Posted on November 6, 2009 by Steven Dawes
Available at Amazon.com
When I was presented with a review copy of the “Judge Dredd vs. Aliens” graphic novel, I wondered if I was the best bloke for the job. My experience with both iconic characters is really one sided, favoring the aliens. I’ve known as feared the “Aliens” from a young age but my experience with Judge Dredd was very limited.
True story; in my late teens I was following in my dad’s footsteps and worked as a mall Santa Claus (I was a little young to be playing jolly old St. Nick, but they needed the help.) One day my “elf assistant” brought a stack of comic books to read over our lunch break; amongst the pile were some Judge Dredd comics. While I was a serious comic geek at the time, I hadn’t ever touched a JD comic before. Taking the opportunity I ate my Subbaro’s special of the day while reading a few comics. I found JD to be interesting enough, but I was more into the “super crime fighters” like Spider Man & Daredevil as opposed to a futuristic crime fighter at the time. Needless to say, I didn’t pursue Judge Dredd’s world any further.
A few years later I went with my pack of favorite knuckleheads to see “Judge Dredd” at the movies. With Stallone behind the badge it’s a movie that’s good for leaving your brains at the door and enjoying the mindless entertainment. I even walked away from the flick with something; a habit of impersonating Sly with a well placed “I AM THE LAW!” quip here and there. But I imagine the movie really doesn’t do the comic series any justice (heh heh, no pun intended…) But still I never went any further into JD’s comics. In fact, outside of the awesome and supernaturally charged “Caballisitics” comic series, I’ve never regularly read anything from the 2000 AD lineup.
“Aliens” however… I’m well versed in. I first watched the “Alien” movie with my dad one night when I was maybe six or seven, and I can still remember how I lost a week’s worth of sleep over that masterpiece of horror. Then in my tween years “Aliens” came out and became one of my absolute favorite films of all time. My high school years had witnessed the awesome “Predator vs. Aliens” comics that became all the rage after the cameo “alien skull” showed up in the Predator’s trophy case, followed soon after by the semi-decent 3rd “Alien” film. In the years that followed I’ve read a few more comics with the alien and watched all their silver screen appearances… for better or for worse. But I’m not here to critique the movies so I digress.
“AND NOW, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! WELCOME TO THE MAIN EVENT! In this corner, we have Megacity One’s finest Judge… the immovable object known as Judge Dredd (spontaneous applause!) And in this corner, one of the most dangerous beings in the universe… the unstoppable force that are the aliens (lots of boo’s and jeer’s!) That’s right folks, two titans tussling it out for bragging rights and the future of Megacity One!” Once the bell rang, both sides came out boxing with all they had. Who came out victorious? You’ll have to read to find out!
I was surprised over how quickly I acclimated to the JD universe. Aside from some slang terms I’d never heard before (“DROKK!”), the Dredd universe was easy for me to follow. Perhaps my history of storyline driven comics overcooked my concern for jumping in cold turkey. Perhaps the writers knew that this moment in time within the world of Dredd would be read by first timers who came for the aliens, so they intentionally wrote it “back story light”. Perhaps it’s even a case that Dredd’s comics aren’t about a lot of back story to begin with. Whatever the answer may be, to me this was an ideal comic to get reacquainted with Judge Dredd while saying “WHASSAAAAAP!” to my old chums the aliens.
The artwork by Henry Flint looked familiar to how I remembered the comics I read back in the day and I find his work interesting to gawk at. He has a good eye for drawing large futuristic landscapes and his moments of humor are great (the mutant with a hand and forearm sticking out of his head is priceless) His design of the aliens may not be quite as detailed as other comics I’ve read, but who cares? I came to see aliens and I got em! Nice work Mr. Flint!
The story was a joint project between Judge Dredd creator John Wagner and 2000 AD editor turned freelance writer Andy Diggle. I suspect that Andy was very familiar with Dredd, the story line didn’t feel uneven or mixed in a way that said “this portion was obviously written by Andy while this next portion was obviously written by John.” Pats on the back and brewski’s to both bro’s for working so well together! You also get the standard graphic novel intro and writer commentaries at the end of the tale that are worth reading.
This was not only a great comic to read, it’s a great comic for both newbie’s and old pals of both Judge Dredd and the aliens! ‘Judge Dredd vs. Aliens” is an exciting read that gives both sides their moments in the spotlight. It’s also makes a great case for arguing that graphic novels can exist peacefully in ebook format, something I wasn’t so sure about before pouring over this baby.
Ok citizen, my final words on the subject citizen… I am Judge Dawes…. I AM THE LAW! And I order you to read this graphic novel immediately!
Review by Steven Dawes