Judge Dredd : Tour of Duty – The Backlash

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: REBELLION/2000AD (16 Sep 2010)
  • RRP – £17.99 (but you can find it brand new and cheaper online)

Having instigated a change to the Mutant Laws in Mega-City One, Judge Dredd and Chief Judge Hershey find themselves at odds with fellow Judges and the majority of the Big Meg’s citizens. Enter Dan Francisco; TV star and Judge of the people, who steps up to challenge Hershey’s authority. His victory could mean big changes to the lives of all mutants currently residing in the future metropolis….

So what we have here is the build up to John Wagner’s latest Dredd epic “Tour of Duty” and clocking in at 224 pages this is one HELL of a build up. This collection documents Dredd’s growing sympathies for the mutant cause, his decision to take a stand and the price this stand costs him and those around him.  This overriding arc shows the character in a light you rarely see him. He begins to lose the respect of other Judges and is even accused of being a bleeding heart at one point. But through the power of Wagner’s writing Dredd still feels in character and while he may not quite be the cold, almost robotic lawman of the past he is still the guy to watch out for.

Thats one of the things that makes Wagner’s Dredd such an interesting read. While other Dredd writers probably feel obliged not to bend the character too far, with Wagner being the characters creator and guide since the 70’s all bets are off. He’s slowly aged Dredd over the years and with that ageing the character has naturally evolved. This isnt a perpetually 35 year old Batman who gets reset every 10 years or so. When Dredd starts to question some of the laws he’s stood for all these years it really has weight behind it.

The background to the majority of these stories is the anti-mutant sentiment in Mega City One and one of the things that impressed me the most was at no point did this feel preachy. Yeah, Wagner is making a statement about minorities and oppression but he doesn’t bang you over the head with it or let it get in the way of the story. He just weaves it in and lets you think about it yourself. Clever stuff.

The book is broken down into chapters, each being a complete arc and included are some great stories including a six part PJ Maybe / Mayor Ambrose one that hooked me into the character even more than I was from reading the latest issues. Artwork throughout is all top notch, including some standout work from Colin MacNeil and it was also cool to see Rufus Dayglo doing some non Tank Girl artwork….good though that is.

I would possibly hesistate to recommend this to someone who had never read Dredd before, not because it is bad, but because I think there are better jumping on books to kick off with.

However if you are someone who knows Dredd from the earlier days or are working through the old Case Files, then this book does a great job of showing you how the character has evolved and how, even after all these years, Dredd is still the best thing in the majority of current 2000AD issues (though I am LOVING Pat Mill’s “Savage” at the moment).

The only other category are people who read all this over the last few years and you guys have probably already pre-ordered it.

Marks out of 5 – 4.  Only because I’ll be pissed in 10 years or so when I re-buy this stuff in the Case Files volumes 32 & 33 (or whatever).

Dry Slaps – None. Nobody slaps Dredd.

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