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BOOK REVIEW – WAGNER, JOHN & GRANT, and ALAN – JUDGE DREDD – THE JUDGE CHILD QUEST. 2000 AD-TITAN BOOKS 2004. 

            An epic scale Graphic novel adventure for Judge Dredd.  A dying Judge has a powerful psychic vision of the destruction of Mega City One (Which now covers the whole Eastern Seaboard of the USA) in about ten years time, and sees the only hope of stopping it being a young child with an eagle shaped birthmark on his scalp. Dredd learns the child’s name, and slave traders from the radioactive wastelands outside mega City One abducted that he. Dredd seeks the child, but finds that he is always one step behind him, having to deal with other issues further delays his pursuit. Dredd gets himself sold into slavery when he learns that the boy has been bought by a cult called the Brotherhood Of Trash, who worship, buy and sell rubbish on an old garbage tip. Their leader wears a coat made of ring pulls from tins, and has a pan stuck on his head. Dredd lets himself get sold as a slave to the cult, (unconvincingly being allowed to keep his weapons) but as he kills the cult leader, other members abscond with the child, and take off into outer space. They seethe boy as a powerful economic weapon, and seek to sell him to the highest bidder.

            Dredd, with other Judges, embarks on an expensive and unpopular rescue mission, seeking the boy on every inhabitable planet in the galaxy, facing many bizarre and well-imagined adventures on the way. Strange necromancers, who tell him that the boy could only be found through a powerful hallucegenic drug, attack him. Dredd makes another Judge take the drug, and gets essential clues and information from him, even though the man dies from its effects. Dredd also meets a man who is literally falling apart, vanishing piece by piece with an illness called Jigsaw Disease.

            As he goes, Dredd realises that the men he kills have received warnings and prophesies of their deaths from the Judge Child. Dredd becomes aware that the boy isn’t prophesising events – he is making them happen. Dredd finally reaches the child when kills his abductors, the Angel Gang, and their extraordinary Mean Machine character, who can set his rage higher with a dial on his head. Dredd does not however take the boy home, but leaves him with another alien race that wanted him for their own purposes. He considers the child too dangerous to rescue. His six-month expensive wild goose chase comes close to costing him his job. Thoughtful, action packed and highly inventive, and often very funny, such as in the war between two apartment blocks on opposing sides of a street, with the Rita Tushingham block declaring war on one named after Ernest Borgnine. This is Dredd at his very best.

 

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