Review: Judge Dredd: Violent Night (2000AD Prog 2013)

Dredd Violent Night
Writer: Mike Carroll
Art: Ben Willsher
Colours: Chris Blythe
Letters: Annie Parkhouse
Publisher: Rebellion
Cost: €6.82 (might vary with retailer)
As featured earlier on ICN, the 2000AD year-end special is in stores now. A seasonal Judge Dredd story is a Christmas tradition in 2000AD, and this year it is Michael Carroll orchestrating the festivities in Mega City One with the 12 page ‘Violent Night’.
It has been a big year for Dredd. It started with the John Wagner-authored Day of Chaos, in which he effectively levelled Mega City One and wiped out over 80% of the population.  A few months later came Rob William’s Cold Deck, which between the twists and turns and the unexpected crossover ended up being the most talked about story 2000AD have ever run. It was an amazing saga that ended with a single story edition of 2000AD, something that has been done only a handful of times before in the 35 year history of the comic. And in both cases, the job of having to follow up these landmark stories has been left in the hands of Michael Carroll.
Dredd being the longest running and most-loved character in 2000AD’s history always makes him a tough one to tackle, but that plus having to follow two landmark epics has made Michael Carroll’s one of the hardest jobs in comics this year. You wouldn’t know it to read his work, though. ‘Payback’, one of his stories that followed Day of Chaos was a highlight for me, not just in 2000AD, but in comics this year. In 12 pages over two issues he delivered one of the more memorable Dredd stories in recent years. It entertwined two plot strands, both dealing with violence and vengeance, and the place of justice. Both elements reflected and reinforced the other with a brilliance, precision, and impact that belied its small page count.
And like the Jolly Fat Man himself, Carroll once again delivers the goods In Violent Night. Though a more light-hearted story (insofar as a Dredd story can be) it strikes a good balance between seasonal humour and the less-than-seasonal approach Dredd is known for bringing to his work. As Dredd continues the work of cleaning up after Day of Chaos, he has to deal with looting gangs and the reality that Mega-City has failed and even abandoned some of its citizens. Ben Wilsher’s art has a classic Dredd feel, and sets a great tone. The only hiccup were a few layouts in the first few pages, where Wilsher plays with panel borders with confusing results. This aside though, it’s great stuff, and a fitting headline story for the closing issue of 2012.
Prog 2013 has a lot more than just Violent Night to recommend it, featuring nine stories, all either self-contained or the first part of an ongoing. This makes it 100 pages of comic for less than €7. All that and a story about a WW2 flying ace who is a monkey. What’s not to like?
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