The players get closer together and the stakes rise as new twists enter the equation.
Layman does much of what he did in the first issue, keep the Predators in the background, focus on Dredd and tease the Aliens part in the conflict. Unfortunately, much of this was what we got in the previous issue. By this point it’d have been nice to see more action and less set-up.
For instance, most of the excitement in this issue is either in flashbacks, relegated to a single panel or both. There’s a Predalien (of course there is), which I kind of hate anyway but it would’ve been cool to see the Predator it spawned from in its final moments or its terror at what was about to happen. Just seeing a Predalien and a Predator corpse doesn’t add suspense to the story. It happens a lot in this issue where Layman seems to do a lot of narrative maneuvering instead of actual storytelling. We get backstory on the crazy doctor with the spider-face and half of Dredd’s barely named crew get killed or transformed without much investment in who they were. Judge Anderson will give birth to an Xenomorph Queen, because the Doctor knows everything about them. It gets old quickly.
Layman does introduce some kind of Alien/Human hybrid zombie thing and connect this series to a previous story where Dredd fought the Xenomorphs which gives a nice sense of history even ir you’re not familiar with the actual comic it comes from.
Chris Mooneyham continues his gritty style on the page and it works well at establishing the connection of three separate properties into one. Whether its Predators, Judges, Aliens, everything looks authentic and like it all exists in the same universe even though they really don’t. His style marks a good bridge between 2000 AD’s take on Dredd and American sensibilities, respectively juggling drama and action. His storytelling is what keeps Layman’s script from dulling the reader as he gives it whatever tension and vigor he can muster on the given page.
The issues not bad, but its more set-up without much need for it. Did Dredd really need a personal connection to the mad scientist who captured him and his team? Did the Predators have to track and thus conveniently allow for flashbacks how the Judges got captured? It’s a lot to balance and Layman does it better than most would, maybe its fault’a are in the crossover rather than Layman himself. 2/3’s of this title involve suspense which requires patience, which means time invested in the story, whereas Judge Dredd is more of a shoot-em-up. I could do with a little more action, less flashbacks, and the cast contributing more to the story than info-dumps.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent
Disclosure: Publisher Dark Horse provided a review copy of this comic to Nothing But Comics without any payment between the site and publisher or agreement on the review’s content.