Written by, Paul Jenkins
Art by, Marco Castiello
Assistant inker, Vincenzo Acunzo
Colors by, Jason Millet
Letters by, Shawn Lee
(Spoilers) The story begins, Judge Dredd protects law and order in “Mega-City One” where crime is rampant, in part, due to its location. Mega-City One is built on a toxic dump making it a metaphorical toilet bowl of crime, stupidity, and greed. The Judges are the only thing preventing chaos and “the end of the world.” However, outside of Mega-City One is even worse, referred to as “cursed earth” because it is barren and practically uninhabitable. The worst place to live is the toxic waste dump underneath the city called “The Spillover.” The Scrubbers, a group of citizens who willingly submitted to genetic modification to help them withstand the toxins, clean “The Spillover”. The city produces 800 million tons of poisonous waste each year, which is disposed into The Spillover. Interestingly, The Scrubbers suffer physical mutations as consequence for their genetic reconstruction, which makes them isolated from the rest of society, and overlooked.
The story takes a turn when Clifton Chud’s body, previously a 33-year-old Scrubber, is found and analyzed revealing that his internal organs and bodily functions were operating at double the capacity due to a symbiote he had been hosting. Further investigation reveals that the symbiote is an alien species leading Judge Dredd to investigate. However, it quickly appears that the alien symbiote provides a benefit to the hosts, which complicates the issue for the Scrubbers who want the aliens to be granted immunity from Judge Dredd. The host benefits with increased health and the symbiote become more complex and have a place to live since their home planet has been destroyed.
The Scrubber – Symbiote relationship leads to an on-the-nose but still interesting narrative about the rights of Scrubbers, the rights of aliens, and the dynamic between the two and how each provide a benefit to the rest of Mega-City One. As would be expected, some citizens are displeased with the symbiote presence in Mega-City One. Dredd believes it is illegal for aliens to be allowed to be cohabitants of the city. A loud Trump look-alike believes the same. However, another judge and others point out the great benefits of the aliens; they’ve enhanced their hosts allowing them to do a lot of dirty work in the city. The story is interesting and well-paced. Judge Dredd is not the central figure, but rather a player in a complex debate which is both socially relevant and compelling. My one complaint is that that story is too on-the-nose at points; however, the display of compassion on the part of one judge and The Scrubbers pulls the story out of any pitfalls. I highly recommend this book for people who love this character and who are hungry for a new story told from a unique angle.