Judge Dredd – Under Siege #4 asks the important questions. The questions we all want answered. The first is from Tiger, the Mayor’s second in command:
Dredd: I don’t take things personally. I am the law.
Tiger: What does that mean exactly?
Dredd: Well for one thing, it means I’m here defending people who just tried to kill me.
This is the core of Dredd’s character, the one thing that has never changed in all his many decades on the page and on the screen. That unwavering dedication to the law, to the city and to its citizens. Even if they have just tried to kill him, his duty is to protect them at any cost and he will defend them until his dying breath.
We know Dredd is, by many measures, not a hero. He jails people, executes them, stamps out any dissent, but at the same time there is something noble in his single-minded pursuit of Justice. Dredd rarely wrestles with moral quandaries, content in his belief that what he does is in defence of the Law, which makes it all the more interesting when we have a writer brave enough to delve into Dredd’s motivations in more depth. That’s when we get stories like “America” and “Tale of the Dead Man”.
Returning to Under Siege, the second question is from the Mayor:
“So… you just come up with puns while people are trying to kill you?”
The Mayor has obviously never watched any James Bond movies.
Under Siege #4 brings the story to a close with Dredd the last Judge standing, the wounded Beeny evacuated on Dredd’s Lawmaster. Fighting with him while the rest of the block descends into chaos are the Mayor and Tiger, the other residents turning on each other, some convinced they need to kill the Judges to save their families while others believe the Judges are their last chance. The story moves briskly along as our trio mount a frontal assault on the block’s control centre and the motives of Tallyrand, leader of the mutants, finally become clear. He doesn’t want to destroy Mega-City One, not at all. He wants to live there, and he’s going to make that happen through the use of a dirty bomb, forcing the city to finally accept mutants by ensuring that the entire city is irradiated as well.
It’s a surprisingly elegant and somewhat poignant plan. Of course, it’s up to Dredd to ensure it never happens. The story culminates with a pile of bodies and an ending reminiscent of Leon’s final moments from The Professional.
Despite the obvious comparisons to The Raid and Karl Urban’s Dredd, Under Siege is a tight little story with plenty of action and snappy dialogue. It’s a self-contained story and a great jumping-on point for anyone who isn’t familiar with the world of Judge Dredd. The characters are clearly defined, the setting explained just enough to give you a grounding in the universe and the storyline needing no real familiarity with the rest of the Dredd canon.