Villordsutch reviews Judge Dredd: The Mega Collection – The Cursed Earth…
A deadly plague developed during the brutal ‘Great Germ War’ has reached the futuristic metropolis of Mega-City Two, located on the West Coast of the USA. Charged with delivering a life-saving vaccine to the citizens of the disease-ridden city, Judge Dredd and a small crew of Judges, war droids and the lawbreaking biker, Spikes Harvey Rotten, must travel a thousand miles across the radioactive wasteland known as ‘the Cursed Earth.’ It is a near-impossible journey – hate-filled mutants, rampaging monsters and crazed war robots populate the hellish stretch of terrain. Many men have attempted to cross it and most have failed. But Judges are more than normal men and Judge Dredd is the best Judge there is!
I can recall reading this Cursed Earth saga as a very small boy. You may be thinking ‘what vile/cool (delete as appropriate) parents would give The Cursed Earth saga to a small boy!?’ well truth be told they didn’t – it was my sister’s childminder’s teenage son. He collected numerous comics, listened to Madness, knew cheats to ZX Spectrum games; he was rather excellent. He let me read The Cursed Earth saga individually and back then it was fantastic, but as the old saying goes, “You can never go home again”.
For those new to The Cursed Earth saga it is a classic Judge Dredd tale which involves Mega-City Two being practically eradicated by the plague 2 T (fru) T. After a failed attempt by Mega-City One to land there it’s decided that Dredd and a posse of Judges, along with the best biker in Mega-City One – a Perp called Spikes – must drive across the Cursed Earth to deliver the cure. During this journey Dredd and Co. encounter numerous Muties, a Cloned T-Rex, Ex-President Bad Bob Booth and hundreds of the droids who primary program was to destroy Judges.
The standout element here – within this grab from the past – is clearly the artwork from Mike/Mick McMahon and Brian Bolland. This sings to my heart at the work that has gone into each panel; I’ve said it numerous times in the past but I truly love artwork like this and to have the luxury of a full novel of it is sheer bliss.
However, my rose-tinted childhood memories of The Cursed Earth have not fared well on the re-read. There are elements within this book it has to be said which are still great, like the introduction which sets the story of perfectly, the emerging War Droids are still terrifyingly brilliant and the vampire tale with Bad Bob Booth is amusing. The Bad Bob chapter I forgot completely from my initially read – over thirty years back – but having recently read Origins it was good to see the genesis of this tale. There are moments though which stall the flow of the book, like the Satanus the T-Rex episodes and our Space Rodent Tweak, and it’s here you realise you’re no longer a teenager – or an eight year old boy – but a fully-grown adult reading a comic written and drawn for children in the 1970’s.
There is also another curious element to this book – which I shan’t place as a negative – and this the fact that Dredd is more of a hero figure. I know he’s always stood up for the Law but within the confines of this book he’s in full on hero mode. It’s odd seeing this version of Dredd, and it’s interesting to see Pat Mills taking Dredd in this direction.
For those hoping to see the “Burger Wars” and “Soul Food” make a return I’m sorry to say that they haven’t made their Major Fast Food Corporation Baiting return in this collection, so you’re going to have to scour the web for those issues and just slip them inside.
In two weeks’ time we have Devlin Waugh – Swimming in Blood so look out for the review here at Flickering Myth.
Judge Dredd: The Mega Collection – Cursed Earth is available to buy now priced £9.99 or online here.
Villordsutch likes his sci-fi and looks like a tubby Viking according to his children. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.