This run of Dredd stories is the antithesis of the previous collection. Here we have a glorious smattering of shorts that truly bring out the best of Dredd. The writing is razor sharp, the art is handled by wave after wave of deeply talented artists, and it all comes together perfectly.
First of all there’s Revolution, the Wagner and Grant masterpiece that remains a cornerstone of the political message in Dredd’s dystopian future.
Secondly there’s the amount of background that’s developed and fleshed out in this book. Alabammy Blimps is surely an underrated Dredd classic for this reason. In it, Dredd travels into swamplands outside the city to track a crashed diplomatic craft carrying a Brit-Cit dignitary. When Dredd finds him, he’s been captured by a group of female cannibals, eager to sample his blue blood. It’s a story packed with concept, wonderfully illustrated by Steve Dillon. It’s only one example of a whole bunch of similarly brilliant shorts.
Lastly, we get a superb longer story in the form of Oz. This is a Dredd epic, bringing back sky-surfing hero Chopper, who demonstrates perfectly the balance that a good Dredd story can create between fantastic sci-if, gripping action and stealth social commentary. It’s 26 episodes of brilliance, barely even about Dredd at all, but weaving him in and around the story of the world’s greatest sky surfing race.
There are flashbacks to The Cursed Earth and The Judge Child here, with chapters devoted to different encounters that Chopper has on his journey. It also harks back to such epics by virtue of using different artists to illustrate it throughout. This doesn’t feel as jarring when different characters, situations and locations are being introduced and passed through on a rolling basis.
It culminates in a huge sky surfing race that is perfectly executed. The story has a superb ending that doesn’t pan out quite as expected, which it’s all the better for, and it bookends the back half of this collection perfectly.