Thursday, April 16, 2009

Judge Dredd: The Pit

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded. This time, a review of Judge Dredd: The Pit (Rebellion, 2009).

In January, Rebellion released the long-awaited collection of the 1995-96 Dredd epic "The Pit." This 30-part epic, written by John Wagner and illustrated by Carlos Ezquerra, Colin MacNeil, Lee Sullivan and Alex Ronald, was the subject of a Thrillpowered Thursday entry back in 2007, where I explained it as a "change in the status quo that sees Dredd assigned to new duties in one of the Meg's remote regions, where rather than doing the job of a senior street judge, he's assigned to the task of sector chief. It turns out that the Dredd formula works incredibly well as an ensemble police procedural, which was a huge surprise to everybody, including the writer."

"The Pit" is remembered, not because of an outrageous, high-concept plot like many of the big epics of the series, but because Judge Dredd lends itself astonishingly well to overlapping subplots and unique, individual judges with their own perspectives on the proceedings. It's an important story which introduced two of the more interesting recurring characters of Dredd's modern cast, Judges DeMarco and Guthrie, as well as providing further details about the criminal Frendz organization which would be an ongoing menace for the next few years. The entire cast is made up of interesting, sympathetic characters, and as events wind their way from a search for a rogue undercover "Wally Squad" judge to an all-out war with a powerful mob kingpin's forces, through a sector house full of flawed cops trying to do their jobs, it's easy to get completely caught up in events. It's a terrific story, with fabulous contributions from some great artists.

Long overdue for this new edition, "The Pit" has been unavailable for quite some time, since Hamlyn's old version went out of print, and Titan, the next company to issue collected editions, never put their own together. This is one that Rebellion should definitely keep around, and promote to new readers as a fine introduction to Judge Dredd. Whether you're new to the character or an old fan, "The Pit" is certainly a story that every bookshelf should have.

(Excerpted from Thrillpowered Thursday.)

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