Reviews:The Chronicles of Judge Dredd

Published on April 21st, 2009

It’s Trade Tuesday and I’m stretching the rules. Why choose one trade when you can choose two? Especially when it’s Judge Dredd!

But seriously, why two? Well I’ll tell you why. These two titles cover the short first and second longer appearances of Dredd’s archenemy, Judge Death. Every hero needs an archenemy. Sure, there can be many enemies but all of them need a main bad guy. Batman has the Joker, Superman has Lex Luthor, Sherlock Holmes has Moriarty and Judge Dredd has Judge Death.

Dredd is the future walking justice system that catches the criminals, tries them on the spot and sentences them immediately, even if it’s a death sentence. He meets his match when an undead Judge from a different dimension, where life itself has been deemed a crime (because all crimes are committed by the living), arrives in Mega City 1. As Judge Death is already dead he can’t be killed and even if the body is destroyed his spirit can continue to try to find a new body.

The first story covers Death’s arrival and introduces Psychic Division Judge Anderson. The short violent tale lasted only 3 issues and (spoiler) ends with Death’s spirit trapped in Anderson’s body, which is encased in ‘Boing’ the miracle plastic.

The story picks up some time later when Death is freed by his fellow Dark Judges; Judge Fear who’s gaze can kill, Judge Fire who burns and Judge Mortis who’s touch decays. The four Dark Judges then proceed with their death sentence on the city while Dredd and the revived Anderson try to stop them.

Originally published in 1980 and 1981 with even these trades being from1983 (yes, that’s older than Hollie) the pre-Watchmen/Dark Knight story telling is a little basic. The fact it was published in 5 page segments in glorious black and white means it relies heavily on big cliff hangers. The fact is, this simply rocks! Ultra violent, darkly funny, sexy, scary it just ticks all my boxes and revisiting it now, even though it shows its age, it is still completely entertaining and kick ass. The stunningly beautiful artwork by a pre-Killing Joke Brian Bolland was a benchmark for Judge Dredd and the pace of writing by John Howard and T.B.Grover keeps the story flying along.

Both parts are very short and the books are completed with other Dredd stories of the era, but it’s the start of the Judge Death saga that makes it so special. He IS the law! also make sure to subscribes to are podcast where I talk a bit more about this book.fear

Mat Hyde
mathew@comicimpact.com

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