I’m always intrigued whenever I come across a Dredd world strip that I’ve never read before. These strips can often add to the experience of reading Dredd itself, helping to create a fully formed vision of the future.  When they are done badly however, then they can feel utterly alien to their source material. Unfortunately this was very much the case with Shimura.

The idea to have a strip set in the Japan of Dredd’s world, called Hondo-Cit, was certainly an interesting one, and one which should have explored the cultural differences between Mega City One, and Hondo-Cit. Instead what we get is a tale of a rogue Judge which could really have been set anywhere outside of the Dredd world. This was really disappointing as when reading it I couldn’t help but feel that I wanted to focus more on Hondo-Cit than the story of a judge gone rogue. It would have been forgivable had the story we got been any good, but unfortunately it is rather lacklustre, and really quite dull. The main problem encountered in Shimura is that the reader really doesn’t feel anything towards the character of Shimura himself. When your main character is very one dimensional then you’re never going to empathise with, or take any interest in what he’s doing. After Shimura gains his revenge on certain members of the judicial system who had betrayed him, he essentially becomes a zero dimensional character, with no motivations to drive any of the plots that he is involved in.

The art doesn’t help pull the reader in either. While Colin MacNeil’s black and white art looks fantastic, the bulk of this trade is drawn by Simon Fraser, who’s art at this time was anything but. Similar to his art on the early Nikolai Dante strips, Frazer’s style at this time was very dull and lifeless, and quite frankly boring to look at. I should point out that Simon Frazer’s art has improved 100% since he drew Shimura, but that certainly didn’t help this reader having to slog through pages and pages of it.

It’s not all bad in this trade however, and ironically it’s the non Shimura strips that are by far the best. The handful of Judge Inaba  strips that are collected here, while being nothing spectacular, are at least an enjoyable read, and actually allow us to get to see some of Hondo-Cit. The best strip in the trade however is actually a Judge Dredd strip, featuring a cameo appearance by Shimura, who unfortunately Dredd doesn’t arrest or kill.

These few strips that I enjoyed were not enough to save the Shimura trade from being a complete failure in my eyes. When you combine lacklustre storytelling, with dull artwork, and a main character that is impossible to care about, then you end up with something distinctly uninspiring.