March 18, 2012

Judge Dredd!

     I recently finished reading Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Volumes 1-17 which covered 16 years worth of Judge Dredd/2000 AD comics and over 8000 pages!

     For those unfamiliar with the character, the stories take place about 100 years in the future. Around the year 2070 a psychotic president of the United States starts World War III. The resulting Atomic War devastates the globe and only the Mega Cities with their laser defences were able to survive. The rest of the world has become a radioactive desert called the Cursed Earth which is populated by mutants and gangs. Up till this point the Judges were simply a powerful police force but the public demanded that the Judges take over the government. As a result, the Judges became the ruling dictators of the surviving Mega Cities. They are the police, judges, jury and sometimes executioners of the population they protect. Judges are trained from the age of 5 till the age of 20 in the hardest school on earth before they can become a full Judge.  

     Judge Joe Dredd is the toughest of the Judges (think RoboCop meets Dirty Harry meets John McClane) and is a direct clone of the original Chief Judge Fargo. Armed with a gun that fires selectable regular, incendiary, heat seeking, armour piercing and ricochet bullets called the Lawgiver and a motorcycle equipped with cannons and artificial intelligence called the Lawmaster, Dredd travels around Mega-City One sending perps to the Iso-Cube or to Resyk (body recycling plant where all the dead are sent). He never takes off his helmet, smiles or cracks a joke and he arrests and sentences people like it’s going out of style. A case of jaywalking can get you 12 months in the Iso-Cube!

     Over the sixteen years worth of stories that I just completed the future looks like hell. There is a <10% employment rate and because of the lack of direction people feel, crime runs rampant. Disasters also seem to run rampant: Mega-City One suffers a robot rebellion, a crazy Chief Judge who sentences the entire population to death (alphabetically), an all out war between the various Mega-City blocks, The Apocalypse War between Mega-City One and East-Meg One (Russia) which killed off half of the city’s 800 million person population, Dark Judges from another dimension where life is a crime take over the city’s Judges and sentence the entire population to death, and Judgement Day where a necromancer revives all of the earth’s dead as a zombie army and billions of people are killed. Each time Dredd comes to the rescue.

      I’d recommend this series to anybody. The longer stories are epic in scale and the single issue stories can be silly, sad, satirical, badass and everything in between. The different artists and writers who have worked on the books are also exceptional. Among my favourite artists were Brian Bolland, Simon Bisley, and Glenn Fabry who all brought a different flavour to the character.
      On a related note, the small comic publisher IDW (who currently publishes the amazing Locke & Key series and the ongoing TMNT) has just announced that it will be releasing a monthly Judge Dredd book sometime in the future. Also, this September a new Dredd movie is going to be released. The film stars Karl Urban (Bones from the Star-Trek re-boot) and is written by Alex Garland who also wrote 28 Days Later. From what I have read the movie is supposed to be quite violent (exploding heads and people chopped in half) and I can only hope it will make people forget about the crappy Stallone version from 1995. There is a screenplay floating around but I don’t want to read it before the movie comes out. Many people are saying the story is like Die Hard in the future which is fine with me because I love Die Hard.

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