Review: Judge Dredd Classics #1

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Re-presenting classic Judge Dredd tales monthly, with all-new colors by Charlie Kirchoff! Up first, 30 pages of “Block Mania,” which will lead to the beloved Apocalypse War!

dredd coverIDW kicks off their Judge Dredd classic series featuring colored strips with one of the most classic Dredd stories, Block Mania. The five part story serves as a prequel to The Apocalypse War. The story is written by John Wagner and Alan Grant (who were credited in the strips as T.B. Grover). Mike McMahon handles art for parts one and two, with Ron Smith taking parts three through five. Tom Frame handled lettering. Charlie Kirchoff goes back over the original strips and adds color. We know it’s a great story, so the real question is whether or not it should be updated with color.

Block wars are an average occurrence in Mega-City One. Sometimes the heat and tension just boil over and the citizens of each block go to war with one another. The Judges don’t like it, but they can usually handle it and get things back in control. It soon becomes apparent that this isn’t an average block war. The wars are spreading and it looks like the whole city will quickly devolve into chaos. The Judges, with Dredd serving as a field commander, are running low on supplies and things just keep getting worse. As the Judges themselves even start to side with one block or another, it’s apparent that there’s something causing people to give in to their more primal instincts. Dredd starts to get things under control, but it turns out that was just wave one. Who is behind the new outbreaks in hostility? What will happen when Mega-City One descends into complete and lawless chaos?

It’s easy to see why this is classic story. It’s a prologues so it doesn’t offer up a complete meal, but you get to see a different side of Dredd than we’ve seen in more recent appearances. He’s more than a guy that blasts away bad guys. He’s a Judge who is fighting to save his city from lawlessness. We see him commanding other Judges, using his brains more than his brawn. That’s something some tend to forget about Dredd. The colors add another dimension to the story. Kirchoff had great art to work with, but he helps elevate the story even higher. He makes it fill timeless while still having that unique 80s vibe in which the Judge Dredd stories were written.

Bottom Line: It’s easy to see why this story makes it into all “essential Judge Dredd” lists. It’s a fantastic and action-packed prologue that shows Dredd at his best. Yes, he blasts away bad guys and scowls, but he also fights hard to save his city and ultimately serve justice. 4/5

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