Dredd is one of those franchises where I feel the slight desire to try and go back and read him from the beginning, but that's 44 years of material so....no. There's just too much and such a wide variety of creators and voices, so I'm just not ever in the mood to go all in like that, plus I would have to hunt down certain reprints that go in order and that's also a pain. So I relegate myself to the occasional dip here and there whenever they release a specific collection, so here we are.
Is it easy to just jump in randomly? Honestly, I would only recommend it if you're accustomed to picking up long form superhero continuity on a whim. If you can pick up a story arc and just go with the flow and not care too much when they are obviously referring to a ton of history, then you're good to go for this book. If not then this may not be for you, but I will say it was an incredibly entertaining bit of crossover action with a lot of fun highlights that made me more interested in 2000AD material.
The core thread that follows Judge Dredd is written by Al Ewing with art by Henry Flint, so I already have a healthy bias that this was going to be fun. The additional crossover elements follow the characters Jack Point, an undercover Judge who dresses as a clown, and Dirty Frank, an insane but honest undercover Judge who is loosely physically based on Alan Moore. The Point sections are by Simon Spurrier and Simon Colby, while Frank is handled by Rob Williams and D'Israeli. Art in the final chapter where everything comes together is by Carl Critchlow.
Visually each section is strikingly different in tone and style. The Dredd section feels like business as usual, while the black and white noir style of Simon Colby compliments the seedy underbelly that the morally compromised Jack Point thrives in. D'Israeli's unique and cartoony art offsets the other two segments quite a bit, especially with all of the quirky humor baked in as the insane Frank wakes up on the moon as a shareholder in Overdrive, Inc, a dirty corporation run by a business shark named Enermo Overdrive.
I love Enormo Overdrive with my entire being.
It should come to no surprise to anyone that the Dirty Frank sequences are my favorite.
As far as the overall plot of the crossover, it follows the paths of Dredd, Point, and Frank as they each get dragged into situations that don't seem to interconnect at first but eventually lead them all to a grand conspiracy. It's all heavily seeped in previous Dredd lore, specifically events such as the The Day of Chaos and other minor stories that built up the characters of Point and Frank. If you're not used to jumping in the deep end of long running comics then it most likely will bother you, as they pull out characters who I think hadn't appeared since 1992 or thereabouts and make plenty of non-stop references to other events. Which for me is fine, especially because they balance all of these continuity points with the typical 2000AD type of humor.
Regardless of the exposition dumps and history lessons, the story is still well balanced between its plot development and action, giving you plenty of the usual over the top violence as Dredd and the others hand out plenty of punishment.
I always find that if a long form franchise work is able to not only grab and hold my attention but make me curious enough to possibly want to backtrack, well then it's doing a pretty solid job overall of being a cohesive universe. As a kid I remember randomly picking up some Spider-Man books in the middle of a crossover and going, "Well, I don't know who half of these characters are or what a Deathlok even is, but now I wanna know." If the story is fun and it draws you deeper into the world, then there's definitely something there and it's worth mentioning that they have that sort of unique energy and draw.
The hardcover is a solid package, complete with a nice lenticular cover that flips between images of Jack Point and Dirty Frank in Dredd's visor. It's $25 or so for 176 dense pages pages of storytelling, and the format matches up with a lot of other Dredd collections so I appreciate that coordination.
There may be easier jump on points if you're interested in 2000AD stuff, but if you want to see Dredd, a noir detective dressed as a clown, and a disheveled Alan Moore lookalike save a dystopian city then this is definitely a lot of fun. Plus you get a literal business shark.
And the world needs more of Enermo Overdrive.