Reviewing ‘Judge Dredd: Regicide’: The Perfect Judge Dredd Does Bond Adventure?
by Richard Bruton
Judge Dredd: Regicide is one of those truly great Dredds of the modern age, full of high stakes, full of great characters, gloriously villainous villains, exotic locales, and a hell of a lot of action. It really does have that globetrotting espionage feel to it, very much Dredd does Bond… just better.
Arthur Wyatt, Rob Williams, and Jake Lynch ( providing some of the best art of his career) have created a volume that you need in your collection today if you want to experience the very best of Dredd.
It’s Judge Dredd and Judge Maitland against the might of the Euro-Crime Syndicate of La Reine Rouge, giving us an absolutely cracking modern Dredd in Regicide.
The collection of Regicide pulls together a series of interconnected Dredds from 2019 through 2022 across both 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine, all coming out of Arthur Wyatt and Rob Williams‘ fascinating development of Accounts Judge Maitland and her dogged pursuit of Justice by the numbers.
Although created by Al Ewing and artist Nick Dyer back in 2012’s ‘The Bean Counter’ (Prog 1790), Wyatt and Williams have made her increasingly important in Dredd’s inner circle, appearing in the storylines ‘Trifecta’, ‘Titan’, ‘Enceladus’, ‘Control’, ‘The Small House’, before making her most vital and transformative role in ‘Carry The Nine’ (Progs 2200-2203) where Maitland’s number crunching turned into a model that proved to her (in theory) that crime could be practically wiped out in Mega-City One with a radical reform of Justice Department policy focussing on welfare and education. The impact of that idea is still reverberating around the higher-ups of the Justice Department, with at least some movement coming in Prog #2302’s ‘The Pitch’.
Simply put, Maitland as written by Wyatt and Williams is an incredible character with a huge role to play in their future storylines.
All of which brings us to Regicide and what turns out to be one of the most enjoyable Dredd sagas for quite a few years.
With typically dogged persistence, Maitland’s been going heavy on the Euro Crime Syndicate of La Reine Rouge (The Red Queen), getting closer and closer to a very dangerous target – something that’s marked her out as a real thorn in the side of a ruthless organisation.
As part of Maitland’s pursuit of the Red Queen, Dredd played a role in shutting down the Krong Island operation run by Serpico, the uplift brother of Harry Heston. But whilst he was doing that, Dredd discovered that Serpico was being assisted by Orlok the Assassin, a key player in the lead-up to the Apocalypse War.
Except, seeing as Orlok’s dead, this one has to be a clone – a clone created by The Red Queen, but when you have the technology, why stop with just one Orlok clone?
The opening tale here, ‘The Red Prince‘, sets the tone perfectly for this one, a thoroughly entertaining game of cat and mouse between Dredd and the Orlok clone, with the Red Queen’s favourite assassin running rampant in Mega-City One… something that’s really beginning to annoy Dredd. And that’s before they put it all together and realise that the Red Prince is a clone of Orlok.
Meanwhile, Maitland’s been connecting the dots on the Euro-City Crime Syndicates and her investigations into their financial activities. She’s uncovered that the Red Queen is now the de facto ruler of the combined syndicates, going so far as organising to become a legitimate world power through the use of puppet states. Add in what Dredd’s found out on her right-hand man being an Orlok clone and they’ve got every reason to be getting involved.
From here, it all kicks off. Espionage, infiltration, action, exotic locales, and suddenly, as Dredd and Maitland head off to the Mediterranean Free State where the Red Queen is planning her next move and where Maitland and Dredd plan to extract one of the MFS’s chief accountants, it all clicks into place – this is Dredd doing Bond, and doing it quite magnificently, with Williams, Wyatt, and Lynch crafting a hugely entertaining, absolutely non-stop, totally rip-roaring thing.
As the stories go by, the stakes get higher and higher, much to our enjoyment, with the Red Queen always slipping through Maitland and Dredd’s clutches, just like the grande Bond villain she really has become. And with Wyatt and Lynch moving all of their pieces around the board so wonderfully well, this really does become the classic Dredd epic for modern times.
