I’ve known for years that Judge Dredd is a cult classic. Between Anthrax’s song “I Am the Law” and the Sylvester Stallone vehicle, I had gotten a clue. However, partly due to these two, I also didn’t feel tempted to explore the British comic strip: “I Am the Law” is hardly my favourite Anthrax tune, and the Stallone film is short on memorable moments, devolving instead into the usual Hollywood drivel.
But a new film (featuring none other than Karl Urban! ) is on the horizon, and a friend of mine was getting rid of a couple of his paperback comics – so I decided to let my curiosity get piqued and I grabbed those paperbacks to see what more I could get out of the great Judge Dredd. It is, after all, a long-standing figure of the comic book world, so it deserves another chance.
So, was it worth the time? Not much, I’m afraid.
Firstly, I need to point out that this paperback feels like it was cropped from a standard comic book; the framing appears totally fine to my eye, but the story flows so badly that I kept wondering if there were panels, if not entire pages, missing. I have no way of confirming this at the present, but this was a nagging thought throughout the book.
It didn’t help that this particular set of short stories was also juvenile in nature: Judges from another dimension, in which life is considered a crime, show up to serve justice on Earth, killing everyone in their path. I don’t know if it’s just me, but that’s a concept that a teenager would come up with. While these new Judges are cool-looking, they’re all concept and not nothing else; beyond this, it’s a very corny idea.
The artwork, thankfully, is quite good. It could have done with a better ink job, and maybe even colour, but the basic sketches are nice, if incorrectly proportioned at times. It was the book’s greatest asset, quite frankly, although it’s not saying much given the material it was portraying. For something from the ’80s, it held up quite well. Should it be a re-edit from the ’70s, however, it would be exceptional work.
All in all, this edition of Judge Dredd’s crime-fighting adventures left me quite unsatisfied. It wasn’t that far off of the overall quality of the Stallone film, which is hardly a tribute. But the jury’s out on this one: I suspect that this is not exactly the best way to explore these comics and will wait until I’ve read more to offer my verdict. For now, I’m content with letting our man out on his own recognizance.