Reading Pile: Judge Dredd: Blaze of Glory TPB
While I've been tempted to do a deeper dive into Dredd fiction, I've pretty much stuck with just sticking my toe into whatever oddball self-contained-ish collection catches my eye. I simply don't have the time or money to go all in, plus while I appreciate and enjoy Dredd fiction there's only so much satire I can absorb on authoritarianism before the crushing reality(or fiction) of that dystopian hellscape becomes too depressing. But you slap AL Ewing's name on it, and well I pretty much have to show up.
I was absolutely giddy though when I saw the cover for this collection as it featured Zombo, a polite himbo zombie that more people should adore. Seriously, go forth and purchase. The two collections are an utter delight.
Now the sad news is that the Zombo portion of this collection is pretty short, but damn is it still great. Anything that deals with the horrible bureaucracy of the Dredd dimension as they process other-dimensional travelers is just gold in my book. It also highlights that even though Dredd is our protagonist, he is just a terrible person from a terrible reality and Ewing never shies away from that harsh truth.
This is more of a general collection of Ewing's shorter works for Dredd, so like my favorite bits of the Dredd universe I've previously read it's pretty easy to digest. Sure there are references to other bits and pieces of continuity, but for the most part they don't slow anything down and are even kind of funny. In the first chapter Dredd comments that 45% of Mega-City citizens could pass a military tactics course and that that number rises with each citywide crisis they experience. And indeed, a brief wiki search will highlight a great many number of continuity events that would add to the general scarring of the populaces psyche.
There are a lot of great highlights in this volume, like the story 'What The Hitler Saw' which tells the sad tale of a Hitler lookalike actor working at the equivalent of a wax museum because human labor comes cheaper than robots. Or the chapter 'The Performer', which follows the hardships of Olympic Sex Champion Hardy Dix and the struggles of his family during tough times ("Carnal activity put a roof over your head, young man!"). And then there's the story that gave this collection its title, 'Blaze of Glory', which features Liam Sharp paying tribute to the majority of James Bond actors as they're being assassinated in a house of horror. On that note, there's a great amount of artistic talent in this package as it includes the likes of Simon Fraser, PJ Holden, Leigh Gallagher, and many more. And while each of these talents have their own unique styles they all fit nicely under the tonal umbrella mix of despair and absurdist humor that is 2000AD material.
The book clocks in at 144 pages for $16.99 and it's a decently dense read, so I highly recommend it regardless of your Dredd-exposure. It works as a taster, especially for the little appetizer of Zombo goodness. And really, the entire point of this review is just to get even one of you to go buy and read Zombo, even if it's just his quick appearance here. Because how can you not love a zombie who thinks his occupation is to just 'Generally wander about."?