Saturday, 7 April 2012

Bone up on your Dredd before the gamebook hits iOS this month {Gamebooks}



It seems that 2012 is the year of Judge Dredd, what with the new film adaptation hitting theatres in September, a brand new range of books containing classic Dredd tales is released and Tin Man Games is bringing out a gamebook at the end of April. But who is this enigmatic character and why should you care?

I've met many people who have heard of Judge Dredd but have never actually read any of his comics. Usually they will say: "Ah yes, that terrible film with Rob Schneider and Rocky," which is a response that kills me a little inside. If you're going to be exposed to any Dredd fiction, the film is not a good way to go.

So just who is this Judge Dredd character then?


The easiest way to describe Dredd is to say that he's judge, jury and executioner. He's a futuristic lawman, patrolling the streets of Mega-City One, a sprawling city that takes up the entire East Coast of North America and then some. Currently it's the year 2134 and Mega-City One is governed by the Justice Department, a dictatorship that rules by enforcing its own brand of hardcore justice, the Judges being at the frontline of dishing out said justice. Judges, like Dredd, have the power to sentence criminals on the spot without trial, often sending them to the 'cubes' for a number of years in detention, often much more than the crime warrants.

Dredd is the best of the best. A clone of Chief Judge Fargo, the founder of the Judge System, he is the one that the criminals fear. He wields a lawgiver pistol and rides a lawmaster, a huge motorbike fitted with machine guns, la laser cannon and AI. He's noted for never removing his helmet, as he is seen as an embodiment of justice.

Where can I read Judge Dredd stuff?


Nowadays, there are plenty of ways you can follow the epic stories of Dredd. 2000AD, the galaxy's greatest comic, was the first place Dredd appeared and his escapades still continue to this day. Brits can pick it up weekly from their local newsagents, but others will have to download digital copies from sites like DriveThruComics and ClickWheel. Similarly, the monthly Megazine can be downloaded from ClickWheel, which is much more focused on the Dredd universe. Rebellion has released a number of great trade paperbacks you can find online or from high street bookstores. I highly recommend reading the Judge Dredd Case Files series, which collects full story arcs in huge and relatively cheap tomes. Well worth the price.


But will I like Dredd comics?

If you like anti-heroes, epic storylines, a deep background that's easy to jump into and great writing, then you will love Judge Dredd. Also: mutants.

OK, I'm sold. Can you recommend a starting point for me?


The Complete Case Files 01 is probably the best introduction for new readers, as it collects stories right from the beginning of Dredd's run. Also, if you get it digitally, it's on £5.99, which is an absolute bargain for a 320 page graphic novel. The great thing is that you can usually jump into any Dredd story arc in 2000AD or the Megazine, as they're written in an accessible way.


So how about this gamebook, eh?


The Judge Dredd gamebook by Tin Man Games will hit the App Store at the end of the month and, you can probably guess, I'm hugely excited about it. I imagine that the game will give a good introduction to Dredd and his world, so you probably won't have to read any of the comics beforehand, but I reckon if you do you will get more out of the game.