The Complete Case Files #27 is slap-bang in the middle of Judge Dredd’s career to date. Dredd’s aging is synchronous with the comic, so you see the evolution of the character as a reflection of the creators’ milieu. As our society trundles along, so does Dredd’s. The Complete Case Files shows us eras of the futuristic lawman’s life in Mega City One. It’s at once a clever parody and an awesome science fiction. And damn, there’s so much of it.
Seventeen or eighteen years ago, it was 2120 for Dredd; The Complete Case Files #27 stretches across the weekly 2000 AD from progs 1053 to 1083. It also includes stories from the Judge Dredd Megazine – most notably Predator vs. Judge Dredd. There are no epic, twenty-episode story-arcs here – these are short, digestible chunks. And they are all written by Dredd’s creator, the great John Wagner.
There’s a scandal involving fatties and an eating competition, a robotic Dr Frankenstein of sorts is stealing ‘perfect’ people to create the ultimate body, and Dredd is kidnapped by a deranged collector of interesting humans. Nothing is too strange for Dredd: even the en-masse, libidinous attack of sexbots – male and female – is simply another case. Mega City One, for all of its oddness, is compelling in its complexity. It’s a striking portrayal of how the future might look, and it’s not one to easily dismiss.
In this collection of stories, there are notable and resonant commentaries beside the tongue-in-cheek. Rights-trampling Justice Department surveillance, for example, is contrasted by the Judges’ role as protector. There are notions on the pervasive nonsense of fashion, while at the same time brutality permeates every strata of the city.
There is violence and torment, apathy and nihilism intertwined with the bizarre. One particular episode, involving the past Judge Child and City of the Damned storylines, reminds us of the horrors running across this backdrop. It’s perfect and fertile ground for the Predator, who caps this collection with an awesome appearance.
Dredd lives in a world where councils convene over ‘Peek-a-Boo’ butt-less trousers. We are ever reminded that Mega City One endures in its futuristic eccentricity. It’s a testament to Wagner’s ability that the ideas keep flowing. On that note, the art represents the bountiful talent available to 2000 AD. Legendary names like Kevin Walker, Ian Gibson, Cliff Robinson, Greg Staples and John Burns grace these pages with their unique takes Mega City One. Dredd may be centre stage, but these artists, along with John Wagner, have crafted an absorbing setting. The city is the true star here, and its essence could not be captured more exactingly than in this collection.
JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES #27 / AUTHOR: JOHN WAGNER / ARTISTS: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: 2000 AD / RELEASE DATE: 19TH MAY