author: John Wagner
I’m going to work my way through the Dredd case file books one by one, until I’m as up to date as possible.
I didn’t read these early tales in 2000AD, but caught up on them in the eighties in the Eagle/Quality comics US comic size colour reprints. Those issues, it seems, missed out occasional episodes for various reasons. Being a complete chronological reprint*, the complete case files keep throwing out episodes I’ve never seen before, which is always a pleasure.
This book features two of the classic Dredd epic tales- Cursed Earth and Judge Caligula.
The premise of Cursed Earth is stolen almost whole from Damnation Alley, the Judges travelling East to West across America rather than the other way. The over-arching plot of getting a vaccine to Mega City 2 breaks down into a series of shorter tales, as Dredd and his crew encounter the various bizarre denizens of the desert- vampire robots, cloned dinosaurs, alien slaves and more.
Returning from Mega City 2, Dredd is framed by power-crazy (and just plain crazy crazy) Judge Caligula, who is making a power grab for absolute control of Mega City 1. This story is more of a sustained plot than Cursed Earth. Cal’s plans are revealed piece by piece, Dredd and his band of rebels gain victories and suffer setbacks, and it all leads to a grand showdown.
The classic stories are complemented by a roster of classic artists, particularly Mike McMahon and Brian Bolland. Many of the episodes open with a double page spread, giving extra thrill-power to them.
*Apart from, in this edition, four episodes which have never been reprinted anywhere because they depicted certain fast food chains and a well known food advertising green giant and drew threats of copyright based lawsuits.