Author: Arthur Wyatt | Illustrator: Henry Flint | Page Count: 36
‘…Mega-City One eats hope alive…’
Underbelly is 2000 AD’s first publication designed specifically for an American audience. That means it’s the size of a typical American comic, which is smaller than either 2000 AD or the Judge Dredd Megazine. Reducing Dredd in size doesn't mean he need also be reduced in stature, but the one-shot story, a sequel set in Mega-City One a year after the Dredd (2012) film that I absolutely adored, fails to capture the power or the authority that the future lawman commands. It resembles a typical 2000 AD single-issue Dredd story; the kind that acts as filler between the more exciting multipart epics. If Rebellion had hoped to use it as a means to encourage more support for a proper film sequel they ought to have commissioned something really special, something unforgettable.
Aesthetically it attempts to capture the look of the film. The Tower of Justice is the same version and Anderson looks a little like Olivia Thirlby if you squint with one eye and wedge a fork in the other. Dredd, however, looks nothing like Karl Urban. All we get to see of the man beneath the suit is the lower half of his face, so it wouldn't have been hard to achieve. I can only assume that the shift towards a style closer to Carlos Ezquerra's Dredd of old was a conscious decision. Perhaps it was to make the transition easier for readers of Underbelly to the existing Judge Dredd books that Rebellion repackaged for the American market?
I'm not going to go into a synopsis of the story, because it’s very short and knowing even the smallest detail before reading will rob it of what little depth it has. I will say, however, that if you missed out on picking it up, either on first print run or as reprint (with different cover art), then don’t feel too disappointed, you can still get it from the official site as a digital DL if you really want it.
2 dead muties out of 5
2000 AD have made an official petition for a film sequel (link below). History has shown that such petitions DO occasionally work, so if you want it to happen you know what to do, creep!