Being a person in my elder years who was actually a teenager during some of the iconic stories of Judge Dredd in the early 1980s, I am often asked if there is a good start off point to being introduced to the world of Dredd. I have always referred people to all of IDW’s more recent work as they have brought a Judge Dredd that is true to character and grounded in the mythos that can easily be read and enjoyed without the age that the original stories may show based on when they were published. That typically works well. But every so often, I have someone who wants to go pure and see where they should start. Of course, there are several classic story arcs that really define Judge Dredd for who and what he is. But for the past year or so, I have been referring people again to IDW’s reissues of their Judge Dredd Classics line as they are covering some of these great stories of yore with some added splashes of new color brought in that makes for a nice read and helps one get the experience of Dredd without digging for hours looking for old stories. It has been quite well done and I know that I have been impressed. And as luck would have it, we have a new volume of the Classics churning forward reaching now its third issue. The current Classics feature stories pertaining to the legendary Dark Judges. In case you don’t know much about the Judge Dredd world, the Dark Judges are Judges who came from another dimension that view life as a crime (since only the living commit crimes) and see no other way to cleanse the world than to judge all guilty and condemn them to death. Throughout Dredd’s history, these four Judges (Death, Fear, Fire, and Mortis) have had some serious moments in Mega City One and this Classics have started from the beginning as the first two issues hit that initial story arc.
With this current issue, a new chapter from the Dark Judges has returned following the progs of 2000 AD under the Anderson Psi Division title. It covers the Dark Judges’ return to Meg City One through their pursuit and torment of Anderson. These stories came through 2000 AD Progs 416-419 and have four episodes featured of a multi episode arc. The stories are written by Alan Grant and John Wagner (who is credited under the name of “Grover”) with art provided by Brett Ewins.
One big thing that you will notice in this entire issue is that there is absolutely no sign of Judge Dredd anywhere. This is Anderson’s evil babies at work and all of the episodes deal with her at this time. We do get Judge Grogan who is pretty stone jawed, but not quite in the same manner of our one and only Joseph Dredd. Not to mention, Grogan doesn’t know how to take care of babies at all, whether Dark Judge ones or real ones (inside joke here if you read the issue).
From a pacing standpoint, these episodes of Anderson Psi Division flow exactly like Judge Dredd and are in the standard 2000 AD format. You could start at any of these episodes and know exactly what is happening at any time. Grant and Wagner’s story itself has not lost any of its punch. And if you can get used to Judge Anderson’s 1980s style hairstyle, then everything is all good. Brett Ewins draws Anderson with strong features and really depicts her as a Judge who can hold her own with the best of adversaries, 80s hairdo aside.
But with any arc regarding the Dark Judges, they are the stars here. Judge Death has figured out a way to return to complete his work in Mega City One and he is using Judge Anderson to set things in motion. This issue displays those efforts and the outcome.
If you love Judge Dredd, then this is an issue for you reliving classic moments in the modern way. If not, you still might like it, but I would wholly recommend reading the first two issues of this volume as you get really one of the great stories in the Judge Dredd continuum. This new one is a great one too (as well as one of the longest ones once all is said and done). But those opening issues will prime you for this one for maximum enjoyment. Overall, this is good issue, but needs those two previous ones to help build on this current one. It is well worth the buy however and a great intro into the vintage world of Judge Dredd.
Judge Dredd: Classics Vol. 2 #3 Writers: Alan Grant and John Wagner Artist: Brett Ewins Colorist: Charlie Kirchoff Publisher: IDW Publishing/2000 AD Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/25/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital