Friday, 4 April 2014

‘Judge Dredd: Trifecta’ – Various (Rebellion)

Mega-City One, 2134 AD. Fresh from the devastating events caused by the Chaos virus, Dredd becomes aware of a potential power grab from within the Justice Department. Wally Squad gumshoe Jack Point is given a mysterious doll to safeguard. Dirty Frank wakes up on Luna-1 as a board member of Overdrive, Inc. All three Judges soon find themselves embroiled in the same case in which allegiances and grudges form in equal measure! And who is the mysterious figure who loves his tea and biscuits…?

Where does Mega City One go next after Chaos Day? Where do the writers go come to think of it? The Chaos Bug has laid waste to the largest Mega City on earth and left it a smoking ruin; are there any stories left to be told in the rubble. Yes, yes there are while the Justice Department is still fighting to uphold the law and keep the city together in the face of new threats. One the these new threats plays out over the course of ‘Trifecta’; an ambitious experiment in storytelling that loses its impact a little bit with its transition into this collection.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing read with separate stories gradually coalescing into the one major storyline that they were all along. By themselves, the ‘Judge Dredd’, ‘Simping Detective’ and ‘Lowlife’ stories have a lot going for them with a heady dose of action and intrigue. No-one is safe and no-one can be trusted (in the case of Dirty Frank possibly not even himself, he’s not sure). Take those three intricate, tightly plotted stories and merge them all together, the result is exactly as you would expect – all of the above times three.
‘Trifecta’ is an enthralling read that plays out against an evocatively drawn city on a downward spiral into more chaos. If Dredd didn’t have enough to deal with already he’s also dealing with the knowledge that it was his actions during the Apocalypse War that have left the city in this state and have cost the lives of 350 million citizens. Dredd has been through a lot but Ewing does leave you wondering if this will be the final straw that sees Dredd crack. That one could go either way, it really could.
I’m a little less (ok, a lot less) familiar with Dirty Frank and the Simping Detective but that didn’t stop those two stories being a lot of fun albeit not as engaging. Williams' 'Lowlife' is a little too cartoonish for my tastes but made me chuckle and Spurrier's 'The Simping Detective' is a delicious slice of noir. If I had to pick a favourite artist from those on duty it would have to go to Henry Flint who strikes a perfect balance between spectacle and tone (something that neither of the others quite manage).

I always have an issue with 2000AD stories not transitioning all that well to collections and ‘Trifecta’ is no different. I never read the comics at the time but the concept underpinning the whole thing (three stories actually being one) already feels a little bit worn here, although done very well. I can’t help but imagine how it must have felt in each issue, seeing stories flow into each other for the first time and you’re not going to get that here.

It’s a (very) small niggle though. ‘Trifecta’ remains a gripping read and I’m going to call it as an essential part of the whole ‘Chaos Day’ storyline; fans will love it (they have probably all read it already, I am so behind…)

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