Judge Dredd Vs. Judge Death: A Tale as Old as Time

Judge Death

Judge DeathJudge Dredd Classics: Judge Death #1
Script: John Wagner & Alan Grant
Art: Brian Bolland
Letters: Tom Frame
Colours: Charlie Kirchoff
Publisher: IDW
Originally Published in 2000AD: Progs 149-151 and 225
Purchase: http://www.idwpublishing.com/product-category/judge-dredd/judge-dredd-judge-dredd-classics/

“Do you know what “nemesis” means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent. Personified in this case by an ‘orrible c***… me.”Brick Top

Sherlock has Moriarty. Batman has the Joker. The Doctor and the Master. Judge Dredd and Death. Many of the great literary heroes find themselves locked into an endless dance of wits and violence against the antitheses of their beliefs. Today, to coincide with the release of Judge Dredd Classics: Judge Death we will delve into the relationship of these two mortal enemies.

Thanks to IDW’s Judge Dredd Classics line fans of Dredd are now, for the first time finally getting to enjoy the 30 plus year history of Judge Dredd. With their first storyline reprint under their belt– The classic Apocalypse War, IDW shifts their focus to the much beloved Judge Death storyline.

For those of you who aren’t in the know, Judge Death comes from an alternate dimension called “Deadworld”. Death and his fellow Dark Judges wiped that world clean of all life. With his sights now set on our world, Death wastes no time living up to his name. What makes him such an interesting rogue is his unflinching evil. This is not a character who flip flops between good and evil like some modern day Lex Luthor. Judge Death exist for one sole purpose; to wipe out the plague of life.

It’s because of this unflinching ethos that makes Death a perfect foible to the equally anchored Judge Dredd. When the two clash it is a case of unstoppable force meets an immovable object. Dredd however often finds that he has to comprise his own values, and that of the other Judges,for the greater good; Mega City one. This compromise, ending in Death’s defeat, often gives Death a victory over Dredd. The guilt from sacrificing his own men ways heavy on Dredd. The knowledge of knowing that Death has caused a little part of Dredd to die is victory enough.

Despite being a re-release, seeing the creative team of Wagner, Grant and Bolland on the cover should still cause a bit of fan-boy glee. These are the people who created a legend, one that will outlive us all. The story they crafted holds up quite well. The only criticism are the quick refreshes at the beginning of each prog. This is easily ignored since this is a collection that was released monthly, and during a time when exposition was a must. It’s also far less heavy handed than Chris Claremont’s X-Men run.

Bolland’s timeless art is a treat to behold, made even better by the colouring of Kirchoff. Often times re-colouring can be a bit obtrusive. Especially when a book is originally crafted in black and white. Bolland himself is even guilty of this with his own unnecessary recolouring of The Killing Joke. Yet here Kirchoff finds the right balance, never overshadowing Bolland’s own inks.

If you’ve been waiting for an excuse to read a Judge Dredd story than look no further. There’s a reason why the word ‘classic’ is thrown into the title of Judge Dredd Classics: Judge Death #1 . Its both a wonderful introduction to the terrible world of Dredd, and an excellent look at one of literature’s greatest enemies. Two unflinching mad men, forever locked in mortal combat. What more could you ask for?

-Sean

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