(2006) John Wagner, Simon Frazer, Carlos Ezquerra, Ian Gibson, Colin MacNeil and Charlie Adlard,
Rebellion, £13.99, trdpbk, pp unnumbered, ISBN 1-904-26585-5
Herewith an introductory paragraph for those new to Dredd. In a couple of centuries time, following a nuclear war, the democratic and other political leaders who ruined the world were replaced by the Judges who not only govern (though there is a puppet civil Council) but act as the police combined with the powers of judge and jury: they can sentence 'perp's (perpetrators) on the spot. In this future the US east coast is now one vast urban complex called Mega City 1 with the largely radioactive and lawless 'Cursed Earth' to its west and the polluted 'Black Atlantic' to its east...
Brothers of the Blood is a 'must have' for all Dredd fans as its stories are fundamental to the central 'Dredd' story arc. The story to date. Dredd and his brother Rico are clones of Fargo the father of Justice. Both brothers were physically excellent Judges but Rico was corrupt and Dredd turned him in. As punishment Rico was sent to serve a hard labour jail term on Titan. When he got back to Earth Rico sought Dredd out for revenge, but Rico's tough time on Titan had taken its toll and Dredd won. Then as the years passed Dredd grew old and his own judgement became impaired (he began to have sentimental thoughts). Another clone was created to replace Dredd (as Dredd had become a legend the city needed) and the real (old) Dredd took 'the long walk' to bring law to the lawless of the Cursed Earth. While in the Cursed Earth (see the Dead Man saga which has yet to be collected into a graphic volume) the Dark Judges (Judge Death and followers from another dimension) took over Mega City 1 (see Necropolis). The Dredd clone was susceptible to the Dark Judges' influence and so when Dredd returned from the Cursed Earth and saved the day, he sentenced the Dredd clone to death... and so to the present.
The Brothers of the Blood features stories around another clone of Fargo called Rico (after Dredd's original brother). The first story is when the clone is just completing training and it is up to Dredd to make the final on-the-street assessment... The other stories I will not spoil for you save for three things. First Dredd has another living relative (which serious Dredd fans will know about) and we see matters here develop. Second Bella Bagley makes a return appearance. Bella being a person who had a huge psychopathic crush on Dredd and who was last seen in an asylum. Third, the collection sees Dredd leave his apartment in Rowdy Yates block. (Back in the 1970s Dredd was in part modelled on Clint Eastwood and indeed a poll of 2000AD readers back then nominated Eastwood to play Dredd should ever there be a Dredd film (subsequently when the film was actually made (1995) Stallone never cut it).)
Aside from being essential for avid Dredd fans, Brothers of the Blood features a diverse range of 2000AD artists, including Dredd's original Carlos Ezquerra, and all are in their respective ways good. My complaints with this graphic collection are: that the2000AD cover reprints are not of the actual covers but just the artwork; that in this volume there is no introductory editorial which would have been helpful for fans new to Dredd (remember many fans these days were born since Dredd was created!); that the references to 2000AD prog (issue) numbers do not also have the year of publication; and that the new Rebellion graphic format does not have page numbers. These are all zero cost matters that Rebellion, if it really cares about it readers, should address. Fortunately this Brothers of the Blood collection is of sufficient interest that such 'added value' dimensions are not critical but they would be really nice. Nonetheless I most certainly commend this collection.
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