Since Judge Dredd first appeared in 2000 AD’s second issue, the dystopian world he inhabits has been fleshed out in great detail, exploring his turf of Mega-City One as well as various global locations, from Texas City to Brit-Cit. Over recent stories in both 2000 AD and its sister title Judge Dredd Megazine, writer Michael Carroll gave us a globe-spanning conspiracy thriller which brought in many of these locations.
This collection of those stories starts with New Tricks, in which Dredd and Irish Judge Fintan Joyce venture into the Undercity and encounter the sinister Goblin King. The volume’s arc builds momentum in Blood of Emeralds, in which Joyce and Dredd travel to Murphyville (future Ireland) to investigate the death of Joyce’s father. In The Grindstone Cowboys, Dredd’s out in the American wastelands, in pursuit of a raider gang, leading to a shocking cliffhanger that seemingly puts him out of action.
Following on from this, in the violent Dust to Dust, Chief Judge Hershey calls in reinforcements from Texas City, only for conflicts between both cities’ Judges to break out, while Dredd’s sort-of-clone Rico carries on pursuing those raiders. And in The Lion’s Den, Joyce is back in Brit-Cit, on the run due to the fall-out from a shooting back in Murphyville. All of these threads come together in the climactic Reclamation, with various heroes teaming up to end the schemes of Texas City’s Chief Judge Oswin.
If that all sounds like a lot to take in, it gets even more complicated; Carroll clearly knows this universe, bringing in various characters from past continuity, including the maverick Cursed Earth Koburn and the noir-esque detective Armitage. The story also sees several changes in tone, with the battle in the Undercity reminiscent of a war movie, the violent wasteland action resembling Mad Max and Joyce’s adventure in Brit-Cit like a John le Carré novel.
Yet somehow, all these disparate elements come together to form a gripping epic. Long-term 2000 AD readers will enjoy visiting a load of familiar locations and characters, while the more confused readers will still be entertained by the pacey plotting and brutal action.
Plus, like all good Dredd stories, there’s an element of political satire; as the Texan Judges gain control over Mega-City One, they impose stricter controls on mutie immigration and are particularly violent towards those from this oppressed class – no prizes for spotting the parallels with real life. The hateful Oswin’s familiarity makes her all the more effective as a villain.
Vast in scope and chock-full of continuity, Every Empire Falls may not be the ideal starting point for 2000 AD newbies, but it is an excellent Dredd epic, and a ruthlessly relevant one.
JUDGE DREDD – EVERY EMPIRE FALLS / AUTHOR: MICHAEL CARROLL / ARTIST: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: REBELLION / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 9TH