Judge Dredd #16
13 Badges, Part 3
Created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Nelson Daniel
Letters by Shawn Lee
Covers by Brendan McCarthy, Inaki Miranda & Eva De La Cruz
Release Date: February 26, 2014
Cover Price: $3.99
So earlier this week I was given a copy of Judge Dredd #16 to review. Being a fairly big fan of Dredd I was extremely excited to make this my first review and not fuck it up. The only problem is that I had already made arrangements to hang out with a friend of mine, Richard. Now, Richard is a fairly swell guy right up until you start talking about politics. Then he loses his proverbial shit”¦ And with Richard”¦ everything comes down to politics. Even comic books. Richard knocks on my door and walks right in as he always does, sits down on my couch, and starts blathering on about something he read on some forum only he and a few dozen of his Libertarian buddies apparently know about. While this is happening, I’m sitting in my cozy chair reading the issue and being fairly well happy about it.
Dredd #15 left us in a rather precarious place. Ol’ Joseph was being held in the Hall of Justice and was being interrogated by Cal’s men. And by interrogated, I mean he was having the living shit beat out of him like he was a uniformed piÃ±ata. So, I’m about 3 pages into the story and really enjoying Nelson Daniel‘s art (he has a superb usage of shadow vs. color to create depth in the panels that’s kind of rare these days) when Richard looks over, sees Dredd, and launches into a tirade about how this comic is a tool by the media conglomerates to desensitize us into accepting the police brutality and surveillance as it is today. If we all accept Dredd‘s future as inevitable then we won’t complain blah blah blah. I think he actually said “Sheeple” at one point. Richard could have gone on for an hour about this, and how it’s unfair that bitcoin isn’t more accepted, and I wouldn’t have given two shits because I was completely enthralled with this story and the fantastic panels on every page.
Reading a Dredd comic there always has to be a balance in the art between the dreary existence of Mega City One and the vibrant color of the neon signs, punks and pools of blood left on the floor after a Judge shows up to remind a citizen what the law is for. All too often artists get into the trap of trying to draw too many details and end up cluttering the page. Daniel has done a great job on finding that balance and using natural shadows to fill in the gaps where they should fall while not obscuring the image to the point of laziness.
Richard continued his rant, finding new ways to tie all manner of crap together to justify his opinion on the comic. His mental gymnastics would have won him a medal in Sochi if anyone in the world actually gave a crap about the conspiracy theories of a guy who may or may not have huffed an entire can of Reddi-Whip minutes before knocking on my door. Again, I really couldn’t have given 2 shits about what he was saying because, in my mind, I was running along side Dredd as he found himself being beaten, tortured and subsequently trying to stop Tarjay from murdering any more Judges! One of the things I love about Dredd is his unwavering dedication to the law and Mega City One, but in this issue Dredd has to make a choice between the law and the life of his friend. A choice you wouldn’t expect Dredd to have to make. He’s usually more calculating and more intelligent about these things, but Anderson is a blind spot for him and has been for as long as I can remember. Duane Swierczynski uses this “weakness” in Dredd to not only remind us of his humanity but also as a plot point that will have repercussions for quite a while. I know people (including myself) have had doubts about this run of Judge Dredd, but this issue solidly points the book in a direction that I think many fans have been wanting to see this book go. 13 Badges has been a refreshing arc and one with consequences none of us saw coming at the onset. Hopefully they take the momentum from this arc and push forward to a level of quality we have come to expect from 2000AD.
So at this point Richard looks over at me and asks “Are you even listening?“ and I calmly look him in the eye and said “Yeah, you were telling me about how Ron Paul wrote those racist newsletters.“ It took me another 45 minutes to get him out the front door.