Review – Judge Dredd Classics: Dark Judges #1 (of 5) (IDW)

JudgeDredd-Classics01-cvrPublisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: John Wagner, Alan Grant
Artist: Brian Bolland
Release Date: 21st January, 2015

Judge Death has arrived in Megacity One and each and every man woman and child has been summarily and unknowingly sentenced to death. Believing that only the living can commit a crime, he seeks to extinguish all life; without hesitation, without pity, without remorse. The Megacity’s Judges, led by Judge Dredd must face this horrifying angel of death, and find a way to end him permanently.

The classic origin story of Dredd’s arch-nemesis is given a stunning makeover in this collected series of reprints by IDW. Right from the terrifyingly atmospheric cover art of the subscription variant by Sam Shearon (which is worth the price of the book alone), it’s a jaw-dropping trip down memory lane for fans of the original, and a fantastic jumping on point for those new to the Dark Judges or Dredd in general.

From a story perspective, what struck me initially was the speed and efficiency with which writers John Wagner and Alan Grant were able to establish a premise, build characters, and move forward with the narrative. There are four stories in this book, averaging five pages each, but there is no apparent lack of information, or sense that things have moved along too quickly. Each tale could stand alone in its own right, and for me, it’s a masterclass in short form storytelling and pacing,

In the pantheon of great comic artists, there aren’t many better than Brian Bolland, and this book helped remind me of his undoubted genius. From his peerless character work, to the foreboding environs of Megacity One’s neon bathed streets, he is able to effortlessly convey mood and atmosphere within tightly framed panels just bursting with detail and depth. As an additional bonus, his original monochrome artwork has been enhanced by a superb colour job by Charlie Kirchoff, echoing John Higgins’ seminal work on the Killing Joke, which adds another level of realism and vibrancy to Bolland’s already masterful pencils and inks.

Sso sshould buy thiss book? Oh yess!

Rating: 5/5.

Interior Artwork

MDAVThe Writer of this piece was: Martin Doyle
You can follow Martin on Twitter
You can check out more of Martins reviews and thoughts on random retro things over at Retromuse

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