Comic Review 163 // 2000 AD Judge Dredd Complete Case Files 16

Time to get back into the Complete Case Files Series. We return with Case Files 16, which sees us not dealing with any epic stories, just short tales of Mega-City One adventures, so let us dive in.

Title: Complete Case Files 16

Page Count: 320

Fluff: It's business as usual in Mega-City One. From mutant teddy bear killers to deadly alien predators on the loose, mayhem and madness are as rife as ever. Thankfully Judge Dredd is around to dispense justice, both on the streets and in the classroom!

Review

We start the book off with Firepower, a solid six-page story. Seems like a classic Judge Dredd tale, stupidly over violent and aggressive. It shows Dredd doing best by taking down a horde of Muties and gives us an intense opening tale. This theme of mutants continues into the next adventure with Teddy Bear's Fight, which has us following a mutant that looks like a child teddy bear. This story seems to be purely comical and designed as filler. With this in mind, let us move on. 

The following tale is called Garbage Disposal, roughly based on the idea of an English tv show called the Antique Road Show. We watch as the hosts discover treasures and relics and lead a gang to "collect" items. It is amazing how an object like an original 20th century Frying Pan would be worth so much! We also seem to have a continuing theme as we now deal with a title called Watchdog, quite possibly named after the BBC tv show of the same era at writing. Basically more filler with a very satisfying ending. Talkback is the following short tale in this series as Judge Dredd, with the help of PSI Judge Palmer, tracks down the reason behind the death of a famous talk show DJ. Turns out DJ Cool Johnny Cool had an accident that unlocked his ability to hear people's thoughts. Unfortunately for DJ Cool Johnny Cool, the population loves to hate him, ultimately driving him down a dark path. Then in Twin Block, we get to enjoy the Justice Department at work, setting up a crime to help shakedown the blocks and flush out a criminal organization hidden within. School Bully has us joining Dredd as he teaches a class of Kindergarten kids the joys of the Justice Department while using the kids to catch out a couple of adult criminals.

In Clockwork Pineapple, we finally see the return of the Sovs; as a long-time Dredd fan, I have always found the Sov forces to be an offensive force, but with the Real World Cold war coming to a close, it made sense for the Dredd one to end too. In this tale, we have a delegation of Sovs handing over a precious gift to McGruder, which is soon stolen and on the streets of MC-1. Fearing political fall out Dredd is soon on the case tracking down the music box and removing all who knew of it being stolen. Though not an epic story, it still helps progress world-building and play reference to real-world news.

Then we follow this story with another real-world problem, how the music industry is killing the world with its bad music (LOL). Some people believe this, others don't, but the Muzak Killer believes the world took a wrong turn when music changed in the 21st century. His new goal is to hunt down the people who corrupted the industry and kill them off in hopes of resetting the music and freeing the populous of MC-1 from a life of being in the herd. Of course, Dredd can't allow that and is soon tracking down the Killer, but can Dredd stop him before it is too late?

The Vidders - A small filler piece involving a family from Brit-Cit visiting MC-1. Of course, their video soon goes from classic tourism to a mugging, to Dredd "assisting" them. Ultimately the family ended up worst for wear, but at least they got their Vid.

The Devil, you know - Starts the Democracy arc and introduces Judge Grice (a character I fondly remember from a later story). With Dredd siding with the right to vote, he creates for himself a group of fellow Judges who now hate him. They wrongly believe that if they can remove Dredd, they can cancel the vote and secure their power for good. Of course, it doesn't go to plan, and soon Judges are arresting Judges, and Grice faces time on Titan, but first, he has to face Dredd. Twilight's Last Gleaming - Is the follow-up story, and though not the most exciting, it was needed to close out the Democracy story arc for now. It has Dredd chasing down the final members of Grice's group while also ensuring the Democracy votes go ahead smoothly. As a no surprise result, the Justice Department holds onto power, leading to a march on Justice Central; fearing the worst, Dredd confronts the leader and convinces her that the choice of Democracy is over, not because they say instead the people have chosen so. It is a pretty depressing tale but a great ending to this arc that has grown over the years.

