Script: John Wagner, Pat Mills, Alan Barnes, Dan Abnett, Mark Millar, Robbie Morrison
Art: Carlos Ezquerra, John Burns, Cliff Robinson, Steve Yeowell, Colin Macneill, Jason Brashill, Simon Davis, Dean Ormston
Release Date: 12th February, 2015
After having to chronicle Dredd’s lean years for the last few volumes of the Case Files, Volume 24 is where it all starts coming together again and it’s a joy to see.
Why? Because Wagner’s back.
Nobody writes Dredd like John Wagner, so when he moved over to the Megazine he left a void that (at the time) couldn’t be filled. Garth Ennis gave it his best shot with varying results, while Mark Millar just never got the character at all.
Like an appalled parent who has come home to find his kids have been having a party and trashed his house, Wagner immediately got to work clearing up the mess, re-establishing Dredd and the world around him with one of his finest moments, The Pit.
A multi-part mega-epic with a difference, this was a far cry from the previous doomsday-level events of Judgement Day and Necropolis. Instead, Wagner crafted a down to earth police procedural, with Dredd called in to take over the running of Sector 301, a dumping ground for the worst Judges in the city, leading to a hellhole where crime and corruption has almost a free reign.
Imposing his order from the off, Dredd sets about clearing up the mess left by his predecessor who just wasn’t up to the job. Sound familiar?
Dialing back the bigger sci-fi elements, The Pit is pretty much a series of Hill Street Blues condensed into a few episodes, with storylines running alongside each other, with resolutions leading to other plots. It’s brilliant stuff and sees Wagner on top of his game, assisted in no small way by Dredd’s other co-creator, the mighty Carlos Ezquerra.
There’s more to this volume than The Pit, obviously. The run-up features another Wagner mini-classic in the shape of The Cal Files and a rare example of a Pat Mills Dredd script that brings Hammerstein, the war droid star of Ro-Busters and The ABC Warriors into the Dredd timeline.
Ironically, the Megazine stories that have been of fairly constant quality in recent volumes take a bit of a dip here. Partly through the absence of Wagner, but partly through some dubious art choices that just aren’t up to the high standard we expect from 2000 AD.
These are minor gripes though, as this is a top-knotch collection that contains one of the very best Dredd stories backed up by more than one little gem.
The Case Files are always worth getting at the very least, but this one’s essential.
The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy