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Judge Dredd Year One: City Fathers by Matthew Smith #BookReview

Mega-City One. 2080 AD

“I think we can rule out suicide.”
“How so?”
“You’re standing on his pancreas.”

It is Joe Dredd’s first year as a full-eagle Judge.

He may have been created from the genes of Eustace Fargo, the ‘Father of Justice’, and thus part of an illustrious lineage, but right now Dredd is not long graduated from the Academy, and yet to establish himself as the metropolis’s toughest, greatest cop.

His reputation will be moulded in the years ahead, but at the moment he’s a young lawman, fresh on the streets.

The brutal murder of a Justice Department-sanctioned spy sparks an investigation that will see Dredd trawl the criminal underworld in the hunt for the killer – and he will discover that all is not what it seems in the sector’s murky black market. Something new has entered the system, and unless Dredd can stop it, chaos will be unleashed…

Title: Judge Dredd Year One: City Fathers | Author: Matthew Smith | Series: Judge Dredd Year One #1 | Publisher: 2000 AD Books | Publication date: 8 August 2012 | Pages: 133 | ASIN: B008VE3D8I | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: Drug addiction | Rating: 2 out of 5 | Source: Self-purchased

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Judge Dredd Year One: City Fathers review

‘Judge Dredd Year One: City Fathers’ is a book that tries to do four different things, so it’s maybe not surprising that it doesn’t succeed at all of them. It’s an origin story about the early years of a very well known character, Judge Joe Dredd. It’s a detective story and it’s a sci fi action thriller. On top of that, it takes a universe famous in one medium (comics), and translates it into another (prose). By my measure, it manages to do two of those four things well.

The book is set in the first year after Dredd’s graduation from the justice academy, when he’s still a fresh young Judge on the streets of Mega City One, rather than the grizzled old bastard readers of 2,000 A.D. know and love. The case he is investigating is one of a dangerous new drug on the streets of the city, one that causes users to become homicidally insane.

Dredd was a favourite character of mine as a teenager, and the book plays to the strengths that I remember from those days. It’s full of brutal violence and terse dialogue. Dredd powers around the city on his Lawmaster motorbike and dispenses justice with his Lawgiver pistol. The action scenes are thrilling and effective and the book fully captures the colourful, feverish atmosphere of Mega City One.

Where it works less well is as a detective novel. I love a good mystery, and sadly this isn’t one. The denouement comes out of nowhere at the end, giving readers little chance to deduce things for themselves along the way. The book is also not entirely successful as an origin story. The problem is partly the shift from comic book to prose, because it invites an examination of his inner thoughts that is easier to avoid in comics. Dredd has always been an iconic, silent monolith of a character and the examination of his feelings and motivations just didn’t work for me.

This is a bit of a mixed bag then, in some ways it’s as good as you’d hope it could be. In others it’s unsatisfying. Fans of Dredd will probably have fun with it, but anyone else should probably start elsewhere.

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.

Published in3 RatedScience Fiction Book Reviews

One Comment

  1. Aw, too bad this one didn’t hit the right buttons for you. Here’s hoping your next read scores high.

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