Graphic Novel Reviews

Judge Dredd: The Carlos Ezquerra Collection

(2007) Rebellion, 13.99, pbk, pp??, ISBN 978-1-905-4-3735-8


Judge Dredd is policeman, judge and jury all rolled into one to dispense justice in the mean street of 22nd century Mega City One, the huge urban complex running down the former US eastern coast. His adventures have appeared in Britain's weekly comic 2000AD since 1977 and over that time the Dredd saga has accrued a complexity with a reasonable coherence that has made the character somewhat iconic. Dredd was created by Pat Mills and John Wagner but what is sometimes forgotten is that the artist Carlos Ezquerra designed his costume and so is intimately involved with Dredd.

Ezquerra has drawn a number of 2000AD's strips as well as that of 2000AD's original sister comic Starlord and notably the Strontium Dog strip. The two comics soon merged after a couple of years and Ezquerra's work continued to appear. Consequently this artist is at the heart of both 2000AD and the character Judge Dredd. Now there is this collection of some of the Dredd stories Ezquerra has illustrated in what I suspect is well over-a-hundred pages volume (the pages are unnumbered). This is by no means a definitive collection -- Ezquerra has done so much Dredd work -- but it is an interesting snapshot. There are none of the late 1970s or any 1980s stories and only one story comes from 1990s from 2000AD the rest are all early 21st century and from the sister monthly to 2000AD, the Judge Dredd: Megazine.

All the stories are SFnal (Dredd stories are far more SFnal than many N. American comic strip counterparts) and some are science fantasy: you get psionics cum magic in the Dredd universe and this collection has one zombie story. So if you are an SF fan and you do not want to subscribe to 2000AD, then getting the graphic novels and collections are a good way of keeping vaguely in touch with developments in the 200AD stable albeit belatedly. Take this as a recommendation that SF comic buffs (and even SF fiction readers) might find it worthwhile at least sampling a Dredd graphic novel or collection such as this.

As for the stories in this volume, there is a good mix. First up is 'The Taking of Sector 123' which is an adventure in the aftermath of Judgement Day when a bunch of Brit Cit fanatics (Mega City citizens who are fanatical about anything to do with Brit Cit and not Brit Cit nationals you understand) decide to take advantage of the confusion to cause a little mischief of their own.

Then there is the full-length adventure 'Helter Skelter', an adventure from 2000AD back in 1992. Previously this tale has appeared by itself, collected in graphic novel form, in 2002 from the publishers Titan. It concerns an invasion from a parallel dimension that has researched the trans-dimension jump devices that Judge Death (himself from a parallel dimension) had used. The invading force of parallel judges is led by Judge Cal who, in his dimension, beat his parallel Dredd (in an earlier epic that was sort of based on the Roman emperor Caligula). Now Cal is out to conquer other dimensions the problem is that he has weakened the barrier between dimensions and so all sorts of other beings start to materialise as well. One consequence of which is that a good number of other 2000AD have cameo appearances. Now, while this story makes a welcome reappearance in this collection, the earlier Titan reprint did have a page that gave a paragraph description of some of the cameos. Alas this is missing from this 'Helter Skelter' reprint and so non-2000AD readers will miss out on some of the references. Nonetheless the story is strong enough to stand without this and so it is not too much of a problem.

'The Girlfriend' is a comedy short in which the son of wealthy parents is given a fembot as this is viewed as less harmful that running the risk of STDs or getting suckered by gold-diggers. However the father has ideas of his own and this can only lead to trouble, and where there is trouble there is Dredd.

'Phartz' is another comedy short that features a gaseous alien: you can guess where this is going. The creature can takeover the minds of those who inhale it...

Finally there are four linked stories starring the wilful Cursed Earth (the wasteland outside the city) Judge Koburn.


Jonathan Cowie

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