“The Long Hard Road” begins here! In an all-new adventure from Joe Dredd’s early days as a Mega City-One Judge, writer (and Eagle-award-winning 2000 AD Editor) Matt Smith presents a tale where “all the young juves, carry the news,” only in this case, the news is delivered with a lethal blow!
A new Judge Dredd series kicks off this week with IDW’s Judge Dredd: Year One. The story looking at the earliest years of Judge Joseph Dredd is written by Matt Smith with pencils and ink from Simon Coleby. Leonard O’Grady handles colors with Chris Mowry tackling lettering. So does this new series pass judgment, or should it be confined to a containment cube indefinitely?
Our story opens on March 10, 2060 on the Ernie Wise Block Junior High playground. Some kids are fighting when out of nowhere the one being beaten up manifests some incredible powers. Elsewhere a mother is watching her young daughter play with her blocks, when she too starts experiencing a strange occurrence. The girl is causing the blocks to float around. And then there’s the case of the mugger who causes his victim to jump off a building. We then flash to Judge Dredd, hot on the tail of two perps who just robbed a Mega-Mart. Dredd makes quick work of one, but the other is able to grab a hostage. The hostage’s son literally rips the perp to shreds using only his mind. This leads Dredd to take the boy to the Psi-Division to try and figure out what’s going on. All across the city, young people are gaining incredibly psychic power with no explanation. Nobody at the Psi-Division can figure it out. Judge Dredd goes off to stop a routine robbery that quickly turns out to be extraordinary. Can Dredd survive the psionic onslaught?
Smith writes a strong issue. There’s not a long introduction to Dredd. We get the story set-up, then there’s Dredd. No background, no information. He’s there, he’s out for justice, and he’s always sporting a scowl. It’s quintessential Dredd. The only thing you can knock about the issue is the fact it doesn’t feel like a Year One title. There’s nothing other than a few bits of dialogue talking about the “fresh out of the academy” Dredd. He’s been around about a year, but other than those two or three lines you’d think this is your seasoned vet. Coleby’s art is great. It took a few pages to get into, but it fits really well with the story. It feels almost like computer graphics. Everything is very stylized with an occasional over exaggerated facial expression. O’Grady’s colors make it look slick and computerized almost.
Bottom Line: Judge Dredd: Year One is a good story that will have you coming back for more. It’s a great Dredd story, but it doesn’t feel like it earns the Year One title just yet. With the introductions out of the way, hopefully we get a few more of the things that make you think this is Dredd’s earliest years 3.5/5
Cody "The Thorverine" Ferrell
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