COMIC REVIEW: Judge Dredd - When Judges Go Bad
To Err Is Human. Judge Dredd Isn't Human...
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My introduction to Judge Dredd in Judge Dredd: Crusade (see my review HERE) left me wanting more. While an enjoyable action-packed read, about the only thing I learned about Judge Dredd is that the man can kick some serious butt. I wanted to know more about the enigmatic, faceless lawman... what makes him tick as a real human being. While we still never see Dredd unmasked (and probably never will), 2000 AD's two new graphic novels for the North American market dive deeper into the legendary man of mystery: Judge Dredd: When Judges Go Bad and Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 05, both in stores now.
In Judge Dredd: When Judges Go Bad, readers get to experience Dredd having to deal with those like him: other Judges. Yes, even the epitome of future law enforcement can be corrupt, or in the case of "Crazy Barry, Little Mo" and "Banana City," a little insane. These fantastic stories open the book up with a bang, spinning the tale of Judge Barry Kurten and the voices in his head. Well, one voice to be more precise - a little blue devil named Mo that urges Barry to exert... extreme justice. But that's what Judges do, right? Teach thugs a lesson? Not so. Even in the harsh, brutal future of Mega-City One, there is a fine line between right and wrong, legal and not legal. Perps do have rights, something the by-the-book Judge Dredd plans on upholding by taking down the rogue Judge Barry. Check out a preview of "Crazy Barry, Little Mo" in our photo gallery below.
"The Man Who Broke The Law" demonstrates that Judges don't have the luxury to have fun (to quote Judge Dredd: "Judges aren't human."), while "Bad Manners" and "Rotten Manners" display what happens when a Judge decides to do exactly as he pleases (including having a little "fun"). "Crime Prevention" and "Judging Ralphy" show that - despite the best intentions - not everyone is meant to be a Judge, while "Class of '79" concludes on a somber note, explaining that even a close friend and classmate of Judge Dredd isn't immune to breaking the law... even if it is for a noble reason.
John Wagner and Mark Millar split writing duties on Judge Dredd: When Judges Go Bad, providing a nice level tone throughout the graphic novel, even if their own work does flip between slightly comical (Millar's "The Man Who Broke The Law") to darkly serious (Millar's "Crime Prevention"). Art is a wonderful, eccentric mix of abstract, dark and atmospheric (Wil Simpson, Nick Percival), crisp, clean and colorful (Chris Weston, Steve Yeowell, Dondie Cox, Paul Marshall, John Burns) to something in between (Dave Taylor, Greg Staples).
At 128-pages, Judge Dredd: When Judges Go Bad packs enough action and Dredd to comfortably pass a few nights. I learned Judge Dredd is very human inside (despite what he thinks), however his incredibly strong belief in the legal system and his job prevents him from showing it. There's a reason Judge Dredd is the best Judge around... he IS the law. Judge Dredd: When Judges Go Bad is on sale now at all major bookstores, including Amazon, for $17.99.
I'm off to a good start discovering more about Judge Dredd, but I still need more. That's where Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 05 comes in. This MASSIVE 400-page graphic novel is non-stop Dredd from writer's John Wagner and Alan Grant, all fantastically rendered in black and white art from the likes of Ron Smith, Mick McMahon, John Cooper and many others. It's a book so big that I confess to have only started reading it, but felt compelled to let our readers know it's out there NOW. It has a list price of $19.99, but you can grab a copy at Amazon for a mere $13. Come back in a few weeks and I'll share my full experience, one I'm sure will bring me closer to knowing Judge Dredd... and wanting more.
Heading to San Diego Comic-Con? Be sure a stop by 2000 AD's Booth #2806 for both their UK and North American graphic novel lines, at discount prices. They'll also be having a host of special signings. CLICK HERE for the full story.
Review By Jeff Saylor
Art and Review Sample Courtesy of 2000 AD