Judge Dredd The Mega Collection: America
Hachette Partworks Limited
Wagner / Ennis / MacNeil / Craddock / Blythe
So, that lasted a while didn’t it?
Hachette Books had the ambitious plan to reprint the most significant stories in the Judge Dredd canon, but didn’t get past issue 1. Arguably, these strips have already been reprinted and repackaged to death (evoking The Smiths “Paint a Vulgar Picture”), but if the creators get a royalty and it raises the profile of the character you can’t really complain.
As you can probably tell, this is a collection of perhaps the most collected, and certainly most acclaimed, Judge Dredd tale ever – “America”. Plenty has been written about America, how it changed the direction and tone of the strip, how it help generate the credibility for the Judge Dredd strip and how by some it has been acclaimed as the best Dredd strip ever . It’s good no doubt, but I’m not sure if it is over familiarity, but I can’t say it fits into my top 5. It’s still a powerful tale, and yeah, for a story with such a small scope it has had a huge range and ramifications that continue to echo today.
Possibly of more interest are the two sequels that follow it in the volume. In the first “America : The Fading of The Light” Bennett Beeny’s life starts to completely unravel after the events of the “America”, health deteriorating and the terrorist organisation “Total War” comes back into his life. If it could go wrong, it has gone wrong for our hero.
MacNeil didn’t submit fully rendered art this time, and left the colouring to Alan “Radioactive” Craddock. The line art was up to MacNeil’s usual standard, but spoilt by Craddock’s lurid hues. Story wise, if the last story was imbued with pathos and tragedy, this veers toward bathos. This is unnecessary as a sequel; “America” works better as a standalone story of two lost souls in MC1. Its one saving grace is that it introduces (now Judge) America Beeny (currently starring in Block Judge), which takes us nicely into the 3rd part of the America saga.
In “Cadet” Bennett Beeny is dead, but as part of his last will and testament he entrusted his daughter to the “care” of Justice Department. A now older Cadet America Beeny wants to investigate the death of her mother, and has requested Joe Dredd as her supervising Judge. The art makes a significant improvement with Chris Blythe colouring MacNeil’s line work. Wagner takes time to develop Beeny’s character and the interaction between Dredd and Beeny drives the story along, Dredd assessing Beeny, Beeny working with the man who, if only perhaps indirectly, led to the death of her parents.
Rounding off the volume is a selection of stories, all drawn by MacNeil. A Wagner tale which catches up on Beeny post “full eagle” and establishing her as a regular member of the supporting cast. In the next, Dredd arranges a meeting with his niece Vienna, which goes as well as you would expect, but it has some great fully painted art from Mac’. Finally, there are two strips from the sometimes unfairly derided Garth Ennis run, “Snowstorm”, where Dredd runs up against sugar dealers and “Firepower” where Dredd displays his siege negotiation skills.
Tharg’s PR droid Michael Molcher provides some commentary on the significance of the lead tale at the back of the book and bigs up Mr. W whilst he’s at it. A great package, attractively and robustly bound. Admittedly I have around 3 copies of this tale, and two of what would have been volume 2 – “Mechanismo”, but it would acted as a great primer for newcomers.