Judge Dredd: Year One Omnibus by Matt Smith, Michael Carroll and Al Ewing (graphic novel).

January 31, 2015 | By | Reply More

‘Judge Dredd: Year One’ is an omnibus of three novellas, each detailing a separate case from the Dredd’s first year on the streets of Mega-City One. It gives the reader a unique perspective on the Judge that was only really presented during the ‘2000AD’ story ‘Origins’. Otherwise, Dredd’s story has been told from about the year 2100, here we meet him twenty years earlier.

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The first two novellas ‘City Fathers’ and ‘Cold Light Of Day’ were originally published as ebooks. The third story ‘Wear Iron’ has been published especially for this omnibus. All three stories present a different take on Dredd’s early days.

‘2000 AD’s editor-in-chief Matthew Smith is the first author, presenting a story about Dredd investigating the death of an informant, seemingly by a block gang. This story is quite a straightforward police procedural as far as one set in Mega-City One can be. Dredd’s investigations lead him into the seedy underworld of gangs, grasses and narcotics. His inventive techniques, dogged determination and unwavering application of the law are all very much present and you get the same vicarious thrills of seeing the fascistic lawman in action as you do with the comic book.

Michael Carroll, a contributing writer to both ‘2000AD’ and ‘Judge Dredd Megazine’, is up next with a story about a shooting and acts of revenge that recall one of Dredd’s first ‘hot-dog runs’ into the Cursed Earth while still a rookie. The story cuts back and forth between the murder investigation, which just happens to be taking place during the Mega-City 5000 race and five years previously as the rookie Dredd attempts to save a Judge’s life in the desert. This story is clever for ramping up the tension and the action while filling in the back story. ‘Cold Light Of Day’ is the longest story in the collection and I would argue the best.

‘Wear Iron’, the third novella is by Al Ewing, a big ‘2000AD’ fan and contributor who also writes for Marvel. His story focuses on a perp named Paul Strader who goes for one last big score following a botch jewellery store robbery. The change of perspective is interesting, especially since Dredd is an unknown consequence back in 2080AD and not the feared and infamous protector of his later years.

Interestingly, all three stories reflect on what Dredd is and what he is not. In ‘Cold Light Of Day’, an arguably more idealistic Dredd argues for a concept of justice rather than simply upholding the law. Being set during his early years, we also encounter his twin brother Rico Dredd, cocky, smart and at least imbued with a personality that his brother lacks. With both of them being clones, it is interesting to see the contempt with which other Judges sometimes treat them. Supposedly bred to be Judges, but lacking the street experience.

‘Judge Dredd: Year One’ is a satisfying collection of cases that document the early days of one of the best anti-heroes of all time. While the stories don’t contain any huge revelations for long-term fans of the comic series, they at least build on what we know of the characters years later and do so in ‘2000AD’s exciting, parodical and sometimes gloriously violent way. Recommended, creep.

John Rivers

January 2015

(pub: Abaddon Books. 382 page paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78108-273-7)

check out website: www.abaddonbooks.com

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Category: Books, Comics

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