Monday, 1 June 2020

Judge Dredd Vs. Aliens: Incubus #3 - Dark Horse Comics

JUDGE DREDD VS. ALIENS: INCUBUS No. 3, May 2003
Arguably consisting of just one long calamitous confrontation between the Grand Hall of Justice’s finest and more Xenomorphs than even James Cameron could crowbar into his 1986 science fiction sequel film “Aliens”, this “Dark Horse Comics” publication surely had its readers in 2003 absolutely spellbound. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine John Wagner and Andy Diggle penning a more pulse-pounding twenty-four page periodical than Issue Three of “Judge Dredd Verses Aliens: Incubus”, especially when it initially appears that Judges Ball and Simpson will need to bravely try to hold off an absolute torrent of the “highly aggressive endoparasitoid extra-terrestrial species” almost single-handedly.

Admittedly, this comic does experience something of a ‘calm before the storm’ moment, as Mega-City One recovers from having a huge crater “eaten away by the creature’s own body fluids” appear at City Bottom, and Packer’s proud Verminators mourn their recent losses courtesy of an unconvincing Resyk funerary ceremony. But Mister Bones and his mutated anti-Judge activists don’t allow such dialogue-heavy discussions to last for too long before blowing a hole straight into the heart of the Justice Department’s headquarters; "The charge is shaped to detonate without damaging the hive around us… And then -- the incubus will rise!”

The resultant battle between Chief Judge Hershey’s heavily outnumbered forces and the Xenomorph XX121 drones really is an incredibly thrilling experience, courtesy of this comic’s collaborative writing partnership intermixing sheer, blood-soaked carnage with moments of humanity every half dozen or so panels. Such a combination of action and emotion, like Charlie Shook refusing to join his Pest Control colleagues when the rest of the team decide to take up arms alongside Joe Dredd, is incredibly enthralling, and genuinely adds an element of fear for the audience when someone they know something about suddenly faces their gory end against the unremitting aggression of the savage extra-terrestrials.

Henry Flint and colorist Chris Blythe should also take a bow for imbuing this book with some truly staggering visuals. Stood shoulder-to-shoulder at the senior lawman’s last stand, each heroic human’s final moments are wonderfully pencilled onto their determined faces. Marinello being dragged down to his death, Butterman’s belly being eaten away by acidic juices, and even Judge Sanchez’s sheer terror at the slaughter around her, are all indelibly burnt into the bibliophile’s brain. Whilst few can surely have stifled a cheer when Giant is pencilled arriving in the nick of time with four gun-toting Mechanismo Droids...
Writers: John Wagner & Andy Diggle, Art: Henry Flint, and Colors: Chris Blythe

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