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Review: Judge Dredd Year One #4

20130810-125724.jpgJudge Dredd Year One take places ten years after the Atomic War, in a Mega-City One that is still recovering and rebuilding. Our immovable lawgiver is a recent graduate of the Academy and still in his rookie year as a representative of the Hall of Justice. Tasked to investigate a rash of paranormal incidents involving violent juveniles, Dredd has found himself trapped in a parallel Mega-City One with a band of judges unwilling to take back their fallen city. Can he motivate his peers and save their city with enough time to make it back to his own?

I have limited experience with the Dredd universe, and while ‘Year One’ sounds like a decent starting point, I’m pretty sure diehard fans would refer me to Wagner’s Judge Dredd Origins to find out how it all started. Regardless, this four book mini-series is still an interesting look at how a young, idealistic judge delivers hard justice on the streets of Mega-City One.

While one would assume nonstop wordless action, editor-turned-writer Matt Smith packed the pages full of dialogue (letterer Gilberto Lazcano was gainfully employed). And although I wasn’t wild about the supernatural tint, Smith crafted an engaging storyline that made me look forward to each subsequent issue.

Simon Coleby‘s visuals bring out the gritty streets and hollowness of Dredd’s current predicament. His pencils have an early 90s look to them, much like The Wake‘s Sean Murphy. Unfortunately, at times faces lose detail in close ups, thankfully this doesn’t detract from our helmet-wearing protagonist. Leonard O’Grady‘s colors compliment Coleby’s artwork, and although they pay homage to Dredd’s 2000 AD days, I’ve always disliked the green gloves and boots.

While the story and art were thoroughly executed, I mistakenly expected unending, futuristic action…yet Smith delivered a mature, extended X-Files episode. Just because I failed to manage my expectations going into it, doesn’t mean dedicated fans won’t truly appreciate this glimpse at Dredd’s early days on the force.

Story: Matt Smith Art: Simon Coleby
Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review