Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Burn, baby, burn

I won a 2000AD trade in the forum short story competition and was pleased when Inferno turned up as I had not read it before. The main story is by Grant Morrison with gorgeous art from Carlos 'The King' Ezquerra, and lettering by Tom Frame.

And it's an interesting read in the light of the recent Titan story line. Another group of former Judges escape from Titan and head back to the Meg to wreak havoc. Their leader Grice has a personal vendetta to kill Dredd which begs the question as to whether there are any Judges on the prison moon who don't have a score to settle with old Joe.

This story originally ran back in the Prog back in 1993 not long after the events of Necropolis. Dredd looks particularly craggy, although he usually does when drawn by Ezquerra. Chief Judge McGruder doesn't fare very well in this tale, and Hershey turns up and handles things with her usual determined efficiency.

Grice's takeover of Mega-City One and expulsion of the Judges happened far too easily. Once that is done the story does become rather repetitive: Dredd confronts Grice and has plenty of time to just shoot him but doesn't, Grice disarms and overpowers Dredd, but before he can finish him off Dredd escapes, and then it happens again and again until the final showdown.

I'm not a Grant Morrison fan although his All-Star Superman is splendid. Based on this book he doesn't really get Dredd, and doesn't really do anything interesting with him. He clearly wants to make the point about Dredd being a mass murderer because there are two moments when he has no hesitation in pressing a button that dispatches hundreds of people. Makes you wonder why he had so much trouble pulling the trigger whenever he met Grice.

I missed the slowly building menace that John Wagner puts into his stories with such ease. This just felt like a lot of very short episodes on an endless repeat loop as Wile E Coyote fell into that canyon again and again. Still it does have a brief appearance of Walter the Wobot which is always fun.

Ezquerra's art is sublime as ever, it's just a shame that he didn't have a better story to use his talents on. There's a couple of back up stories written by Mark Millar, one of which is drawn by Ron Smith. I may have read something that Millar wrote that I liked but I can't remember anything at the moment and these were just two bits of filler.

Inferno isn't a terrible book, but not one I would heartily recommend. There are much better Dredd stories out there. Although I had some niggles with the recent Titan story by Rob Williams and Henry Flint it was much better than this.

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