Review: Brit-Cit Noir TP
While I've read a handful of Judge Dredd stories by particular creators, I've never really dedicated a deep dive to the world. Every once in a while though something pops up that grabs my attention and I mean c'mon, just look at that cover. This is exactly my jam.
This collection pulls together a couple short serialized stories from Judge Dredd Magazine, the first half of the book featuring Strange & Darke: New Blood (originally published in JDM 319-323) and the second half containing the story Storm Warning (published in JDM 361-366). These stories take place in Brit-Cit, the British equivalent of Mega City One from the core Dredd stories.
Strange & Darke knocks it out of the park for me, and if you're a fan of paranormal stories along the lines of Hellboy and the BPRD then you'll probably enjoy it as well. It features Detective Inspector Jericho Strange, the cursed head of the Endangered Species Squad. He welcomes newcomer Psi-Judge Bekky Darke, who suffers from having another mouth on her neck that vocalizes the sub-conscious thoughts of herself and others in proximity. The Endangered Species Squad specializes in occult and arcane cases, attempting to preserve as many supernatural creatures as they can in response to how badly humans have destroyed the world.
Conceptually and tonally I love everything about this story. John Smith's script is tightly paced, giving you everything you need to know briskly so they can set-up the concept of the feature and knock out their first case. Colin MacNeil's artwork is pitch perfect for the characters, infusing the story with the right balance of crime noir, supernatural oddities, and dark comedic overtones.
My only problem is that there's simply not enough of it and I would love to read more.
The second story, Storm Warning: The Relic, follows Judge Lillian Storm as she's dragged into a paranormal case involving a deadly relic. This chunk of the book took a bit before I really got into it, and that's arguably because it started to overlap a bit more with the settings of Strange and Darke as it progressed.
Leah Moore and John Reppion's script starts off feeling like it lacks a little focus but then it course corrects quickly. The main detraction is that Judge Storm doesn't have much character development, and while the same could be said about the characters Strange and Darke they had the benefit of a stronger hook. Storm's main schtick is that she sees dead people, so hey that's something but not quite enough to hang an entire character on at the start of the show.
Tom Foster's artwork is eye catching but honestly bogged down by the coloring. The end of the book features some excerpts from his original art, which in comparison is breathtaking. While it probably wouldn't fly for the regular publication of Judge Dredd Magazine, it would be amazing if they just released his pencil work and leave it at that. Thankfully, his DeviantArt page has most of it up for viewing.
If you're in the mood to take a quick dip in the 2000AD waters for an oddly unique melding of dystopian sci-fi and supernatural fiction then do yourself a favor and hunt this collection down. I can't seem to find any info on if there have been more stories released with these characters, and considering this collection is already four years old that's not a great sign. Might as well enjoy what we can though, and that includes just gazing upon the gorgeous Foster artwork.