Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review- JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES VOL. 2

JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES VOL. 2 (2000 AD, First US Printing, 2010; Softcover)
Collects the Judge Dredd stories from 2000 A.D. Nos. 61-70, 73-76, 79-115 (cover dates April 20, 1978- June 2, 1979).
Writers: Pat Mills, John Wagner, and Chris Lowdner
Artists: Mike McMahon, Ron Smith, Dave Gibbons, Brian Bolland, Brendan McCarthy, Brett Ewins, and Gary Leach.
There is a marked improvement in the storytelling and the artwork over Volume 1, the natural result of the character becoming more defined and the creators refining their craft. We hit the ground running with The Cursed Earth (Progs 61-85), a famous (infamous?) arc where Judge Dredd has to run a vaccine across the post-apocalyptic wasteland called the Cursed Earth. Mega-City Two (basically the west coast of the US) was infected by the 2T(FRU)T virus, and Dredd and a small band of helpers trek across country to save them with the antidote. They encounter mutants, dinosaurs, and an alien slave colony. 
This volume should be called the InComplete Case Files, since the stories from issues 71, 72, 77, and 78 were omitted due to copyright infringement. 2000 AD was sued by McDonald's and Burger King for 71 and 72 and Kentucky Fried Chicken for 77 and 78. That gorgeous Brian Bolland artwork, never to be reprinted again. Oh the humanity! I love the black humour and satiric nature of the title. British people weren't exactly in love with us colonists, were they? I love the British spelling of words throughout the book as well. 
In The Day the Law Died (Progs 89-108), Judge Cal conspires to take control of Mega-City One. He assassinates the Chief Judge and assumes his position. With the help of his SJS (Special Judicial Squad) and by brainwashing the rest of the Judges, he manages to pull it off. Cal is basically like Caligula of Rome, a sadistic dictator who issues insane edicts. He employs the alien Kleggs to uphold his laws. Of course Dredd frees the judges from their hypnosis and saves the day.
This series was originally published weekly in England, and the artists all rotate, resulting in an inconsistent look and feel to the title. Brian Bolland is a genius, but most of the other artists are merely competent. One thing that is interesting about this series is that it takes place in real time as opposed to no time elapsing between issues. 
Judge Dredd is all about absolutes, as hard-nosed and stubborn as they come. Robocop was clearly ripped off from this. It's sometimes hard to remember that Dredd is human, he's so badass. His Roboservsant Walter is used more sparingly here than in volume one, thankfully. As was suggested to me prior to buying these, I recommend new readers starting with this book rather than Volume 1. Unless you are a diehard OCD completist there really isn't a need for it.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone- Buyer beware! There are multiple printings of this book, all with different cover art and a multitude of spine variations. You have been warned...
2000 A.D. was an anthology title with multiple characters. The only covers that are included in this book are the ones featuring Judge Dredd on them, 61, 69, 74, 82, and 85. This is an OCD fail for me, but your mileage may vary.
The lack of page numbers or a detailed table of contents is maddening. You cannot tell which story is from which issue without the aid of the Internet.
Linework restoration rating: 4.5 out of 5. The linework is generally excellent but there are a few dropouts.
Paper rating: 3.75 out of 5. This book has a thick bright white uncoated stock.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Standard fare glued binding.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 2 out of 5. The cover has an almost non-existent coating which feels weird. I was a stockboy in my teens and early 20s, and always hated touching the Gilbey's Gin bottles because they had frosted glass. It made me ill to handle them and made the hairs on my neck stand up in a bad way. This cover has a texture that is reminiscent of that to me. It's like a Vietnam flashback, OCD style.

JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES VOL. 2 is currently out of print, but there are plenty of Judge Dredd books available at InStockTrades!


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