This week sees Mega City-1 fall victim to a retro-virus, a virus that has changed areas of the city into its 1947 counterpart; birthing an all new noir Dredd adventure!
Mega City-1 has been warped into devolution within a matter of seconds turning people, vehicles and buildings into a 1947 version of themselves. Futuristic technologies such as robots seem to have vanished entirely in the blink of an eye. Caught up in the middle of things is our favourite Judge. He is hit by a wave of the retro-virus, turning his helmet into a police hat and the Lawgiver into what looks like a six-shooter. Yes, even his motorcycle gets a “new” look in this one!
As is expected, Dredd needs to solve crime, but this time it is among his own ranks as someone is impersonating an officer in his past life. Our characters are not aware of what is happening and think it is a dream but the retro virus is real and it allows for great noir style storytelling. The entire story is completed within this issue, so if you really want to see Dredd in a new style but with the same feel, this issue is for you.
The art in #13 is great and really suites the style they are going for; panels are dark and inks are heavy. Characters bear great attention to detail as there is no colouring to mask imperfections. What is also great is that you get to see more of Dredd’s face shape. However, the shade of his police hat’s peak keeps up the tradition of keeping our protagonist’s face hidden. The entire trip to 1947 takes place in the rain. The streaks of rain drops further enhance the noir feel and with part of the story being narrated by an unknown female lead. You cannot help but feel that they have represented this genre well; the narrator even smokes knowing that she doesn’t actually smoke in her normal life!
The conclusion though fleeting offers a nice little twist and an explanation of events, making this issue feel more like a One Shot. It is an entertaining read, but the violence has been toned down quite a bit. Although it captures Dredd in a new style, there is nothing really memorable about this issue. There is no special criminal involved; it is more of a day in the life of a 1947 Dredd. So do not expect Dredd to solve this time travelling mystery. He is just hoping along for the ride in this one.
This issue serves its purpose well and that is to show that Dredd is offering something new each issue. These shifts keep this on-going fresh and really leave the reader wondering what the creative team will be offering next. It is not the strongest Dredd story but it gets the job it was meant to do done. Maybe a less fleeting conclusion would have been the better option; instead it could have been spread into 4 issues as it would have been nice to see how Dredd adapts to living in the past with the low level technology that is available to him.