BLOG Dredd Checks Out The Closet

Justice doesn’t die, regardless of the dubious distribution pattern and marketing it may have to endure. Dredd’s not just out on Blu-ray; he’s riding a wave of full-on classic stories in 2000AD right now. The fantastic “Day Of Chaos” has started being collected, “Trifecta” has just finished to a rapturous critical reception and the status of Mega City 1 is no longer even remotely quo.  Dredd’s world is a nastier, darker, much more interesting place than it’s been in years and this week’s new story builds on that fascinating new state of play. On 30 January, Dredd is called to investigate a crime in a gay fetish club where the fetish… is Dredd.

Rob Williams is aboard as the writer and, as one third of the team who scripted “Trifecta” (Along with Si Spurrier and Al Ewing) he’s proved himself as one of the best Dredd writers in years. Art duties are being handled by Mike Dowling, best known for pencilling the surprisingly great Rex Royd in the occasionally published Mark Millar’s CLiNT anthology series.

“Closet”, Rob’s story, is told through the eyes of Taylor, a Mega-City teenager coming to terms with the fact he’s gay. Homosexuality isn’t outlawed in MC-1, but Taylor’s family have trouble accepting him, even before events drive Taylor out of the house and into a Dredd-themed underground gay night club. Here, everyone dresses like either Dredd or a perp, the ultimate symbol of masculine repression or the people he represses in a club that Rob describes, in an interview with Comic Book Resources, as “a Village People deal turned up to 100 in a Mega City One style”.

Rob’s one of the smartest, most direct writers working today and the idea for the story came from him wondering if gay culture had been dealt with in Dredd’s universe before, and how it could have changed. The fact it’s barely registered in a  35 year -ld comic is a real surprise and Rob, again, is completely up front about how the story could be received, saying: “As long as you stay true to the character throughout – which I think ‘Closet’ does – you can deal with all sorts of issues in a story. And if they push people’s buttons, fine. I’d rather a story be provocative than just, ‘and they have a fight.’ Plus, putting Dredd in a gay club filled with men dressed as him is a pretty funny image. It’s worth it for that alone.”

Dredd is often at his best as a character when challenging perceptions, such as in the classic “America” storyline, and that willingness to push the world has paid dividends recently. “Closet” is published in prog 1817, on sale in the UK and digitally through the 2000AD App on 30 January 30. I can’t wait.

Alasdair Stuart

CBR interview: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=43316