Okay. You've watched the trailer for Dredd, the upcoming feature film featuring Britain's own Judge Dredd of 2000 AD fame. You're digging the kind of authoritarian/Dirty Harry thing Dredd has going on. It's pretty cool, I agree, but you want to see a little more of how he gets the job done. Problem: Dredd doesn't come out until September. Solution: Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 05 drops next week, and it's packed with a couple of Dredd's best cases of all time. The paperback volume serves as the ideal introduction to the world of Judge Dredd, and we've got the full first chapter of "The Apocalypse War," a story arc that is exactly as hardcore as it sounds, below for you to check out first.Judge Dredd. Joe Dredd. Old Stony Face. He's been a force for justice ever since Pat Mills, John Wagner, and Carlos Ezquerra created him back in 1977, putting Hi-Ex shells in the skulls of skels as needed. Judge Dredd patrols Mega-City One, the eastern coast of what used to be the pre-apocalyptic United States of America. As a judge, he is authorized to dispense justice as he sees fit, whether that means instant execution or sentencing perps to hellaciously long prison terms. Since Judge Dredd began during the Cold War, Mega-City One's opposite number is East-Meg One, the remnants of the Soviet Union.

Getting into Dredd's stories may seem daunting, especially considering how continuity-laden a lot of adventure comics are, but trust me on this: you want to hit the ground running. Luckily, there are quite a few classic Dredd tales, and Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 05 has at least two of them -- "Judge Death Lives" and "The Apocalypse War." On top of that, Brian "Batman: The Killing Joke" Bolland, Colin "Point Blank" Wilson, and Carlos Ezquerra all provide art for these stories, while John Wagner handles the scripting. That makes Case Files 05 the perfect starting point for someone who wants to get into the adventures of Joe Dredd.

The origin of Dredd doesn't matter so much as who he is, you understand? Judge Joseph Dredd is a hard man, a no-nonsense enforcer of point blank and unwavering justice. He is willing to do whatever is necessary to make sure the job gets done. As you'll see in "The Apocalypse War," "whatever is necessary" is a pretty accurate, though maybe insufficient, description of the lengths Dredd is willing to go to.

I'm not going to ruin the story for you. It's a treat, and you deserve to come in cold if you don't already know what's going to happen. But "The Apocalypse War" gets at what makes Dredd such a joy to read. Like Dirty Harry, he kills the people that we, as a society, would probably prefer were dead. But, like Dirty Harry... he's an authoritarian monster, someone who is actually empowered to take the law into his own hands, and who is definitely not a true hero, not as we understand it. He's a fun person to watch, and there's a macabre glee when he sentences someone to 25 years for something we'd consider fairly minor, but he isn't a hero. He's more like the Punisher. He does good, sure, but at what cost?

You should be reading Dredd, is what I'm saying. We're going to take an in-depth look at 2000 AD very soon, right here on ComicsAlliance, but for now, enjoy this preview of "The Apocalypse War" and get ready for Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 05 next week.

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