Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 10 review

368 pages of mid-80s Dredd finds Mega City One's infamous law enforcer on top form...

Writer: John Wagner, Alan Grant Artist: Various artists Publisher: Rebellion (£13.99, paperback) Although in its tenth volume, Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files is still less than a third of the way through the material originally printed in 2000 AD. That’s not including the various annuals and specials appearing over the years, and then there’s almost two decades of the Megazine. What a collection it will be when it’s complete. Let’s just hope they do actually complete it, unlike the ill-titled The Complete Judge Dredd magazine from a few years back, which promised ‘the law in order’ but rolled over and died as soon as it reached the tales originally printed in full colour…

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Volume 10 is a truly weighty tome. At well over an inch thick it takes up a decent amount of space on your shelves, and you won’t read all 368 pages in one sitting either. Covering issues 474 to 522 of the weekly magazine, the stories were originally published from June 1986 to May 1987. And what amazing stories they are…

As 2000 AD approached its tenth birthday, Dredd’s world had become more rounded and sophisticated than in his earlier stories, and the character of Judge Dredd himself was deeper and more thought-provoking. You won’t find him shooting the bad guy and making pithy comments over the corpse here. Instead, look out for The Art of Kenny Who?, where the law seems indifferent to an artist who is blatantly (but legally) ripped off. Stan Lee, the best martial artist to come out of the Radlands of Ji, proved Dredd is not invincible by beating him in a fistfight, and there’s a heart-rending tale set in the Black Atlantic Tunnel about how Mega City One treats its unfortunate mutant citizens, a theme that’s being revisited in the magazine today. All great stuff and beautifully reproduced, in a slightly smaller page size but better quality paper.

We could’ve done with some extras here, maybe interviews with the writers and artists, a little context for some of the characters we meet along the way. Perhaps some historical notes too. 2000 AD, and Dredd in particular, often uses storylines which are inspired by events going on in the real world at the time. The background to some of these 20-year-old tales would’ve been interesting to read.

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If the lack of extras is annoying, the complete absence of a contents or index is inexcusable. How much effort would it have taken to include a page at the front offering the stories in the order they appear in the book, and a section at the back rounding them up in alphabetical order? A collection like this should be a reference as well as a good read, making it easy to look up individual Dredd tales of yesteryear with as little effort as possible. There’s no foreword or epilogue either. Just cover-to-cover comics, and a few reprints of 2000 AD covers to fill up a few pages at the end, which makes the absence of a contents or index section even more galling.

If the overall presentation was better, this excellent trade paperback would’ve earned that elusive fifth star. Even as it stands, it’s a bargain at £13.99, or under a tenner if you shop at Amazon.

The Ian Gibson column: Judge Dredd for the Daily StarJudge Death: Young Death, Boyhood of a Superfiend review 



4 out of 5