The seventh volume of Dredd’s Case Files follows a similar style to the sixth but is even better. After the apocalyptic war that rocked volume five, life is returning to what Dredd might consider normal, though to us it’s far from it. Most of the stories in this collection are short multi-chapter tales of three or four parts, which dissect Mega City One to show us its messed up internal workings.
The book is perfectly balanced, with a diverse collection of stories from supernatural horror (Cry of the Werewolf and The Haunting of Sector House 9) to a good smattering of brilliant ‘world gone mad’ classics (a biggest nose take on beauty contests in Citizen Snork and an orangutan running for mayor in Portrait of a Politician). The Graveyard Shift charts a typical night in Dredd’s world: a constant barrage of crimes and call-outs. The book closes with Steve Dillon’s wonderfully illustrated The Wreckers, which suits his gritty style perfectly and is the book’s reminder that the Apocalypse War may have been a few hundred pages ago, but is still having a dramatic impact on some parts of the city. Here desperate people cause enormous motorway pile-ups so they can rob their victims, in a sector-wide outbreak of organised carnage.
It’s tough to pick a favourite volume amongst Dredd books but this one is up there. It’s a satisfying collection of deeply different tales, easy to pick up and diverse in tone and content. It surely marks a peak period of creativity from John Wagner and Alan Grant, whose visions of the future are so perfectly extrapolated from everyday life that they’re a timeless collection, as brilliant now as it was when it was originally published in the pages of 2000AD, back in 1983.