After the disappointment of volume 1, volume 2 kicks Dredd into higher gear. This volume collects the first two proper epics, "The Cursed Earth" and "The Day the Law Died". These display the two contrasting varieties of epics that appear in Dredd.
In Pat Mills' "The Cursed Earth", Dredd and Spikes Harvey Rotten, later joined by their new friend Tweak, must travel across the Cursed Earth to deliver anti-zombie medicine to Mega-City Two. En route, they encounter the ruins of old America, while Mills takes the opportunity to comment on issues such as slavery, commercialism, and human cloning. The overall structure is a series of short stories told against the backdrop of a journey across a devastated America. This arc also featured a dinosaur wildlife park 12 years before Jurassic Park
Though dialogue is at time stilted, the ending is a thing of beauty, as Dredd and Tweak drag themselves across the radioactive wasteland while Spikes, who has become a surprisingly deep and sympathetic character, makes a heartbreaking last stand.
It should be noted that four instalments could not be reprinted due to trademark issues. However, their absence doesn't really hurt the story, as neither really has any effect on the overall plot. Also, two of those, which concern a war between McDonald's and Burger King, were pretty silly.
As soon as Dredd gets back to Mega-City Ones,he finds himself embroiled in the next episode, John Wagner's "The Day the Law Died", in which he is framed for murder and must then lead a rag-tag group of rebels against the rule of the insane Chief Judge Cal
. Rather than serving as a backdrop to other stories, "The Day the Law Died" is a single, continuous narrative which is good to read in a single sitting. Brian Bolland and Ron Smith lend detailed and clean-cut styles to this tale, which suits it perfectly.
Cal is convincing as an insane tyrant, and even the fact that he gets Justice Department on his side is shown to make sense. The Kleggs do rather come out of nowhere, but the story is still enjoyable with them in it.
One possible flaw is that, to keep costs down, some pages that were originally printed in colour are presented here in black and white. Fortunately, they're done competently enough that the difference isn't noticeable or jarring.