On the back of the recent Dredd movie, 2000AD have taken the decision to produce a brand new series of Judge Dredd comic strips aimed at the American market. Chances are if you’re reading this then you allready knew that. While a lot of people were excited about the prospect of (once again) trying to launch Dredd in the States, there was some apprehension over how much the iconic character we all know and love would be changed to fit in with the American market. So how recognisable were the two strips we were presented with in this first issue? Well the answer is that they are both pretty spot on. Although the strips are set in 2100 (34 years behind the Prog and Meg) everything is recognisably Dredd, from the streets of Mega City One to the Lawmasters and Lawgivers used by the Justice department. But how good are the stories themselves?
RIPE – The main strip in this first issue is 16 pages in length and appears to be the first part of a multi part story. The idea of killer fruit being released in the Meg is a classic 2000AD idea, so the creators have got this aspect of the strip correct straight off the bat. It’s perhaps not the most exciting first installment, but it’s ok and I imagine it would be a very effective opener if this was the first time you’d come across Judge Dredd. The character of Dredd himself seems to be pretty accurate with the exception of a couple of clunky lines, but these can be ironed out over time. It seems like this opening story is going to be focusing on a robot rebellion (aka the first robot war) so this could be an intriguing opener once we’ve seen a few more installments. The art is ok although the colours are a little bit muted for my taste. Still not too bad a start at all.
PROTECTION RACKET – Also included is a 6 page back up strip, which is perhaps a little stronger than the main strip was. This story of a shop owner trying to defend his shop against looters is one I could easily imagine appearing as a one off strip in the prog, and seems to show the same writer getting a better grip on Dredd’s world allready. The art is a step up from the main strip, with much more detailed panels and much more effective use of colour. However the artists decision to use the Judge’s uniform as seen in the Stallone movie is a bewildering one and does detract from what was otherwise a very fine strip indeed.
There is certainly enough in this first issue to suggest that the creative team can make Dredd work in America, while still keeping the basics of the character close to what we’re familiar with. Admittedly this first issue is far from perfect (and pales in comparison to the stunningly brilliant run we’re seeing in the Prog right now) but there is enough to keep me hopeful that the series can be a success. I shall look forward to seeing how the series progresses in the next issue.