Judge Dredd: Year One (TP)
Writer: Matt Smith
Art: Simon Coleby
Colours: Leonard O’Grady
Letters: Chris Mowry, Shawn Lee, Gilberto Lazcano
With over 30+ years of continuity 2000AD’s Judge Dredd is a tough cookie to crack. Everything is relevant and nothing has been retconned. This works well for fans of the series, and extremely well for those who have put in the time to catch up *pats self on back* but what about those of you who have neither the time nor money? Luckily IDW and their successful team up with 2000AD have brought Judge Dredd successfully to the comic stands in a number of new and accessible ways. One of those ways is the wonderfully enjoyable Judge Dredd: Year One from 2000AD superstar Matt Smith.
Everything is seemingly normal in Mega City One– as normal as it ever gets, until the youth being showing signs of telekenisis. Now, they hold the city in a grip of terror as they seek to claim Mega City One for themselves. Unfortunately for them they’ve never seen a Judge quite like Dredd and they’ll soon learn the meaning of the ‘law’.
This trade collects the first four issues of Judge Dredd: Year One, which covers the lawman’s first year as a Judge. While it may have unfairly been criticized for not giving us a more ‘green’ Dredd, those familiar with the character know that Dredd has never been ‘green’, he’s always been the hardest man on the mega-block. What Smith gives readers is a Dredd tale that is both fun and fitting. His version of Dredd is the black & white hard-ass that many are familiar with, whether they know it or not. This creates some great inner conflict with the character as well, since life is not like basic training, and the grey will always creep through the cracks.
Yet what makes this trade work so well is the gritty tone that Smith has laid out in the script. This book is not for the faint of heart. It’s an ultra-violent tale that is more reminiscent of the excellent 2012 Dredd film than the actual 2000AD comic adaptation set in the film’s universe. For those searching for a great, grown-up story, then look no further.
Simon Coleby’s art captures the tone of Dredd perfectly. His work harkens back to the distopian 80’s flicks such as Robocop or Blade Runner. Mega-City One is a cesspool of sin and inequity with the bright neon signs illuminating the filth of it residents. With Judge Dredd’s well pressed uniform, he serves as the only shimmer of hope in this crumbling society.
With its gritty tone, excellent art and Smith’s affection for the source material, Judge Dredd: Year One is must have. The book serves as great entry point into the intimidating series and a pleasing read for long-time fans.