Review: Judge Dredd Classics #5

There isn’t a comic reader anywhere that doesn’t know the name of Judge Dredd. This British import has been enforcing his futuristic justice from back when I was a little kid, which was a pretty long time ago. It started in 1977 for the record and really was one of the first comic series  shown in a strip format that dealt with issues of authoritarianism, police states and of course, the ever-changing political landscape of the Cold War that the “real” world faced during that time.  Dredd’s persona, I liken to a “Dirty Harry” type except rather than being a renegade on the edge of law and justice, he IS law and justice.  You don’t play around with Dredd. IDW Comics has revamped the series of lore and legend with its Year One releases, and as a side treat, the original top stories from the 70’s and 80’s are being reprinted with all new coloring in its “Classics” offering.

All I can say is it feels real good to go back to my days as a child and read comics before the days of high-tech equipment use. Glitzy art may have been more mundane, but even to this day it is every bit as impressive. They cranked out some seriously entertaining comics back then.

Issue #5 returns to the “Apocalypse War” storyline originally published in 1982. In the strips, Mega-City One has fallen under attack by the neighboring East Meg One using the likes of “Block Mania Gas” (making the residents raging lunatics), several nuclear strikes decimating a lot of the city, and good old-fashioned armed force attacks. Issue five begins after Dredd has launched a public appeal for the people of Mega-City One to rise up and wage an insurgent guerilla war against the enemy forces.

JudgeDredd_CLASSICS05_cvrADuring these sets of strips which begins on Part 9 and ends with Part 12 of the Apocalypse War story arc, we see Judge Dredd more in the role of military leader rather than his traditional “Judge, Jury, Executioner” role that he typically has been so well-known in his presentation. He demonstrates himself to be a strong and courageous leader that maintains a true level head in the face of all the things going on around him. He shows mercy to those who ask and he shows extreme bravery in taking chances all in order to preserve the city.

The nice thing about the serialized comic strip format is that the writers and the artists had to deliberately be quick to reach their point. They succeed tremendously as I found this blast from the past refreshing, fast paced, and entertaining.  I also found Judge Dredd himself to be “hardcore” in his personification. He’s a tough guy in every form of the word. They even manage to sneak in a little bit of comic relief that plays well and even helps to succeed in a nice plot point as the story advances.

It could have been easy to have new writers come in a “clean up” the old 80’s style writing (and extreme lack of political correctness there), but the folks at IDW did not. They remained true to the story and just added some color to help the faded look that many copies of comics from that era have (I had a whole basement full). This really helps to add to the uniqueness of the character and hopefully will allow readers to want to explore the new “Year One” material.

I think the “Classics” line is a great jumping off point for anyone wanting to experience the true essence of Judge Dredd. Granted, the Cold War stuff is waaaay past (Russian invasions, nuclear fears, etc.), but the story is true and well written by John Wagner and Alan Grant (who are credited under the name of T.B. Grover in the original strip series) and the artwork by Carlos Ezquerra holds up well with his strong chins and fierce features. This is a “classic” that you will want to read.

Score: 4/5

Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant Artist: Carlos Ezquerra Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/06/12