Judge Dredd rides into action in this fifth volume collecting together some of his most exciting cases. Arch-nemesis Judge Death rises from the grave once again in ‘Judge Death Lives’, citizen is pitted against citizen in ‘Block Mania’ and the apocalypse comes to Mega-City One in the all-time classic Dredd epic, ‘The Apocalypse War’.
- Judge Death Lives!
- Block Mania
- The Apocalypse War
Whether or not you choose to view 2000 AD‘s classic Judge Dredd stories as pure sci-fi dystopian fantasy or a warning to society’s future, is irrelevant. All that matters is creeps from Sonny Bono Block to East Meg-1 know this: Judge Dredd is The Law, so don’t drokk with him.
Judge Dredd, like the Stallone misfire movie from the 90’s and the seemingly awesome upcoming Karl Urban reboot, is set in the 22nd century, when war and disease have ravaged most of the ‘Cursed Earth’, forcing society to wall itself into Mega City One, a giant metropolis that encompasses much of the eastern seaboard. But that wasn’t the end of social woes. Now we have overcrowding and crime concentrated into their most heinous forms, amplified by futuristic technology and the inevitable push back against the iron boots of the Judges, granted full power to judge and execute punishment on-sight.
Judge Dredd is the most hardcore of them all, taking no grief from anyone suspected of breaking the law. For our more contemporary comic fans, I will submit this comparison: Dredd is the possible future of a society run by the Batman mentality, where government has finally allowed judicial power to exist in the hands of a few highly-trained and possibly fascist doers of justice.
Don’t let that fool you, though, as somewhere beneath the ever-present helmet and the rusty nails exterior is a guy who actually seems to care about the world in which he lives, and keeping some form of human decency in an impossible scenario. From his by-the-book lessons to young judges, to his at-all costs choices to end the Sov-initiated Apocalypse War at the climax of this collection, you can rely on Dredd to restore order, or at the very least, disorder the perps’ faces in retribution.
Admittedly, I haven’t read any Dredd before this meaty volume, which tips the trade paperback scales at nearly 400 diversely-drawn and uniquely gritty pages. Once you get into a few of the 2-3 page stories in the first bit, you get a taste quickly for our ‘hero’ and his world, like the oddly-named high-rise blocks which house far too many creeps, and the frequent system-challengers, who seem to think there could be a better way of life or are just pent up and bored by the cold world in which they live. All that builds over the course of this fast-paced tome, leading us into Block Mania, with nearly all Mega City One citizens at war with one another, to the return of the evil Judge Death and his associates, and finally to the epic Apocalypse War, which takes up a healthy chunk of the book. Before you know it, the heavy half of this book is on your left and you may find yourself quite ready for Volume 6.
John Wagner(A History of Violence) and Alan Grant(Lobo), crafted these tales when I was but a twinkle in my daddy’s eye, but the relevant connections to even 2012 can be found in nearly every panel, often buried beneath cynical, tongue-in-cheek dialogue that always stays true to form and never veers into anything preachy. As mentioned, the art is handled dutifully by a series of capable hands, rendering a fully-realized world and creating a kinetic pace that rarely slows. And to put it simply, it’s just plain fun.
Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 5 is a justifiable buy, at a more than fair $20 for such a wealth of story. 2000 AD really dug into something valid, and it’s a great escape from the often same-as-it-ever-was grind of typical superhero books. You could be right to wonder before reading this collection why Hollywood would take another risk on a Dredd film after the first attempt met less-than-positive results, but one read through this slice of originality will likely take you creeps into the theaters this September to check out the new cinematic take. By then, your summer of superheroes will be over, and you’ll be looking for a way to avoid the barrage of typical cinematic drokk. Judge Dredd is a very palatable alternative in this book, at least.