IDW Judge Dredd #1 Review

Dredd'll fit right in.

Written by Duane Swierczynski. Drawn by Nelson Daniel.

After I’ve reviewed 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Megazine since this summer, I’ve wanted more Dredd. I’ve been looking forward to IDW’s interpretation of Dredd since the first announcment. The starting stewards of Dredd US, Duane Swierczynski and Nelson Daniel, had better do the Cits and Jays of Mega-City One right.

At least Dredd’s challenging another IDW-licensed British pop culture icon, Doctor Who, for which gets the most variant cover love from IDW. There’s even a retailer incentive cover drawn by Dredd co-creator Carlos Ezquerra.

I’m satisfied reading though the inital issue’s cops-and-robbers plot. After establishing Mega-City One and introducing some of its class structure, the story kicks in at the mall in Zuckerburg Block where a the Paradise Machine, a tree regenerating fruit every two minutes, goes haywire. The fruit smashes through windows allowing acts of thievery to commence. The main opportunists are dressed in black and seek to steal valuable body parts.

However, three Judges, including one Joe Dredd, are there to stop them. Dredd finishes the glitching tree with good ol’ Hi-Ex, but otherwise he and the other Judges’ guns get jammed by the flung fruit. When that isn’t enough, the Judges also have to deal with customer service droid going rogue. The trail to the mastermind behind the Paradise Machine incident begins at the end of the next issue.

Meanwhile in 2000 AD’s Thrill Land…

I’m pleased to see IDW Dredd having droids, the familiar grime of Mega-City One, the unsparing violence, and so on. Artist makes odd decision to created dotted shadows. Also, in one page, it’s difficult to tell Dredd apart because the three Judges are drawn almost exactly the same. One Judge has a mustache but it’s so close to his mouth it appears that his lips open a wider gap than everyone else.

Normally, most Dredd artists in 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Megazine vary the appearance of the Judges, even sometimes having a lady Judge assist Dredd; the most famous examples are Psi-Judge Anderson and recurring Chief Judge Hershey. In fact, there are no women of note in Dredd #1. Also, there’s no mention about the Justice Department. One minor example: when bodies need to be put onto stretchers, there are droids that do it. That’s fine, but there has to be at least one Med-Judge at the scene of the crime.

I know that this IDW Dredd is an introduction and the UK Dredd has been running for 35 years, but IDW’s take feels a bit hollow without the colorful supporting characters. Also, in the back-up issue drawn by Paul Gulacy, a cunning store droid is put front and center at the expense of Dredd’s intelligence. No way Dredd could be such a meathead with the years of experience and the tech the Judges have.

Don’t expect an “Americanized” Dredd where he’s a valiant superheroic good guy. Grud on a Greenie, Tharg wouldn’t have that! IDW’s creative team are making this Dredd true to the original. Dredd #1 doesn’t go all-out, but I’m planning on sticking around to find where Swierczynski and Daniel will take the Lawman of the Future and, I hope in future issues, his allies and antagonists.

The main story itself isn’t the most rousing introduction I’d hope for, but writer gets the essence of Dredd.

Here’s how the original Dredd reacts being dealt the Cold Deck.

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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.