Judge Dredd's First Encounter In The "City of Courts" [REVIEW]

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Clarence’s review of IDW’s “Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two: City of Courts” #1.

Douglas Wolk, one of the few comics critics people have likely heard of, writes his first comic book series for IDW. Judge Dredd, a favorite character of his, makes his presence on the West Coast and discovers his brutal approach to justice makes him a square peg. “Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two: City of Courts” #1 is illustrated by Ulises Farinas, who impressed some comics readers with Dark Horse’s Gamma and whose artwork I almost mistaken for Brandon Graham.

“City of Courts” #1’s amusing cover is somewhat grittier than the interior art. Dredd stands under a freeway ramp in front of two vehicles, one of which is a Lawmaster. Holding a bizarre gun with a smiley bear face, Dredd gives a growling face to us as if he misses his Lawgiver and wants to go back to Mega-City One.

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As Wolk pointed in his end-of-issue “Dredd’s Comportment” column, Mega-City Two is barely touched on in the original 2000 AD continuity. Wolk tells a brief history of Mega-City Two, including the fact that it was nuked off the face of the Earth in “Judgement Day.” The unfamiliarity with Mega-City Two allows Wolk, Farinas, and colorist Ryan Hill to craft fresh stories about the Lawman. “City of Courts” #1 takes easy pokes at shallow Los Angeles/Hollywood culture. But it also gives readers a look into what passes for civic responsibility in Mega-City Two.

A significant part of this Judge Dredd episode has Dredd chasing a Stookie glander. The sequence is peppered with some farce and shows that in Mega-City Two, Dredd’s expected to be more than law enforcement. Under Farinas’ pen, the various streets, freeways, movie studios, and other Mega-City Two scenes are more cluttered and uncomfortable than most artists’ depictions of Mega-City One, but it’s not as gloomy.

Mega-City Two as drawn by Ulisses Farinas and color by Ryan Hill. From ""
Mega-City Two as drawn by Ulises Farinas and color by Ryan Hill. From Farinas’ blog post, “Mega Processing.” Unlettered artwork.

Now I’ll describe a character that isn’t featured in previews while dodging spoilers. Mega City Two’s Chief Judge is the easygoing K.J. Kennedy. He’s dressed like a white knight and may believe he stars in Mega City Two’s longest-running drama, an untitled work about the day-to-day trials of law and order. Kennedy also adorns his uniform with some interesting paraphenalia, suggesting that he desires to be a man of the people. Though Kennedy describes what “City of Courts” means, I couldn’t fully grasp the concept. A future issue could possibly realize the ideas further.

“City of Courts” #1 is a solid episode where Dredd’s absolute commitment to justice is tested. Wolk, Farinas, and Hill give Mega-City Two its own character while avoiding treating Dredd’s new setting as a shallow gimmick. Recommended.

Preview Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two: City of Courts #1

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JudgeDredd_MC201_cvrRI-webPreview Judge Dredd #15, “13 Badges, Part 2”

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Thanks to IDW for supplying copies for review.

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Author: Clarence

Webmaster, editor, writer of Red-Headed Mule. RHM was founded in 2011. Currently is liking British TV better than U.S. TV, mayhaps.