Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I Reads You Review: JUDGE DREDD CLASSICS: The Dark Judges #1


WRITERS: John Wagner (writing as “John Howard”); Alan Grant (writing as “T.B. Glover)
ART: Brian Bolland
LETTERS: Tom Frame
COLORS: Charlie Kirchoff
COVER: Darick Robertson with Diego Rodriguez
28pp, Colors, $3.99 U.S. (January 2015)

Judge Dredd created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra

I will take any opportunity to praise legendary British comic book artist, Brian Bolland, that is presented to me.  The most recent opportunity comes in the form of the latest Judge Dredd Classics series from IDW Publishing.  Judge Dredd Classics: The Dark Judges reprints the best stories from British comics weekly, 2000 AD, that pitted Judge Dredd against the “Dark Judges.”

For those who don't know, Judge Dredd is a British comics character.  He was created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra, and first appeared in the second issue of 2000 AD (1977), the long-running, weekly science-fiction British comics anthology.  Joseph Dredd a/k/a Judge Dredd is an American law enforcement officer in a post-apocalyptic future.  In the dystopian future city of Mega-City One, Dredd is a “street judge,” and he is empowered to summarily arrest, convict, sentence, and execute criminals.

Judge Dredd Classics: The Dark Judges #1 offers four episodes (known as “progs” in 2000 AD) of the Judge Dredd comics strip that guest-starred the ultimate Dark Judge, Judge Death.  All four progs in The Dark Judges #1 are drawn by Brian Bolland.

Progs 149 to 151 comprise the story known as “Judge Death,” which introduce both Judge Death and Psi-Judge Anderson (or Judge Anderson from the Psi-Division).  This story opens with the arrival of Judge Death in Mega-City One.  An alien super-fiend from another dimension, Death believes that all life is a crime, and he is such a bad-ass that even the vaunted Judge Dredd seems unable to stop him.

Judge Dredd Classics: The Dark Judges #1 closes with Prog 224, the first chapter of the classic story, “Judge Death Lives!”  Judge Death escapes imprisonment with the help of a fool.  Meanwhile, three new characters arrive to pass the sentence of death on Mega-City One.

I think this is the first time that I have read the stories, “Judge Death,” written by John Wagner (using the name “John Howard”), and “Judge Death Lives!,” written by Wagner and Alan Grant (writing as T.B. Glover).  I bought this comic book because of Brian Bolland's art, but I must admit that I enjoyed the stories.

Bolland's work here shows why he is one of the most celebrated comic book artists of the last four decades and also why he is a beloved Judge Dredd artist.  Bolland's robust compositions, sturdy figure drawing, imaginative storytelling, and precision draftsmanship are all on display here.  For this series, Bolland's art is refreshed and revitalized by Charlie Kirchoff's coloring.

I am surprised by Judge Dredd Classics: The Dark Judges #1, because I did not think that I would want to buy anything past the first issue.  I think, however, I should try more, because I did end up enjoying reading the thing.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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