Mark MillarCarlos EzquerraJudge Dredd2000 AD
Medium: comic
Year: 1993
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Carlos Ezquerra
Country: UK
Keywords: Judge Dredd, 2000 AD
Format: 2000 AD 834-841
Website category: Comics UK
Review date: 12 March 2022
It's actually okay, despite being by mid-1990s Mark Millar. Yes, I was astonished too.
It's set in the Judge Dredd universe, on the Titan prison colony for Judges who go bad. This appears to include the wardens, mysteriously. The colony's run by a baddie so exaggeratedly evil that even his name tells you that he's a cartoon. He equates "torture" and "recreation". "EEYAARGH!" "Sorry to interrupt your leisure-break, Governor Khurtz, but we've got a situation on sub-level nine."
Anyway, the prisoners are going to escape with the maximum of shouting and clenched teeth. (Yes, probably both at once.) Their psycho leader is Grice, who appeared in some John Wagner Democracy Now! stories as an unimpressive bloke with your dad's moustache. Here, he's made of unkillable action hero concrete and will say, "it'll heal" after melting the flesh off his left hand. Less than fifteen minutes later, it has. I can see how being sent to Titan might have powered up his motivation, but this feels like a completely different character with the same name.
It works, though. Unlike many other Mark Millar 2000 AD stories, its world and bad guys have enough weight to carry the ultra-violent silliness. And that is silly, make no mistake. Khurtz is run through with an electric saw, then thrown into molten slag that looks like lava... and then returns four pages later with even his uniform still mostly intact. (A bit ragged, but it doesn't even seem to have burned.)
Nonetheless, the story is a passionate, meaningful fight and its characters have a reason to care. That's the most basic criterion. These convicts are full of hatred, anger and sometimes just a love of killing. (They don't, though, have noses. Everyone on Titan has surgery to survive the lack of atmosphere.) What's more, it's being drawn by Carlos Ezquerra, i.e. the master of ugly over-the-top violent blood and guts. I like Ezquerra's Khurtz. He's great fun. This story is dumb as hell, but with a sufficiently solid foundation that it gets away with that. It's a laugh. It's a quick read. This is as good as Miller got in 2000 AD, at least when writing solo.