One Better - Has us going back to a pointless and silly one-off tale. It involves a man who constantly wishes to do better than his friends. After a guest spontaneously combusts during dinner, he hopes to outdo them, and his dream comes true after being struck by lighting. Leading to him going nuclear and blowing up an entire Megablock. Overall pure filler and a bit too out there even for a Dredd tale. The Flabfighters - Funny how we can have an out-there adventure that fails to progress the story or the world but then follow it with the perfect example. In Flabfighters, we learn of the inground fighting community who use Fatties to pit fight one another with above-average gory results. Throw into this mess a Cursed Earth Dinosaur, and we have a rip-roaring story! Builds the background of MC-1 and adds some comedy into the storylines. Following the craze of one-shot kinda pointless stories, we get Teddy Choppermitz - a complete rip-off from Edward Scissorhands. An empty tale but one that would have made sense back at release. This then leads us into Rough Guide to Suicide - Another short but slightly sweeter story showcasing the dangers of trends in MC-1. Following the rise in popularity of a vid that shows the best way to commit suicide. Dredd has to work out how to stop the craze before too many citizens off themselves. A very dark story for sure.

Finally, we shift away from the short stories and get a tale we can get behind titled: The Art of Geomancy. This is actually a standout tale in the book; it took a while to appear but has arrived. This is a sequel to the Stan Lee series; in the first story, Stan Lee beats Dredd in a fight, in the second story, Dredd beats Stan Lee regaining his honour and in the third is Stan Lee's assassin guild sending a new assassin to strike down Dredd for making them look weak. The story also sees the return of Max Normal, which automatically makes this the best story in the book. The artwork is beautiful, and we see that Dredd is not invulnerable, an excellent story for sure.

What's going on? We had such a rough run, and now we are getting banger after banger! In this story - Justice 1 - Dredd is assigned aboard Justice 1 to service a 5-week rotation of checking in on the local colonies. But of course, this is Dredd, and we discover two of the crew are having an affair and planning to run from the Justice lifestyle. Unfortunately, Dredd ruins the plan, leaving us with seven dead judges and a wreaked Justice 1. A classic murder mystery story that is brutal and beautiful all at once.

Koole Killers and First of the Many return us back to some meh stories. Up first is Koole Killers, which has us follow a duo of killers getting on with their illegal ways before crossing paths with Dredd and getting themselves killed, pretty standard. Then in First of the Many - we learn about Dredd's first arrest and how, ten years later, the prep still has a score to settle. Overall another meh. Let's move on.

Raptaur - Amazing! A complete rip-off from Alien. Which we all know I love. The hyper-aggressive Alien ends up in megacity one, killing the populous before Dredd goes hunting. But even Dredd suffers a little hiding from the beast! The story ends with Dredd "Killing" the creature, but it would seem a homeless citizen finds a piece still alive and heads off into the city (I believe this creature grows to become the companion to Jack Point in the Simping the Detective).

The Hand of Fate - Though a short tale, it is an excellent standard crime case. A citizen believes he is communicating with satan and goes off on a murder spree before running foul of Dredd. After suffering life-threatening injuries, the prep is put into suspended animation until he can be treated. The reason Dredd states is so they can gain access to his link to satan. A little silly but still a good read with great art.

Then finally, the tales: I was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Priest Killer! and The Boy who Thought he Wasn't - Such weird-looking filler pieces. Not really a fan of these. So at this point, I am just going to close the book and call it.

The highs of this series were the artwork; it had some beautiful-looking stories. Dean Ormston's Raptaur was fantastic, and the artwork by Peter Doherty in Justice 1 I always find enjoyable. But overall, I would say this case file is one of the weaker ones so far, plenty to enjoy but too much to switch off to as well. Ultimately good enough for a true fan to want but also bad enough to turn new fans away. Read with caution.

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