¦ Reviews ¦ Dredd
Dredd vs Aliens: Incubus
by Henry Flint
Henry Flint, Chris Blythe
it at Amazon
What to expect:
Judge Dredd takes on a Mega City 1 Alien infestation in this cross-over with
the film franchise
in: 2000AD "Prog 2004" to Prog 1335
Review by Gavin
When first announced, the idea of Dredd vs Aliens seemed like a perfect match.
There have been many Aliens crossovers before including the Predator one (soon
to be a probably dire motion picture) and even some putting the fanged beast up
against Batman and Superman. It was the latter two which ultimately were fairly
unsuccessful attempts mainly because of the heroes' code against killing. This
may well be worthy when all other superheroes are one step away from being vicious
murderers, but frankly it didn't do them much good when being matched with these
merciless killing machines.
has no compunction about dealing out instant justice, and it was this aspect that
made the idea such a good one. Pitting the judges against the Aliens was a no
brainer - all that had to happen was for the final product to be as good as the
first Alien encounter
This is (to my
knowledge) the first time in a long while - if ever - that John Wagner has partnered
up with another writer. I have been less than impressed with the only other work
of Andy Diggle's that I have seen, although his success with The Losers
marks that as one to pick up before I can truly judge him as a writer on his own
merits. As for here - he meshes so well with Wagner that it's very hard indeed
to see the join. Indeed, were it not for Gordon Rennie's admission of his inability
to work as a co-writer, I would suggest that he try this with Wagner, as what
we have here is one of the most action-packed Dredd tales in many a year. The
first half of the story seems to be a perfect example of how to create a "rollercoaster
ride" of a comic strip. It speeds past at a breathless pace that works even
better here than it did in the weekly comic - so much so that you're glad when
there's a short respite in the action once the Alien makes a large hole in the
Mega City tarmac. It's this first half that also makes for one of the best Alien
comics I've ever read, perfectly channeling the spirit of the second movie into
comic book form.
However, once things
slow down, the pace has trouble picking up again. The invasion of the Halls of
Justice doesn't quite have the pace of the initial chase scenes, and as alien
after alien gets mowed down, it even starts to get a tad tedious. The supporting
judge characters are also less than fleshed out, with Sanchez being a particularly
irritating sidekick for Dredd. Much of this can be blamed for the lack of character
building in the first half - and given how enjoyable that was, the loss of this
character wouldn't have been particularly missed. In addition to this, the dispatch
of the Alien Queen and the final victory are both highly disappointing and lacking
the "big finish" that the book needed.
But despite these
complaints, this still ranks as one of the most entertaining Dredd tales in years,
and all the more so for the one factor I haven't mentioned yet - Henry Flint.
gets the upper hand
Flint has been
coming up though the 2000AD ranks for a few years now, and had previously produced
some startlingly original work for Shakara. He's done Dredd too, as part of the
Helter Skelter epic by Garth Ennis, but this was his first major stab at the lawman.
And by god it's a success...
Flint creates some
of the best multi-part Dredd art seen for some time before, and certainly since.
The very fact that he's kept on for the whole series makes for a pleasant change
to the epics which stop and start with different creative teams, and creates a
much more cohesive whole. He seems particularly comfortable in Dredd's world mixing
in an early McMahon style with his own unique take and makes the city itself look
better than it has in years. He's also able to create some wonderful action scenes
and must take a great deal of credit for keeping the first half of the book so
In addition, much
like the writing, this is the best comic Aliens art I've ever seen. Flint says
he was advised to go back to the source for his inspiration, and it shows. While
much other Alien art spends plenty of time on the intricate designs, Flint spends
as much on the layout, pacing and, more than anything else, the visceral horror
of the Aliens. There's plenty of blood and guts on show here, which really harkens
back to the films, and in particular some inventive use of the alien acid blood.
We're never allowed to forget how dangerous these creatures are with lawmen and
Verminators at hand for a number of gruesome deaths. Flint's only real failure
comes with the Alien Queen - apart from an impressive introductory shot, there
isn't enough of her to really show off.
meets his match?
I should also give
much of the art credit to Chris Blythe (who's give an almost unforgivably tiny
side-credit in the book) who produces some of the best computer colour artwork
in the industry today. His work does the job of massively enhancing Flint's work
and it's clear to see why he's such an asset to 2000AD.
Final word must
also go to the book's presentation. The American version may be a bit cheaper,
but this looks 10 times better, with an extremely high quality hardback that puts
you in mind of the old style 2000AD annuals, and for £13.99 is pretty good
So In many respects
Dredd vs Aliens is a success. The concept of the Aliens fits into Dredd's world
with ease, and they even seem less strange than some of Dredd's more outlandish
enemies. The first half may well be much better than the second, but as a whole
it still makes for a highly entertaining read, and a great introduction for someone
who is perhaps not so familiar with Dredd's world. Highly recommended.
Now, how about