Graphic Novel Reviews


Judge Dredd: Megatropolis Book One

(2021) Kenneth Niemand & Dave Taylor, 2000AD Rebellion, 19.99 / Can$34 / US$25,
hrdbk, 94pp, ISBN 978-1-781-08935-4

 

Actually, this is just titled Megatropolis Book One but I added the 'Judge Dredd' so that those word-searching our fiction review index for Dredd graphic novels would pick it up as this is Judge Dredd but not at all as you know him.

Judge Dredd was created in 1977 and so we are just a few years off of the character being g half a century old. Despite this he has accrued something of a mythos. Just as the legend of King Arthur has variants, and just as Sherlock Holmes has seen numerous interpretations including cinematic variants that have incorporated one in which Watson was the brains behind the sleuthing partnership and the recent BBC series updating the detectives to modern times, so there have been various versions of Dredd. These have included the disastrous Stallone iteration (1995) and the much better but still decidedly different more recent Dredd (trailer here) which has spawned a few alternate Dredd strips appear in the monthly Judge Dredd Megazine. And now we have Megatropolis that was originally published in the pages of the Judge Dredd Megazine (2020/1).

The short-hand description of Megatropolis is that of a futuristic 1920s art deco city a bit like that envisioned in Lang's film Metropolis (1926). In Megatropolis we have a cast of characters that are loose reflections of many of those in the Judge Dredd universe proper. The lead protagonist is detective Joe Rico (who in Dredd proper is a merger of the brother clones Rico and Joe Dredd) who is freshly partnered with Amy Jara (daughter of America) a variant of Judge Beeny who here has the reputation for shooting the psychotic child Philip Maybry (a variant of P. J. Maybe). Both Rico and Jara have to work within a corrupt police department while trying to track down a mysterious, masked, motorcycle-riding vigilante of few words who is also, single handedly, trying to clean up a crime-ridden, crooked city.

This is Book One from which you will deduce there is at least a second book to follow. Nonetheless, there is a sufficient plot-arc here to make this a reasonably contained offering even if it is blatant that there is much more to come.

For avid Dredd fans, well versed with Dredd's history, there is much enjoyment to be had seeing different versions of well known Dredd characters: there are loads of them!

For relative newcomers, there is the Dave (Batman) Taylor artwork who brings the art deco Megatropolis to life and who, with Kenneth Niemand story, provides an almost chandler-esque, noire feel to the graphic novel. The vision is stunning, and those who get graphic novels as much for the art as the story will not be disappointed.

That this comes as a more expensive hardback, albeit a comparatively slim one, is worth it as both the art and the story deserve a little luxurious packaging. Yes, it is a little slim but worth it, and we get a few artwork gallery pages appended. Let's hope that Part Two also comes as a hardback with similarly themed livery.

This is a most welcome addition to the Dredd multiverse.

Jonathan Cowie

 


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