Graphic Novel Reviews

Judge Dredd / Anderson: The Deep End

(2017) Arthur Wyatt et al, Rebellion, £12.99 / Can$24.99 / US$17.99, trdpbk, 96pp, ISBN 978-01-781-08553-0


This graphic novel is a collection of three more-or-less sequential stories based in the universe of the second Judge Dredd film, Dredd (2012), starring Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby as Dredd and Anderson respectively.

I'm not going to repeat the Dredd backstory here: if you know it you know it; if you don't see the link.  Suffice to say that in addition to the weekly Judge Dredd strips in 2000AD and the monthly Judge Dredd Megazine, the Judge Dredd Megazinehas occasionally ran stories based on the 2012 Dredd film.  This film had a somewhat differently uniformed Dredd and the look of Mega City One was less futuristic.  Nonetheless, this film successfully captured the essence of the Dredd character (far, far more than the 1995 Stallone film despite its more faithful uniforms and long-distance vista of Mega City One).  The 2012 film was more accepted by 2000ADfans (Squaxx des Thargo ['fans of Tharg' editor of 2000AD]) not to mention Dredd's writers and 2000AD editors. So what the latter did was to introduce a few stories set in this parallel 2012 Dredd film universe.  This graphic novel, Deep End, is set in that universe.

In the first of the three, full-colour stories, a dust storm sweeps in from the Cursed Earth and the bordering Mega Blocks seal-up and lock down. Yet part of the storm entered one of the blocks. After the storm it transpires that someone was killed in that block; someone who was armed and let off shots before dying.  Judge Dredd and Judge Conti are called to investigate.  The victim has links with criminals and one of these is already in an iso cube (jail) so Dredd and Conti go to talk to her. Both the victim and his criminal associate have had dealings in the Cursed Earth. The criminal is released but Dredd and Conti are keeping an eye on her.  Yet, this did not prevent her also being killed, although Dredd did see the killer who was a robed and dust shrouded person.  Alas, neither Dredd nor Conti could stop the killer escaping and a dust cloud was seen by Mega city Ones perimeter wall judges leaving for the Cursed Earth.  There was only one thing for it: Dredd and Conti were going to have to go out into the Cursed Earth…

The second two stories are Judge Anderson tales.  At the end of the Dredd (2012) film rookie judge, cadet Anderson, passes her field day test with Judge Dredd, and is now beginning life on the streets.  Being a new judge is one thing but Anderson also has telepathic senses and these can confuse as well as assist on the streets. (The radioactive fallout from the war that created the Cursed Earth also created mutants, some of which were telepaths, and the judges created a Psi Division.)

The final short story follows Anderson having her end-of-first-year appraisal.

If you liked the 2012 Dredd film then you'll love these parallel universe stories set in the world of that film.  Let's hope there is a second film and, if there is, Rebellion / 2000AD and The Megazine have provided some source material to draw upon.

Jonathan Cowie

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