Graphic Novel Reviews

Judge Dredd: The Complete P. J. Maybe

(2006) John Wagner, Alan Grant and Garth Ennis et al, Rebellion, 13.99, trdpbk, pp unnumbered, ISBN 1-904-26596-0


Philip Janet Maybe (his parents wanted a girl) is not that good at spelling but is (quietly) very bright. His parents are comfortable as his mother comes from a wealthy family for whom their trouser-making firm his father works. However his dad, having married into his employment, is put upon by his in-laws. So one day P.J. decides to do something about it by killing his mother's family. First, though, he does a dry run murdering at random a fellow resident of his mega block...

The P. J. Maybe stories began their occasional appearances in 2000AD's Judge Dredd strips back in 1987 (coincidentally the same time as Concatenation began as a fanzine) over the next two decades we have seen P. J. Maybe grow up and constantly strive to outwit the Judges (who have the powers of police, jury and judge) that keep the peace in the 22nd century's Mega Cities. John Wagner and Alan Grant are on their form and Ennis' contribution to the story fits into the broader arc. This is one of the lighter storylines in the Dredd cannon that can be read alone; though there are references to other elements such as ' 'Necropolis', the mega city fats, and the fleeting ridiculous fashions (which gave rise to the varied (that in turn enabled a longer lasting) simping movement). Even with these references, in-depth knowledge of such aspects of Mega City life and history will not get in the way of those new to Dredd reading this collection, though newcomers might be better served elsewhere (see below review) if they want a better grounding as to what Dredd is all about.

Of relevance to 2000AD regulars, this graphic collection is dedicated to the late Tom Frame. Tom did much of the lettering for 2000AD over the years since it began, and with P. J. Maybe got to do more than usual as the stories are largely told using P.J. as the first person narrator.

This graphic collection is rather fun in a dark sense and certainly is a 2000AD collector's item.

Jonathan Cowie

P.S. An additional P. J. Maybe story was published (subsequent to this collection) in the late summer of 2007 in the Judge Dredd Megazine. In it P. J. enters the race to become mayor with his own way of dealing with the opposition. So his adventures continue.

Other Judge Dredd graphic collections reviewed on this site include: Goodnight Kiss, Judgement Day, The Art of Kenny Who?, Brothers of the Blood, The Complete America, Judge Dredd Featuring Judge Death, The Chief Judge's Man, Satan's Island, Total War and Dredd vs. Aliens.

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