Review: Judge Dredd #21
“To Live and Die in Deadworld”—Judge Anderson is presumed dead, her body hopelessly transformed into the most mysterious of the new Dark Judges—JUDGE BLANK. But don’t count Anderson out yet. Her consciousness is loose in the vast, cold expanse of Deadworld, and she’s desperately trying to find her way back to Mega-City One. But where she ends up just might be the most frightening place of all…
The battle with the new Dark Judges is over, but the war has just begun. Judge Anderson makes a return of sorts this month in the pages of Judge Dredd #21. The story is written by Duane Swierczynski with art from Shane Pierce. Shawn Lee rounds things out with lettering. The American Way of Death went out on an odd note, but does this new arc get some momentum back?
Judge Anderson was shot in the head by Tarjay and left for dead. It turns out Dredd’s psychic sidekick is a little too tough to let something like a bullet to the head take her out. Turning her focus inward and concentrating her psychic energies on the undamaged portions of her brain, Anderson was able to hold on. Waking up in a weird room hooked up to unseen machines, Anderson witnesses the rebirth of the Dark Judges and the additional members of their ranks. Finding herself threatened in her own mind, Anderson has to pull out all the stops if she hopes to hang on to her mind and send Dredd a warning. She’s powerful, but is she that powerful? Where is this no-where world in which she has found herself?
Swierczynski writes a solid issue that fills in some of the gaps from the previous arc. We get to see a little more of the Dark Judges and how they came into being thanks to Tarjay’s plan. Anderson plays a much more important part in things than we thought, and it seems she’s not done with Dredd just yet. While the Dark Judges are being held thanks to Dredd’s friend from the Cursed Earth, it seems they might still be a threat. Pierce has some absolutely stunning painted artwork for the story as well. The Dark Judges have never looked scarier and more dangerous than when they emerge in the first half of the comic. This story takes place in a strange world and on the psychic plain, and Pierce’s illustrations give it an odd, otherworldly look that is equal parts unsettling and absolutely gorgeous. Of course the Dark Judges offer a splash of color thanks to flames and the like, but this is mainly a darker and grimier story that is served well by the painted style.
Bottom Line: Judge Dredd #21 offers up a story that answers a few questions from last month and does it in incredible style. Pierce’s Judge Death is worth the price of admission alone. Hopefully we see a lot more of the Dark Judges and Pierce bringing their nefarious adventures to life. 4.5/5
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