THE KILLING ZONE

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‘Mutilated corpses are found around Mega-City One – victims of ‘The Killing Zone’ an illegal combat sport that is being held at a secret venue and telecast on the net.

‘Judge Dredd joins forces with undercover Judge Traven who has learnt that the Killing Zone arena is hidden in the network of sewers and drains beneath Mega-City One.

‘Guided by Psi Judge Janus, Traven and Dredd venture into the underworld to confront Efil Drago San, the evil mastermind behind The Killing Zone.’

This is the sinister background info on Big Finish productions latest 2000ad audio drama-JUDGE DREDD:THE KILLING ZONE. After last months foray into the word of STRONTIUM DOG, Dredd bounces back in an adventure that is darker than previous entries in the series.

The story is a well written, well acted piece that I enjoyed immensely, perhaps because of the darker side of the tale. This stems mainly from the whole killing zone idea, as well as the haunting and claustrophobic setting of the Big Megs sewers.

The story also boasts some excellently written and acted key players. Undercover Judge Traven is a fantastic character, a fun counterpoint to Dredd and gives several interesting views from the expierience of a ‘wally squad’ Judge. Judge Janus gives us a feeling of the tradgedy of life as a PSI Judge, and her rebellious streak adds to her character.

The main antagonist, Efil Drago San is an inspired villain, who would not be out of place in a Bond movie I feel, and the ending hints that we may just see him again…

But above all of them special mention must go to Toby Longworth, whose John Motson alike commontator(who appears half way through with Enigma Smith) is a laugh riot.

However, the script is patchy in places. Moments of inspired comedy are matched with an ending that left me feeling slightly short changed (its somewhat of a weak climax) and the shorter running time than DEATH TRAP did leave me feeling that there was five more minutes to be added somewhere.

But its nice to have someone else other than Dave Bishop have a crack at translation the world of Dredd for audio, and this tales author Dave Stone does improve on some elements that Bishop struggles with (Enigma Smith is used less, supporting characters other than the generally dull Amy Steel are used).

So, all in all, The Killing Zone is not a perfect story, but the action, great characters and comedy moments (firmly in the style of Dredd) make this another solid addition to the Big Finish 2000ad audio drama cannon. Watch out for another Dave Bishop Dredd next month, in THE BIG SHOT!…

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