different Dredd, yet the core values remain the same to satisfy those who’ve been reading about Old Stony Face for years. Similarly, those who enjoyed the film will love this; tonally it’s the same – as it should be – yet there are many subtle tips of the hat to the original Dredd universe that inspired it. There may not be a film sequel just yet, but these writers and artists have certainly set the standard by which it will be judged.
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