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Review: ‘Judge Dredd Year One’ # 1

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Matt Smith aims to tell a compelling origin story of how Mega City One became the slime ridden concrete cesspool we know and love. We now have something I never thought would exist: a naïve, and curious Judge Dredd. This new chapter in the Judge Dredd saga is riveting, visually arresting, and left me wanting more.

WRITTEN BY: Matt Smith
ART BY: Simon Coleby
PUBLISHER: IDW
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASE: March 20th, 2013

Judge Dredd has ruled the streets of Mega City One with an iron fist for the last thirty-six years. So, it’s rather interesting to see Judge Dredd in a place where his grasp isn’t quite as firm. Now, I should be clear. I thought Smith would go further. There are hints of a fundamentally different Dredd here, but as it stands we only have little differences to go on in this first issue.

Dredd is a little more naïve, uninitiated, and has been on the street for less than a year. He is just as bold, just as badass, but not quite willing to shoot a child… at least not yet. From a character standpoint I thought this issue was a little weak. Smith had the opportunity to create a dynamically different Dredd than we know and love, and sadly has missed the mark in this first issue. Slightly different, but still kind of an ultimate badass.

The story here is the main draw. Smith shows us Mega City One, eighteen years before we first saw it in 1977. Things are a little different. Crime still runs rampant, and the Judges are the main arm of the law, yet, PSY, is fundamentally new. The world is still adjusting to those with PSY, and the story that develops around that is riveting, interesting, and mysterious.

This is abundantly clear on page twelve of the issue. Where things come to a wonderful head. Coleby’s art gives a disgusting use of PSY, in the most graphic and pleasant way possible. I kept gasping, because it just went on, and on, getting more gruesome with every panel.

Coleby’s art is phenomenal. His darker tones, and use of high contrast create a dark and gritty noir like Mega City One. Holy shit, when PSY is on the page, look out. Coleby’s art is astounding. Beautifully organized on the page to make the reader feel as if they are floating as they read it.

The combination of the art and story allow Dredd Year One to really excel. Sadly the characterization of Dredd left some to be desired, a missed opportunity. As far as first issues go, this is an incredible start. If Dredd’s arc becomes stronger, and the story remains at its current pace, this book will be Dredd’s deserved return to the spotlight.

4/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – Jumbus_Christ