Review – Judge Dredd Origins

Written by John Wagner

Art by Carlos Ezquerra

Publisher Rebellion Developments

The history of justice – an unusual delivery is made to the Grand Hall of Justice, a package that will force Dredd to lead a mission into the Cursed Earth and into the darkest recesses of the history of the Judges of Mega-City One.

Judge Dredd Origins in the much delayed origin story for the Judge system that underpins the whole of the Dredd Universe. The story written by John Wagner with art by Carlos Ezquerra was originally published in 2006 to 2007 and was intended to mark the 30th anniversary of the Judge Dredd strip, it ran for 23 episodes and was set in the year 2129 but makes extensive use of flashbacks to tell the story.

So how exactly do you write a complete origins story, tie up loose ends, stay in continuity and please the fan boy’s in a 30 year old comic strip? Therein lies the genius of John Wagner a seemingly impossible task is made possible and he produces a truly stunning Dredd epic.

Included in this trade is the prologue ‘The Connection’ (Progs 1500-1504), a rain soaked tale of a gang of muties infiltrating Mega-City One in order to deliver a mysterious package to the Grand Hall of Justice. Along the way they inevitably fall foul of Dredd but the package does make it through to the Grand Hall but the contents of the package are not revealed until the first episode of ‘Origins’. This story has a very noir feel to it, it’s very dark both in terms of story and colour palette and it reminded me a lot of the opening scenes to the Blade Runner movie with it’s rain soaked cityscape. The art by Kev Walker is superb and really does capture the seedier side of Mega-City One perfectly.

Meanwhile as Dredd pursues the gang of rogue muties through Mega-City One he is hounded by recurring dreams of Chief Judge Fargo the founder of the Judge System (Dredd’s a clone of Fargo fact fans) and his clone brother Rico Dredd, both of whom are long since dead, this nicely fore shadows the events that are to pass in Origins.

We then move on to the Origins story proper (Progs 1505-1519 and 1529-1535)which opens with the revelation that the mutie package contained a living DNA sample of none other that Chief Judge Eustace Fargo (dun dun dun) the founding father of the Justice system along with a ransom demand for a billion credits in return for Fargo. Problem is Fargo was supposed to have died in 2051 and is buried in state at the Grand Hall of Justice.  So Chief Judge Hershey dispatches a small team of Judges led by Dredd (who else) to the Cursed Earth to deliver the ransom and recover the Father of Justice.

Along the way Dredd recounts the secret history of Fargo in the form of flashbacks and reveal just how it is that Fargo may indeed still be alive.

To describe any more of the story would be just too damn cruel and spoilerific, suffice to say that if you have any interest in the Dreddverse or are looking for a jumping on point before reading the Case Files (and yes in hindsight the first couple have their issues) this is the book for you. However, I will gently spoil a few things to keep an eye out for

Wagner plays a genius get of jail free card when Dredd is captured in Fargoville with regard to not removing Dredd’s helmet.Genius.

The introduction of the Fargo Clan. The chin’s as you would expect are amazing and comedy gold.

You get to see Joe and Rico Dredd as kids and yes they are total bad asses at age 10.

Overall this is a great story, John Wagner once again confirms that he is a master story teller and if you were trying to paint yourself out of a corner he’d be the man to have on you’re team,  the art by Carlos Ezquerra is also up to the usual high ‘Ezquerra’ standard.

 If you need any more convincing have a listen to the always excellent ‘Dissecting Worlds’ podcast hosted by Geek Syndicate who have recently put out an episode all about Dredd using Origins as their reference material, your looking for Series 2 Episode 1 Dredd (funny that).

Reviewed by

GS Rating – 5/5.  The chins a winner.

Dry Slaps – None.

GS Reviewer – Nick Roberts

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