Saturday, 5 March 2016

Judge Dredd: Hondo City Law Review (Robbie Morrison, Frank Quitely)

Hondo-City is the Japanese version of Judge Dredd’s Mega City One. Dredd’s Japanese stand-in? Inspector Aiko Inaba and her mentor, the Ronin Judge Shimura. 

I picked this one up out of pure nostalgia. I used to read all the variations of 2000AD when I was a kid in the 90s and came across the story Babes with Big Bazookas in an issue of the Judge Dredd Megazine in 1996. Sure, the scantily-clad ladies probably cemented my memories of this comic at the time but I remember loving the art too though it’d be years before I knew the name Frank Quitely. 

Revisiting it 20 years later (oh god) and Quitely’s art is as stunning as it was back then. He also draws a Shimura strip I’d never seen before which also looked great. Really all his 2000AD work was exemplary, Missionary Man being a fave. The man is such a natural artist. 

It was also good to see future Batman artist Andy Clarke putting in some great pages in a couple of stories here. Very clean, dynamic lines, controlled and beautiful - it’s easy to see why DC snapped him up sharpish. 

Writing-wise, there’s nothing special here. John Wagner writes the opening story from the late 80s which has this broad, clipped faux-Japanese narration that bordered on racist - lots of use of the word “honourable” and stereotypical apologising. Ugh. Robbie Morrison pens the other stories and they’re ok (certainly better than Wagner’s weak effort). Criminals want to kill people, Judges stop them, repeat several times. Formulaic forgettable stuff that kid-me would’ve - and did - love. Older readers though aren’t gonna be that impressed with such light fare. 

Hondo-City Law’s worth a look if you’re a Frank Quitely/Andy Clarke fan like me and want to see their pre-Big 2 early work, otherwise I wouldn’t bother.

Judge Dredd: Hondo-City Law

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