[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Acidic toxic waste is exploding out onto the streets of Mega-City One, and the populace continues to riot and cause havoc over the arrival of the symbiotic aliens that have been helping the Scrubbers that once managed waste disposal. The Judges are struggling to contain this crisis, and the only solution that Dredd, Anderson, and Scammon can think of is to track down more of the symbiotes to help get more Scrubbers back into the mess. However, the anti-alien rioters are attacking and making matters worse at every turn.
Judge Dredd: Toxic #2 improves on the first issue by focusing more on the Judges and their struggle to stop the apocalyptic disaster from sweeping over Mega-City One. The immigration allegory, while poignant and only feeling more relevant by the day, isn’t the only thing this issue has to offer.
That said, another realization dawned on me while reading this second installment as to why this allegory feels ill-suited for Judge Dredd. The Judges are mainly on the side of the alien asylum-seekers, but that clashes with the Judges, Dredd especially, being inherently fascistic symbols of militant judicial power run amok across a sprawling urban center. This is pointing out the obvious, but fascist powers don’t tend to defend immigration.
By the way, I say all of this liking Judge Dredd as a character. I like the Punisher too, but he is clearly an unhinged psychopath with more than a few fascist streaks in him too. Nick Spencer siding him with Hydra was honestly one of the more clever parts of his Secret Empire.
Regardless, Judge Dredd: Toxic #2 is a faster-moving and an overall more entertaining read than the first installment.
Marco Castiello’s artwork is another strong aspect of the comic. His work here is impressively detailed, and he can render the more horrific moments quite well. He uses linework to evoke shadows while skillfully depicting facial scarring and marks. Jason Millet’s color work is a nice balance of heavily contrasting shades that imbue a little extra energy into the book.
Judge Dredd: Toxic #2 is still a flawed comic, but this issue has more forward motion and an overall tighter narrative. Both come together to make it a far more interesting read and earn this issue a recommendation. Feel free to check it out.
Judge Dredd: Toxic #2 comes to us from writer Paul Levitz, artist Marco Castiello, co-inker Vincenzo Acuzo, color artist Jason Millet, letterer Shawn Lee, cover artist Mark Buckingham with Chris Blythe, and variant cover artists John Gallagher and Mark Buckingham.