REVIEW: Dredd: Urban Warfare (Hardcover)

Stories: Arthur Wyatt and Matt Smith
Art: Henry Flint and Paul Davidson
Letters: Simon Bowland and Ellie De Ville
Colors: Chris Blythe
Publisher: 2000AD
Release Date: February 10, 2015

Fans of the new(ish) Dredd reboot almost immediately began campaigning for a sequel to the 2012 film following its warm, if financially modest, reception. So far, and to the dismay of many a fanboy, no such sequel is in the works. Well, not a big screen adaptation, anyway; Dredd: Urban Warfare further chronicles the Karl Urban version of the character in a hardcover anthology.

As a refresher, the creative team over at 2000AD decided to give fans an official prequel to the film, a look at Madeline Madrigal’s origin. In a story titled “Top of the World, Ma-Ma” we get to see just how the cold-hearted druglord came to rule the Peachtree block. What follows are two unrelated, but equally exciting tales about the seedy underworld and corruption of Mega-City One, “Underbelly” and “Uprise”.

The artwork is dark and shadowy, fitting for a modern rendering of a dystopian future. Even though I’m pretty sure the panels were laid out and completed on a computer, you still get the pen and ink feel from most of the scenes. It’s an interesting mix of old style and new technology.

I feel like the updated Dredd more closely resembles Wagner’s original concept than the 1995 Stallone version. While that film is still somewhat nostalgic for me, it strayed from the original source material in some significant ways (they showed Dredd’s FACE!).

The impartiality of the Judges really comes through here, though, and there is no attempt to humanize the most famous member of the Justice Department. For any other character that would be a beef I’d have a hard time chewing, but it communicates the theme that “justice has no soul”.

After reading these stories, I’m having a hard time understanding why this franchise is meeting with such resistance from movie makers. It seems to have everything Hollywood would want in an action title—big guns, big explosions, friggin’ riot robots—so I suspect it’s only a matter of time until we see it in either a feature film or, better yet, a TV or internet series.

By: A.C.

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