Comic Review 18 // Judge Dredd Complete Case Files 04 (Part 1) - The Judge Child Saga
The timeline setting for this book is the years 2102 till 2103 and represents the works of Progs 156 to 207. So with no more time wasting let us jump the Drokk in!
"Judge Dredd – the future lawman with the powers of judge, jury and executioner at his disposal – faces some of his most challenging cases yet in this fourth volume of his earliest adventures. From the all-time classic Judge Child saga to the first appearance of legendary perp Chopper in Un-American Graffiti this collection is heaving with thrills and action-packed entertainment!"
Writers: Alan Grant, John Wagner and Kelvin Gosnell.
Artists: Brett Ewins, Brian Bolland, Ian Gibson, Mike McMahon, Ron Smith and Steve Dillon.
The first section of the book is all about the Judge Child Saga and takes up Pages 7 to 180!
Highlight: Seems a very promising start to this series. Better let it is all set in the Cursed Earth!
Story: The Judge Child (Part 2)- Dredd visits the Neutron Flats, home to a large slave market. Can he hope to find the Krysler Child here? It's at this time we get introduced to the Brotherhood of Trash and their leader Faro, a religious cult built around the finding of 21st century junk.
Highlight: Dredd agreeing to be sold as a slave in order to gain access to the trash mines of Faro. Along with how Faro has took on the ideals of the ancient egyptians and has built pyramids in Memphis!
Highlight: Faro himself. Hailing from Texas City, Faro discovered the junk mines and has become filthy rich. But with the great wealth has come a pure madness. Love this dude!
Story: Judge Child (Part 4)- With Dredd now captured and the Judge Child unconscious the Faro funeral can begin. But as soon as Faro enters the Pyramid all hell breaks loose amongst the slaves. Dredd capitalises on the moment and escapes to hunt down Faro and the Bird Boy. After a showdown with Faro and the Brotherhood of Trash, Dredd discovers he is too late to save the boy! Leaving the tomb with the boy in hand a rainstorm starts overhead. As the rain pours down the marking on the boys head disappears. Where is the Judge Child?
Highlight: The Brotherhood of Trash's Dancing Dervishes a band that plays trash instruments truly beyond belief.
Highlight: Mutieland- a theme park where Norms could pit themselves against Cursed Earth Mutants. Also had freakshows, pre-cogs, animals etc..a sci-fi version of the old traveling circus.
Hightlight: The Angel Gang: The first outing of the Angel Gang consisting of Pa, Link, Mean and Junior. These guys will soon form the main villains of the piece. Also Mean will go on to become a fan favourite villain (expect a character fact file post soon).
Highlight: The Thing from the pit- Found in the Cursed Earth Swamps, this creature has one eye, small bird like legs, a tiny claw arm and one massive human arm, this thing is truly terrible and more than a match for Dredd. Would like to attempt to build this creature.
Story: Judge Child (Part 7)- The adventure is moving into space, only previously dealt with during the Luna tale. It will be great to see what the galaxy has in store. Before we even leave the solar system we get our first adventure. Missing mining rig Echo Bravo 4. Dredd and Hershey go to investigate and discover the Rig has become fully sentient and has killed the crew out of fear of being upgraded.
Highlight: The crew we get introduced to four new Judges. Larter the pilot, Lopez Engineer, Hershey Street Judge and Winslow Accounts. Instantly Dredd throws Winslow out off Justice One as he can't stand accountants. Dredd also takes a instant dislike to Lopez because he has a mustache!
Story: Judge Child (Part 8) // An Alien Tale- This story introduces us to a race known as Om from the planet Ombra. Buggo is the hero of the tale and it's basically a love story. Dredd appears in the last few panels and watches Buggo celebrating.
Highlight: Seemed more a filler piece for the writers to catch up on the tale. Funny enough and very 2000 AD.
Highlight: Alien Constabulary- An alien race forced into a form a slave labour, they do most of the work on the planet including the police force. If they work in the city they willingly amputate their wings, whilst the Wild Ones keep theirs and live outside the city.
