Comic Review – Judge Dredd Case Files vol 5

I’ve been reading and loving these Case Files books, or as the fans affectionately call them “the phone books”, for the last few months and have now got myself quite a cool little collection. But this Dredd volume was a first for me.

You see all the others I have, the earlier Dredd’s, the Strontium Dogs, Nemesis the Warlock etc, I could clearly remember reading in the past. This was the first of the Dredd books where I wasnt able to definately say I had read them all in single issues as a kid, so the big question was would they hold up without the rosy glow of nostalgia?

Obviously the answer was a resounding yes.

As with the later of the previous volumes, what you get here is a mix of shorter stories thrown in with one or two of the epic 20 or so part stories Wagner and Grant were so fond of doing at the time. As you would expect with a collection spanning 62 issues of 2000AD the odd short story falls a little flat but overall the quality is very high.

The only story I out and out didnt like was Assault on Block 4, based purely on the horrible design of the mutated assasins in there, but as this only covered 2 of the 62 strips reprinted this soon came and went. The standout of the shorter runs is probably Judge Death Lives which gives us the return of Judge Death and the introduction of his three accomplaces, Judges Fire, Fear and Mortis, all rendered beautifully by Brian Bolland and which contains what is possibly the most well known single panel of any Dredd strip, the “Gaze into the Fist of Dredd” classic.

The second half of this 384 page monster is taken up by two of the epic tales I mentioned earlier. First is Block Mania which details a kind of civil war between residential blocks in the city and the second is The Apocalypse War in which Mega City One is attacked by East Meg forces. Both these were excellent but I must admit I was a little surprised at the brutality shown by Dredd in the second arc. Even though it is a full war situation it his “Take No Prisoners, Kill them All” mentality and disregard for the East Meg civilians safety was a little shocking. When about to launch a nuclear strike on the enemy a soldier pleads with Dredd to think of the “half a billion people in my city”, a request he flatly denies. While he was at war his lack of compassion for the civilians even after discovering they were held in fear by a ruthless War Marshall seemed a little hard nosed… even for Dredd!

Despite that minor niggle though, this was another cool volume to read and stick up on the shelf and as soon as I work through the Nemesis the Warlock collection I’ll be back for volume 6.

GS Reviewer: Richard McAuliffe

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