Monday, November 29, 2010

Admittedly, kind of a dick choice for the week after Thanksgiving.

Brian Bolland on cover duty.
Long time readers know I love me the reprints, and why not? They're usually cheaper than new books, they're often available in a variety of formats, and they open the door to a larger world of comics. Reprints of sixties era Superman or Legion of Super-Heroes opened my eyes and helped me put together what was going on in the then-current books, and made me realize I've read only a fraction of the material that's still out there. Hell, I've read an assload of Judge Dredd (for an American) and I don't think I've read a tenth of the series.

The Titan Books/Fleetway Publications collection Judge Dredd vs. the Fatties strings together several strips featuring some of Mega City One's biggest criminal offenders...pound-wise, anyway. As the opener, "The League of Fatties!" explains, over the years many of MC1's citizens turned to gluttony as a hobby, but after the Apocalypse War came food shortages. The skinnier portions of the populace turned on the fatties, while the fatties lamented they were "wasting away." Of course, keep in mind some of the fatties weighed in the neighborhood of a ton--first in pounds, then in metric.

John Wagner and Alan Grant's deadpan narration is a perfect counter-point to the absurd nature of the story. Two sample captions: "The situation escalates when a group of heavyweight citizens march on temporary Justice HQ--the fact that the route is twenty kilometres long can only be put down to bad planning." For his part, Judge Dredd cares about the fatties as much, or as little, as he does the rest of the people: as long as they don't commit crimes, they're not his problem. Of course, some of the fatties do turn to crime, with spectacular results. As in, spectacular failure, since while a stampede of fatties could be deadly, they weren't exactly built for fleeing the scene of a crime.

In the end, for their own protection, the fatties are segregated to their own blocks, under house arrest until they get their weight under 300 KG, about 661 pounds. Wagner and Grant and artist Ron Smith also foresee the talking scale:

Collecting the fattie stories in one volume makes Dredd seem like a particularly harsh physical trainer, but the next episode, "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (with art by Dredd's co-creator, Carlos Ezquerra features one of my favorite cold opens, and while it predates C.S.I. by years, all it needs is a "yyyyyeeeeaaaah!"

The discovery of a one-ton corpse puts Dredd on the trail of illegal eating contests, which seem like they should be a victimless crime. Except for food hording during a famine, illegal gambling, negligent homicide, and a couple of accidental ones. Yeah, forget the victimless part.

A fun little book, and a great way to check out the more humorous side of Judge Dredd comics. That said, I would've loved to get the Judge Dredd vs. the Dark Judges paperback, still a great batch of action stories; or vs. Chopper, the stories that made me realize Dredd wasn't a very sympathetic lead in his own book.

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