REVIEW: Judge Dredd: Toxic #3

JUDGE DREDD: TOXIC #3 / Writer: Paul Jenkins / Artist: Marco Castiello / Letterer : Shawn Lee / Publisher: IDW / January 16th, 2019

It’s always good to know that Judge Dredd continues to annoy the, ahem, right people. Specifically people who think it shouldn’t make fun of the current political situation with all the subtly of a Lawmaker across the skull. Caricatures and all.

Judge Dredd was always explicitly and satirically anti-fascist. D’uh. It’s like the movie Starship Troopers (actually it’s the other way around but never mind). This story, like the best of Dredd, is essentially about how when Dredd adheres to the Law unbendingly, he is a fascist. People die. There’s destruction and he has nothing left to enforce. That’s always been the point.

True, if you’re not paying attention it seems like it is framed as okay when he’s fascist, which is… unfortunate. I mean, again, none of the other satire is subtle. At all. But… whatever.

Okay, so this current story is about a group of symbiotic aliens, nicknamed Blenders, who can bond with people allowing them to survive in the toxic conditions underneath Mega City One. This means said people, Scrubbers, can perform the valuable service of cleaning out the frankly unholy waste produced by a neo-fascist distopian state. Despite being hated by all and sundry for their appearance and lowly jobs, they are all that stands between the city and it drowning in it’s own filth- all thanks to the Blenders.

People find out about said aliens and of course, form anti-alien hate mobs that go after the Scrubbers and people who seem to be sympathising with them. Dredd has to then team up with the alien species, with the help of Anderson and a Judge who I think might not make it to the end of this story, to prevent another toxic over spill that threatens the lives of everyone in the city.

DO YOU GET IT???? IT’S ACTUALLY ABOUT A *TOXIC* CONVERSATION AROUND IMMIGRATION LED BY UNINFORMED ANGRY IGNORANT ASSHOLES!!!! THE TITLE REFERS TO THE PEOPLE’S ATTITUDES NOT JUST THE LITERAL TOXIC WASTE!

Does the lack of subtly annoy me? No. Not at all. It’s part of the enjoyment. Besides, we long ago gave up on subtly. Reality is so wall-punchingly stupid that satire has no place being subtle any more. Everyone and their grandma makes fun of the current President and his neo-fascist goons. At least with Dredd you get the impression he’d happily arrest the president if he thought the man’s ego was a threat to the citizens and collaborating with a hostile foreign power oh wait that’s the Judge Cal saga.

Again, Dredd is meant to be satirical. The problem with a lot of satire in my country is that sometimes it makes the asshole look a little too… cool. Like… I don’t enjoy the way I get on the Judge’s side purely out of aesthetic. It takes story beats and character intervention present in this current arc (which I love but won’t spoil) and in America where Judge Dredd is explicitly the villain. As cool as it is to see Dredd stomping in declaring he is the Law, never forget… he’s still a fascist. You’re meant to look at yourself and see how easily you could find this stuff acceptable.

Part of what’s interesting is that this story- unlike a lot of other allegorical stories about tough issues- actually points out how ingrained the prejudice is and how there’s been long held systems in place that influence people’s gut reaction to outsiders. It’s more District 9 than Bright. This isn’t out of fear or misunderstanding- this is entirely expected from the general population because people are garbage.

Ironically, the only good people are the ones who live in more literal garbage.

(Note to self- never read comment sections or reactions on twitter. EVER.)

Verdict: 4 out of 5

I’m a thirty something British nerd-mum and wannabe author, fueled by tea, poor decision making and a need to be distracted. Cursed to watch favourite characters die and ships sink. Send help.

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