ADVANCE REVIEW! Judge Dredd #1 will go on sale Wednesday, November 21, 2012.
Judge Dredd has always been intended as a parody of American politics and values, which makes the new IDW launch of a Dredd series a very interesting prospect indeed. Handing the character over to an American writer in the form of Duane Swierczynski is a bold move, with American editor Chris Ryall overseeing the project. On the basis of this first issue, the move seems to have resulted in a decent, although not particularly spectacular, series.
Swierczynski is the safest pair of hands in the business, and the ideal choice for a character like Dredd. He proves to be as strong as ever with this issue, managing to mix in some of the delightedly stupid plot ideas of Dredd with a spot-on rendition of the lawman himself. Dredd is as vicious and unyielding as ever, doling out cruel over-punishments for anybody who gets in his way. And while Swierczynski does play around with the language and feel of the original 2000AD stories ( drokk!) he doesn't go overboard, aware that this is an ongoing.
His sense of humor works for the most part, with some fun visual jokes and faithfully idiotic depiction of the two-faced morons who live in MegaCity One. The main issue here is that the series doesn't feel particularly vibrant. It's faithful, but there's little sense of spectacle or thrill in the issue. The ongoing plotline doesn't seem like something which will be particularly interesting, and there's a sense of dullness in the scenes which don't involve Dredd himself. Whether that speaks more to the charisma in the Dredd character more than anything else, I'm not sure, but the book seems like it could have used tightening up.
The Dredd stories in 2000AD are typically only five or so pages at a time, and that's made it imperative that writers pack more into those pages as a result. Here we have a more American take on Dredd, and that means more use of decompression. It doesn't really feel like something which fits the attitude of the main character. It also feels somewhat more violent than the original series.
It's not a bad issue, and the art is rather nice in both the main story and the back-up. It's a solid opener, but I don't think I'll be anxiously waiting the next issue.
Steve Morris is the head and indeed only writer for Comics Vanguard, the internet's 139th most-favorite comic-book website. You can find him on Twitter at @stevewmorris, which is mostly nonsensical gibberish you may enjoy or despise. His favorite Marvel character is Darkstar, while his favorite DC character is, also, Darkstar. He's on Team X-Men, you guys.