Graphic Novel Reviews


Judge Dredd: The Complete America

(2003) John Wagner & Collin MacNeil 's, Titan Books, trdpbk, 14.99, pp(unnumbered), ISBN 1-840-23615-9

Judge Dredd: America

(2012) John Wagner & Collin MacNeil 's, 2000AD / Rebellion, trdpbk, 13.99, pp(unnumbered), ISBN 1-905-43758-0

 

There has always been an obvious tension between Mega-City needing law and order, as given by its Judges (who are cop, jury and judge in one) who seem to only just manage to control the city huge, and largely unemployed, population. The price of this comparative freedom from crime has been civil rights and democracy. This theme has recurred a number of times and indeed was brought to the fore in Democracy Now.

Paralleling Democracy Now (another Dredd collection) time and then continuing it, The Complete America follows the life from childhood of a woman called 'America' named after the great country that originally welcomed her parents. America soon becomes reluctantly involved with the democracy movement...

As she (America) moves into the democracy movement, she gradually becomes more and more radical. Ultimately she becomes involved in terrorism. (Remember that one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter. Observing all this is her friend from childhood, Benny, who has become a successful singer. Benny loves America, but she does not return his affections other than they are close platonic friends. He observes her slide into criminality. Then, one day...

This is a seminal story as it is close to the heart of the rationale as to why there are judges in Mega City One. The whole premise of Judge Dredd is that democracy is dysfunctional and that we need the totalitarian state of the judges for our own good. Dredd is not a hero but an antihero. His character plays a similar role commenting on society as Alf Garnet does on British racism. This story is therefore insightful as to the tension between personal and societal freedoms that exist in the Mega City future, which -- as with all socially meaningful SF -- is actually an opaque mirror on our own society.

Wagner is as usual on form, i.e. brilliant. MacNeil's full colour artwork is clean and does the business. What more can you say other than this is another great compilation from 2000AD's finest.

Nearly a decade on from the 2003 The Complete America we now have the 2012 compilation America from 2000AD / Rebellion. Ironically, given the first compilation purports to be The 'Complete' America the subsequent 2012 compilation (simply 'America') has an extra story 'Cadet' featuring young Beeny and so is even more 'complete'. This extra story was originally published in The Judge Dredd Megazine in 2006. There have been subsequent stories featuring Beeny but this one directly relates to America and neatly rounds off the volume. This more than makes up for the 2000AD / Rebellion graphic collections being marginally (but noticeably) smaller that the Titan Book graphic collections. But them's the breaks and this remains a Dredd classic collection.

Jonathan Cowie

And if you like Judge Dredd then the following are still (2013) in print and especially recommended for Dredd newcomers:-
o Judge Dredd: The Art of Kenny Who? - fun series of single and double adventures.
o Judge Dredd: Brothers of the Blood - introduces a new Fargo (hence Dredd) clone named after Dredd's clone o brother (now dead having gone bad) called Rico.
o Judge Dredd: Total War - democrats turn to terrorism in the Big Meg.
o Judge Dredd: Origins - which looks back at the beginnings of the judge system and the companion adventures Judge Dredd: Tour of Duty Backlash and Tour of Duty Mega-City Justice.
Also seek out the mini-format, black and white collections of the early classics Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges and Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth Saga.

 


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