I finished Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 01. My previous posts dealt with commentary on the United States and the development of Dredd in the background of Thatcherism. These final thoughts will discuss the evolvement of the creation itself.
Introducing, Ladies and Gentlemen, Brian Bolland
When you get through the book, you’ll be introduced to Brian Bolland’s crisp, detailed art. I think he even started the introduction splash art concept. And it really elevates the characters and 2000AD itself. It’s the evolvement of British publications. In fact, being 1977, you didn’t really see a lot of splash pages in American comics. I immediately wonder if this concept was first introduced by 2000AD and became a trend.
Regardless you get Brian Bolland and you understand his genius. He can draw anything. His facial expressions on Stoney Face himself set a bar and really complimented the punk art of the time. It’s no surprise that his career would be a long and fruitful one, probably culminating in The Killing Joker and the most famous depiction of Joker we know today.
The character matures as you read
I discussed this in previous posts, but Judge Dredd matures during the course of this collection. He started off as a sheriff in the future, and his dialog was really meant for younger readers. As you move through this collection, the violence increases and his dialog becomes less campy. He matures.
There are still inconsistencies. The humor is a bit off, particular between him and Walter, his robot servant. I mentioned Walter was really the main inconsistency of the stories. However, I must correct myself that Walter himself chose to be his servant and Dredd doesn’t make it official until Walter runs away. Either way, it still fits in my theory that it reflects attitudes on immigration at the time in the UK (and still to this day). You are protected by the law and you have rights, but know and stay in your place.
Regardless it’s fun watching the character evolve and the writers and artists hit their groove. The collection ends, promising the famous storyline of The Cursed Earth in The Complete Case Files 02. And if you read this you know they’re moving toward storytelling on an epic scale.
Dredd’s time on Luna 1 is the second major storyline
The Robot Wars was really the first major storyline that ran through multiple progs. Intriguingly, a big part of Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 01 is Judge Dredd leaving Mega City One and taking the job of Judge-Marshall on Luna 1. Luna 1 is a settlement on the moon and is known for its lawlessness. Until Judge Dredd comes to town of course. It’s a curious artistic choice and the fact that it runs for so many progs makes me wonder why the chose to do this? Did the creators want to move him from Mega City One to figure him out?
It’s just a curious choice. But regardless the writers and artists really do flex their science fiction muscles on this one. The stories on Luna 1 start off quite generic but do move toward more sophisticated storytelling. Even the story of the killer car Elvis, though campy on the surface, makes an impact. And I think they wouldn’t be able to do that in the beginning. The Elvis story for me really proved that they hit their stride and started to show some swagger. By the end of the Luna 1 experience you see aspects of the sophisticated science fiction storytelling you see today.
Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 01 is a complete collection
This collection sets it up for future installments (obviously). And interestingly, it does have a beginning, middle and end. The character evolves of course and you see Judge Dredd grow. Whether or not its intentional, he spends his time on Luna 1 and then returns to Mega City One in a very impactful and forever changing way. His return really sets up the character and cements his personality that we know today. He returns and walks through Mega City One, presumably ignoring the crime around him. The lawbreakers are astonished and decide to take advantage of the situation.
When Dredd arrives and is given his Judge status of Mega City One back, he immediately goes out and takes those lawbreakers down. Asking why he didn’t stop them before, he replies he wasn’t officially a Judge. You have to follow the rules and the law is always right.
In addition to the complete Dredd stories, you do get bonus material. You get eight installments of Walter the Wobat and the first ever Judge Dredd story that was supposed to be the first installment if Carlos Ezquerra didn’t walk away from the character.
And thus ends Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 01. It was a great companion on my return to the States. And by the end of this journey, Judge Dredd as we know him, is here.
For better or for worse.