3 out of 5
We all needed a break after the momentous and intense Apocalypse War, writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra included. As a result, the mad world-building and multi-week storylines of Dredd mostly go on hold: the thrills collected in the sixth Case Files are much goofier on the whole, and though they include some new concepts and characters, these generally feel more like fleeting additions, biding time until the next big event. Important bits and bobs are still sneaked in here, with the return of some Angels and a certain Judge Child, and one rather dark storyline, The Executioner, but otherwise, John starts to repeat some of his “Crime Files” setups – crims propose some ways to foil the judges, and fail – and the tone of a good majority of this stuff is pretty light-hearted.
Ezquerra, allowed frequent breaks via Ron Smith, Steve Dillon, and others, is in top form throughout, fully settling in to his style that’s equally suited to antics or more serious beats. Dillon also becomes very recognizably Dillon at this point, and Ron Smith continues to drift toward a look that’s maybe not great for the mag – it’s a bit too comedic and slapstick; like a Mad Magazine look.
It’s entertaining from cover to cover, but there’s nothing really memorable here, just riffing on some pre-established formulas and ideas. However, the Dreddverse’s identity is strong enough to very much support that at this point; biding time amidst the playful writing / art pairing of Wagner, Grant, and Ezquerra is perfectly satisfactory.