A Judge’s life isn’t easy- but neither is anyone else’s in Mega-City One.
What They Say:
Mega-City One, 2130 AD. This vast urban nightmare on the east coast of post-apocalyptic North America is home to 400 million citizens, every one a potential criminal. With lawlessness rife, only the Judges can prevent total anarchy. These future lawmen are judge, jury and executioner. Toughest of them all is Judge Dredd – he is the Law!
The Review: (please note that content portions of review may contain spoilers)
In the wake of the Chaos Bug, Mega-City One is in terrible shape and the city is going to need all the help it can get to rebuild. With this backdrop the first story shows how the city has opened its doors to let the mutants that wish to come in and work rebuilding things and has given them place to stay and the opportunity to earn a living while doing so. Unfortunately not all the residents feel the same way and old prejudices die hard- if at all- and in short order a riot erupts as the citizens take out their frustrations on the mutants in the work area. In the midst of the maelstrom a 5 year old mutant daughter is separated from her parents and lost in the city with a power that may be the biggest curse one could have in the hellish city- she sees things not as they are but as she thinks they should be and in Mega-City One that is practically a death sentence. Luckily for her though the pleas of her parents fall on the ears of a man who sees only two types of people- honest citizens and criminals and he will go to any extreme to protect the former and hunt down the later. In a race against time even time may blink when faced with the unwavering visor that belongs to Judge Dredd.
The second tale present the aspiring, eclectic and rising artist Dorian Vox who discovers just how fickle the art world can be when one of his works turns out to be incredibly dangerous and has him encountering Mega-City One’s law and finding that the city will be paying for him to have his own place to stay in a way the artist never believed. Five years later upon his release Vox discovers that the world has moved on without him and those who do remember him want nothing to do with him as his previous stunt has left him almost a pariah. With the sun seeming to set on his career Vox has one last idea to capture the public’s attention- but will he find his fame reignited or will he discover that he gets the opportunity to truly die for his art?
In the final chapter of the story line of the book’s third tale Dredd has to continue fighting a collected group of killers in order to get to the person who brought them all together, but when one of the other interested parties in orbit plans to nuke the site will Dredd chose to save his own life or make sure that the perp behind things can’t escape? Then a short written piece introduces a psi user who is using his power for all the wrong reasons to influence people to jump to their death- but will his power to control minds win or lose when confronted with the iron will of Judge Dredd? In the final story included here, Judge Anderson will have to fight with an item that has already taken out a good number of citizens and some fellow psi officers and now looks to add Anderson to its count. Will the Judge fall victim as so many before her or will she rise above her current trial…but even if she wins will she be forever marked by the experience?
The large Judge Dredd Megazine 331 brings with it four different stories that explore some of the different aspects of the world that the Judge Dredd universe exists in as it focuses on some of the various other people and situations that exist in it and who at times just cross Dredd’s path because of bad luck that he is the one responding to the call or who have sought him as some sort of challenge as well as a tale exploring some of the dark parts that some of Dredd’s fellow Judges must confront. To this end the book is chock full of the kind of action, fun and danger that fans of the character have come to expect and the couple of self contained stories give a pretty damning look at some of the situations that the city exposes and fully reveals in the beings who call the city home while also serving as a mirror for the parts of humanity that don’t shine so well now.
Along with the stories the book also contains a trio of interviews with some of the people who have worked in various capacities for 2000 AD over the years and who bring their perspective to either the character or to the process that goes into creating comics. Possibly my favorite one of the interviews is where one of the writers for the comic at times expresses what I have thought but never realized about Judge Dredd- in many respects he is an anti character who remains almost unmoved in his beliefs and actions no matter what goes on around him as he stands like an unmoving mountain against all the chaos that swirls about him and so rarely grows which makes him an antithesis of sorts to much of the world of writing.
The book as a whole is a fabulous collection that presents some wonderful imagery and works to play with the reader’s sense of expectations and emotions very well and its balance allows for each included chapter to not completely overwhelm another but bring their own flair to the table which then shine in their own way of bringing their energy and message to those who experience them. The book serves well to give a collection of flavors that help create for a strong whole like the perfect blended recipe and the finished product is a delicious creation that will leave its audience feeling both satiated as well as looking forward to the next experience with much anticipation.
Those who can see the world in a different way are a special breed but the results of these abilities will vary greatly based upon what it is that they wish to use this vision for, while others will find that using their abilities to try to face off with Judges- be it Dredd or Anderson- will turn out to be a less than wise move as these Judges are not at the top of a profession already known for their ability to preserver seemingly against all odds for no reason. With so much incredible storytelling in one book it is almost a surprise that a single volume can contain them all and it is a volume that is worth the price of admission.