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Judge Dredd: The Blessed Earth Volume 2

    Ian Jane

  • Judge Dredd: The Blessed Earth Volume 2

    Judge Dredd: The Blessed Earth Volume 2
    Released by: IDW Publishing
    Released on: March 7th, 2018.
    Written by: Ulises Farinas, Erick Freitas
    Illustrated by: Jason Copland,
    Daniel Irizarri
    Purchase From Amazon

    “Judge Dredd awoke a thousand years in his future to find Mega-City One in ruins and its 800 million citizens gone without a trace. After a long, strange journey, Dredd managed to locate and free them all. And now, ten years later, society continues to pick up the pieces…”

    In the town of Ironbound, a figure runs down the street only to be shot in the chest by a cloaked Judge Dredd. He drags the body out of the street and throws it into the huge pile of corpses stacked nearby. Two other Judges appear, one of whom is Quill - Dredd didn't request backup, but they're here to investigate the murder of Carol Rossa. Dredd didn't seem to care about this case all that much, until he figured that Rossa's murderer was the same person that stole his bones. He'd like to find the only person that can put his bones back in his body. And then Dredd realizes who the second new Judge is - 'Ya once knew me as Mean, but dat was my pa's way, never mine.' Chief Anderson gave him the badge, Dredd can't argue this.

    As Mean tries to offer Dredd an olive branch, a rogue robot attacks and Mean Machine take him out on Dredd's behalf. He then tells Dredd that given what happened to him as a kid, he knows where the surgeons are. Dredd and Quill are going to stand out, Mean tells them. In order to make their way in, they'll have to wear suits or armor and pose as robots. They agree and make their way in to Sector 01-XX, the red light district, where the human population is less than pleased to see the 'free robots' walking their turf. A scrap starts up, but Mean settles Dredd down before it escalates. They make their way through and Mean leads them into a giant lab, where 'where robots swipe and smuggle their system cores.' They talk to the man at the desk, tell them they want something more 'human' - not cyborg, but a 'full swap.' A skeleton. While Mean does what he can to get Dredd outfitted, Quill pokes around the compound to find what she can find and she comes to the conclusion that someone must be making the goods sold here, these guys aren't just finding this stuff on the black market. When she hacks into the computer and finds a connection to Carol Rossa, well, then she gets caught and it all hits the fan… and then Lola shows up.

    A robot family hides a human baby in their shack. They know they don't have much time - and they don't, because soon enough those men in red hoods - The Neon Knights - kick down the doors ranting about how the Judges are coming to 'trash these bots.' The robot family is shot dead and the gunmen stand there confused and surprised by the presence of 'biosim baby.' They look and act just like us, we're told, but they're not.

    Elsewhere, Quill talks to man in a red hood, he wants the files she has, files that prove Dredd has an artificial skeleton - does this make him a robot? She hands him the files on the condition that once Dredd is dead, she'll get to meet the Grand Master.

    Not too far away, Dredd and Lolo escort a few others through what looks to have once been a robot town. They know that The Neon Knight will shoot Judges on site. They're shot at but make it through to the train tracks to find that the Mega-Train has already left. They might be able to follow it and if they can catch up, get Dredd's bones back. Dredd's more concerned with following orders, however, and his orders are to bring Quill back. Given that Quill is now riding with The Neon Nights, that might be easier said than done, until she decides to quit, she doesn't like their methods. This coincides with Dredd and company's attack. Quill is saved by an unlikely masked hero who takes her back to the Refuge, but then… well, there's mines everywhere. All Quill ever wanted was justice for Carla Rossa - she never thought it would be this complicated!

    Quill's been taken hostage by the Neon Knights. The Grand Master wants her to help them find Rico because he betrayed them. He's the last carrying the R.U.R. virus which he and the others took to use to create their freedom. As this conversation takes place, the Neon Knights arrive at the compound and blast their way through the Judges that stand guard. They've heard of a garden where the Judges 'hide prisoners that could embarrass them' and they intend to use Quill's access to get there. What they don't realize is that Dredd has been watching them from the shadows. He radios HQ and alerts them to the situation and request that they send in the 'big, bad red Judges.'

    They make their way to the door that blocks entrance to the garden, only for Dredd to show up behind them, heavily armed and fairly insane. Those bones in Dredd's body, they're not his, they're causing him to act differently. He then decides to show the Knights what has been hidden from them all this time, taking them into a hidden chamber, arguing with himself along the way, until they find the Grass Program - it wasn't destroyed after all. As Dredd accesses the computer, Quill accuses him of corruption, asking how he out of 800 million people can be the one to decide what is right or wrong.

    Once Dredd unlocks everything, a brawl breaks out - mob rule, as Quill puts it - and when Rico is freed, he takes it upon himself to 'reset' the human race. And then the Red Judges show up.

    Well, you won't see this ending coming. The eighth and final issue of the Blessed Earth storyline ends with a serious bang. It's got everything you could want out of a good Dredd story - biting social commentary, dystopian action aplenty, fantastic character development, noble sacrifice, dark humor, fucked up supporting characters and even some top notch explosions! The story from Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas gives us plenty of food for thought about the role and purpose of law enforcement in modern society, the good and the bad that comes with it and the mindset of those who are involved in it. The result is a pretty heavy story, one that touches on the importance of freedom, the evils of racism and the perils of systematic overreach when it comes to deciding what is right and what is wrong. They have effectively held up a mirror to modern day America, its reflection somehow able to not just show us what we already know is wrong, but also make an entertaining and intelligent story out of it.

    With this finale, Daniel Irizarri delivers the best looking issue of the series to date. There's loads of detail here and his unique style suits the post-apocalyptic western vibe of the story really well. Jason Copland's artwork in the issue that opens this collection is also excellent, while Ryan Hill's coloring work complements the artwork really nicely, heavy on orange and red, bringing the heat of the desert where all this takes place to the page perfectly.

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