This new web series is produced by Adi Shankar producer of the 2012 Dredd film which was actually very good indeed, if somewhat lacking in the sort of humour you’d find in Dredd’s stories in 2000AD, and indeed much of the satire was missing but Dredd was a great action film that at least tried to tell a stripped down Judge Dredd story.
Judge Dredd: Superfiend is Shanktar’s thank you for fans of the Dredd film and it’s an unauthorised adaptation along the lines of the quite excellent Punisher film he did with Thomas Jane and Ron Perlman. Dirty Laundry is probably the best of the ‘bootleg’/fan films that are around because it’s suitably grim and depressing, because, well, it’s the fucking Punisher!
Superfiend suffers from taking a needlessly grim take on Dredd while at the same time trying to be flippant along the lines Alan Grant and John Wagner would manage with what looked like ease, but I know involved a lot of working out so they’d get the tone right. The story centres round Judge Sydney, a psychopath when we’re introduced to him kills a rape victim so he can kill the rapist legally under the law of Mega City One. Right away the tone is astonishingly jarring for what has been billed as a Judge Death versus Judge Dredd story, and from there we’re launched into a flashback in Sydney’s life where we see his father was a mobile dentist who would torture and kill people with young Sydney’s help.
After an encounter with the Judges, young Sydney decides to become a Judge, and one of his early tests is to execute his father. This really is all setup so we can see Sydney to be a bastard who we don’t really care about, in fact, most of the characters in this we couldn’t care about. When Sydney is taken over by Judge Death even Death seems like he’s going through the motions and Dredd himself doesn’t even show up for the first few episodes and then he feels like a cardboard cut-out of the 2000AD Dredd or that awful version of Dredd that pops up in American comics that’s supposed to be Dredd but isn’t.
And here’s the problem with Superfiend. It’s fun but it only really feels like Dredd by using the characters from the comics, but turns them into echos of what they were, or are introduced and dumped so quickly their introduction seems fairly pointless. It’s a fun series of films but it’s really for newer fans brought on after the Dredd film, or indeed, anyone not 100% familiar with the nearly 40 year history of Judge Dredd.
It’s a pity as there’s potential with Judge Dredd to do more than just fights and violence which is what writers like Pat Mills, Alan Grant and of course, John Wagner have done, but this is really for passing a spare 30 minutes or so if you’ve got nothing else to fill it with.