Story: Judge Child (Part 10) // Body Brokers 2- Dredd is hunting down the Aliens who stole the president's bio-chip. Heading out into the wilds Dredd comes face to face with the warrior tribes and learns of the blight of this species.
Highlight: 49- Love the Alien Constable, in his british bobby inspired outfit.
Highlight: The weird hungry planet. Like the idea of a lifeform that looks like a planet, tempting in explorers before eating them. Was kind of like a venus flytrap.
Story: Judge Child (Part 12) // Battleground- Dredd and his continue the search for the Oracle Spice in hopes it's powers will lead them to the Judge Child. Still in the Hadean System the team have come across a world called Argos. A world inhabited by twelve races all super aggressive!
Highlight: The races on Argos seem to organise televise War Games, randomly selecting an equipment option and a battlefield. They then fight a battle as if it was sport.
Story: Judge Child (Part 13) // Battleground 2- Dredd and Hershey are stuck in the middle of strange Alien Wargames. As the death toll rises Dredd decides to take matters into his own hands in hopes of bring this death game to an end.
Highlight: The program hosts are a race of frog creatures all with names like Dik and Doc. Wearing cheesy 1940's news reporter outfits.
Story: Judge Child (Part 14) // Battleground 3- Dredd and Hershey have claimed one of the Alien flags now they just have to survive to claim the other. This arc of the tale for me has been dragged out one part too many. Glad to see it end in all honestly so let us move on.
Story: Judge Child (Part 15) // Necromancer- Having finally secured the where about of the Oracle Spice the team head for the Planet Necros. A planet locked in an age of darkness and ruled over by Murd. The planet seems to be locked in a medieval era, with castles and creepy monsters controlling the human population.
Highlight: Murd the Oppressor- Necromancer of Necros- Lord of Darkness- keeper of the sacred toad. A wide eyed troglodyte, with a powerful voodoo magic about him/her/them.
Highlight: Sagbelly- A massive toad that eats human flesh, has a crazy long lifespan (well until it meets Dredd) and produces Oracle spice. What are the writer tripping out on?
Story: Judge Child (Part 17) // Jigsaw Man- With the oracle spice secured, Dredd forces Lopez to take a sample of drug. Whilst under the influence Lopez visions lead the team to the planet AB located in the Warp System. Here Dredd discovers a human male was dumped on the planet and was waiting deportation when he developed a wasting illness called the Jigsaw Disease.
Highlight: The deportation building known as the The Foot Hospital is shaped like a foot. In fact all the architecture of this world is to be admired.
Story: Judge Child (Part 18) // Jigsaw Man 2 - Dredd is chasing down Prosser aka the Jigsaw man. Prosser in the earlier stripped robbed the alien doctor of some pills that he believed would cure him. Unfortunately for Prosser they are in fact mercy pills and speeds the process up. Dredd now has only one hour to hunt down Prosser before the final piece is gone!
Highlight: More of sadlight? Judge Lopez finally succumbing to the Oracle Spice :( But at least Dredd knows where the Judge Child finally is, Xanadu!
Highlight: Dredd, Hershey and Larter being shrunk down to the size of a miniature. Excited to see where it all goes.
Story: Judge Child (Part 20) // Salesman 2- Dredd, Hershey and Larter have all been shrunk down in size. We are then treated to a B-Movie adventure as they struggle to regain their height.
Highlight: The creepy Justice Robots, don't know why but they creep me out!
Story: Judge Child (Part 21)- Finally the return of the Angel Gang. Haven't seen these guys since part 6, in 2000 AD terms that was fifteen weeks ago! But what a come back now on Xanadu the Angel Gang are making themselves at home, firstly crashing their spaceship and then taking over as the sheriff in a local town. Plus side Dredd is also on Xanadu and seems to be catching up with them.
Highlight: Mean Machine Angel- Love this dude. In this strip he headbutts and destroys not only a car but also a building. Pure mania!
