Judge Dredd: False Witness #1
Justice Academy drop-out Mathias Lincoln has built a comfortable life working as a courier for Mega-City One’s most elite citizens. But after he uncovers a horrific conspiracy stretching from the Cursed Earth to the city’s seats of power, Mathias also finds himself pursued by legendary lawman Judge Dredd!
IDW’s latest Judge Dredd series, False Witness, is here! With a much more grounded story rooted in classic criminal activity in Mega-City One that pulls Dredd himself into the conflict, we see a conspiracy unravel that comes straight from the Cursed Earth. Let’s dig in.
Lincoln may have once been a part of the Justice Academy, but by the time we catch up with him, he’s basically a well-paid criminal courier who has firsthand experience of the chaos that Mega-City One harbors. The job is simple, deliver the package at a specific time to Dr. Galen Filth. The problem is, he attracts the attention of none other than Judge Dredd in the process. This kicks off a high stakes chase that encompasses much of the issue, allowing readers to see the cityscape for themselves and gain insight through Lincoln’s perspective. This is both a good and a bad thing.
From the Scalia Block often referred to as “ass block” to the Huey P. Newton block where the .01% get to live, it’s easy to see that the satire of western rule and the prominence of fascism is firmly at play. But with the story told outside of Dredd’s own perspective as we follow Lincoln, there is a new dynamic that emerges and at least for right now, it feels like it detracts from the harshness of the rule of law that we see so much in Dredd comics. Here, Lincoln is able to escape Dredd and the other Judges and the crime advances into something much more terrible. But is it an exploration of the impacts of a fascist rule or is it a subversion of those very themes? That much remains to be seen.
The artwork is unique, and while some may not be so enthused about the stylistic direction, I definitely appreciate the sci-fi flair it brings. Eve De La Cruz’s colors bring a tone that feels in line with the Dredd aesthetic and Shawn Lee’s letters do their best to guide readers through the rather hectic panels. Is it sometimes too jumbled? Probably so. But this also plays to the nature of the issue itself, mostly being one long chase scene. I’m enjoying the visuals right now though, especially the heavy shadows that seem to follow the Judges around despite being in such a vivid environment. It’s honestly a great look.
My biggest problem with the first issue of False Witness is ultimately the lack of Judge Dredd. He’s mostly reduced to a supporting character that chases Lincoln, the primary focus, around Mega-City One for a while. It’s a cool chase, but I want to see a lot more from the Judges as this mysterious conspiracy continues to unfold. It’s a strong enough first issue to keep me coming back for more and the potential for this story to go somewhere very interesting is there, hopefully it delivers!
Overall, Judge Dredd: False Witness #1 is an interesting new mystery for fans to dive into without having to catch up on dozens of previous issues. You can pick up this first issue and get everything you need out of it, making it especially great for new fans looking to jump in. Let’s just hope it brings enough depth and classic Dredd satire to make it stand out.
Judge Dredd: False Witness #1 is an interesting new mystery for fans to dive into without having to catch up on dozens of previous issues, but it does have some flaws in both it's approach to fascist rule and the use of Dredd as a background character.
Judge Dredd: False Witness #1: Freedom is a State of Mind
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9.5/109.5/10
Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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