It’s no secret that both Therese and I love Judge Dredd. We’re new fans to the series having hopped on board with Karl Urban’s perfect frowny face in last year’s Dredd. This means that a lot of Dredd’s history and backstory are a bit of a mystery to us. There are decades worth of stories out there published by 2000 A.D. that would be impossible for us to track down in full. That’s why I really appreciate that IDW has taken on the character and his stories in their own series of monthly releases – Judge Dredd – and a four-part miniseries prequel – Judged Dredd: Year One.
IDW’s Judge Dredd series was launched back in November 2012 and we got a chance to check out the trade paperback release when it was released back in April. And now we’ve got a chance to check out Judge Dredd: Year One which, let me tell you, has had me excited ever since it was announced. I’ve been dying to get a little insight into the early days of Joe Dredd’s career and while someday I’ll embark on a great trek through the 2000 A.D. archives I’ll take what I can get from IDW!
Judge Dredd: Year One (TPB)
Judge Dredd: Year One is a bit of a misnomer. It’s not necessarily Dredd’s first year on the streets but it is his first year as a full-eagle Judge in Mega City One. While we’re usually more familiar with an older, more hardened and experienced Dredd this series gives us a fresh faced (still frowning) young Dredd whose hardly any older than the juves he faces off with in this storyline. He’s a rookie who hates being called a rookie; a straight flying Judge who follows the handbook to the point of reciting it back to the higher ups. And I love it. I don’t know why but I find it adorable. He’s such a good little soldier. He’s got it all figured out.
Except this book has Dredd facing a situation that he’s not entirely sure how to handle.
All over Mega City One children ranging from the age of one to eighteen years old are suddenly and inexplicably developing often very destructive psychic powers. Psi-Divison has been a thing for a while now so it’s not like Dredd doesn’t believe in those powers but he’s not exactly equipped to handle them. As he says, he’s about as psychic as a rock. But things keep escalating. He watches an eight year old tear apart the man threatening to shoot his father with nothing but his own anger and a sudden burst of psychic powers. Then he finds himself almost outmatched by a pre-teen bank robber with explosive powers.
Unable to get another Judge assigned to these cases – one with more experience dealing with psychic powers and things outside of his own expertise – Dredd finds himself learning about a whole new section of the Ministry of Justice. It turns out the judges aren’t just protecting the city from domestic threats or even international or extraterrestrial threats. The Psi-Division is aware of threats from other parallel dimensions… and the one they are facing now could be just that.
I really liked pretty much this whole story. Seeing Dredd sort of pulled out of his comfort zone and seeing him deal with everything that’s thrown at him as if it were just another day on the job was really great. It’s clear he had one idea of what being a Judge means and that his rigid Academy training and upbringing are going to be put to the test. He’s all about pushing aside emotion, relying on logic and the law, and playing by the book. Even when he’s faced with parallel dimensions and unruly, rioting juves he sticks by his guns. There’s one really great scene where one of the Judges in charge at the Ministry tries to show him all the crazy shit that is happening behind closed doors with Psi-Division and parallel dimensions and he just responds like, “So… this is just a long winded way of saying to keep an open mind.” As if that’s just the end all response to finding out about all this stuff. Joe. C’mon.
I can’t really comment on how often psychics and powers come into play in the great scheme of things in the Dredd comics since I haven’t really read anything but IDW’s two series. I feel like there might be some people who would think it’s a little heavy handed to start off the Year One series with such a psychic-centric story but I didn’t mind it at all. Parallel dimensions seemed like almost a step too far but even that won me over pretty quick. Especially with the way Dredd just dealt with it as if it were just one more little problem standing in the way of him and his protecting his city.
Judge Dread: Year One is a really fun read and I hope it’s a sign of things to come. As far as I can tell it has just been intended to be the four part miniseries which is collected in this book. However, I can still hope for a Judge Dredd: Year Two at some point. Until then, IDW’s Judge Dredd monthly series continues.
In the mean time, Matt Smith also wrote an eBook as part of his Year One tales which you can pick up from Amazon here.
I love Joe Dredd. And I really love baby!Dredd. This book is a must read for new Dredd fans in particular. It’s a great way to get introduced to a younger Joe and you get a little bit of background on him and his brother, Rico. At just four issues it’s a bit of a short introduction for sure but that doesn’t cheapen the experience. The story is classic Judge Dredd and it’s a really fun read. You’ll enjoy it, I swear. Grab the TPB when it releases in November or check out your local stores. I know a lot of the ones here in Phoenix still have some of the individual issues laying around.