Thursday, January 8, 2009

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files vol. 11

In other news, Rebellion's ongoing series of Judge Dredd Complete Case Files, now with slightly modified trade dress, including a gold badge in place of the U on the spine, and color on the front cover, has reached the eleventh edition, reprinting 50 episodes from the heady days of 1987-88. Writers John Wagner and Alan Grant began winding down their regular collaboration and embarked on one final hurrah together: the 26-part epic "Oz," in which the recurring recalcitrant menace Chopper escapes Mega-City One custody and flies to the Sydney-Melbourne Conurb on his flying surfboard to take place in Supersurf 10. Judge Dredd is in hot pursuit, but it turns out that the "escape" was engineered to give Dredd a big, public reason to be stomping around a foreign Mega-City; there's a lost "tribe" of bizarre cloned judges with outlandish technology operating from the nearby radback...

Outside of "Oz," there's plenty to enjoy in this book. You get the first appearance of eleven year-old psycho killer PJ Maybe, a second scrap with a recurring villain called Stan Lee - the world's greatest martial artist! - and so much great artwork by the likes of Steve Dillon, Brett Ewins, Brendan McCarthy and Cliff Robinson. But "Oz" is definitely the selling point here. The volume, sadly, does not correct a pair of misprinted pages (the first two pages of episode three were printed in the wrong order in 1987 and no reprint has ever corrected the error), but the story is downright amazing, a wonderful, loopy adventure with several twists and unexpected detours. It's so much more than the standard devastation of the city by Sovs/robots/terrorists/Judge Death that you often see in the big, six-month Dredd epics, and the final six episodes, in which Chopper races in the insane skysurfing match, will leave you breathless. Reading that story one chunk a week was agonizing in the spring of 1988! Highly recommended.

(Excerpted from Thrillpowered Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009)

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