Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Nelson Daniel
I’ve been meaning to read Judge Dredd comics for a long time, and seeing the recent Dredd movie has only increased that want. With IDW’s rebooting of various properties like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mars Attacks, Ghostbusters, and many others for new readers, and the movie’s incredible DVD sales, it’s reasonable to add Judge Dredd to that lineup. Sadly, execution does not quite match the idea.
The story in this volume of Judge Dredd is a bit all over the place. Initially, the Judges are called in when a droid’s malfunction causes a tree to explode fruit all over the place which, in turn, causes a riot to start. Before long, though, the story shifts over to a cloning plot, where various husbands, wives, children and pets of rich people throughout Mega-City One are kidnapped and held for ransom—or they may just be clones. As with my Godzilla review copy, my version is missing the 5th issue, which should close off the cloning plot, but I will be writing based on the information I have.
The biggest problem with this book is the art. Daniel’s art is just a touch too goofy for the world of Judge Dredd. I’ve always heard that the comics are filled with satire and black comedy, and having fairly silly artwork simply does not display that. Each main story in this book is accompanied by a side-story with a different artist, and these artists have a much better look on Mega-City One, so it’s odd that Daniel was chosen as the primary artist. And this is a problem that may exist in general, but I simply couldn’t tell Dredd from the other Judges without context. It’s tough to read a comic when you, quite literally, don’t know which character is the main character.
There’s also some awkward exposition throughout. I feel like IDW was trying too hard to push this on new readers, and instead of naturally explaining things, there’s narration boxes throughout. For instance, when they’re explaining how the Judges’ guns can switch between different ammo, instead of actually showing the guns switching their ammo (as I remember happening in the movie), there’s a narration box saying how it works. It’s almost like a Silver Age comic.
And it’s a shame because, without these two faults, this would be a pretty solid book. While it’s disappointing that the initial droid story basically falls away completely, the stories told here are actually unique and fun to read. There’s some well-done action sequences (Dredd fighting against a team of mad doctors is pretty good) and some witty parts. When the rich woman’s husband is kidnapped, the narration boxes are used well to make a very big deal of how this is every judge’s top priority.
Unfortunately, in the end, Judge Dredd does little to satisfy my itch after the movie. I would still rather pick up one of the Case Files collections. Ultimately, this feels less like a jumping on point for new readers and more like an awkward try to get new readers interested.