JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES VOL. 1 (2000 AD, First US Printing, 2010; Softcover)
Collects selections from 2000 A.D. Nos. 2-60 (cover dates March 5, 1977- April 15, 1978)
Writers: Pete Harris, Kelvin Gosnell, Malcom Shaw, Charles Herring, Gerry Finley-Day, Pat Mills, Robert Flynn, John Wagner, and Joe Collins.
Artists: Carlos Ezquerra, Mike McMahon, Massimo Belardinelli, Ron Turner, Ian Gibson, John Cooper, Bill Ward, and Brian Bolland.
A pox upon you, completist OCD! I was warned that early Dredd was a bit dry and to start out with Volume 2, but no, I have to own the complete collection. In all honesty, this was a fun read. It was interesting to see the very foundations of the character, and even more interesting to see how much Robocop ripped off from early Dredd. Judge Dredd is almost robotic in his complete indifference to the reason why humans break the law. He just wants them to obey the law at all costs. Dredd is about absolutes. Absolute compliance, absolute justice.
There is a major arc almost immediately with the Robot Wars, where the Judges find themselves in battle with renegade robots. There is a cynical black humoUr to this dystopian view of America's future, and sadly, much of it has come to pass. America has become more of a police and nanny state in the last 35 years. The next major arc, a ways further into the book, is when Judge Dredd becomes appointed Judge-Marhsal of Luna1, the United Cities of North America's colony on the moon. Once there, Dredd roots out corruption and rules with an iron fist. He gets tricked into fighting a war with the Sovs during the first Lunar Olympics. The book ends shortly after Dredd's appointment is over and he is reinstated as a Judge in Mega-City One.
As you can see above, the writing and artwork is handled by a lot of different creators. Since this was a weekly serial, this was necessary to make deadlines. Most of the writing is decent, especially when you consider how long ago it was written and how well it holds up being read here in late 2012/early 2013. The artwork is mostly passable, with the exception of the brilliant Brian Bolland. This is some of Bolland's earliest work, and he only gets better. I have read some of the Bolland stuff that's a little further down the pike, and it's incredible. It gives me something to look forward to in future volumes.
The downside to this book is Walter the Robot, Judge Dredd's Robo-servant. Something happens and he develops a speech impediment, replacing Rs for Ws, i.e. Judge Dwedd. It is incredibly annoying to read after a while. Walter and Dredd's housekeeper are supposed to provide the comic relief to Dredd's serious, deadpan nature. I hope that Walter is phased out before too long.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.25 out of 5.
The OCD zone- This is phonebook style collection. There are no page numbers, nor any information as to where each story came from. A page number and info at the bottom border at the beginning of each issue would have allowed me to sleep better at night. It's bad enough that only two of the 59 covers are included. Only the covers with Dredd are included in this collection, and those are in the back. These things cause us OCD purists to toss and turn at night.
Linework restoration rating: 4.75 out of 5. The linework looks excellent throughout the book, with no dropouts or pixelation. The rating debit comes from the blotchy look of the handful of pages in the end which were obviously in full color and scanned. Since this book is printed in black and white, the colors looked all murky and gray on those few pages.
Paper rating: 3.75 out of 5. This book has a thick, uncoated stock paper.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. This book has glued binding. It has a nice thick band of glue and should hold up well with repeated reading and handling.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 3.5 out of 5. The cardstock cover has that thin, easily scuffable coating that drives me nuts. It has to be a cost save. Either that, or my conspiracy theory is that publishers are going to continually decontent their product until people would rather read their books on Nooks and Kindles. Hey, they decontented vinyl records throughout the '80s to the point where people switched to cassettes and CDs. Then they brought them back out as deluxe reissues, charging double the price (adjusted for inflation). There's a moral in there somewhere...