Coming off a strong The Complete Case Files 02 with stories like, The Cursed Earth and The Day the Law Died, we’re treated to…a bunch of one-shots. And that pretty much sums up Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 03.
Which isn’t a bad thing. John Wagner writes most of these, with a hell of a story at the very end reserved for Pat Mills.
But it is an odd collection considering. During my look at the Complete Case Files 02 I stated that they established Judge Dredd who he is today. Here they make him take a step back.
One could argue it’s a return to the gimmicky form that you saw from the first collection. Which again is odd because we can now put him in context. After events such as the Cursed Earth and The Day the Law Died it is disappointing that you still see some cuteness to him.
However, the volume does serve up some entertainment and the majority of the stories are definitely strong. Father Earth and Black Plague come to mind, along with Palais de Boing and The Great Plasteen Disaster. John Wagner definitely anchors the ‘Thrills’ concept.
The main reason a lot of people buy this volume is because it serves as the first appearance of Judge Judge Death and Judge Anderson. Which is an absolute delight of course, much thanks to Brian Bolland’s art. And just when you think it’s all done Pat Mills swoops in at the very end with an absolute cracker with The Blood of Satanus. Like I said, it’s just a very odd, if not interesting volume. There’s also not a lot of context provided by Rebellion in terms of a forward or setup. The publication is a very much ‘here you go,’ sort of thing.
But really, the main reason to buy this is the art. It’s amazing how all these artists created a very specific feel to 2000AD. Even if Judge Dredd as a character is still all over the place you definitely can’t say that about the art. The style and panel layouts are just so stylish and consistent from artist to artist. This is definitely a piece of comic book history.
Ron Smith does a lot, if not the majority of these, and it’s a pleasure to look at. He did some fantastic stuff on Dredd. And he recently got some of the credit he very much deserved, partly because he sadly passed away. Mike McMahon jumps on at the end, and Brian Bolland and Garry Leach also contribute a few pieces. But again, Smith really steals the show here. If you still aren’t familiar with him or are wondering what the fuss was about, here you go.
With all this summed up Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 03 actually makes for a pretty neat little gift for Judge Dredd first-timers. It’s a short volume that consists of the basics; Dredd dishing out the law with a bit of thrill sprinkled in. Plus you get an introduction to some key characters. It’s basically a stocking stuffer. And a very good one at that.