Graphic Novel Reviews

Lawless: Welcome to Badrock

(2017) Dan Abnett & Phil Winslade, 2000AD, £14.99, pbk, ??pp, ISBN 978-1-781-08543-1


43 Rega is a spitball world on the ass-end of nowhere. It has only one claim to fame in the history books. Five years ago the combined forces of Mega-City One fought and stopped thealien Zhind invasion here. The war was out in the planet's mostly uninhabited reaches leaving behind broken scatter military tech, both human and alien.  Since the war 43 Rega's colony townships have been rebuilding. Townships like Badrock. Badrock is 4,000 miles from anywhere and relies on a weekly shuttle run for supplies and Mega-City law to keep it safe. The only judicial lawmen this far out are the marshals and Badrock is bout to get a replacement.

Colonial Marshal Meta Lawson has arrived to replace the previous marshal who is in the town's iso-cube having had a telepathic breakdown: the alien natives are simple but telepathic folk and the former marshal was a psi-judge hence susceptible. Lawson has an aid, an administrative judge clerk called Nerys Pettifer.

Marshal Meta Lawson is just settling in when an accountant sent to check Munce Inc's financial books (Munce effectively owns Badrock) is attacked. Munce, it seems, has something to hide… (And so, we very briefly glimpse, may have Lawson herself.)

Set in the Judge Dredd universe a little after the events of Insurrection (of which you do not need to know anything to appreciate this story), Lawless is effectively a western on an alien world but one that fits in to the Dredd scheme of things very well: fans of Dredd will love it.

Originally serialised in the Judge Dredd Megazine between 2014-2016, and like Insurrection it is a black and white graphic novel. Insurrection seemed to be drawn with a mix of ink and charcoal (not being an artist I really haven't a clue) that suited the blackness of space in that space opera. Conversely, here the artwork appears to be ink with very little dark black background or heavy shading, hence it gives the page a lighter look. The bottom line is that it works.

Book 2 is to follow that will see Munce try to erase Badrock so as to prevent news of its irregularities getting back to earth and its stockholders. But fret not as this Book 1 neatly ends the introductions to Badrock's principal characters and situation, while completing the first encounter with Munce's guns for hire. This is a brilliant Dredd-verse tale with two excellent female lead judges and which so easily taps into a number of western film tropes.

Jonathan Cowie

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