COMIC BOOK REVIEW: JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES 09 / AUTHOR: JOHN WAGNER, ALAN GRANT / ARTIST: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: 2000AD / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 20TH
For years now, the good ol' US of A has been the butt of 2000AD's satirical ire, our Judge Dredd not-so gently poking fun at their trigger-happy Dirty Harrys, supersized fast food, and egalitarian state laws (not that we're one to point fingers ourselves). Readers abroad can now catch up with the latest US Case Files, a run through progs 424 – 473 of Dredd's adventures.
Boy, are those readers in for a treat. While still a little rough around the edges and lacking any epic Apocalypse War or Dark Judges-level greatness, the stories here take in a couple of stone-cold classics, including Dredd's encounter with the iconic Chopper, and some of the mag's best one-shot stories. Mean Machine pops up for an appropriately festive tale, while there's also the amusing (if not exactly politically correct) Magnificent Obsession featuring Olympic-level fatty Two-Ton Tony, and the pulpy vampire story Nosferatu. Overall, there are far more hits than misses here, in a varied, exciting and action-packed collection of retro Dredd stories.
In addition to the writing by John Wagner and Alan Grant, the artwork plays like a who's who of great Dredd illustrators. There's work from Steve Dillon (this being his best period, before his habit of drawing the same old faces over and over again set in), Carlos Ezquerra, Cam Kennedy, Ron Smith and even a bit by Brian Bolland (a personal favourite). With the comic still in its black and white years, some readers may be put off by its relatively old-school appearance and fairly simplistic stories. Indeed, Volume 09 is one of the more inconsequential Case Files, with Wagner and Grant more concerned with world building than big, important stories or Mega City-ending threats. Still, 2000AD has been going for a very long time, so some lulls in the action are inevitable.
This collection, inessential as it may be, is a lot of fun. Witty, brutal and darkly hilarious, it serves as a great introduction for newer readers and a nice throwback for older ones to Dredd's history (all, notably, playing out in real time). Those newer readers don't know how good they have it – this is where the magazine really starts to hit its stride. The best is yet to come.
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