REVIEW: Judge Dredd #1

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In the aftermath of a fantastic (though sadly unsuccessful) movie, Judge Dredd appears again courtesy of a new ongoing series by IDW. Will this series capture all the grim and gritty action of the original series? Will it be honest to the source material like the new movie? Will it be a stinker like the Stallone vehicle or the 90’s DC Dredd series? So many questions! Drokk it, let’s go to the review!

JUDGE DREDD #1
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artists: Nelson Daniel and Paul Gulacy
Colors: Leonard O’Grady
Editor: Chris Ryall
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in JUDGE DREDD This being the start of the series, you shouldn’t have to know much about the futuristic lawman. Judge Dredd is basically “Sci-fi Noir” set in a world gone crazy where supercops must rely on violence to keep the peace. It’s a title similar to a good episode of The Twilight Zone, as it depicts a world familiar to us and yet also quite strange and unusual.

MEGA-CITY ONE EXPLAINED

In terms of plot, story, and characterization, this book has some definite successes and failures. Creating a Mega-City One is something the book does right. Mega-Cities are overcrowded, full of potential criminals and disease as well as future technology. The book does a nice job of introducing us to the citizens of MC-1 and showing us how easily an average joe is tempted into a criminal act. We are also shown what constitutes valuable items in MC-1, and brother, it ain’t gold or jewels…The story arc teased in this book is that robots are gaining sentience and refusing to do work for the humans. The robots’ dialogue is nicely done, darkly funny or weird as the situation requires. I am hopeful that this is a homage rather than a direct copy of 2000 A.D.’s classic “robot wars” storyline.

Dredd himself is disappointing. He isn’t discussed much nor does he do much this issue. He’s part of a group of judges who respond to a fruit tree gone crazy (yep, really) and the most notable thing Dredd does is get annoyed and blow up the tree. The rest of the judges seem to be just as tough and capable of Dredd. Our title character does nothing to mark him as a hero or even an individual, which is a tragedy.

BRIGHT ART FOR A DARK TITLE

The art in Judge Dredd is just fine, but I’m not yet wholly convinced it serves the title. I miss the shades and shadows of the 2000 A.D. series. This iteration of the judge is better than DC’s attempt as they don’t shy away from blood or exploding heads or dismembered body parts. The people themselves are rendered in enough detail that they don’t look cartoony, but the bright color choices are not quite suited to this book. It’s decent.

BOTTOM LINE: SENTENCE SUSPENDED

IDW’s debut issue of Judge Dredd left me a little flat. The book succeeds in a few areas. For example, Mega-City One is given some time in the spotlight, and the strange robots are a nice callback to the 2000 A.D. series. But Dredd himself is hardly seen in this book, and when he is, he’s not the bad mammajamma lawman that he needs to be. The most exciting thing he does is blow up a fruit tree, and that’s a little underwhelming for a series that is trying to boast the legacy and gravitas of Judge Dredd. If you’re brand new to Dredd, start with the Complete Case File collections. If you’re already a fan, it’s worth a look, but don’t get your hopes up to high.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

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