Rob Williams joins the party as co-writer with Wyatt on ‘The Hard Way‘, as the Red Queen ups the stakes and brings in a team of assassins just to get rid of Maitland, who’s really beginning to get on her nerves by now.
With a team of freaks and weirdos on her trail, Maitland heads to talks with Brit-Cit over a Mechanismo deal and ends up with Dredd taking on the assassin team in Atlantis, the mid-station of the Trans-Atlantic tunnel between Mega-City and Brit-Cit.
An outrageous, over the top thriller, pretty much action all the way, ‘The Hard Way’ is classic Dredd, Wyatt and Williams writing characters that could have been ripped from early Wagner’s stories, ridiculous yet deadly.
But the end of ‘The Hard Way’ is merely the pause, as we’re getting to the endgame of all this, with Maitland more determined than ever to take the Red Queen and her organisation down.
So it’s on to ‘Q-Topia‘ and then to ‘Regicide’, an unstoppable thrill right to the very end as Maitland and Dredd come up against the Red Queen and a whole clone army of Orloks.
When it ends, it’s a thoroughly satisfying end, for the reader and for the characters. And it’s also one that we’ll obviously see Williams, Wyatt, and Lynch build on in their future Dredds – and future tales involving Maitland – something that I cannot wait for.
And then there’s the art, oh the art. The entire thing, bar a single episode, ‘Q-Topia‘ , is drawn by Jake Lynch and having that consistency of artist really does add to the overall sense of it all being one huge, interconnected thing. It also helps, of course, that Lynch is one of the very best of a strong crop of regular Dredd artists, with a confidence and style that belies his relative inexperience.
Seriously, just look at this panel and the cleverness and confidence of the artist to attempt (and manage) to pull it off…
His style is unmistakably influenced by the genius that is Mick MacMahon but also has developed so wonderfully in its own right.
There’s a delightful angularity to his art that makes his artwork immediately recognisable, but it’s a stylistic thing that never gets in the way of him telling a great, great story, panels and pages that flow easily and read so well – particularly important here where we have such a wide variety of storytelling styles, whether it’s cat and mouse espionage where it’s all about establishing tension, talking heads dominating in the diplomatic moments throughout the book, to the all out action of ‘The Hard Way’, whatever it is Lynch has absolutely nailed it all here.
In the end, Judge Dredd: Regicide is just one of those truly great Dredds, punchy, full of great characters, a series of wonderfully OTT villains, smart storytelling, and action that just keeps going and going. It’s every bit a classic Dredd, the epitome of how great the character can be, and just how huge the scale of the stakes in Dredd’s world can be.
Because it was broken up across four years in the comics it rather came together quite slowly, but having it all together in this collection just underlines the fact that this is one of those that should really be considered up there in the rarified air of the very best of the modern Dredd epics and one that you need in your collection today.
JUDGE DREDD: REGICIDE – written by Arthur Wyatt and Rob Williams, art by Jake Lynch and Ian Richardson.
Released by 2000 AD/Rebellion on Tuesday 14th March 2023
Originally serialised in 2000 AD Progs 2250-2255 and Judge Dredd Megazine issues 404, 409-412, 423, 445-446
Contains the storylines…
‘Red Prince Diaries’ – Judge Dredd Megazine 404 – by Arthur Wyatt and Jake Lynch, colours by John Charles, letters by Annie Parkhouse
‘Red Queen’s Gambit’ – Judge Dredd Megazine 409-410 – by Arthur Wyatt and Jake Lynch, colours by John Charles, letters by Annie Parkhouse
‘Grand Theft Royale’ – Judge Dredd Megazine 423 – by Arthur Wyatt and Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Annie Parkhouse
‘The Hard Way’ – 2000 AD Progs 2250-2255 – by Rob Williams, Arthur Wyatt, and Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Annie Parkhouse
‘Q-Topia’ – Judge Dredd Megazine 444 – by Arthur Wyatt and Ian Richardson, colours by Gary Caldwell, letters by Annie Parkhouse
‘Regicide’ – Judge Dredd Megazine 445-446 – by Arthur Wyatt and Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Annie Parkhouse