Judge Dredd: Origins by John Wagner

wagnerj-judgedreddoriginsThe Justice Department receives a ransom demand from persons unknown residing in the Cursed Earth: pay one billion credits and they will return the body of Judge Eustace Fargo. Judge Fargo was the first Judge of the new judicial system that took justice out of the courtrooms and onto the streets. He was also the person from which Judge Dredd was cloned. It was universally believed that his body lay in a tomb at the Halls of Justice, but that story was just a fabrication. The ransom demand came backed up with evidence – a little box containing a sample of Fargo’s tissue, delivered straight to the Judges’ headquarters. And so, Dredd and others set off into the Cursed Earth, on a mission to retrieve the original Father of Justice. And the thing that makes the issue especially pressing is that the tissue sample appears to have come from a living organism.

Who is the mysterious adversary who made the ransom demand? What trials will the Judges face among the mutants of the Cursed Earth, en route to their destination? Is Judge Fargo alive? All the elements are there for a great story, and it is. One of the best aspects is actually the backstory. We are treated to a large look at the distant past – the history of how the new judicial system came to replace the old, and how America became the radioactive wasteland called the Cursed Earth. We also meet a young Joseph Dredd and his clone-brother Rico (before Rico went bad), thrust out of the Academy early to deal with state of emergency in Mega-City One. These are much more than just brief glimpses into the past to tickle the fancies of committed fans. A fair chunk of the graphic novel takes place in this earlier time period.

An epic Dredd story, spanning almost 200 pages, one that will appeal especially to long-term readers.

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