Judge Dredd: The Long Game (pkgd. w/ JD Meg #450) – Michael Carroll

5 out of 5

The last floppy! The Megazine began incorporating these bonus reprint collections – as part of their page count – some years back, and it seems reception has always been somewhat mixed, depending on whether or not whichever reader felt like reprints were worthy of the pages they took up. While I can understand feeling a bit stiffed by this if I already owned the material in another form, I also think there’s value in re-experiencing in a new context.

Case in point: these Michael Carroll / Mark Sexton Dredd thrills, collected here as an editor’s (Matt Smith) wink to the first floppy collection, which was also creator focus – Jock. At the time when I’d read part of these, they were a bit underwhelming, setting Dredd as the background character while Carroll set up some underworld dealings between protection racketeers and some gangland boss types; the other, preceding story has some similar redirection of focus, though Dredd is more central – investigating a sleeper agent judge. I suppose I’d still say these don’t feel ground-breaking in the long run, two things stand out: firstly how much I miss Carroll being a regular on Joe, as his approach is to fully seat the character in a world, maintaining a grittiness with, when needed, a dark sense of humor. His style is one of the most individualized updates of Wagner’s. Secondly: Mark Sexton, amongst the more detailed Dredd artists – a Weston, a Bolland – is definitely the most cinematic, making it make sense why he moved over to movie storyboards. He has that slightly European, fine-lined style of the others mentioned, but it’s so much more fluid, and balances that cinematic storytelling with comic book dynamism.

So this is a fitting farewell to the floppy, staying true to its original intentions – reprints of odds and ends – while also highlighting how deep the Dredd world can be, and the insane talent that’s floated through its creator roster.