Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 02 (Judge Dredd) by Patt Mills, John Wagner Book Review

Write on: Sun, 23 Jan 2022 by  in Charles' New Reviews Read 180


JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 2 is where I think Judge Dredd officially "starts." The previous volume showed Judge Dredd not having found its identity while the subsequent one has: this is a Dredd that manages to be hilarious by being played perfectly straight against absurd but terrifyingly violent situations. There were some good stories in the first collection but this is just more consistently good overall.

The first long arc of the volume is "The Cursed Earth" arc where Judge Dredd must travel across the former United States on foot with a former criminal, some fellow Judges, a huge tank, and a bunch of vaccine that needs to be delivered to Mega City 2. Mega City 2, which compromises the West Coast, is suffering a zombie plague. It isn't called a zombie plague, George Romero being a bit from his heyday, but it makes everyone into mindless cannibals so we might as well call a shovel a shovel.

The majority of these stories are essentially horror stories about the Judges encountering something weird in the Cursed Earth like a town that executes prisoners with giant rats, a town that executes prisoners with a Tyrannosaurus Rex cloned from a theme park (decades before Jurassic Park), and a gang of slavers who torture aliens. There's some good stories among these somewhat sideshow like tales like when Judge Dredd deals with America's last President that has been confused with being a vampire and cleaning up Las Vegas of corruption.

There's some missing stories in this volume that were lost via rights issues due to the parodies of things like McDonalds and KFC. From what I understand, these are not particularly interesting stories and much isn't lost. However, we do get a surprisingly interesting set of relationships for Dredd like his association with an ex-biker and convict as well as an alien mouse that is a lot smarter than us humans. It's mostly a bunch of action set-pieces but the art and grotesque vision of 21st century America deserve applause. It dramatically expanded the Judge Dredd world.

The next arc is, "The Day the Law Died" where Judge Cal takes over Mega City One and begins an incredibly tyrannical spree of terror that includes naming his fish Deputy Chief Judge, banning happiness, and other acts of insanity. Based after Caligula, Judge Cal is always entertaining but as deep as a puddle. We never learn why Judge Cal is insane and you'd think they would have picked that up in the Judge's genetic as well as psychological screening. Even so, he proves to be a formidable foe for Judge Dredd and it's interesting to watch our protagonist largely helpless against the system that trained him.

Despite enjoying it more than "The Cursed Earth" I have to say that I it is a story that runs a little too long. It also doesn't get very deep into the contradictions Judge Cal introduces into Dredd's world of being the Chief Judge and making Dredd an outlaw. Hell, even the Sylvester Stallone movie touched on that. The fact Judge Cal is using mind control on his fellow Judges also makes the story less interesting than it might have been. On the plus side, it has giant alien mutant alligators with guns.

There's a couple of interesting stories following this but nothing particularly memorable. One story is outright offensive with a tale of some stupid liberals having sympathy for a criminal who subsequently takes one of them hostage. There's also a better story about Judge Dredd going after some criminals who have lost their fear of the judges. Overall, this book is a marked improvement over the original.

Available here

Last modified on Thursday, 14 April 2022 22:26
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.