Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 01, I should defer to Nicola's review written back in October of last year. There are a few key statements that she made that are important to acknowledge here:
"This is where it all started! The very first Judge Dredd stories collected together in chronological order are a delight for any fan to read." Note: Nicola was a fan going into it. I was not. I'd heard of the Sylvester Stallone movie back in the day, and had noticed that Dredd's name tends to pop up a lot in "greatest comic book characters" lists, especially those that insist on branching out from Marvel and DC.
Of Dredd himself she writes, "He's really a bit of a jerk when it comes down to it, not the complex
character he is now, and I wouldn't love him if this was my first
exposure to him. But it's not and I do." It is and I don't.
And perhaps most importantly, "I would not recommend a newcomer start here." I'd read her review and still did not heed her warning, but perhaps I should have. It just kills me to jump into something in the middle though! Just the other day my wife and I were talking about what age our kids would be before we'd let them start watching the Simpsons. I remarked that I'd like to start at the beginning and watch them through, even though it really didn't start getting really go until a few seasons in. Then why not start there? she asked. Why not, indeed? But with comics, I like origin stories and I thought I'd miss out on how Judge Dredd came to be. It turns out that though these are the first Judge Dredd stories, you don't get a lot of background information. You learn that he had a twin that didn't follow the same path, you learn how he acquires his robot companion Walter, and that's about it. Judge Dredd remains an enigma throughout the entire book. He's self-righteous, puts the law above all else, and that's all you learn.
The writing is down right terrible. Like stuff I'd have written as a child. Cheesy dialogue, stories wrapped up in a mere couple or so pages— I was reminded of those old Hercules cartoons from the 60s. The last comic I read that was this laughably bad was Captain Canuck. Fortunately, and unlike Captain Canuck, the artwork of Judge Dredd was decent and so it had at least something going for it. (It's better than the cover would suggest.)
I trust that the comic has improved over the years, that the Judge Dredd character is better fleshed out in later works, but I'm in no real rush to find out. Wish I'd listened to Nicola.
Writers: John Wagner, Pat Mills, Peter Harris, Kevin Gosnell, Malcolm Shaw, Charles Herring, Gerry Finley-Day, Robert Flynn, Joe Collins
Artists: Carlos Ezqerra, Mike McMahon, Brian Bolland, Massimo Belardinelli, Ron Turner, Ian Gibson, John Cooper, Bill Ward