Judge Dredd
Grud is Dead

Starring: Toby Longworth, Peter Guinness and Katarina Olsson
Big Finish Productions
RRP 9.99
ISBN 1 84435 056 8
Available 24 December 2004

When the camp vamp himself - the occult adventurer Devlin Waugh - crosses paths with Judge Dredd, the lawman finds himself in the midst of an international incident. Ordered to escort Waugh to the Vatican, Dredd is plunged into a deadly conspiracy lurking within the Holy City's secret cloisters; and soon this unlikely duo find themselves challenging the very heavens themselves as they dare to question the will of Grud...

Grud is Dead is by far the most intricate 2000 AD audio release from Big Finish to date. After the last, slightly disappointing, release which saw Strontium Dog Johnny Alpha team up with Dredd (Pre-emptive Revenge) the Big Finish team get back on track fast with another winner of a release.

Those that like their Dredd tongue-in-cheek will find few laughs here - although there are several subtle puns. Grud is Dead is played as a straight forward drama and it works well. John Ainsworth shows his versatility again as he delivers another mini masterpiece written by James Swallow.

Peter Guinness's Devlin Waugh is believable - even if he is a Brit-Cit dandy who hungers for more than a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit due to the fact that he's a vampire. But, his bloodlust has attracted the attention of a secret organisation working under the wing of the Vatican. What on earth could this centuries old 'cult' want with an abomination to God's creation? More than Dredd has bargaining on. What he thought would be a relatively incident free trip to escort Waugn to Rome turns out to be anything but.

The subject of this story may not be original - attacking the hypocrisy of religion - but it's execution (if you'll forgive the pun) is spot on.

As I mentioned earlier, there are a few humorous moments which help to break up the drama. One example is the underground culture that are 22nd century tea rooms (boiled leaves are outlawed as a forbidden stimulant and sugar is illegal).

This is one release that you'll probably have to listen to more than once in order to appreciate the intricacies of the storyline and it's certainly well worth it.

Darren Rea

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