Judge Dredd: The Small House Collected – Previewing The Best, The Most Important Dredd For Years

by Richard Bruton

Judge Dredd: The Small House is, quite simply, the best Dredd I’ve read in years, best since Trifecta, best since Day Of Chaos. Personally, I think it’s up there with the very best of Dredd tales. It’s seriously that good.

But, you already know that, as I was covering it when the main The Small House storyline came out in 2018, Progs 2100-2109 in Comicon’s Weekly 2000 AD. Finally, this September, you have the chance to buy this epic when it’s out in collection.

The Small House is the tale of Dredd going against everything he knows, everything he believes in, going against protocol, against rules, against the Chief Judge even. Simply because he’s uncovered a threat that’s so deeply ingrained in the Halls of Justice that he can trust almost no-one.

Over the past couple of years, since the events of Trifecta and Titan, Dredd and a small team of colleagues have been tracking covert operatives, under deep cover, and working without any oversight. Deliberately keeping the investigation from Chief-Judge Hershey, it’s pushing Dredd to the limits of the law, a place, a role, he’s just not comfortable with. And behind it all, the mysterious Judge Smiley, first seen in Trifecta, the watcher in the walls, the Judge pulling the strings, unknown to all, with an agenda all his own.

Dredd knows something terrible has been going on, but with just a small team of trusted colleagues, it’s going to take determination and a willingness to break the system to bring those responsible to bear.

Rob Williams described The Small House, at the time of the first episode as

There is a very big moment in Dredd’s world coming. We’re dealing with it here.

And they did. Incredibly. Rob Williams and Henry Flint deliver something that just has that feel of huge, seriously huge, Dredd tale, the likes of which tends to leave things altered in the world of MC-1. And it did.

So, here in the Comicon preview of the best Dredd tale for many, many years, we’re going to give you a taste of what to expect here.

Inside, you get the main The Small House tale, from Progs 2100-2109, plus the slight return from Prog 2134. But everything starts two years earlier, with the story Act Of Grud, from Progs 2004-2006. It sets everything up so well, but more than that it gives you an idea of just how long Williams and Flint have been planting the seeds of this epic tale.

JUDGE DREDD: ACT OF GRUD – Rob Williams and Henry Flint, letters by Annie Parkhouse.

In Act Of Grud, Judge Sam, survivor and saviour of the city on Enceladus, is back in MC-1. And Dredd knows he has the key to breaking open a case he’s been working on, a series of unexplained deaths of key democracy leaders. And that’s why Sam finds himself on witness protection, someone with information on the mysterious death of a pro-democracy activist.

That’s enough to bring Sam on board a very unusual team assembled by Dredd; Judge Giant, SJS Judge Gerhard, and Dirty Frank, all operating under the official Justice Department radar. It’s Dredd versus Judge Smiley. Dredd versus the system. It’s game on…

All of which beautifully sets up The Small House itself, 60 pages of sheer brilliance.

As Dredd and his small team track down the covert ghost Judges, operating unknown to anyone in the Justice Department, things play out so wonderfully well, with Williams controlling the tension superbly crafting a tale that’s so taut and tense, a thriller that’s all about the buildup, the characters moving into place, the events all slowly unfolding. No great, spectacular fights here, just great, spectacular storytelling.

And alongside Williams, there’s Henry Flint, whose art here is simply sublime, his line is just perfect, his colours expressive and adding so much to the artwork, his figure work, facial work, the tones, the page design… everything is just done to perfection.

Simply put, with The Small House, Rob Williams and Henry Flint have raised the bar on Dredd and they are the premier team on the character for the present day and as good as any that have gone before. The Small House is graphic novel brilliance, a real page-turner, a total thriller, redefining Dredd for everything that comes from now on.

JUDGE DREDD: THE SMALL HOUSE – Rob Williams and Henry Flint, letters by Annie Parkhouse

With The Small House, Dredd and his small team know there’s something very wrong in MC-1, a covert ghost Judge squad acting as assassins for a mystery man, pulling all the strings, altering political directions all over the world.

Here, in the Comicon preview, we present pages from the first episode of this stunning collection, a must read for any Dredd fan and a perfect introduction to the wonderful world of Judge Dredd for anyone who wants one.

Ladies and Gentlemen… The Small House

Judge Dredd: The Small House. By Rob Williams, Henry Flint, letters by Annie Parkhouse. Published by Rebellion/2000 AD on 5th September 2019.

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