The year long story ‘Mega City One’ has been collected together in one huge 12 issue volume that tells a hugely different type of Judge Dredd story, one that has made massive changes to the current status quo for Dredd and his universe that are still playing out today.
The story begins with Judge Dredd waking up in a sea of green, grass covering everything the eye can see. Through some initial investigating Dredd, and the readers, discover that this is what remains of Mega City One. The huge Mega Blocks are gone, the sky is no longer full of vehicles, the streets are no more. All that remains of Dredd’s home is endless grass.
This is the main mystery and drive of the book, as Dredd not only pieces together what happened to Mega City One, but must try to find a way of undoing it, if possible, and restoring law and order to the land. Along the way he meets a trio of young girls, Quill, Lolo, and Iggy, that he initially arrests, but then ends up taking under his wing, caring for them, raising them, and even training them to be Judges. The relationship between Dredd and the girls is one of the highlights of the book, especially as it shows a more caring side to a character that often gets stereotyped as cold and uncaring.
Whilst he’s not suddenly a happy and loving person, he does mellow enough to show that under that stern expression and Judge’s uniform he’s still a human being, capable of caring for others. This weird family is a great addition to Dredd’s world, and whilst the girls initially hate him, they really do even come to care deeply for him come the end of the book, calling him Judge Dad on more than one occasion. The addition of the helmet wearing pug, named Pug Dredd, completes the family unit.
The mystery of the grass and the disappearance of 800 million plays out slowly, making room for smaller, single issue adventures along the way. Dredd and the girls come across a society of people who put grammar above everything, a misogynistic men’s rights matrix simulation, and even a group of cannibalistic vegans. Judge Dredd has always been a book with some degree of social commentary and poking fun of of the times it’s made in, whether it be the subtle naming of stories, to in your face characters and events, and this continues here in ‘Mega City Zero’, with issues such as ‘Grammar Nazi’s’, ‘#NotAllMen’ and ‘You Have 4 New Followers’.
Though some of these issues feel very stand alone to begin with, it becomes clear that they are playing some small part in a much bigger whole come the end of the book, with these experiences not just shaping Dredd into the man that he must become for this new world, but also filling in a lot of the gaps in the history of what has happened since the destruction of Mega City One.
The book crafts a long and interesting story, one that is as much about it’s characters as it is something of a reboot of the Judge Dredd universe. It takes it’s time letting you get to know the girls, as well as giving a good insight into how Dredd himself has changed. It takes a lot of the history of the universe and uses this to inform it’s decisions, yet manages to create a unique jumping on point for new readers as it establishes it’s own version of the Judge Dredd franchise.
This isn’t a reboot, but it does act like a reset. It takes everything that was great and entertaining about the franchise and begins it anew and refreshed, setting into play a different and exciting new era for the character.
Judge Dredd: Mega City Zero is now available from IDW Publishing.