Judge Dredd: Toxic #2

6

Fair

Toxic2VCIt’s arguably quite clear, considering the feel and pacing of his script for Issue Two of “Judge Dredd: Toxic”, that writer Paul Jenkins “bought the very first issue” of “2000 A.D.” and subsequently “tore most of my skin off by applying biotronic stickers” from the science fiction anthology comic’s second edition, for whilst the lifetime fan’s storyline focuses upon an all-too real modern-day dilemma involving “the benefits of immigration and the chaos caused by anti-immigrant sentiment”, there is a definite palpable Seventies feel as to how this book’s pulse-pounding proceedings pan out. Indeed, with the exception of a wordy-heavy conversational piece between the titular character and an enraged Citizen Smed, as well as a somewhat sedentary interrogation of “Ol’ Harkie”, the Wizard Fan Award-winner almost relentlessly throws his audience into the thick of the action without seemingly worrying about whether it has any rhyme or reason.

Admittedly, such frantic plot pacing really does make for a roller-coaster of a read when a violent protest at the Spillover, “Mega-City One’s highly toxic sewer system”, suddenly somehow threatens to dissolve large portions of the futuristic metropolis in ultra-carborane acid. But the chemical ‘chain-reaction’ behind this underground-based mass disaster is debatably never properly explained within the narrative, especially as to just how the emergency will cause the conurbation’s population to start permanently breathing toxic air. Luckily however, it does undeniably make for an engrossing experience courtesy of artist Marco Castiello pencilling some terrific, volcanic-looking geysers of flesh-melting gloop erupting throughout the twenty-page periodical and the recruitment of “some of the old Alpha and Delta series janitorial droids to assist in the Spillover while the situation comes under control.”

Judge Joseph Dredd too seems to much more closely resemble the “tough cop” originally envisaged by co-creator Pat Mills than the more ‘heroic’ lawman disconcertingly depicted in contemporary comics. Whether the veteran Street Judge is busy cold-heartedly executing an already “good as dead” perpetrator “observed in the commission of multiple crimes”, chastising his colleague Scammon for recklessly “saving my life” by risking his own and taking a bullet in the arm for his trouble, or firing his lawgiver so as to intimidate citizens who “are violating multiple ordinances, including unruly assembly”, this particular incarnation of “Old Stoney Face” really is as mean as the situation is dire; “A Judge’s duty doesn’t diminish based on circumstance, Anderson. You know that.”

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6

Fair

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For the past forty or so years I have been collecting American comics… To begin with they were predominantly black and white British reprints of “Marvel Comics Group” titles such as “Spider-Man Comics Weekly”, “The Mighty World of Marvel” and “Star Wars Weekly”; all six to ten pence editions I could store away under my bed in a large cardboard box. As a result though I was introduced to the teenage angst of Peter Parker, the discovery of a frozen Captain America by Earth's Mightiest Heroes, witnessed the dreadful rage of Doctor Bruce Banner, and even travelled to a galaxy far far away... Later I would be able to afford actual America colour comic books and supplemented my collection of “Marvel” titles such as “Conan the Barbarian”, “Howard the Duck” and “Captain America” with some “DC Comics” issues of “Batman”, “Green Lantern” and “Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew”. There would even be time for Independent publications such as “Wildcats”, “Spawn” and “The Authority”. These days however I must admit to yearning back to the simpler times of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, back to when both artwork and storylines were straightforward, easy to follow and super-heroes were just starting out on their adventures. A time when no-one had yet to be resurrected from the dead for the fourth time. I've written over seven hundred comic book reviews on my blog over the past few years, with them usually following my latest purchases, all wrapped up in a large brown paper bag, as well as occasional ‘flashbacks’ to some of the classic "Golden Age" issues I already own…

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