Carlos Ezquerra is perhaps the greatest artist too have ever worked on 2000AD. His resume is certainly an impressive one, having co-created both Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog, as well as providing art for the likes of ABC Warriors, Judge Anderson, and Al’s Baby too name but a few. In that case perhaps the most suprising thing about this collection is that it took so long for such a book to be released. The contents however features some curious choices.

The collection is split into two halves, with the first half being made up of some of Ezquerra’s work on Dredd. The bulk of the Dredd stuff is made up of the Garth Ennis scripted Helter Skelter. This has always been a fairly unpopular story, as its pretty much a piece of glorified fan fiction. Several parallel universe versions of some of Dredd’s most notorious enemies, under the leadership of an alternate Judge Cal, arrive in Mega City One. Having defeated Dredd in their own universes, they decide to invade Dredd’s universe so as to be able to kill him again. Its a pretty flimsy idea for a story, and with the sheer amount of continuity involved it was never going to be a fan favourite. Presumably Helter Skelter is included in this collection, as it allows Ezquerra to draw many of the classic enemies from Dredd’s past in one single strip, as well as character from other strips who happen to slip through into Dredd’s universe as well. Despite my misgivings about the story I did find it a reasonably enjoyable nostalgia fest, and I have to admit I had too smile when the robot from “Colony Earth” made an appearance. Deffinetly wasn’t expecting that one. The other Dredd strips are fairly inconsequential one off’s from the megazine, with the exception of one story which follows on from the events of Judgement Day. While I enjoyed them all, I’m sure there were better Ezquerra drawn strips which could have been included instead.

The other half of this collection is made up of the first five Cursed Earth Koburn strips. Considering this collection is part of the Judge Dredd series of trades, devoting half of the page count to a non Dredd strip (all be it one set in Dredd’s world) was a suprising choice, but having never read any Cursed Earth Koburn strips before, I was pleased to see them included. As the title suggests Koburn is a judge who was sent out to the Cursed Earth, to bring the law to the lawless as it where. While none of his strips are particularly grounbreaking, they are all good reads, with the final strip dovetailing into one of Judge Death’s solo stories.

The problem with any potential Ezquerra collection, is that he’s drawn so much great stuff over the years, that any collection is bound to leave some people disappointed with its choice of contents. While this collection does contain some dubious story choices, the important thing here is the art, and as you would expect Ezquerra lives up to his legendary standards throughout. Having said that, none of the stories are actually that bad, so if you’ve been on the fence about getting this collection I can recommend you go for it. Even if the stories aren’t too your particular taste, there is at least plenty of top notch art for you to enjoy.

8/10

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