Writer: Brandon Easton
Artist: Kei Zama
Colorist: Eva de la Cruz
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Cover Artist: Kei Zama
Editor: Riley Farmer
Publisher: IDW Publishing

You do not have to be a Judge Dredd fan to appreciate Judge Dredd: False Witness #1. You just have to be alive in 2020.

The focus of the first issue of Judge Dredd: False Witness is an “Academy of Law wash-out” who runs through the streets of Mega-City One, angering both xenophobic protesters and “street judges” like Judge Dredd. The vagrant, Mathias Lincoln, comments on the “myth of upward social mobility” and the “tyrannical stink” of characters like Dredd. The true villain, though, seems to be Dr. Filth, a fear-selling, anti-refugee, Infowars-esque TV personality (Yes, his name is Dr. Filth. Maybe a reference to Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row.” Or a not-so-subtle commentary on Filth’s actions. Either way, I like it. Dredd is not subtle; his comics don’t need to be subtle either). At one point, Judge Dredd notes that Filth is walking a “razor-thin line between entertainment and inciting a riot.” Sound familiar, 2020?

Brandon Easton’s writing is packed with exposition and social commentary. This comic feels, at times, like a blend of Rick Remender’s Tokyo Ghost and Warren Ellis’s Transmetropolitan. Dense, politically relevant inner monologues provide a backdrop for fast-moving panels of violence and fear. The exposition-heavy text can feel clunky at times when Judge Dredd: False Witness sacrifices flow for social critique, but most fans will forgive those moments. Judge Dredd is not known for finesse.

The art (Kei Zama), coloring (Eva de la Cruz), and lettering (Shawn Lee) all effectively enhance Easton’s commentary. Zama and de la Cruz fill the wealthy portions of Mega-City with glossy, cool-blue buildings and bull-polished robots. The rest of Mega-City (including the Antonin Scalia Block, AKA “Ass Block”), is filled with litter, bodies, and vibrant, angry color tones. All panels, regardless of setting, feature bold lines and pronounced coloring. Easton’s narrative aims to pack a punch; the artwork does the same.

Fans of Judge Dredd will enjoy this comic because it offers Dredd’s quintessential no-nonsense intensity. New readers will also appreciate Judge Dredd: False Witness #1: it offers a lens through which to see our own world. And it judges our world—harshly.

Judge Dredd: False Witness #1

8.1

Writing

8.0/10

Pacing

7.5/10

Art

8.5/10

Coloring

9.0/10

Social Commentary

7.5/10

Pros

  • The realization that Judge Dredd hates conspiracy theorists too.
  • Tonally brilliant coloring.
  • Well-paced action.
  • First issue sets up a compelling story.
  • Enjoyable for both old and new fans.

Cons

  • Some clunky exposition.
  • Social commentary does not offer anything particularly new.
  • Reads at times like Diet Transmetropolitan.
  • Not much worldbuilding.
  • Some missed opportunities in social commentary.
Ben Boruff
boruffben@gmail.com
High school English teacher. Loves cheesecake, Batman, and ending stigmas surrounding mental illnesses. Has a cat named Roundabout (who was found near a roundabout). See more at BenBoruff.com.

Leave a Reply