by Gavin Johnston on March 14, 2018

Writers: John Wagner, Alan Grant
Artists: Siku, Colin Wilson, Andy Clarke, Paul Marshall, Peter Doherty, Steve Parkhouse, Simon Davis, Mick Mcmahon, Cam Kennedy, Jason Brashill, Dean Ormston, Wayne Reynolds, Ben Willsher, Henry Flint, Duncan Fegredo, Jock, Simon Coleby, Anthony Williams, Ben Oliver, Richard Elson 
Colourists: Chris Blythe, Janet Gale, Trevor Hairsine, Gary Caldwell, Dylan Teague, Sam Carlisle
Letterers: Tom Frame, Annie Parkhouse, Ellie De Ville

The ambitious project of reprinting all of the Dredd stories since 1977 has reached its 31st hefty volume, chronicling the entire Judge Dredd back catalogue from 2000AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine.


Case Files 31 will be a must for completists who aim to have the whole collection to satisfy their geekdom. For other reader, however, there’s not a huge amount to recommend No. 31.


Running from Progs 1165 to 1185 and the Megazine 3.60 to 3.69, as well as a few fillers from later Progs, these stories take place after the Second Robot War, with Mega City One recovering from the conflict. Stories cover Judge Hershey’s first ascension to the office of Chief Judge and the subsequent purge of corrupt senior judges.  It demonstrates the Justice Department’s willingness to pervert the truth to retain power, as well as showing citizens and judges suffering from the impact of the war. The suicide of previous Chief Judge Volt is spun into a story of heroic sacrifice with the help of a compliant media, whilst elsewhere the tragedy of a Judge who cracks under pressure and goes on a murder spree is swept under the carpet by the Department. There’s a darkness to these stories as it’s made clear that the Judges aren’t heroes, but they may be necessary.


For the most part, though, Case Files 31 is made up of short, funny tales which are almost entirely forgettable. There are Harry Potter parodies which involve Dredd arresting the entire population of Diagon Alley, and even a parody of the Numskulls, a short strip from the kid’s comic The Beezer which ran in the ‘60s and ‘70s.


A number of much loved, and not so loved, characters from yesteryear make a short lived return. Trapper Hag escapes from prison, Mrs Gunderson and Walter the Wobot are briefly back. Judge Dredd creator John Wagner makes a cameo, Stan Lee (not that Stan Lee) is back, Bishop Desmond Snodgrass is resurrected, and Bennett Beeny is remembered. And who could forget Buggo the Brave? Anyone?  The frequent call backs and parodies makes this period feel a little tired and lacking in originality. The plot of Cashpoint, in which a queue of citizens wait to use an ATM, is very similar to Doledrums, in which a queue of citizens wait to receive their welfare payments. Meanwhile, Lobsang Rampage wanders into some which unnecessarily creepy territory.


There are some highlights, however. The wandering Dead Ringer provides a whistlestop tour of the crazier elements of Dredd’s universe, whilst Volt Face and The Cal Legacy step into the politics of the Department and would resonate for years to come.


Case Files 31 is mostly forgettable and not a great place to start, but many collectors will be adding it to their growing collection.

Our Score:


A Look Inside