Judge Dredd: Origins
Writer: John Wagner
Artist: Carlos Ezquerra (prologue illustrated by Kev Walker)
Cover Colors: Brian Bolland
Publisher: 2000 AD and Rebellion Developments
Judge Dredd is a British Comic Book character that was created by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, Pat Mills, and Mike McMahon on March 5th, 1977. Dredd made his first appearance in the long-running comic book 2000 AD, and has since been the title character in over half a dozen separate comic series, over twenty novels, almost two dozen radio plays, multiple video games, role-playing games, board games, card games, and two feature films.
The stories are set in a post-apocalyptic future, after The Atomic Wars (World War III) where a good majority of the Earth is a nuclear wasteland, and the remaining cities are giant super-sized city-states that cover vast expanses of land forming over-populated, crime-ridden megalopolises. The crime is so out of control in this future that the Justice System has been remodeled with a new Police force replacing the former, with new laws, penalties, and training. The new police are called Judges, and they have the power to assess the crime and criminal on the spot as Judge, Jury, and Executioner.
Judge Dredd: Origins is exactly what it says it is – an origin story. It starts in the story’s present (2129), with a weary but unflappable 50-year-old Judge Dredd on a routine investigation, that spirals into an epic adventure from his megalopolis home in Mega-City One to outside the boundary wall into the nuclear wasteland known as The Cursed Earth. Throughout the story, flashbacks cover the history of this world from before 2031, explain the fall of the American Legal and Political systems, and the World War that created the world they live in today.
The entire story is written by Judge Dredd creator John Wagner, but the art for the “prologue” is handled by Kev Walker, while the rest is handled by Carlos Ezquerra. Now, art is subjective and is only really up for judgment in the eye of the beholder, so take this with a grain of salt. Kev Walker delivers amazing art with his contributions to the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, and Marvel’s Annihilation, so where is it here? The artwork here is sub-par compared to his other endeavors, and is generally ugly and overly cartoony.
The work from Mr. Ezquerra, on the other hand, is rather excellent. It’s still cartoonish and over-exaggerated, but nowhere near the level of Walker’s imagery. Carlos’s artwork, while exaggerated, also utilizes an overly detailed amount of grain and line-work, which adds to the overall gritty feel of this story. It’s a nice element that helps accentuate the story’s sense of visual and emotional texture.
The story is good, for the most part, and manages to deliver a proper origin for this world, covering A LOT of time in a very short space. The story never feels too crammed or truncated, though one might like to see a longer or more detailed look into this world’s past. The Judge Dredd stories are known for their constant back and forth between melodrama, serious action, dark socio-political commentary, and insane humor. This story delivers on all fronts. This story, thankfully, leans more toward melodramatic commentary and action than other more humorous stories, which seems a better fit for the subject matter. While Judge Dredd can deliver great satire, it just doesn’t seem like that would have been the appropriate avenue for a story of this nature and scale.
This graphic novel features Progs (issues) 1500-1504, 1505-1519, and 1529-1535 from 2000 AD in one outstanding collection, complete with bonus features like an art gallery of the original issue covers, and a sketch book from story artist Carlos Ezquerra. An excellent story, this book is a must have for fans and newcomers alike! Not owning a copy of this should be illegal, so do yourself a favor and buy a copy right now!