(2011) Dan Abnett and Colin MacNeil, £13.99, Rebellion, trdpbk, ??pp, ISBN 978-1-907-99249-0
This graphic novel is set in the Judge Dredd universe but does not feature Dredd himself. Instead it is set off-world on a mining colony supervised by Judges that supplies Mega City 1 with raw materials.
All well and good but then the colony is attacked by invading aliens. The colony would have been lost, as Mega City 1 did not send any military aid, were it not for the uplifted apes and muties (mutants) in the colony taking up arms in support of the defending Judges. In return the colony's uplifts were granted citizen status. However once the aliens were repulsed, Mega City 1 demanded that the uplifts and muties have their citizen status revoked. The colony's Judges see that this clearly is not fair, especially as the colony would have otherwise been lost, and so they refuse and support the uplifts' cause. This is tantamount to treason as far as Mega City 21 is concerned and they send in a special Judicial Squad of militarised Judges to restore the status quo. The result is Judge-on-Judge war…
This graphic collection contains the diptych story Insurrection I and Insurrection II, both of which were originally published in the monthly Judge Dredd Megazine 2009 and 2011. Of note is the black and white artwork by Colin MacNeil. (Half the stories in the Megazine these days (2012) are black and white whereas nearly all the stories in the weekly 2000AD are in full colour.) MacNeil's artwork, it must be said, is striking and a masterful use of pencil. This (other than the absence of Dredd himself) adds to the strip's uniqueness.
The end of Dan Abnett's Insurrection II story arc is brilliant. Leaving aside that it leaves it open for further Insurrection stories (albeit relocated), it does in the final pages explain why Mega City 1 did not come to the aid of the colony in its hour of need. What we also have is the one place in the Dredd universe where socialist (left of centre) ideals rule.
Now if 2000AD's Tharg (editor) has any sense then a good old get together with Dan Abnett and John Wagner (Dredd's co-creator) to try to sort out what this means for Dredd. Judge Dredd we know has been harbouring some concerns about the way the Judges rule and even the Judge system although he appreciates that it is the best option for Mega City 1 albeit a flawed one. So what would he think of the events of Insurrection if ever he came across them: and given his proximity to the Council of Five, across them he is likely to come.
And then there is also the back story about the Justice Department's military Special Judicial Squad. All-in-all there is much material here with which to work enriching the oeuvre of the Dredd universe.
Colin MacNeil's stylish Insurrection artwork is also something I would like to see more on in Insurrection's follow-ups. Having said that, any spin-off stories involving Dredd or the Special Judicial Squad's background I would like to see in full colour as well as drawn by some of Dredd's other established artists.
In short Insurrection is more than just a worthy addition to conventional Judge/Mega City stories and could, if nurtured, give rise to great things. Though not the place for newcomers to Judge Dredd to start, this is most certainly recommended for all Dredd and 2000AD fans. Splundig.
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