As a Judge Dredd fan, this is an exciting week! IDW’s Judge Dredd: Mega City Zero: Part One #1 titled “Terms of Service” marks a new beginning for our strong-chinned, perpetually frowning masked cop. It was nearly forty years ago when writer John Wagner formed the idea of a futuristic cop and was visually realized by legendary artist Carlos Ezquerra. Over the intervening years, the gravelly voiced “I am the Law” cop has experienced all manners of adversity – earthly and heavenly. With that much material, it can be an intimidating task to know where to enter the IP, and series editor Denton J. Tipon explains in “Dreddlines” at the back of the issue that Mega-City Zero gives longtime fans a new story while offering an opportunity for new readers to have a place to jump in and develop an appreciation for Dredd and Mega-City.
This relaunch features the writing duo of Ulises Farinas (Fans will recognize his artwork on Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two.) and Erick Freitas. Farinas and Freitas’ story lifts Judge Dredd out of the wilds of Mega-City and into an overgrown, unfamiliar world filled with wild children who refer to Dredd as Judge Dad – just one example of the writers effectively balancing a sense of humor to counter the stoic posturing of Dredd. Feeling just as disoriented as Dredd, the writes make sure that readers are taken through S.E.E. Protocol, which quickly introduces newbies to the Lawgiver as well as insight into Dredd’s advanced technological Mega-City world. The tone and references of this story complements existing canon.
Joining the creative team are artist Dan McDaid, colorist Ryan Hill (also returning from his work on Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two), and letterer Chris Mowry. I was particularly impressed by McDaid’s ability to create a desolate landscape by breaking it up into separate panels, such as the establishing shot that opens the story. As he slowly pans down in each of the four panels, McDaid creates depth of field as he introduces Dredd. I also thought the panels of Dredd from the perspective of the mechanical judge in which McDaid subtly outlines the judge’s visor were excellent. The earthy hues of Hill’s color palette energize McDaid’s art and breathe life into each page. Since the Dredd series tends to be more text heavy, being able to set out each speaker is important, and Mowry proves he is more than up to the task and excels. Also, the numerous sound effects pop off the page and emphasize the action.
IDW is giving Issue #1 a mega release with five cover choices. The standard cover by Farinas and Hill features a dilapidated stone monument of a judge covered over with ivy as a lone Judge Dredd warms himself by an open fire. Francesco Francavilla’s subscription cover spotlights an Archie-esque youth on a jet-powered hoverboard flying across Judge Dredd’s path. The retailer incentive with art by Paul Hanley and colors by Simon Gough focuses on a cluttered street scene as Judge Anderson and Judge Dredd write up traffic tickets in this wrap-around cover. Artist Max Dubar and colorist Joana Lafuente’s Nerd Block exclusive cover puts Judge Dredd front and center, the Lawgiver blasting as Dredd rides his motorcycle through a neon-heavy Mega-City street. The fifth cover is a blank sketch variant. All of the art covers are fantastic and will likely lead to some double dipping for hardcore Judge Dredd fans – well, I know I will!