1/07/2010. Contributed by Eamonn Murphy
pub: Rebellion/2000AD. 272 page softcover graphic novel. Price: £18.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-906735-29-6.
check out website: www.2000adonline.com
Judge Dredd goes soft! He's in charge of breaking up a riot by democrats and a few heads get busted as usual. Then he gets a letter from a child asking why peaceful protesters were killed by Judges who are meant to uphold justice. This makes Dredd doubt the system he serves! It's like Dirty Harry Callaghan becoming a social worker.
An honourable man, Joe Dredd decides he must quit rather than continue to work for a cause he is no longer sure of and decides to take the long walk. His last assignment is to assess Kraken, a clone brother of his who was raised from birth by the evil Judd to overthrow the Mega-City judges but has now been re-conditioned to join them. (I don't know who the evil Judd was neither but in a long-running series you have to accept a bit of murky back story). Anyway, Kraken performs brilliantly and Dredd fails him. He doesn't trust him. As Quasimodo said, call it a hunch.
Then Dredd takes the long walk out into the Cursed Earth.
For a large chunk of the book that bears his name, he is not even on the scene. This doesn't matter because the story proceeds nicely. The Chief Judge decides that to keep up morale, the city still needs Dredd so he gives Kraken his name badge and puts him to work. Only a few at the top know he isn't the real thing, for as a clone brother he has the same jaw. But will the jaw help him cope when the Sisters of Death bring back Judge Death and his crew to turn Mega-City One into Necropolis? Not much.
The story is written by John Wagner, co-creator of Dredd, and illustrated mostly by Carlos Ezquerra who designed the look of both the Judges and Mega-City One way back in 1977. This story is from 1990, Progs 662-699 of '2000AD'. The first part of the book is drawn very nicely by Will Simpson. I'm not a big fan of Carlos Ezquerra but I must say his art looks better in colour than it does in black and white and he turns in a good job here. So he should, because the story is worthy of great art.
An aside here: one always thinks of comic creators as young, rebellious hippie types and no doubt they were, but John Wagner was born in 1949 and Carlos Ezquerra in 1947! They're probably grandfathers by now. Happily, they still produce good work, the wisdom of experience perhaps compensating for the loss of youthful enthusiasm and the work here is twenty years old, of course.
As a poor person I am always aware of the cost/benefit ratio in books, the amount of reading pleasure per penny, as it were. These 272 colour pages come with a recommended retail price of £18.99 but you can get them for less than eleven quid from certain retailers. At that price, it's worth it.
Add SFcrowsnest.com daily news updates to your own web site or blog - just cut and paste the code below...
Stephen Hunt's novels - USA