I picked this up, and aplogies if I'm repeating what you said Colin, but I think my main problem with the title as is, is that it's all rather over written.
There are some good ideas fighting to get out but the somewhat disjointed storytelling and clunky dialogue at times lets it down.
I appreciate what the writers are trying to do, to strip away all the familar trappings that make Dredd 'Dredd'.
Like Mega-City One, The Citizens and going to the lengths, no pun intended, of giving Dredd a beard, but I'm not sure it's gelling yet.
I thought Mega-City Zero started strongly with its 'scorched earth' mystery surrounding the missing citizens, but it lost its way during the run.
Maybe a more stripped back approach as seen in the Predator vs Judge Dredd vs Aliens would yield better results.
Having said that, I too am looking forward to reading 'The blessed earth' and hope we get some kind of resolution with the current storyline.
If nothing else, it's gratifying to see IDW still support the title with an attempt to make inroads for the character in the U.S.