Review: Judge Dredd: Year One #4

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Psychically powerful juves rule the streets and insurrection is spreading in Mega-City One – Justice Department’s only hope lies with Judge Dredd, attempting to cut off at source the psi-energy passing across the dimensional divide. But for a young lawman barely out of the Academy, has he underestimated just what it will take to save the metropolis he has pledged to protect?

dredd coverJudge Dredd: Year One comes to a conclusion this week with the release of issue #4. The final issue is written by Matt Smith with pencils and inks by Simon Coleby. Leonard O’Grady provides colors and Gilberto Lazcano tackles lettering. The early days of a fresh-out-of-the-academy Dredd has been pretty great so far, so does the finale end on a high note?

Judge Dredd is still trapped in the other dimension dealing with a Mega-City One that didn’t overcome the psychically enhanced juve menace. His Mega-City one is on its last leg and it looks like the fight is about to be lost. Dredd has to figure out what’s really behind the threat and stop it in the other dimension. His only help are some completely broken and defeated Judges who have honestly just given up. Dredd is holding out hope that Riorden can reestablish the psychic link and help him finish the fight and get back home. Dredd has to mount an offensive with the battle weary Judges, figure out what’s really behind the psychic link, and save not one but two Mega-City Ones. That’s not a simple task for Judge Dredd, let alone a Dredd who is fresh from the academy. Can Dredd pull it off? Can he save both Mega-Citys in time?

Matt Smith writes a strong conclusion to a brilliant Judge Dredd story. This one really sells that it’s a younger Dredd, a Dredd that isn’t quite as smart and hardened as we know him to be. He learns a lesson through the whole thing, but the whole time he is a cold and calculating weapon of Justice. He understands crime and knows all crimes boil down to a few things. People are seeing this huge plan, but Dredd is looking at it like it’s just another smalltime street-level crime. It perfectly describes Dredd’s character. Crime is crime and he’s going to stop it and clean up the city. It’s his job. Coleby’s art and O’Grady’s colors are top notch as always. Everything still has that CGI/computer futuristic look. It’s a motion comic that doesn’t move. Most of the story is about characters and moving the plot, but there are a few scenes of action that the team handle extremely well.

Bottom Line: Judge Dredd: Year One is a great Dredd story, let alone a Year One story. If you’re a new Dredd fan or a longtime reader, there’s something here for you. In four issues you get a top notch Dredd story that describes the character perfectly and his motivations completely. 4/5

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