In Review: Judge Dredd: Year One #1

The covers: Three to choose from. The Standard cover is by Greg Staples with colors by Ryan Browne showing Dredd and his bike against the rainy backdrop of Mega-City One. Nice, though I’d rather see more of Joe than his bike. The Subscription cover is by Judge Dredd co-creator Carlos Ezquerra with colors by Leonard O’Grady. This is what I’m looking for! Dredd on the prowl for some perp! Outstanding! Cover RI is by Dave Sim with colors by Jay Fotos (It’s really hard to read the names on the inside cover!). Great way to showcase the title and the action of the character. This Sim kid could have a great future in comics (What–No “Judge Roach”?). Overall grades: Standard A-, Subscription A+, and RI A

The story: Part 1 of The Long Hard Road, “All the Young Juves, Carry the News,” by Matt Smith focuses in the first thirteen pages on several youths, toddlers to teens, exhibiting psychic manifestations. This leads Dredd to PSI-Division, for the first time, where answers seem slow in coming. Another manifestation occurs with bad results. This was an okay Dredd story, but, outside of its date, nothing makes this a Year One story. This could have happened at any point in the Judge’s career. I’d expect Dredd to be a little green or have a partner that is for a Year One story. None of that is here. For a title boasting Year One, I need a “wow” story that justifies it. Again, not here, but okay. Overall grade: C-

The art: Pencils and inks by Simon Coleby. His look is very stylized with much of the art using heavy blacks. Look at the protagonist’s face on the first two pages. The first panel is pretty clear, but the following odd angles with lots of blacks are used to hide his face. The same goes for the mom on Page 3. This happens often in the book. I would rather see the characters and their actions clearly. Backgrounds are also sketchy, probably to show the detail on the characters in the foreground. This also isn’t working; it makes the art look like a rushed job. I just didn’t like this art in any way. Overall grade: D

The colors: With art like this, it’s tough for a colorist to make things stand out. Nothing is vivid, everything is faded and washed out. Leonard O’Grady can do great work, just look at the Subscription cover, but looking at this book you wouldn’t know it’s the same person. Overall grade: C-

The letters: Decent dialogue, yet only one sound effect from Chris Mowry. Some cool sounds would have really helped this book! Overall grade: C+

The final line: I was fortunate as an American teenager in the eighties to be able to buy the original newsprint weekly 2000 A.D.s. I’ll never forget the cover of the first issue I bought: The Dave Cluck Five. I can’t find anything memorable about this book. Very disappointing. Overall grade: C-

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