Judge Dredd: The Daily Dredds vol. 2: 1986 – 1989 – John Wagner, Alan Grant, edited by Keith Richardson

4 out of 5

The second collection of Daily Dredds – the newspaper strip published in The Daily, hence the name, but now actually switched over to a daily model at this point (excepting Sundays), with artist Ian Gibson swapping in for Ron Smith.

All of the design pros of the previous volume apply here as well: it’s cleanly and obsessively put together, denoting publication dates and strip order, with the daily pace now meaning that each page fits two days’ worth of (generally) 3-panel strips. There’s again a table of contents, and it’s been adjusted to the format: instead of needing to list out every single entry, since the series switched over to whole storylines, running 60-70 days, the TOC is grouped in that manner. We also get intros again, once more from our editor, backing up the sense of passion and energy in the production, and from artist Mike Collins, who worked on the lattermost strips here, which haven’t previously been reprinted!

The material, again, is where you have to allow for some wiggle room. The Daily Dredds do take from the main mag’s continuity, which is fun, but they don’t necessarily feed back the other way, so even in this longer story format, it all reads very ephemerally. Wagner and Grant also take a beat to switch over from the more pun-based comedy of Ron Smith’s work; Dredd really acts out of character at some points in the first couple tales. But they’re fun regardless, and Ian Gibson’s art is really phenomenal, taking the usual energy of his style and simplifying it, yes, but keeping his sense of motion and energy intact. Towards the collection’s middle, when Wags / Grant find their rhythm, it’s actually really compelling stuff, worth reading beyond just the novelty / nostalgia of it, but you can also see Gibson starting to lose steam with his art before being replaced by Collins, who brings a really cool “traditional” newspaper vibe to it.

Personally, I prefer this volume, because the one-shot strips are less engaging; having a story to get in to for 30-or-so page chunks feels a lot more worthwhile, even if the stories themselves might not be game changers. That consistent entertainment value, combined with the gorgeous presentation, makes this another great purchase for Dredd fans.