In Mega-City One No One Can Hear You Scream! Previewing ‘Judge Dredd Case Files’ #36

by Richard Bruton

The juggernaut of the Judge Dredd Case Files continues, reprinting every Dredd, in order. And here we’re up to 2002 and 2003, where Dredd and Mega-City One came up against those lovable little xenomorph critters in the epic ‘Incubus’.

Yes, ‘Incubus’ is the big storyline here, written by John Wagner and Andy Diggle and with Henry Flint doing stunning things on the artwork. It’s everything you expect it to be really, an Alien movie in MC-1, with it hitting all the sort of beats you’d want in this sort of crossover.

I don’t think there’s many people who’d call it a brilliant Dredd, but it’s definitely a thoroughly enjoyable one, with Henry Flint pulling out all the stops to give us something stunning.

You see what I mean?

Now, aside from the 100-ish pages of ‘Incubus’, this is one of those Case Files where it’s all about the short Dredds. And in that we get a lot of top-notch writing from John Wagner, but there’s also a fair bit of Gordon Rennie doing a grand job of giving us a few very satisfying shorts.

Artistically, we’re thankfully out of the 90s and that over the top painterly style and we’ve got a great mix of artists here. So good to see the old guard of Ian Gibson and John Ridgway here alongside the likes of Henry, Critchlow, Willsher et al.

Ian Gibson artwork from Give Me Liberty – written by Gordon Rennie

We also get to see, sadly, a couple of artists doing what I think was there last stint on Dredd here.

Firstly, the late great Jim Baikie

Art by Jim Baikie from ‘Everyday Disaster’ – written by John Wagner

And then there’s the special moment of seeing the final time on Dredd for the genius that is Mick McMahon. It is, as you’d expect, a sublime bit of Dredd artwork.

Art by Mick McMahon from Voices Off – written by John Wagner

I mean, really, who else could do this sort of anatomy and movement? The boots, the knee pads, the body positioning… oh that’s brilliant…

Art by Mick McMahon from ‘Voices Off’ – written by John Wagner

But there are two quite brilliant little done-in-ones here, the epitome of how a simple nothing really happens Dredd or a Dredd where there’s no real Dredd at all can actually be some of the best Dredd storylines.

I mean, sure, I’m as guilty as anyone else in loving the epic stuff, but the bread and butter Dredds can also throw up some spectacularly good low-key tales.

The first of these is when John Wagner and Simon Fraser tell us ‘Zoom Time’, with Dredd part of the mandatory two hours of travelling on the Zoom Train. It’s a simple little six pages of absolutely brilliantly done storytelling, watching Dredd have to suffer all the crap going on around him, plenty of comedy as well to be found in this one…

Art by Simon Fraser from ‘Zoom Time’ – written by John Wagner

And the second of the perfect little done-in-ones comes with Waiting, with Gordon Rennie and PJ Holden doing another six perfect pages of Dredd, following one poor MC-1 citizen who’s been called into the Justice Department after a summons from Dredd.

This is one of those marvellously done pretty much Dredd-less Dredds, where the greatness of the story comes from the simple structure of it all as we wait with this poor schmuck as Dredd goes about his busy day. The poor guy just has to go through so much, a rabbit in the headlights of Justice Department policy. And we get to see the day pass by…

Art by PJ Holden from ‘Waiting’ – written by Gordon Rennie

Yep, that’s the great thing about the Case Files. When you read Dredd in graphic novel form it’s obviously going to be heavy on the epic stuff. And of course that’s fine, there’s a lot of really strong epic Dredds for you to get through.

But that does mean that you miss out on these little moments of brilliance, the stories that have laid all of the character and history of Mega-City One, the six pages at a time creation of the place and its people.

And that’s what you can find in any Case Files volume you pick up. You can pretty much guarantee that every single Case Files volume will have something that’s every bit as good as ‘Zoom Time’ or ‘Waiting’.

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 36 Reprinting material from 2000 AD Progs 1302-1335 and Judge Dredd Megazine 4.14-4.18

Written by John Wagner, Gordon Rennie, Andy Diggle. Art by Henry Flint, Ben Willsher, Ian Gibson, John Ridgway, Mick McMahon, Jim Baikie, Simon Fraser, PJ Holden, Carl Critchlow, Staz Johnson, Paul Marshall, David Millgate, Mike Collins, Dylan Teague, Anthony Williams, Siku, Carlos Ezquerra.

Released on 2nd February 2021

Okay, seeing as ‘Incubus’ is the biggie here, we’re going to preview that one for you right here – but remember, with any Case File, just like we showed you, there’s gold in the short Dredds as well!

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