Steve's Nutshell Reviews: I Am The Law

judgedreddomnibus.jpg I Am The Law: The Judge Dredd Omnibus is the essential novel collection no true drokking fan of Judge Dredd should be without.

Compiling the first four Dredd novels from Black Flame (a publishing arm of BL Publishing, which is in turn owned by Games Workshop) into a 760 page treat, long-time readers of Dredd's pulpy home of 2000 AD and Mega-City newbies alike can pick this up and jump right in. No prior familiarity with the Dreddverse is required, citizens-- just a love for cynical, satirical, and often humorous pulp-style sci-fi set in my all-time fave dark future setting.

The Omnibus kicks off with Dredd vs. Death, which has Mega-City One's most effective Judge teaming up with Psi-Judge Anderson and ex-Judge DeMarco checking out a "death cult" and happening upon yet another comeback from most 2000 AD top-choice Dredd baddie: Judge Death. A great book filled with rip-roaring action and drama from Gordon Rennie, one of the best writers out there today. Excellent pacing, terrific dialogue. The only thing I could see non-Dreddites shying away from is the admittedly corny title. One particular item I've always enjoyed about the Judge Dredd strip (and related strips) in 2000 AD is how female characters (like Judges Hershey, DeMarco, Anderson, McGruder, Steel-- and that's just for starters) are handled in a non-stereotypical way. Rennie doesn't forget this and provides excellent story-work, making Anderson and DeMarco just as important as Dredd in the tale. Then there's Judge Death. Gotta love him. Mr. Rennie totally scores with this book... Which should have you slavering for what's next...

Bad Moon Rising by David Bishop, the man considered by many responsible for helping to yank 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine out of the crapper in the early 90's (as editor), provides an excellent follow-up to Rennie's previous work. Where Dredd vs. Death deals with a necro-calamity in Mega-City One, Bad Moon Rising sees our gruff protagonist up against nasty xenophobes bent on killin' some alien folk. Bishop handles everything very nicely in a "timely" fashion. The pacing is excellent and the characters well done. A fun thrill ride to be sure!

Black Atlantic is up next and once again Dredd is out to stop some crazy perps who have a a very lethal and destructive bio-weapon. This is a co-author effort with Simon Jowett and Peter J. Evans at the helm. Black Atlantic isn't anything that will win any awards, but these guy nail the terrific pacing set up by the previous 2 novels and have the requisite humour down pat.  Also this story helps explore the "Dreddverse" a bit more. Although I feel it's not as strong as the two previous books, Black Atlantic is good old fashioned pulpy fun that won't disapoint those of you who don't need time in the psycho-cubes.

Eclipse is brought to us by James Swallow and I hate to say it, but this book is the weakest of the lot. Not that it's a bad thing, as this is still pack full of non-stop thrill-power. Our favourite Judge is off to Luna-1 and has to cooperate with the judges there. And there's some twists and turns. A good output from Swallow, even if the otehr books are better. This was still a treat to read.

All in all? If you are a Dredd fan and don't have these first 4 Black Flame novels, then you NEED this omnibus. At $10.99 (USD) it's an almost criminally good deal. Seriously. Sure, there's some flaws... but what pulp-style fast-paced fiction doesn't have some minor flaws? All of the authors involved are strong and can present entertaining, action-packed stories to keep you glued to the toilet or any other fave spot you have picked out from reading. I really can't do this whole collection justice with this short review, but believe me when I say it's worth it!

If you aren't a fan of Judge Dredd; don't fret. I am confident that any drokking one of you out there milling about from day to day like everyone else can jump into this sardonic, nightmarish comedy-satire future-world that is the home to Judge Dredd and all of his associates. As I said at the beginning of this Nutshell Review: "No prior familiarity with the Dreddverse is required, citizens."

Now go buy this book.

Happy reading.