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Is It Good? Judge Dredd Year One #1 Review

You’d think Judge Dredd would be a hot topic right about now, with the movie coming out last summer and the new IDW Dredd comic book series, but you’d be wrong. 2000 AD Editor-in-Chief Matt Smith gets writing duties here to explore the early days of Dredd, something we haven’t seen before. New ground for the character to tread might make some of you nervous, that’s why we’re here to ensure it’s up to snuff.

Judge Dredd Year One #1 (IDW)

Judge Dredd is a hard-as-nails character who always knows the right thing to do, so what better time to write about then when he was green? It’s hard to believe, even while reading this issue, but to make it even harder Smith has added a mystery of sorts dealing with superhuman powers. People are developing telekinetic powers and Dredd just so happens to run into a few of these people on his beat.

Pretty sure that first panel was in the movie from last summer.

Sick bike!

This issue reads best for the science fiction nerds amongst us. Anyone who adores Philip K. Dick should enjoy this book, not only because of the science fiction atmosphere and location, but for the telekinetic powers on display. The setup is perfect for an impossible showdown. Children seem to be the only ones getting powers, they’re tapping into some mysterious force and Dredd only has his cocksure attitude and a super gun. So far his newness to the force isn’t apparent, which is a bit of a letdown, but you can’t get this grimey science fiction anywhere else in the American market.

Recess was never the same again.

The pacing of the issue, or at least the focus, seems a bit wonky. It opens and closes with action, but there’s a dense exchange of dialogue in the middle that weighs down the pacing. It’s important to the overall mystery of the story, but it’s a hell of a lot of standing around. Sure, it’s only four pages, but it reads like an information dump for the reader more than anything.

Dredd: yelling at naked clowns since 2013.

The art by Simon Coleby fits perfectly with the character. To do Dredd right you need someone who can get the gritty and violent nature of the character and city, but also the detailed work necessary to make the technology realistic. Coleby hits those nails right on their respective heads. Using a lot of widescreen panels with extreme closeups in many of them, I couldn’t help but read this thinking this was Coleby’s take on a Dredd movie.

Dredd doing work.


  • Fantastic art
  • Tantalizing mystery afoot
  • Information dump is dullsville

IDW has done a marvelous job revitalizing the Dredd franchise. Even with a (financial) flop of a movie they seem to have injected life into a long dead property. It’s clear they get what the character is all about and they don’t have to resort to ultra-violence and gore to do it either.

Is It Good?

Yes. There’s a science fiction fan out there who doesn’t want it clean and filled with superheroes. Dredd is it.


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