1/07/2010. Contributed by Eamonn Murphy
pub: Rebellion/2000AD. 320 page softcover graphic novel. Price: £19.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-906735-44-9.
check out website: www.2000adonline.com
The story continues from 'Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files v.14 featured the long Necropolis story which ended in 2000 AD Prog 699. This volume starts with Prog 700 and Judge Death is still on the loose in Mega-City One. So is P.J. Maybe, the genius psychopathic killer who escaped during the chaos of Necropolis. Furthermore, the good citizens of the city are disgruntled with the Judges after their failure to stop Judge Death's sisters, which resulted in sixty million dead. The democrats are on the march and the Chief Judge is a bearded lady with a split personality. All in all, Dredd has his work cut out.
This volume is more of a collection of short tales, albeit with a continuing background and sub-plots running through it. The Judges are trying to restore order to Mega-City One and have a full case-load. Yassa Povey, a boy blinded when he saved Judge Dredd out in the Cursed Earth, is bought to the city to get new eyes but kidnapped and held for ransom. A group of nutters called the Hunters Club decides to go on a sponsored killing spree for charity. 'It's for charity' they say as they wipe out several dozen citizens, the ultimate justification. The Rudee Vallee Rude Juves and the Jason King Bloods dare to have turf wars on Judge Dredd's turf. There are illegal street fights with Driller Killer. The destruction caused by Judge Death and his pals has created a housing list of five million, all living in camps and getting tense. A Citydef outfit from Bill Bailey block goes rogue and Dredd pins them down in the Peter Palumbo Shelter for the Harmlessly Insane. As ever in '2000AD' strips, the names are richly evocative of British culture.
Among my favourites was a multi-part story 'Emerald Isle' in which our hero goes abroad to track down terrorist who assassinated a foreign ambassador in his city. Murphyville, excellent name, has become a theme park in which stereotyped images from the isle's past are emphasised. There are charming cottages, pubs, synthi-stout and spuds. Dredd liaises with the Irish Judge Joyce whose first move is to invite him out for a few jars. The terrorists want to overthrow the theme park regime and get rid of the quaintness, the spuds and so on. I have met Irishmen who feel exactly this way about their cute image. Garth Ennis, the author, is from Northern Ireland.
Old stalwarts John Wagner and Alan Grant are the other contributing writers to this volume. To find out who wrote what would be a laborious process of tracking down the title pages and locating the microscopic credits. Unfortunately, the publishers have not included a contents page. There is one in 'Judge Dredd: The Restricted Files 01' and it is probably useful for the casual reader as well as reviewers, not least because some of the credits are pseudonymous, for whatever reason, and the contents page gives the real names of the creditworthy.
There is a long list of artists and again the individual story credits must be located to see who did what. Steve Dillon stood out for me. G. Caldwell did some good things with an airbrush, I think, to give an eerie feel to a tale of two mad sisters. Some of the other fellows seem to use gaudy painting to cover bad drawing. Comic artists are not illustrators and in the name of style and dynamism can get away with a lot but I thought some could have tried harder. Overall, though, the art is pretty good and this volume is another worthy addition to the continuing story. Later Dredd stories are good, sometimes great, but the very early ones were not so good so it's hard to know at what point to start collecting this series. A completest, of course, would buy the whole lot.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA