I just finished up with, Judge Dredd the Complete Case Files 01, and it was very fun read. Unlike a lot of big trade paper backs, which follow a major story of some kind, this book just contains all the comics from the first two years of Judge Dredd’s publication, so there are a lot of one off stories. In looking up Judge Dredd on the old internet, I found that the reason for the one offs was that 2000AD, the comic publisher behind Dredd, didn’t really think he would last, and the Judge himself would be a one off character. Obviously a little search on Amazon, and looking at the sheer amount of Dredd comics to be had, they were wrong. Now all that being said there are some multi-issue stories in this book. There are the Robot Wars started by the human slaying robot “Call Me Kenneth”, learning about Dredd’s brother and thus Dredd’s past and origin story, Dredd working on the Moon City, Luna 1, and to end up a story about an insane car. But even these stories are short by modern comic book standards.
There is a lot of world building in this first book. At first it describes Mega City 1, Dredd’s jurisdiction, as kind of a post atomic war paradise. Where these Judges that can hand out sentences on site keep everyone safe and mostly happy, but that soon changes and Mega City 1 is described as a place were crime is out of control and the Judges are the only way to deal with it. The book starts out with a sillier tone, but gradually gets more serious. Also in start of the book we find out that the death penalty has been outlawed, but in the last Dredd story we find that it is allowed; if not encouraged.
The book also has some running comic relief with Walter the robot. He is Dredd’s biggest fan and probably closest thing to a friend, and he waits on Dredd hand and foot when the Judge allows it. He must have had his own mini comic in the back of Dredd’s books because at the end of this anthology they include a bunch of mini stories about this very loyal and bumbling robot.
So for Dredd fans I think this is must read. If not then probably skip it. If you are looking to get in to Dredd some of the later books where Dredd is more established and developed is probably a better place to start.