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JUDGE DREDD: NOBODY APES THE LAW REVIEW

by Gavin Johnston on August 22, 2018

Wrters: John Wagner, Alan Grant, Arthur Wyatt
Artists: Jake Lynch, Jason Brashill, Arthur Ranson, Ian Gibson, Brett Ewins, Mick McMahon
Colourists: Richard Elson, Gary Caldwell
Letterers: Tony Jacob, Tom Frame, Annie Parkhouse 
Publisher: Rebellion

Hey, hey, it’s the monkeys, in Judge Dredd: Nobody Apes The Law.

 

Genetically altered apes have long been a part of the Judge Dredd universe, and this volume collects together some of the ape-inclusive stories, from a variety of creators. It’s a small taste of the more madcap Mega City.

 

The smart chimps and gorillas first appeared in The Ape Gang back in Prog 39. The descendants of lab animals with enhanced intelligence, the chimpanzee gangs had become citizens, living in ghettos in the human city. Mimicking mobsters from old movies, the Ape Gang were snappily dressed wise guys caught up in gangwarfare.

 

The first few stories here document the rise and fall of mob boss Don Uggie, starting with straight out laughs at the hairy guys in suits, and ending in unapologetic violence. Artist Mike McMahon provides the art here, as well as in Monkey Business At Charles Darwin Block, and the changes in art are quiite striking, but excellent throughout.

Apetown delves further into ape culture, with a very unfortunate undercover Judge and beautifully chunky and cartoonish art from Jason Brashill.  Again, it's played for laughs, but with a much darker edge and frequent violence.

 

The highlight through are the stories featuring Harry Heston, a gorilla who idolises Judge Dredd, who dons a uniform as a vigilante. Originally conceived by much missed superfan Stewart Perkins, who wrote under the name WR Logan, Heston made it to the pages of the Judge Dredd Megazine only a few years ago, in stories written by Arthur Wyatt.

 

Heston’s stories are packed with character and good humour. They take the joyful absurdity of intelligent monkey gangsters, and throw in loads of sight gags and small moments of pathos, pulling from past stories and forming something entirely new.  Heston is a wonderful character and there's much potential found in his quiet, understated relationship with his hero, and the grudging respect that Dredd returns.

 

Smart apes have been a quintessential part of Mega City mayhem for decades, but if this collection shows anything, it’s that they actually appear in a relatively small number of stories. The inclusion of Charles Darwin Block and especially Pyrokinetics, which only feature the taking chimps briefly, serves to highlight this. It's a strange choice to not include stories like the sequel to the Billion Credit Caper from the 2015 Christmas special, or any stories featuring Mayor Dave the Orangutan - the inarticulate, orange, comedy character who somehow was trusted with power.

 

Nobody Apes The Law is a bit of an unusual collection, and most of these stories are easily found within other collections. It's a fine example though of the excellent quality of stories which 2000AD has been producing for the last years

Our Score:

10/10

A Look Inside