Saturday, 2 February 2019

Judge Dredd: Toxic #3 - IDW Publishing

JUDGE DREDD: TOXIC No. 3, December 2018
Packed full of more anti-alien extremism, block wars and citizen riots than many within Mega-City One’s metropolis limits can probably handle within the space of a few days, Paul Jenkins’ narrative for Issue Three of “Judge Dredd: Toxic” must certainly have quickened the pace of many readers with its combination of pulse-pounding violence, political machinations and a mammoth sewer-based monster. In fact, apart from a rather word-heavy sequence depicting Cassandra Anderson telepathically connecting with the surviving Blenders, the British screenwriter’s storyline for this twenty-page periodical is pretty much non-stop action; “Pull weapons and stay alert. I have a bad feeling about this place.”

Happily however, this publication’s invigorating tempo doesn’t mean that its plot is simply a series of straightforward set-pieces contrivingly crowbarred together. For whilst the cold-blooded shooting of Mister Pheta literally just before the “so-called body modifier to the stars” reveals the identification of the person behind the extra-terrestrial symbiotes is perhaps a little unoriginal, the subsequent vehicle pursuit through the busy streets of Judge Dredd’s super-sized city-state, complete with a “complimentary guide service” by the taxi’s robot-driver, is as scintillatingly scripted as its witty dialogue is reminiscent of the Johnny Cab ride during Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 American science-fiction action film “Total Recall”.

True, the Prism Award-winner’s decision to include “just a droid called Steven” interviewing the leader of the Anti-Alien League, and a clear stand-in for American President Donald Trump, does arguably seem a little too forced what with Mister Spencer Richards doing little else but spout his distasteful “wear your prejudice as a badge of courage” political nonsense for eleven excruciating propaganda-fuelled panels. Yet even this tongue-in-cheek depiction of the “uncontrolled Nazi sympathizer hearkening back to the dark days of the mid-twentieth century” is quickly overshadowed by the titular character’s claustrophobic excursion down into the Spillover alongside “the most on-point, brown-nosing, hyper-achiever we’ve ever had in the system”, Judge Scammon.

Disconcertingly, what does debatably let this comic down though are Marco Castiello’s breakdowns, which seem to lurch from the somewhat scratchily-sketched Pheta and the rich man's “sanctioned, sprayed or neutered” pets to the artist's much clearer dynamically-drawn depictions of Anderson firing her lawgiver from the roof of a fast-moving taxi car. Indeed, in many ways the apparent inconsistency of this book’s interiors makes it hard to imagine that the Italian was its sole penciller and Vincenzo Acunzo his solitary co-inker.

First published on the "Dawn of Comics" website.'
The regular cover art of "JUDGE DREDD: TOXIC" No. 2 by Mark Buckingham & Chris Blythe

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