Comic Book Review – Judge Dredd #1

Chris Cooper reviews the first issue of IDW’s Judge Dredd

I’ll start this off by explaining that I don’t have a great deal of knowledge with regards to Judge Dredd coming into this. My main two exposures to Mega-City One are the Sylvester Stallone film (which I hated), and the Karl Urban film (which I adored).

So, this should be just the right issue to jump on board. The issue is split in two; with art on the main story by Nelson Daniel and the backup handled by Paul Gulacy. Duane Swierczynski has writing duties on both.

We are very quickly introduced to the basic idea of Mega-City One, with its many robot servants and different levels of society. With the lower levels housing the poorest and the highest containing the more affluent, it’s a powder keg… and it’s constantly going off.

When a robotic malfunction leads into a robbery and several murders, we get our first glimpse of Dredd himself. It’s not a bad image either, though I think I was expecting something stronger. I enjoyed how it only took 3 panels to get across Dredd’s hard line on criminals, so we immediately know where we stand. Crime is so common that denizens barely bat an eyelid and quickly return to normal after an event. This attitude seems reflected in Daniel’s art, which shows several brutal scenes of violence that didn’t leave much of an effect on me. I get the feeling that the ending is leading into a bigger overall conspiracy, so hopefully in future issues we can get a good feel for the scope of this world.

The backup story on the other hand, is a mixed bag. Gulacy’s Dredd reminds me very much of Stallone, which immediately drew a groan. The dialogue, especially from the female robot is very cutting and clever. Though I wasn’t blown away by anything in the main story writing-wise, Swierczynski shows here that he has got a good handle on the satirical side of things.

If it sounds like I’m damning it with faint praise I’m not trying to! Judge Dredd #1 is a perfectly acceptable introduction. It just didn’t grab me in the same way some other #1s have lately.

Chris Cooper

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