Holy Drokk! This was a ton of fun. Dredd spends his first year as a Judge working the streets. He and fellow Judge, Riorden (from PSI-Division), find that juveniles are developing telekinetic abilities, and some are using the abilities for wrong in this new IDW series.
I was stunned with how much I enjoyed this issue. IDW's JUDGE DREDD on-going series is a ton of fun, but I felt this first issue raised the bar for Dredd as a whole. Sure, it reminded me of the movie Looper, especially with one scene of this book that felt exactly like a scene in the film, but I love how it played out. The telekinetic story aspect is very cool, and it gives American readers something new for them to sink their teeth into, yet something that is familiar.
This story works so well on the page. It's extremely dark and gritty, which fits the Dredd world so well. Writer Matt Smith deserves unlimited high fives for setting the tone throughout this book. The captions and dialogue are fantastic. This is the Dredd book I want to read. It's incredibly engrossing, and it completely blew away my expectations.
A second and third set of unlimited high fives should go to artist Simon Coleby and colorist Leonard O'Grady. These guys work together insanely well. It fits the gritty atmosphere and is one of my favorite American depictions of Mega City One. The best part of this issue, art-wise, has to be Simon Coleby's inking. It's heavy and has a bit of that noir feel to it. The art and the writing are a perfect match here. I love the different perspectives we get with every panel, especially the scene with the man jumping off the roof. This is easily some of my favorite comic book art this week.
When you have a creative team that's worked on Judge Dredd before, and for 2000 A.D. before, you're going to get a solid JUDGE DREDD book. If you've ever been interested in Dredd, this is a good place to jump on. It won't have all the answers you're looking for, but you don't really need them. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
I have one small problem here with the issue. The title feels a tad misleading to me. This takes place during the tail-end of his first year as a Judge. He's already completed the academy and he's on the streets all by himself. I was a bit under the impression that we'd get to see the story of Dredd becoming a Judge, not the aftermath. JUDGE DREDD: THE EARLY YEARS is a better title for this.
JUDGE DREDD: YEAR ONE is seriously fun. It's gritty, dark, and exactly what I'd want from a contemporary Dredd book. The art and writing team here are fantastic, and while the title doesn't explain how or why Dredd became who he is, this is still a good look into the first year of Dredd as a Judge. Honestly, I'm very surprised how good this book is because at times, companies can over-franchise books, and usually when that happens, they sacrifice quality just to get books onto the shelf. We have the exact opposite here. As first issues go, JUDGE DREDD: YEAR ONE is a better book than IDW's JUDGE DREDD (which is also a fantastic book)
Overall, I highly recommend this issue.