(Before I start the review, just a quick note to address a certain point.  A lot has been said about Insurrection feeling closer to a Warhammer strip, than a strip set in the Judge Dredd universe. As I know absolutely nothing about Warhammer I shall not be mentioning it again in the review.)

The Justice Department of Dredd’s world has always been a shade of grey, they are supposed to be the heroes of any given strip they appear in, but often we are made to feel sympathy for the supposed lawbreakers due to the almost fascistic tendencies of the Judicial system. With that in mind it’s amazing that it took quite this long for anybody to write a strip that portrays the Judges as out and out bad guys.  The strip in question is Dan Abnett’s recent Megazine series Insurrection, and for the most part it is a strip that succeeds on almost every level.

The Mega City One mining colony K-Alpha 61 has just come out of a long and bitter war with the alien Zhind. In order to win the war, the marshals of K-Alpha 61 decided to grant citizen status to their slave workers (i.e. robots, mutants and uplifted apes) to fight in the absence of any help from Mega City One. After winning the war the colony receives a message from Mega City One demanding that they now revoke the citizenships they had granted the workers immediately. Not surprisingly the Chief Marshal of K-Alpha 61, Luther, rejects this demand, instead renaming the colony Liberty and openly revolting against the Justice Department.

The two strips collected together in this trade tell the story of the resulting rebellion, both on Liberty and on other Colony worlds too. Abnett as a writer tends to be at his best when writing these sort of grand space operas and in Insurrection he give us both characters and a cause to get behind, as well as an enemy to truly loath. His excellent storytelling is ably supported by Colin Macneil’s stunning black and white artwork, which perfectly evokes a sort of gritty realism that is an excellent fit for this story. What’s particularly interesting about Insurrection (and made even more apparent by Dan Abnett’s original pitch) is that we are by no means guaranteed to see the good guys come out on top. There are further Insurrection strips to be printed in the Megazine and it could well be that the revolution will ultimately fail.

While the story and artwork are of a high quality throughout, there are one or two little niggles. Its always been difficult to imagine that Mega City One is able to support any form of space colonies. They struggle to cope with the resources they have in Mega City One and the Judges are often overwhelmed by not having enough men on the street. It seems strange then to imagine that there are enough Judge’s to be able to fight a full scale war on some distant planet. There are also a few characters and being in Insurrection that seem very unfamiliar from what we are used to seeing in Judge Dredd. The clothing of some of the higher ranking judges seems quite odd, as well as the mannerisms of the Psi Judge who is introduced in the second story. Also the robots that adorn the front cover are an oddity, having (to my knowledge) never been seen before in any Dredd world strip.

Despite these few niggles Insurrection comes highly recommended. The two stories told so far are a great read from start to finish, and the cliffhanger ending to the second story leaves the reader desperate to find out what happens next. We will have to wait until the forthcoming Insurrection III to find out the resolution however, and I sincerely hope that after that there will be many more Insurrection strips to come.