FINAL JUDGEMENT! The Day the Law Died

So here we are – two epics down already! Two epics with a lot of similarities, but a lot of differences as well. Including how much I liked them.

tumblr_lrqene2m2c1qi8laso1_r1_1280I’m actually a bit sad to say that at the end of the Day (the Law Died), it just doesn’t hold up that well for me. I’m not entirely sure I can put my finger on exactly why either, but I’ll do my best.

I’ve covered this a bit during the actual posts, but every detail of this screams out to me that it should work. Dredd having to go underground to fight his own people. The City under the rule of a tyrant Judge – who’s also absolutely insane. Deputy Chief Judge Fish!!

But the pieces don’t click. They work fine on their own, and there are individual parts of this 20-part series that are some of the best of the Dredd series so far (like the aforementioned Judge Fish, and the death of Slocum). But the end result is less than the sum of its parts.

They key thing that works against Day, for me, is the length. There just isn’t enough presented here for 20 parts. This could have been a tense and tight 10-part serial. Instead, to stretch it out, we get endless escapes and captures and the continued raising of the threat to the Big Meg – which just doesn’t work after the first few times.

Cal himself is great fun… to start with. By part 20 he’s completely one-note, and I’m bored with him. Over 10 parts his arc would have worked far more effectively. He’s effectively written (mostly), and the artists run with the “Roman Emperor” brief to great results.

We get a nice band of desperate allies for Dredd – but again, we don’t get into enough detail with them. I don’t know anything more about Judge Giant than I did before Part 1. Judges Griffin and Pepper end up with significant roles at the end of this – but beyond liking Dredd, I don’t get much of a sense of them as individuals. Over 20 parts this should have been possible.

The Kleggs are a fun addition to Dredd’s world – they look fantastic and add a good bit of menace to the story. But again, we don’t get any detail on them. It would have been great to spend some time with Deputy Chief Judge Grampus, or another of the Kleggs.

It’s a shame, because there are some ways it could have been worth doing over 20 episodes. We could have spent more time actually seeing what life was like under Cal’s rule, more time with the citizens. Instead it’s all done in big brush strokes, so we never get a really detailed sense of what’s going on.

Maybe this was more effective one episode a week – reading a part a day may not give the story space to grow. But I don’t think so.

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