Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Garth Ennis Collection

(Reprints Judge Dredd stories from 2000 AD Progs 727-732, 775, 780-785, 804-807, 810-814 and 819, and Judge Joyce story from The Judge Dredd Yearbook 1993)

Wait, didn't we cover these already? ...Almost. Most of Garth Ennis's Dredd stories have already appeared in the Case Files series, and some of them have been reprinted several times over in various formats. The one previously unreprinted piece here is the Steve Dillon-drawn seven-page Judge Joyce throwaway "When Irish Pies Are Smiling," another entry in Ennis's "bumbling Irish criminals" sub-subgenre. (And the three Ennis-written Dredd-universe stories that I mentioned last week as not being in here are the John Higgins-drawn "Monkey on My Back," from 2003, which is distinctly reprint-worthy, and the lesser spinoffs The Corps and Sleeze 'n' Ryder.)

Otherwise, this is a decent sampling of Ennis's spotty tenure on Dredd, featuring both of the significant Dredd-and-Joyce sequences ("Emerald Isle" and "Innocents Abroad")--the former holds up particularly well--plus "Raider," praised on the inside front cover by Karl Urban, and some shorter stuff. It'd have been nice to see a bit more historical context; Greg Staples' brief commentary on the same inside front cover is about all there is here.

Still, this makes sense for an audience that's going to be picking this up for the writer credit on its cover more than than for the guy with the gun. These are arguably the Dredd stories that most anticipate, in germinal form, the tone and themes of at least some of Ennis's later comics. (He does love his gross-outs: human eyes turn up in processed food in both "Emerald Isle" and "Irish Pies.") It's interesting that Ennis found most of his enduring collaborators right out of the gate--John McCrea on Troubled Souls (the only Ennis/McCrea Dredd piece was "The Craftsman," which doesn't appear here), Carlos Ezquerra on "Death Aid" (Ennis's first published Dredd story), Steve Dillon on "Emerald Isle" (his second). I do wonder, actually, what a more extensive Ennis/John Burns project might be like, absent the shiny costumes and such of "Raider"--Burns is particularly good at drawing fraught moments and significant glances, and that's right in Ennis's wheelhouse.

Next week: back to longer discussions, as Jamaal Thomas and I take on the ferocious Tour of Duty: The Backlash.

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