Judge Dredd Classics: The Dark Judges #4
The Judge Dredd Classics series from IDW Publishing is a reprinting of some of the best Judge Dredd stories, but with the addition of colour. As someone used to reading all of these fantastic Dredd stories in black and white as they originally appeared in the pages of 2000AD, it’s a striking experience.
There are few more famous Dredd stories than those involving the Dark Judges. These warped lawmakers from Deadworld have reached the conclusion that all crime is committed by the living, therefore life itself is the ultimate crime, and so have set about eliminating the living from Mega City One.
In The Dark Judges #4, the evil judges – who were previously defeated by Dredd and Judge Anderson (yes, the same psychic rookie Judge who appears in the most recent Dredd movie as our hero’s sidekick) – have found a way back to Mega City One and they are going about their mission with extraordinary success. Seriously, the writers Alan Grant and John Wagner, subject Dredd’s hometown to straight up death and destruction: everywhere.
The addition of colour by Charlie Kirchoff certainly makes two of the Dark Judges – Judge Fear and Judge Fire – look even better than I remember in the original. There’s something great about the red appearing behind the grill of Fear’s helmet, while the flames of Fire just look incredible, really adding to the pencilwork of Brett Ewins and Cliff Robinson. But with the other two Dark Judges, Death and Mortis, the addition of colour to their look doesn’t actually add much in my view.
However, it is really in the backgrounds that I feel the colours add to the story. The scene on the train for example, just feels so much more alive (ironically) than I remember the original.
Dredd pops up only briefly – this is a Judge Anderson-centric story – so we don’t get anybody being called a creep, sadly. However, we do have sass by the bucket load from Anderson and her incredible, immobile hair. If you like your comics to have strong female protagonists getting stuff done, then you will always have a winner with a Judge Anderson story.
The Dark Judge stories are all unquestionably classics, and should be read by all comics fans, whether in colour or the original black and white. Having been spoilt by coloured comics when I first picked up Dredd, I remember it felt a little odd when going through the Case File collections and the stories were all in black and white.
Hopefully this IDW series makes the great man and Mega City One more accessible to a whole new generation of readers.