If there’s one place in the universe that the Judges of Mega City One don’t want to lose contact with and control of, it’s Titan. Saturn’s moon is the harsh and unforgiving home of the penal colony where judges are sent to serve a life sentence of hard labour, should they ever forgo their training and turn their finely-honed skills to a life of crime. With it being so far away, a rebellion of the prisoners on Titan would be a spectacularly tricky uprising to quell.
But that’s what happens in this book, in a series of events that rapidly spirals out of control, building horror upon horror and blending various sci-fi sub-genres into a book-spanning epic that you honestly won’t want to put down.
The Judges on Earth are left with few options. Should they send a reconnaissance team to find out what’s going on or just nuke the place and be done with it? Dredd is eventually sent there, of course, by a spectacularly brilliant Chief Judge Hershey – a thin-lipped, no-nonsense ex-cadet of Dredd’s, whose character shines through as a brilliant highlight of this book.
The story nestles nicely in the Dredd timeline, occurring soon after the Day of Chaos and featuring some repercussions and fallout from that series. However, while you don’t need to have read it to enjoy this, anyone with a grounding in the history of Dredd will get extra reward from Rob Williams, who liberally sprinkles references to the pantheon of characters from known Judges-gone-bad on Titan, through contact with the reptilian Kleggs to a visit from the Sov Block judges that brings back memories of The Apocalypse War.
Rob Williams’ plot is a slice of perfection, unraveling with the reader. It’s a slow, brilliantly-timed reveal, playing the reader’s expectations then unceremoniously dumping us somewhere different. We’re in Dredd’s shoes, here, expecting a simple recon mission but under-estimating the potential for vengeance that a hostile moon-full of lunatic ex-Judges might be capable of mustering under the right leadership.
Henry Flint’s art is a perfect accompaniment. His Dredd looks like he’s been hewn from rock, channeling the classic look of Carlos Ezquerra but with more detail, and colours so sophisticated they absorb you into the book. Dredd is put through the grinder in this set of stories, physically and mentally, and Flint’s illustration brings depth and solidity to the plot’s brutality. A sequence where Dredd’s already broken body is pushed through a series of further beatings perfectly blend Flint’s art with Williams’s gut-churning narration – it’s enough to make you believe you might be witnessing Dredd’s last moments.
The action spans several further stories that you’ll get loads more fun from by discovering them yourself, rather than reading about them here. Suffice to say that if you haven’t read this team’s Dredd before, this is a great place to start.