I'm not reviewing the five-part Judge Dredd serial called Control, but instead a Rebellion collection of the same name that includes it (among many other stories). Thus the psychopathic Judge Pin doesn't play as large a part as you'd think. The first 60 pages are Pin-centric, but that's only half the book. The other half are a highly miscellaneous bunch of short Judge Dredd adventures, often wacky and/or comedic.
This is very much an anthology, not a single book-length narrative. The only common link is Rob Williams and Chris Weston, but fortunately I like both a good deal. I'm probably getting an unrealistically sunny view of Williams because I'm reading lots of graphic collections and you'd expect only his better stories to appear there, but what the hell. I enjoy how he writes Dredd. He's still giving him characterisation (!) and here he's also replete with sometimes obscure references to the old days. Helltrekkers! Wow. The guy knows his stuff. Williams's stories give me the impression of a writer who's properly inhabiting Dredd's world and seeing it through its inhabitants' eyes.
As for Weston, his detailed, ultra-precise lines might be the nearest we'll get to a modern Bolland. Yes, I know how high that praise is.
THE FIELDS (Williams & Weston, 12 pages, 2000 AD 2035-2036)
Judge Pin is a monster. Self-righteous, insane and on what's basically a holy crusade. Don't make her wonder if you might be less than perfect.
FIT FOR PURPOSE (Williams & Weston, 12 pages, 2000 AD 2073-2074)
Last time, Pin slipped under Dredd's radar. This time, they're very aware of each other and he's not exactly bothering to turn on the charm. I was reminded of John Wagner in how Rob Williams writes Dredd's internal narration.
CONTROL (Williams & Weston, 32 pages, 2000 AD 2141-2145)
The big one. Well, biggish. 32 pages won't set the world on fire, but this is a strong five-parter and Pin has Dredd on the ropes here. She finds a brilliant way to attack him, so logical and devastating that it's amazing no one else ever did it.
What she's come to dislike about Dredd is his solipsism, arrogance and humanity. This is both interesting and true.
THE HEART IS A LONELY KLEGG HUNTER (Williams & Weston, 12 pages, 2000 AD 1888-1889)
Hilarious, sad and wonderful. Probably the best story in the collection, despite strong competition.
Sensitive Klegg is trying to live in Mega-City One, but everyone keeps thinking he's going to eat them. He tries temp work and speed dating. He briefly bumps into his old friend (ahem), Judge Dredd.
What's fantastic about this is Sensitive Klegg himself. He's a mild-mannered joy. Be prepared to snort your drink from your nose, despite one shocking development. "Shouldn't that have an apostrophe?" just about slayed me, as did his reaction to being hunted by a murderer with a robo-elephant gun. "Think, Klegg, think. What would your heroine Emily Bronte do in a vexing situation such as this?"
BOXING DAY (Williams & Weston, 12 pages, 2000 AD 2011)
It's Continuity Reference Day! (Barney the City Computer, Mayor Dave the Orang-Utan, etc. I loved all those.) No, actually, it's Christmas Eve and those geniuses in the Justice Department have had a brilliant crime-bashing idea that can't possibly fail! Pay the citizens to be good! Even if it only lasts for Christmas, this might still pay for itself given the expected reduction in criminal damage, hospitalisations, etc.
"Grud bless you for curtailing your appalling people trafficking business for one day, father," says the young son. "You're truly an inspiration."
It's another comedy, obviously.
ELEVATOR PITCH (Williams & Weston, 12 pages, 2000 AD 2088-2089)
It's a rich-vs-poor story, but a witty, unexpected one that's rejecting the usual (i.e. hackneyed) lines of attack. "If I hated rich people," says a criminal, "why would I want to be one?" There's death by banana, abduction insurance ("they're really not that bothered by this") and the super-rich being about to literally flatten the poor.
Dredd doesn't care about any of that. Rich, poor, they all fit in a cube.
"They're starting to kill the most annoying hostages!"
THE DEATH OF DAN-E CANNON (Weston, 6 pages, 2000 AD 1800)
This and the next story are both written by Weston, as well as drawn by him. Don't worry, though, it's fine. Quite amusing. (It's also plugging one more hole in my collection of Day of Chaos after-stories.)
One of Mega-City One's orbital defence weapons is feeling a bit cranky. Result: indiscriminate laser strikes on entire sectors.
CADET DREDD vs. GRUDZILLA (Weston, 12 pages, 2000 AD 2130)
Very unusual, since it's set before even the first first 2000 AD stories and shows Joe Dredd as a cadet. Morphy's his mentor and he's alongside his clone twin, Rico. They're doing a public relations exercise with Hondo-vid filmmakers and Grudzilla.
This was a fun collection. Pin provides dramatic meat, but after that comes lots of comedy and Dreddish satire. It's genuinely funny and Weston is incredible. His work's less spectacular than the best of 2000 AD's fully painted art (e.g. Simon Bisley, Dermot Power, Colin MacNeil, etc.), but you won't see a more immaculate line from anyone.
I've almost finished this batch of 2000 AD collections I bought one day when I went a bit nuts. (One thing led to another on Amazon.) I need to buy more!