(2008) John Wagner, Robbie Morrison and Henry Flint, Rebellion, £12.99, trd pbk, pp??, ISBN 978-1-905-43764-1
The comic character Judge Dredd should need no introduction, but in case you have just stumbled across this page the key things you need to know are is that he is an SF comic character created in 1977 by Pat Mills and John Wagner for the comic 2000AD. He is a 'Judge' in Mega City One in the 22nd century. The city covers the (former) US eastern seaboard and is (as you might expect) decidedly futuristic with crime to match. The Mega Cities (there are several around the World) are run by the Judges (though there is a nominal civil council with a figurehead mayor) and the Judges are the police, judiciary and jury all rolled into one. They are tough, mean but fair, and decidedly right of centre.
Henry Flint is a comics artist who has drawn a number of different 2000AD strips over the past decade. This collection features some of his Dredd work from the weekly 2000AD and The Judge Dredd Megazine. Truth be told, Rebellion (who own 2000AD) publishing artists' collections (for example the Carlos Ezquerra Collection) is really just a way of bundling together disparate Dredd stories and it is just a spin-off that 2000AD artists get a nod. Flint himself is one of the better 2000AD artists (there are a few dire ones) who seems to work best providing a black and white version as inks with other artists providing the colours (as inks, water and/or airbrush). He is also one of 2000AD's artists whose pictures have a fair bit of detail. Add all this together, provide a good scriptwriter, and you end up with some really nifty stories decently portrayed.
This collection features several Dredd stories:-
Mrs Gunderson's Little Adventure. Mrs Gunderson is a delightful, absent minded and extremely short-sighted, elderly ('eldster') widow. We have met her before as Judge Death's unwitting landlady in Young Death: Boyhood of a Superfiend . In this adventure she provides the comic counterpoint, as one of the hostages, to a getaway attempt when she boards a coach that has been taken over by criminals (perps).
Turned Out Quite Nice Again. A christmassy tale with Mega City One caught in a snow blizzard when weather control has a malfunction. Mrs Gunderson, again, is stuck in a bar with a number of characters including Judge Dredd's (former) robot servant Walter and an actor playing Judge Death (whose part seems to be taking him over). Also featured is The Mean Machine (who was temporarily a warder during his brief reform spell). Also in the mix is an urban terrorist who had swallowed a bomb and was hoping to blow up next to a politician who (due to the storm) does not look like turning up. Mayhem results.
J. D. Megson. J. D. Megson is a Mega City Block destined for demolition. A proposal for which the residents are none too keen. Guess whose going to restore order?
Turkey Shoot. This is a simply marvellous Christmas tale from the Judge Dredd Megazine. To meet consumer demand for ethical Christmas fare, some turkeys are created that are semi-self aware and who love the idea of Christmas and even pluck themselves beforehand. All well and good, but then just before Christmas a flock is stolen. The turkeys confusedly wonder whether this is a good idea... I have to say that if I was Rebellion I would do a Judge Dredd Christmas collection. The artwork in many of these tales (and this is one) is often a cut above 2000AD's usual standard and the Christmassy rendition provides an excellent contrast to the usual portrayal of the Mega City and indeed Dredd's near-heartless character. Added to which, this particular tale has a Christmassy moral message.
Flood's Thirteen... is a heist story. One of the Judge's spaceships returns from its run collecting taxes (in the form of both currency, precious metals and goods) from other worlds. The ship is sealed for audit on touchdown and this provides an opportunity to remove the treasure. But can it really be done from under Dredd's nose? He is outside maintaining the seal and protecting the audit team.
Streetfighting Man. A gritty, street level tale of a juve gang.
The Gingerbread Man. This is (currently) the latest episode in the sporadic (but connected) long-lasting series of several P. J. Maybe tales. This one appeared in the Megazine in 2007 after the publication of the P.J. Maybe compilation, Judge Dredd: The Complete P. J. Maybe in 2006. Now an adult and wealthy, the dyslexic, but utterly brilliant, P. J. Maybe has changed his identity and returns to Mega City One. What does he want? Revenge on Dredd? Well maybe, but being mayor of Mega City One would be fun, if only he could run for office...
So them's the stories. The only other thing to note is that all but the last two of the tales had their lettering done by the legendary Tom Frame.
And there you have it. If you do not wish to subscribe to 2000AD or the Megazine, then these Rebellion graphic novels are a great way for keeping in touch with your favourite 2000AD characters. Indeed even if you are a subscriber, this is an arguably better way of re-reading the tales: it being a bit of a hassle to read them over several issues of comics (assuming you saved them and kept them in order in the first place).
One appeal to Rebellion's graphic novel editor. Do please, please include some of the 2000AD and Megazine covers where relevant. This is something that the old Titan graphic novels did and it does add something by enabling help place these stories where they occurred over the now three decades of 2000AD publishing.
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