AUTHOR: VARIOUS | ARTIST: VARIOUS | PUBLISHER: 2000 AD | FORMAT: TRADE PAPERBACK | RELEASE DATE: MAY 30TH
Like the great lawman himself, so The Complete Case Files series marches on. The year is 2123 AD; this hefty volume compiling 2000 AD Progs 1223 – 1249 and Judge Dredd Megazine 3.74 – 3.79. By now, readers should know what to expect. With no mega-epics to be found during this period, this book collects a number of Dredd’s one-shot stories and shorter adventures, largely without upsetting the Mega-City One status quo or Dredd’s mighty stride. It’s a filler book, then, but even filler Dredd is better than a lot of stuff out there.
Perhaps the most notable of the stories collected is Lawcon, an outer space adventure in which Dredd and a handful of other Judges visit a galactic law convention, and encounter a race of monstrous shapeshifting aliens. All relatively minor when compared to the Apocalypse War or Necropolis, but it’s a fun action tale with major consequences for one recurring character. Of the rest, it’s a mixed bag.
Star Drekk: A Space Fantasy is a Star Trek spoof in which a version of the Starship Enterprise accidentally winds up in Dredd’s universe, only to run into Dredd and his fellow Mega-City One Judges. 2000 AD has rarely been subtle in its send-ups of popular culture, and this one is no different, humiliating the Enterprise caricatures and beating them senseless before carting the lot of them off to the cubes. Dredd is no hero, but this one is a little too mean-spirited, even by the Judge’s standards, and sits ill-at-ease with the compassionate, even fair man we meet in the very next story, Bodies of Evidence.
This inconsistency (inevitable, given the rotating teams of writers and years of history trailing the character) plagues the book throughout, popping up again in the otherwise solid Cursed Earth story Relentless, which ends on a good gag but a really sour note, reminiscent of 2000 AD’s funny-but-horrible Mark Millar, Grant Morrison and Garth Ennis years. For a character as unbending and unwavering as Joe Dredd, he does flip-flop a lot between firm-but-fair and a flat-out-asshole, and this is never more evident than in such Case Files as this one.
Nevertheless, the artwork remains seminal throughout, and it is worth any missteps for successes like Bodies of Evidence, The Big Lie (which takes aim at Holocaust deniers) and the Calvin and Hobbes spoof Something Over My Shoulder is Drooling. Relatively minor and inconsistent as it may be, The Complete Case Files 33 makes for a fine addition to any collector’s bookshelf. Trekkies… sorry, Drekkies, might want to sit this one out though.