Collects selections from 2000 A.D. Nos. 116-154 and 2000 A.D. Annual 1979 (cover dates June 9, 1979- March 1, 1980)
Writers: John Wagner and Pat Mills
Artists: Mike McMahon, Ron Smith, Dave Gibbons, Brian Bolland, Brendan McCarthy, Gary Leach, Ian Gibson, John Cooper, and Barry Mitchell.
There is a huge leap in the overall quality of the stories, from the writing on down to the artwork. The artwork in particular is where much of the improvement comes in. Before you had Brian Bolland and a bunch of mostly serviceable artists. Here we have Ron Smith, who draws in the style of Bolland but is great in his own right as well, and Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), who also does some tremendous artwork.
There are several firsts in this book: the first appearance of the City Block, Judge Anderson, and Judge Death. While Judge Death is the only “historic” arc in this book, I found Father Earth and The Forever Crimes to be nearly as good. Issue 126's untitled story is about a talking cat who gets Judge Dredd to investigate Mega-Labs, where unethical animal experiments are taking place. Dredd ends up getting The Dredd Act passed, forbidding experimentation on animals. This was all rather offbeat when you consider what a hardass Dredd is. It is also decades before PETA became a household name.
Issue 127's untitled story (often referred to as Night of the Fog) has some brilliant Brian Bolland artwork. Night of the Bloodbeast and The Black Plague! are also winners. Judge Death is, of course, the highlight of the book, but every story is solid and worth your time.
Judge Dredd is still a two-dimensional character at this point...but both of those dimensions totally rock! Everything is black and white (and I'm not just talking about the monochromatic color palette here) and absolute. Guilty or not guilty, period. Dredd is almost robotic in his mannerisms and speech. Robocop is a clear cut ripoff of Judge Dredd, but I mean that as praise. Like Paul Stanley from Kiss one said: “There's nothing wrong with stealing as long as you steal a diamond and not a piece of glass.”
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.
The OCD zone- These phonebooks could certainly use a detailed Table of Contents, stating which stories came from which issues. Numbered pages also would not suck. The only covers that are included are the ones that featured Judge Dredd, Progs. 117, 121, and 128, and those are of course in black and white. The title was originally black and white but the covers were not.
Buyer beware! There are multiple printings of this book, all with different cover art and a multitude of spine variations. You have been warned...
Linework restoration rating: 4.25 out of 5. There are a handful of pages that have linework dropouts. Whether this is the result of poor scanning or damaged film, I cannot say.
Paper rating: 3.75 out of 5. Thick uncoated stock that is surprisingly smooth. It feels strange, but in a good way.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. This has a nice thick band of glue.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 4 out of 5. The cover has that dull coating that makes the cover image look washed out and lifeless. This seems to be the new thing, and I hate it. Having said that, it seems to be durable enough in this case as it doesn't scuff as easily as other coatings of this type. It's just not my preference for cover coatings.