Review: Judge Dredd: Classics Vol. 2 #5

We have now reached the end of the line in our second Volume of Judge Dredd Classics.  Featuring tales presenting the Dark Judges, this entire run of Classics could have very easily have been called Judge Anderson Classics as the reprinted progs for the final three issues of this volume covered stories from the Anderson Psi Division title in 2000AD Magazine. As a matter of fact, old Judge Dredd has been nowhere to be found in the last three issues.  He did have a little itty bitty cameo in Issue #3.  But very little mention of our stone jawed hero since.  It continues here as well. But that is all good as these last three issues of the second volume of Classics have belonged to Psi Judge Anderson.  She has been the focal point and all the last three issues have revolved around her…Well her and the Dark Judges of course.

And I have absolutely no complaint regarding that fact.  These particular progs were originally released in the 1980s and they really hold their weight, maybe even more so than many of the Dredd tales of yore even. The featuring of such a strong lead in Judge Anderson really could be viewed as groundbreaking.

JudgeDredd-Classics05-cvrAs all fans of Judge Dredd know, Anderson has been the classic sidekick for many progs, she really gets her due here as she leads the action getting an honest and straightforward presentation of our lady Judge who would make stone jaw Joe proud.  Anderson within this issue is breaking protocol and risking life and limb even in the face of near impossible odds (and some serious Titan moon imprisonment time) staring her down.  Anderson handles all problems in smooth regard and can be viewed within these pages as a strong depiction of a female character in the graphic format.  Anderson can hold her own and these four progs demonstrate that fact whole-heartedly.  She brings it here.

The stories within this Classics assemblage are written by Alan Grant and John Wagner (who is credited under the name of “Grover”) with art provided by Cliff Robinson and Rob Smith.  Progs covered in this issue were featured in 2000 AD #424 to 427.  These progs are exactly as they appeared in the original 2000 AD printing with the only enhancement occurring through a splash of new color provided through the very capable hands of Charlie Kirchoff.  Like everything within the Judge Dredd mythos, the Anderson Psi Division progs are fast paced and brisk, running with a balanced presentation.

The Dark Judges were able to successfully manipulate and use Judge Anderson to return to Mega City One. And they have been reaping a bloody harvest of doom and gloom ever since, eluding the (living) judges as they administer their own sadistic brand of justice. Not willing to sit idly by as her Meg suffers, Anderson goes into action and works to find redemption as she challenges the Dark Judges head on and without fear bringing about a very satisfying outcome.

By the end of this issue, if you never were a fan of Judge Anderson, I can almost certainly assure you that you will be. Grant and Wagner utilize some of their most classic writing within these pages and they give Anderson substance and fullness rendering a total picture of the Psi Judge.  They portray Anderson as her own woman and really do a super job in bringing equality and balance to the Meg with her actions.

Though I missed Brett Ewins’ art style from the previous progs.  Cliff Robinson comes into his own throughout these pages putting a strong edge to the Dark Judges and their brutally violent destruction. This art is intense and Robinson rose to the challenge.  And adding the power to the Robinson punch, Rob Smith likewise does a steady job in maintaining the intensity level that starts and builds a crescendo until the conclusion.  Smith has a sequence of the Dark Judges wreaking havoc on a health club that seals the deal for me.

These art renderings are fantastic.  But the glue that holds not only the story together, but the entire volume of these Classics reissues is the strong new coloring of Charlie Kirchoff.  Much like Robinson’s work here, Kirchoff comes into his own with these pages rendering his best use of coloring within this line to date.  Well done man.

Well, it has been a fun run of this second volume of Classics.  I am certainly going to miss them.  Each volume has been just a wonderful rendition of superior tales within the Judge Dredd line.  I give IDW credit as these reissues were made with passion and care.  They are well worth a look and may just welcome newcomers in with open arms to Mega City One and its justice bringer.

Score: 4/5

Judge Dredd: Classics Vol. 2 #5 Writers:  Alan Grant and John Wagner Artists: Cliff Robinson and Rob Smith Colorist: Charlie Kirchoff Publisher: IDW Publishing/2000 AD Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/13/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital