With a series as long running as Judge Dredd, there are inevitable peaks and troughs. However, the 9th volume of the Complete Case Files is, arguably, one of the peaks. There’s no overarching huge story in this collection and not all of its barrage of short episodes are brilliant, but those that are rank amongst the all-time Dredd highlights.
Some of the magic lies in the familiarity. Writers Wagner and Grant revisit some classic characters here, including hoverboard-riding graffiti artist Chopper in the absolute belting classic Midnight Surfer; Otto Sump in Get Smart; Mean Machine Angel in A Merry Tale of the Christmas Angel; and the fatties (who need skateboards to wheel their immense bulk around) in Magnificent Obsession. They aren’t all brilliant but they reward a reader’s investment in the comic and its characters.
Elsewhere, there are stories that don’t seem so dark, but that Dredd deals with in as stony-faced fashion as ever, painting a harsher picture of Dredd and the fascist state he personifies. This leads up to the pivotal story A Letter From a Democrat. Although only spanning a single episode, this is the starting pistol of a theme that will thread through Dredd’s future, through some of the absolute highlights of Dredd stories to come.
A volume not to be missed, then. Perhaps not an ideal jumping on point – that horse has almost certainly bolted – but a natural, glorious celebration of brilliant writing, phenomenal art and the best of British comics.