Saturday, 8 April 2017

Judge Dredd: Deviations #1 - IDW Publishing

Penned very much in the same vein as “DC Comics” “Elseworlds” series, or “What If?” by “Marvel Worldwide”, this twenty-four page periodical essentially contains “a Judge Dredd story where the always amazing John McCrea asks what Mega City One would be like if its toughest lawman had never recovered from that time he was briefly a werewolf” as depicted in the classic “2000 A.D.” multi-part tale “Cry Of The Werewolf”. In fact, to begin with, “Judge Dredd: Deviations” actually replicates the events of the 1983 narrative by initially duplicating Old Stoney Face’s confrontation with the Undercity’s White Wolf and having the senior lawman defeat his supernatural foe by skewering the albino beast with a piece of metal railing.

It is at this point however, that “Howl Of The Wolf” makes something of a disconcerting detour from its source material. For despite former Judge Prager returning a furry-infected Joseph back to the huge city-state, the comic’s audience quickly discover that medical researcher Cassidy has unfortunately been “killed by one of the beasts” and his curative research has inconveniently been destroyed in a “a drokkin’ mess” of a fire.

Such a supposedly dramatic divergence appears actually somewhat unspectacularly contrived considering that these new developments aren’t even illustrated by the Freelance writer/artist, and therefore rather ungraciously lead to the titular character being strangely sentenced to life imprisonment straightaway by the very the Judges he’d so recently fought alongside during the lycanthrope outbreak; "Okay, keep him locked down… Start looking for a cure again.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dredd doesn’t remain within captivity for long though, thanks to Karl Heinz-Pilchards-In-Tomato-Sauce Clayderman’s performance of “the greatest musical symphony of all time” and inadvertent devastation of the nearby Isolation Cube block with an earthquake. But so opportune a release, the lawman’s ‘unique’ ability to fully marshal his werewolf instincts and subsequent sanction to return to the Cursed Earth as a ‘free agent’, seems arguably far too convenient a storyline for so usually brutal a futuristic comic book series; especially when Chief Judge McGruder knows he’s literally just ripped the Weatherman to pieces in order to silence the citizen’s ability to control the city’s “freak weather conditions”.

To make matters arguably worse, McCrea’s storyline seems to become even more 'surreal' once Prager is reunited with Joe during a fire-fight against a homicidal Robot Army and demands his savage one-time captive purposely bite him so as to similarly infect his immune system. It’s certainly hard to imagine any Judge willingly taking such a drastic risk to become a ‘lawcanthrope of the Undercity’, even if they had “lost a bit of blood” and were ‘out of ammunition.
The regular cover art of "JUDGE DREDD: DEVIATIONS" No. 1 by John McCrea


  1. I purposefully passed on this comic and having read your review, I'm mighty glad I did. I'll stick with my fond memories of the original story and artwork and steer well clear of this turkey.

    1. This wasn't bad in all honesty, Bryan, just a bit too weird for Dredd to be a permanent werewolf. It certainly wasn't the story I thought it was going to be as I bought the "X-Files" variant cover version thinking that it was going to be some sort of 'mash-up' between the two franchises... [Blush].

    2. I must admit I was wondering why Mulder and Scully were on the front cover? So, it was just a cynical marketing ploy. Sorry you got suckered by them.

    3. I'm a bit of a fan boy for variant covers, as so many of these postings show (the cover in the top trio of pictures is always the one I own), so usually check to see just how detached from the contents they are. I didn't on this occasion though and almost ended up buying both covers thinking they were different "Deviations" editions.