Thursday, 23 October 2014

Judge Dredd The Early Years #2 - Eagle Comics

There is little doubt that British illustrator Ron Turner could produce some simply stunning drawings, as his artwork on the “The Daleks” serial for the weekly comic “TV Century 21” attests. But the cover to Issue Two” of “Judge Dredd The Early Years”, depicting two giant Heavy Metal Kid industrial robots fighting one another, is a competent piece of work at best. Indeed one could almost be uncharitable and suggest that it is easy to see why the comic book artist abandoned doing cover illustrations in the mid-1960’s and turned to producing ‘paint-by-number’ paintings instead. However this would be mightily unfair as the illustration would actually appear to be a ‘blow up’ of a far smaller picture, minus the kneeling judges, found within the issue. This therefore seems an odd choice of cover art by the publishing company, as there are far larger and frankly, better penciled, drawings spread throughout the book’s pages.

The story choices for this anthology would also appear to be a little bizarre, although all are written by Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner; albeit “Death Hotel” is credited to one of his pseudonyms Robert Flynn. The conclusion of the multi-issue ‘event’ ‘The Robot Wars’ is an obvious inclusion but following on from its epilogue are arguably three of the Mega-City One lawman’s least memorable early adventures. Admittedly “Dreams That Money Can buy”, “The Wreath-Killer” and “Death Hotel” are all taken from 1977 issues of the British science fiction comic book “2000 A.D.” but none of them pre-date Call-Me-Kenneth’s robot revolution and none are even printed in chronological order.

So where are the very earliest adventures of Judge Joe Dredd? Why is his first ever story, fighting the judge killer Whitey, not included in a collection of republished early stories? 

Admittedly this edition does include some interesting examples of 'primitive' Judge Dredd artwork, with Mike McMahon’s ‘goldfish bowl’ shaped judge’s helmet clearly taken as ‘gospel’ by fellow artists Ron Turner and Ian Gibson. But surely this book would be a great opportunity to show case Massimo Belardinelli’s interpretation of the future lawman, complete with the (censored) revealing of Dredd’s face, or possibly the excellent pencil work shown in “Krong” by co-creator Carlos Ezquerra? Devoted followers might even hanker for the early work of John Cooper, whose five–page treatment of ‘Muggers Moon’, despite not being published in “2000 A.D” until issue 19, was actually the first Judge Dredd story commissioned.
"JUDGE DREDD THE EARLY YEARS" No. 2 reprints stories from "2000 A.D." issues 15-17, 24, 26 & 32

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