Dredd Origins – John Wagner really can do no wrong in my eyes right now….
By John Wagner, Carlos Ezquera and Kev Walker
(Oh my. I’ve just noticed something when I added that cover to this quick review. They spelt Ezquerra’s name wrong on the cover. Oh my. Oh dear. Not good Rebellion.)
I’ll make this quick, as it’s rather jumped the queue of books I meant to review. In fact there’s a whole pile of books that I’ve been sent that should have been done before this one that I picked up last time I was down at Nostalgia & Comics in Birmingham. I only picked it up as it was there on the shelves alongside the Dredd Case Files, and I was picking up Volume 5 of that to revisit the Apocalypse War after thoroughly enjoying Wagner’s quite breathtakingly good Chaos Day serial in 2000AD recently.
But I have to at least write something about this, seeing as I read it cover to cover tonight in an increasingly cold bath. Started hot, ended up freezing. Always a sign of a great read that, the cold bath test maybe?
(Ezquerra’s first Origins page, a summary of what is to come)
I just thought it was all rather wonderful. I’ve come to really appreciate John Wagner’s writing over the course of the last few months, and here I find myself in thrall to the man again. A historical masterpiece by Wagner firmly delivering a history lesson of Dredd’s life, the Justice Department, and the world they exist in. And he does it by having the present day Dredd venture forth into the Cursed Earth after evidence comes to light that Chief Judge Fargo, the very first Chief Judge, founder of the Justice Department, and clone father to Dredd and Rico, may well be alive out there somewhere, held hostage.
It’s done in such a manner that novice Dredd fans such as myself get a very useful history lesson, and those more versed in Dredd-lore will find gaps filled in, history expanded upon, perfectly, thrillingly. Along the way Dredd reveals what he knows of the history of the Judges, the Mega-Cities, the devastating world war that created the Cursed Earth at the hands of the last President of the United States; Robert L Booth.
(Kev Walker’s atmospheric art in the rain drenched prequel)
Wagner, ably assisted by Kev Walker in the initial atmospheric prequel, and Carlos Ezquerra in the Origins tale itself, produces that rarest of things, a smart, entertaining, comic blockbuster, one I found myself unable to put down. Sure, it’s not perfect, there’s occasional flab, some really out of character bits (those bloody stupid robots?), a few plot points that left me wondering (Fargo’s brother? Any reason for that?), a few bits in the Cursed Earth scenes where they were obviously doing stuff just for doing stuffs sake, allowing Wagner to get back to Dredd telling stories round the campfire once more. But so what, they fair flew by, and then it was back to the entertainment.
I may be a late convert to Dredd, I may not have fully grasped how good John Wagner is, but I’m learning fast.
So, over to you. I’m in a Dredd kind of mood, a John Wagner Dredd epic sort of mood. Where to next folks?
You can read a short interview we did with John Wagner about Origins when it was first coming out from 2000 AD back in 2006 here on the blog