Friday, March 16, 2007

Classic Dredd welcomes Gordon Rennie

I don't often get contemporary with 2000 AD over here. After all, there are two perfectly good forums if you want to read an opinion on the latest Progs (2000 AD review is my forum of choice). But, this panel from this week's episode of Judge Dredd was just too good to pass over.
I don't know about you, but this is exactly what Judge Dredd stories should have more of. It takes me back to the days of reading reprints in the Best of 2000 AD monthly, when every Dredd story was a winner. Anyway, in this new sequence, I find it both fascinating and hilarious that there can be a 'guiltseeker' bullet, and that Dredd is immune to it. It's a cheap gag, to be sure, but mostly it reinforces Dredd's character as the ultimate law enforcement officer. And of course in the next panel he proves this even more by calling his colleague into question. We readers get to enjoy a small moment of surprise as Dredd escapes what seems to be certain death, then break the tension with a laugh at Dredd's tightness.

Just to celebrate Rennie's true Wagnerian achievement, let's have a quick look at a few other Dredd panels from my tiny collection. First, the original master in action, backed up by the ever anarchic Ron Smith:
Yes, it's another perfect blending of tension, humour, and Dredd's steadfastness. This time in the face of killing, rather than dying. One of Dredd's most famous seeming hypocrisies is the sheer number of people he has killed and maimed in the name of upholding the law. It's interesting to note that a spirit Judge's 'guiltseeker' can't kill Dredd, but his nemesis Judge Death has no such qualms. Death, of course, purports to uphold the law as well. But his interpretation seems to more moral rather than statute based, hence his ability to kill Dredd, but not little old lady Mrs Gunderson, who has broken laws, but has never been in the least been mean to anyone...

Next up, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, inarguably the worst Dredd writers to date. They were pretty much one trick Dredders, getting across the fact that Dredd is ultra hard and generally likes to bully people in the name of the law. Now, Dredd is a bully, but doesn't revel in this task, he just does it because it works - it exposes the guilty. But in other hands he's more subtle about it, or at least it rings truer to the core nobility of this law machine. Depictions of Dredd being ultra-hard, however, are always welcome, so Millar' work in particular is not entirely without merit. Everyone loves a good headbutt panel.

But surely what folk around the world will always think of when they think of Dredd is panels like this:

Justice delivered, and heavy sentence passed for theoretically innocuous crimes. Funny every time.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Next up, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, inarguably the worst Dredd writers to date.'
I can list 3 writers who are worse than Morrison / Millar.

Blogger alexf said...

In the world of comics, sure. I rather like a lot of Morrison's work, and a fair smattering of Millar. I even like some of their Dredd stuff. But I don't think I could name three writers who have specifically written Judge Dredd less well than those two!


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