Story: Judge Child (Part 22) // Blind Hate! - Dredd is on Xanadu attempting to get info on the whereabouts of the Angel Gang, unfortunately the locals aren't being to helpful. Whilst elsewhere the Angel Gang are ruling Drybone with an iron fist, having first become sheriffs and now the towns Justice system.
Highlight: The introduction of Old Joe Blind and his blind horse. Their backstory is truly sad, but finally Dredd is chasing the Angel Gang down!
Story: Judge Child (Part 23) // Fallen Angels! - With Old Joe Blind leading him Dredd has finally caught up with Mean Machine and Link Angel, we finally get get a gun fight we are waiting for! During the chaotic fight Mean gets his dial stuck on 4.5 and goes on a headbutting rampage that results in the death of Link Angel and Mean as his headbutts a gas station!!
Highlight: Dredd is quick of the draw and blows Mean's arm off! Lucky for Mean it was his real one and not metal one.
Story: Judge Child (Part 24) // Grunwald's Kingdom- Grunwald is a Kingdom for Fugitive Robots and not a great place to be a human in. Pa, Junior and the Angel child are racing towards their goal of reaching the Grunwalder himself but with Dredd close behind can the Angels reach their goal?
Highlight: All the droids, first up the mosquito droids that act as watchdogs and then the hairy droid you implant their victim hair onto their bodies. Such creepy and cool ideas.
Story: Judge Child (Part 25) // Hell's Angel - The Grunwalder is in directly aiding Dredd in his hunt for the surviving members of the Angel Gang. Know/Fearing Dredd was gaining on them too quickly Pa sends his last son to set up an ambush. Laying in wait Junior is able to kill poor Old Joe Blind and then attempts to lead Dredd into another trap. Sadly for Junior Dredd ambushes him injuring the crazy Angel member.
Highlight: Dredd lifting Junior above his head sentences the crazy villain to death before throwing him into a river of lava. Justice Served.
Story: Judge Child (Part 26) // Judgement on Fire Mountain - We've made it to finally, with the strip doing doing a recap of the last scenes as Dredd launches Junior into the Lava stream below. Seeing his final boy die Pa Angel goes into a rage and charges at Dredd. But before Dredd is able to do anything the Angel Child takes his revenge and plunges Pa into a lava pool, whilst the child laughs maniacally.
Dredd has finally reached his goal and as he stands in front of the Judge Child he passes his Judgement: "The Boy is Evil, he could only bring disaster upon us!" and with that he leaves a bitter Judge Child with the Grunwalder and takes a disappointed team back to MC-1.
Highlight: Dramatic finale to this saga. Wish Pa had took a bit longer to finish off.
So here endth the Judge Child Saga, it span 173 pages, 26 weeks in 2000 AD! Truly an epic tale. The standout parts of the saga for myself was: Texas City, The Angel Gang, The Necromancer of Necros, The Salesman and The Jigsaw Man. Disappointments of the tale include the deaths of every Angel Gang member and the Judge Child himself.
The Judge Child being Evil was of no surprise, being so heavily hint at throughout the last third of the story arc and when Judge Dredd makes the call to leave him with the Grunwalder you are left wondering 'why we bother reading all this?'. Personally I would have loved Dredd chasing the down the Angel Gang across the galaxy and giving them a better showdown worthy of the villains they are. Also the Angel Gang deserved more page time, I wanted to see them get up to more crazy stuff and see them visit some of these planets. I could imagine them having an amazing time on the War Planet for example.
Overall though this was a great piece, we experienced life outside of MC-1, getting to return to the Cursed Earth, we visited a different city, along with seven different planets. The cast of characters in this tale alone was staggering and has inspired my modelling and painting for the foreseeable future. It also left me wondering what Dredd has against mustaches (RIP Judge Lopez). But ultimately it has left me wanting to be back on the streets MC-1. Which will be covered in part 2 of this review.
This section gets a 4 out 5, as there was room for improvement.