Judge Dredd is a fairly big name in the comic world, but I have to say that I was never familiar with the character so I can’t say that I was impressed. He was just another variation of Batman right? This collection showed me that Judge Dredd is definitely a legitimate character and he’s very well written. He definitely shares some traits with Batman, but his heavy usage of the classic handgun is already one big difference. This is a great way to become a fan of the character and get started on the franchise!
This collection brings together dozens and dozens of Judge Dredd issues. Maybe even 100+! This is because most of the Judge Dredd comics were only 2-4 pages back in the day so the adventures were very quick. As you go deeper and deeper into the book, you can see how the issues started to get longer and longer. One thing is for certain, continuity was always important to the series. Past issues are constantly references and no character development is lost. These issues are very tightly connected so it makes for a great read in this collection form.
The setting for the story is that everything is taking place in the future. The Earth has been reduced to three cities and Judge Dredd is stationed on Mega City 1. There are 800 million civilians living there and most (if not all) of them are criminals. Luckily, the city is kept safe by an organization of judges who fight to keep the peace. They have been granted virtually unlimited power to deal with criminals and Judge Dredd is known as the best of the best. This reputation is well deserved as Judge Dredd continues to prove why he is the best throughout the collection.
The first big arc in my opinion is the one about Call Me Kenneth. He is a robot who breaks free from the current robot code that no robot may hurt a man and they must obey humans no matter what. The humans are pretty smug about this and they love to tell the robot to blow themselves up or melt themselves. Call Me Kenneth won’t have any of that and he quickly frees many other robots from this code. It becomes a full scale war between the Judges and the Robots as things escalate quickly. The battle is no joke as thousands of civilians perish and over 100 Judges as well. It’s safe to say that this was the toughest battle that Judge Dredd and the other heroes had to face. I was also surprised at how many casualties were involved and they don’t lessen as the comics continue. The villains definitely aren’t playing around here.
Call Me Kenneth is a pretty good villain and one can mildly sympathize with him. You can’t really sympathize with his actions by the end, but he does have a point that robots should have freedom. Very few do and most of them are essentially treated like slaves. Unfortunately, Call Me Kenneth goes too far when he enslaves his own robots as well. It basically makes the whole thing pointless if you think about it. So, that really hurt his character development and he wasn’t quite as likable after that. I do like his design though and he made for a powerful enemy.
Another reoccurring villain is Whitey. He’s the very first villain to appear in the collection and he takes out a Judge with ease. Judge Dredd makes short work out of him, but Whitey got his 5 seconds of fame. He later appears again when he breaks out of jail, but it’s a very short escape since Judge Dredd is always on the job. (The man doesn’t even take Christmas breaks!) He was a pretty interesting villain since he stands for the one shot villain who one would expect to never appear again, but he didn’t stay down for the count. I also find the name to be a little humorous and I may have him battle on this site’s fight section soon.
Judge Dredd is a great main character and he’s much better than I could have guessed. He does destroy many of his foes, but this is typically by accident. Usually, he shoots his enemies, but he doesn’t aim at any of their vitals so they get to limp off with dignity as they’re sent into prison. He’s as serious about crime as Chase is from Transformers Rescuebots and I’ll admit that I read all of his lines in that voice. Judge Dredd is portrayed as an expert in the collection and that never really fades. Throughout all of the adventures, he’s only defeated a handful of times. He typically defeats his opponents with ease or with a pretty great plan at the ready.
Judge Dredd’s passion for the law is a great advantage to have over the common miscreants, but it can also be a dangerous weakness. An example of this is when he allows a few criminals to run amok because he had to wait for a new badge. Knowing that it is illegal for an average citizen to take the law into his own hands, Judge Dredd had to wait until he was reinstated. He also quit when the other Judges would not deactivate the various robots. They were too confident that they would never turn evil…right before the war started. Judge Dredd’s punishments for crime are pretty serious as he fines someone over 200000 credits just for stepping on the curb. It is a crime though so you are supposed to do the time…
Judge Dredd may have one other weakness and that’s his selection of friends. He’s a Judge so he’s as emotional as stone, but he did allow a few to get close to him. One was his best friend at the academy, but I forgot his name. Unfortunately, the friend became corrupted and he started to murder people while disguised as a mutant. Dredd was forced to destroy him and strike his name from the school’s honor roll. Deja Vu occurred when Dredd’s cloned twin arrived and Dredd quickly mowed him down as well. Luckily, Dredd did make one really good friend although he’ll never admit it.
Walter is Judge Dredd’s best friend and it means a lot to the robot. Walter is the only robot who has been granted freedom I believe, but he doesn’t care for it. He just wants to be with Dredd and he even gives him presents at Christmas. Walter definitely gives the Judge a lot of trouble since he’s certainly not one of the stronger robots out there, but he gets the job done. Without Walter, Judge Dredd’s social life would truly be nonexistent. He does have a cleaning lady who is around to help from time to time, but her role is incredibly small and she’s basically written out of the series once Walter appears.
Half of the collection is spent on Mega City 1, but the scenery changes when Dredd is assigned to the Moon. It makes for an interesting change of pace. I definitely prefer Mega City 1, but Judge Dredd’s new uniform is pretty cool. It’s also good to see him slap the local authorities into shape as he began to uphold the law once again. The Moon Saga had many plots including illegal super races and an evil Santa Clause.
Once Judge Dredd made it back to Earth, he had to deal with the ultimate car…Elvis! Elvis manages to snap away from his coding when it got damaged and he quickly went the Call Me Kenneth route as he woke up many other cars to the realization that destroying humans was fun. The Judges now had to deal with another war, but this one was likely not as lethal to the local civilians. Elvis isn’t quite as smart as Call Me Kenneth, but he does get the jump on Judge Dredd when he invades the latter’s home. He uses this as a shield against the authority and it’s a pretty bold plan. Can the authorities put him in his place?
The art for the collection is in black and white as per the norm, but it definitely works very well for this series. Everything is pretty clear so you can tell what is going on and the only characters who can appear to be very similar at times are the judges. I don’t care for the book’s actual binding because there were a few times where it was impossible to make out a few words because they were exactly in the middle of the collection. You can always tell more or less what the characters are saying because it’s only a few words, but the words shouldn’t be so crunched up together.
The dialogue is one of the strong points in this collection. Just about every line from Judge Dredd tends to be pretty epic. He’s really focused on making sure that everyone acts in accordance with the law and it’s cool to hear the various laws of the future. The villains are also ready with old slang and new terms to combat the Judges verbally. It’s a good way to stall for time I suppose.
Overall, This was a pretty great start to the franchise. I can certainly see why Judge Dredd has a lot of fans and I can safely say that he’s a lot more likable than Robocop. Mega City 1 is certainly a rough place since there’s always someone out to get Judge Dredd, but that’s what makes the issues so interesting. The universe is built pretty well as there are already many plots that can be explored in the future. The other two Mega Cities, The mutants underground, the whole robots issue, etc. The cast is relatively small as well, but the main heroes are both likable. Walter grows on you as the issues go and you almost feel bad for him. (Maybe not always…) I hope that Call Me Kenneth and Whitey return soon since that would make for a fun rematch. I highly recommend this collection to any comic fan and it really has no weaknesses. You can finally meet one of the bigger comic book characters and find out what true justice is!