I thought I knew what was going to happen in The Fall of Deadworld. After all, we’ve seen the end game: Judge Death and his undead cronies wipe all life from his world; develop a way to travel to parallel dimensions; and finally turning up in Judge Dredd’s universe and cause a fair bit of trouble.
However, towards the end of The Fall of Deadworld: Doomed, the main story that takes up about half of this volume, Kek-W and Dave Kendall remind us that these parallel dimensions number in the infinite. What if this isn’t the version of Deadworld that we know from the Dredd comics, but a completely different one?
As if to labour the point (but in a good way), lots of other things that have been lining up start clicking into place. Here we see parallels between Dredd’s world Deadworld, but things happen differently. There’s no Joe Dredd but there is an Ava Eastwood, a woman who fulfils a similar role but also couldn’t be more different. There’s a young girl called Child who seems core to the story (or is she?); a family that goes by the name of Angel; and central to this chapter, an invasion from the Sov Block. It’s like Dredd’s history but different. Maybe this is the same Deadworld we think we know about, or maybe it’s a different one. Suddenly, everything doesn’t seem so cut and dried. Either way, the journey is fraught with death and horror, and is all the more extraordinary for it.
The other half of the book collects a handful of short stories. These fill gaps in the back story, but also disappear into the far future, prophesying what’s to come and hinting at the inevitable apocalypse.
As ever, Dave Kendall’s art is grim and dark. No holds are barred, with violence and gore exploding from the page, and yet still paying second fiddle to the horror of mutation, mutilation and zombification. It’s not for the faint hearted, but it’s a rare treat if you like your comics darker than dark. As you’d hope, Kek-W doesn’t shy from providing the situations his artist needs to exploit this fetid, oozing vein of horror.
So, this third book picks up the pace and the promise that was perhaps a little lost in the second. It grounds the story somewhat in the canon of alternative Dredd universes, showing us something that might have happened, and isn’t necessarily what we think it is. Clever, thought-provoking sci-fi horror with art that takes it to the next level.
Read more of The Dark Judges series: