I am going to be honest here. I am among the newer fans of the Judge Dredd franchise. I think I saw the original film back when I was a kid but I don’t actually remember seeing it. So for me Karl Urban is Judge Dredd and I am going to approach any further Dredd related media from that perspective. It might not be popular for me to say that and older fans of the franchise might chastise me but that’s the truth of the matter. I got an early look at the Judged Dredd: Volume 1 TPB and I was a little worried when I started it. I was pretty confident that I would like it but I worried that there might be things that I didn’t understand. I mean, I didn’t even know Dredd’s first name was Joe.
But I learned that pretty early on. The comic is really good about getting you into the series and explaining the little things you ought to know. Not that you really do need to know much. IDW’s Judge Dredd series is actually separate from the original comic that began back in 1977. So there is no real need for any prior knowledge. It’s a comic geared toward people like me who are just now getting into Judge Dredd. They launched the title in 2012 about the same time the movie came out and we loved the movie.
So it’s not hard to see why I loved this comic, too.
Judge Dredd: Volume 1 is a trade paperback compilation of the early monthly issues of the new series. I don’t know if it’s intended to pick up after the film or if it’s really ties into the film. They don’t mention it at all. Instead they pick up right in the middle of an average day in Mega City One with Judge Dredd and a few other judges responding to some looting that’s resulting from some faulty city machinery. The judges respond and things get a little crazy. Genetically engineered fruit is flying, robots are malfunctioning – refusing to do their jobs or actually killing people, and you’ve got a judge down. It’s the beginning of a multiple issue story arch that pops up now and again intermixed between the various other plot lines.
What I like most about this series is that it’s like a buddy cop television show or something the way they set it up. It’s funny and the series isn’t afraid to go over the top sometimes or put in little easter eggs (like the Carpathian Blood Recycling Center in the Harker District). There’s plenty of banter. The plot moves quickly like it does in most comics but it’s not just stuck on one thing. There are other cases, other incidents. You’re not just wrapped up in the single over on-going plot line. And there are other characters, too. Judge Dredd is obviously the main character but we get to meet and feel for a number of other judges. Not just Anderson who we’re already familiar with either. You’ve got Dredd’s buddy Myers and a younger judge, Tarjay, who really out to just get out of the business because things do not seem to ever work out well for him.
The bad guys we run into are pretty crazy and outrageous – just as we’d expect from the series. Anderson has a short little one-off story line about an amnesiac prostitute and there’s a whole plot about creepy doctors and cloning. Throw in some corrupt judges and every day thugs that pop up all the time and you’ve got a lot of bang for your buck. Literally. There’s a lot of bodies and limbs exploding. No one of MaMa’s caliber yet but Lena Heady’s villain was really fabulously done. It will take a lot to replace her as my number one Dredd bad guy.
Finally, I just really like the dystopian world set up by the series. I like the idea of giant cities will hundred of millions of people pressed together in level after level of urban decay. I used to live in Seoul. I know a little thing or two about millions of people living in one city full of urban decay. And I like the judges and the Hall of Justice. Judge, jury, executioner. It’s great. A little out there but hey. As a law student maybe I shouldn’t since they’d put me out of a job. Or, you know, I could just become a judge. Which would be awesome. I’d be a fantastic judge.
If you liked the 2012 Judge Dredd movie and you’re looking for a way to get more into the franchise then this trade paperback is for you. And older fans from the 2000 AD series will enjoy the new look and new interpretation of the older, established story. Sure, you could try and track down all the individual issues but if you’re not the most comic store savvy then it’s way easier to just wait for this to be released on April 30th. Besides, they’ve got a few previously unreleased little perks – an introduction by John Wagner and a few other stories not released previously.
And keep an eye out for Judge Dredd: Year One which chronicles Joe Dredd’s first year as a judge. The first issue comes out later this month some time.