2000 AD’s new Judge Dredd Mega Collection is a thing a beauty; taking the 38+ years of Judge Dredd history and presenting it in a new way for long time fans and new readers, especially after the cult-like success of the Dredd movie is nothing short of genius. Instead of packaging these gorgeous hardcovers starting from the beginning, and essentially just doing what the current Complete Case Files has been doing, the fine folks at 2000 AD have combined these books by story and are releasing them thematically instead of chronologically. With a target of eighty volumes, all combining to make one fantastic scene on the spines, with a new one releasing every fortnight (that’s fourteen days) there’s a ton of Dredd coming at you over the coming months.
Unless, of course, you live outside of the UK and Ireland, which means you’re SOL on this collection. You can, of course, still pick up the Complete Case Files, which showcases Judge Dredd from the beginning, but it’s still a bummer. If you do live in the UK or Ireland, head over to www.judgedreddcollection.com and get your subscription on, because not only are these totally reasonable, particularly the first two volumes, but there are a ton of great extra goodies being offered from 2000 AD.
With that said, special shout out to our very own Chris Dresden who shipped volume one across the pond and, maybe no thanks to him, has started an itch that won’t be scratched until all of them sit on my shelves.
Anyway, back to the collection at hand. Volume One of the Judge Dredd Mega Collection takes the classic tale America and combines it with various follow ups within the Dredd-verse after that initial release. The main story, America, from Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner and artist Colin MacNeil is a stunning piece of comic history.
Wagner’s America is dripping with symbolism and is heavy with the emotional weight of Mega City One and how one or two people, in a sea of millions and millions are affected by the strict law of the Judges and, often, the almost oppressive nature of it all. At times, it’s hard to know who to root for because there is no black and white answer to the problems faced by not only America Jara and Bennett Beeny, but the population as a whole and seemingly for generations to come.
Fully painted panels from Dredd veteran MacNeil add depth and tone far beyond what most comics are able to achieve in today’s day and age, and for a first-time reader of this story it really is a treat. Everything is rendered beautifully and MacNeil’s vision for the character and the world is crystal clear and concise throughout. As the stories progress, you’ll get to see the evolution of MacNeil’s work from the painted work of America to some early digital coloring which, arguably, didn’t look as good as the later stuff and of course doesn’t stand up to the fully painted work, but was still interesting to see.
After the initial title story, we get various follow-ups following the characters that we first met in America from the direct aftermath, to 10+ years in the future and a few odd and ends stories to fill the approximate 200-page format for these hardcover editions—equal sizes to get the spine image right, across all 80-volumes—Wagner and MacNeil explore this little pocket of Mega City One in a way that any reader, new or old, can easily jump into and enjoy. Sure, some of the stories are twisted as all hell and you have to wonder what the heck Wagner was thinking about when he wrote them, but that doesn’t take away from the unique Dredd feel of it all. In fact, it adds to it and across the handful of stories it’s safe to say you’ll get a fantastic feel for not only the iconic character of Judge Dredd, but also the world that has been building and evolving and changing for almost four decades.
Judge Dredd Mega Collection: America is an absolutely brilliant starting point for any reader looking to get into the kind of stuff that made the recent Dredd movie great or even any reader that simply looking to get into damn good comics. There’s a reason this character and world have been around as long as it has and if four decades is daunting, then by all means start here if you can. Look up the corresponding Complete Case Files editions even and check out these stories, if that’s what it takes to get you to read it. And while you’re at it, check out the brand new 2000 AD Thrill-Cast that’s been discussing these Mega Collection volumes, one by one, as they’re released. There is a ton of fantastic information and back story to these absolutely classic tales that you won’t want to miss.
Bottom line here is check out some Judge Dredd, folks. If you can get the Mega Collection, then get your subscriptions going. If you want to check out the case files then head down to your local shop or even check out the digital 2000 AD store and definitely check out the Thrill-Cast, if you’re on the fence about jumping into this world because it’s easily one of the best official podcasts out there.