Judge Dredd: First Shots (pkgd. w/ JD Meg #400) – Various

2 out of 5

Highlighting various artists’ first takes on ol’ Stoney Chin, the supplement to the bumper 400 issue is… pretty telling.  The writing is of a general quality that you can expect from regulars like Wagner, Rennie, and Robbie Morrison, while the art forevermore underlines the concept that comics need be a collaborative medium: you can’t carry it on story alone.  And this is ‘telling’ because names you’d see return – Staz Johnson, P.J. Holden – do a better job at that collaboration than the less regular names, making this floppy somewhat of a drag for four out of its six pieces, and seeing as how next month’s floppy is a collection of Rennie and Holden’s characters in Sino Town… one might suspect that this was just a themed dumping ground to make way for those stories.

Staz’s art already looks pretty solid in his early ’00s outing with Wagner, with maybe the slightest dash of various Dredd / 2000 ADers evident in it; Inaki Miranda hasn’t been around for a long while, and his art in the 400 ish itself is leagues beyond his cartoonish, amateur attempt at an otherwise entertaining Rennie script; Len O’Grady has a goofy flair, but it’s not a good script-to-page translation, and the story moves in uncomfortable fits due to it; I didn’t like Tan Eng Huat from when I saw him on JLA a million years ago, and I equally don’t like his distorted anime look here, which has similar pacing problems as Grady’s stuff; Sam Hart’s stuff has a nice edge to it, grasping the over-the-top feel of the Dreddverse, but his sense of scale is off and affects the impact of Morrison’s writing; Holden is also a far cry from his current self – just much less of a signature style – but you can tell the guy had something here, with the framing and action appropriately serving the story.

This is one of those “read it just to get through it” collections.  I’m a big Holden fan, so there’s some interest there, and if you dig any of the named artists, perhaps the same would be true.