Judge Dredd: Guatemala
Eric S Brown
Guatemala, the latest trade paperback of Judge Dredd tales released by 2000 AD, collects selected stories from 2017 through 2021. The title story takes up nearly half of the trade and pits Dredd against a robot tyrant called El Presidente who was originally nothing more than a cooking droid named Pancho. The droid used its position inside the existing president’s regime to quietly take over with in a military coup that cost all the humans who held any high level of power their lives. El Presidente, after his takeover, threatened all the other existing city states, including Dredd’s Mega City One with nuclear war should any attempt be made to remove it from power. Guatemala had always been a city of deep corruption among its leadership but under El Presidente’s rule humans became nothing more than slaves and marketable body parts to be harvasted.
The book opens with Chief Judge Hershey passing away on her death bed in Mega City One. Her final request of Dredd is that he go to Guatemala not only to free the humans there but also to extract her sister’s family from the mad droid’s city of horrors. Dredd gives Hershey his word to do both, taking Judge Beeney and a Mark 8 Judge Droid named Roland with him. Upon their arrival, Dredd and the others encounter the human resistant group struggling to overthrow their Droid overlords. The story has loads of the action and humor that Dredd comics are known for but also contains so truly horrific treatment of humans as well.
The title story delivers on all levels. There’s great dialogue and character development with Dredd, Beeney, and Ronald. We see Dredd continuing to show more trust for the current Mark 8s through his interactions with Roland despite all the horror around them due to El Presidente’s rule. Some fans may have mixed feelings over Dredd’s growing trust of droid judges but Roland comes across as a truly likeable character who should win over most long time readers just as much as he does Dredd. Guatemala’s climax is essentially an all out attack by Mega City One called in by Dredd and does not disappoint in its level of action.
Other stories reprinted in the Guatemala trade include By Private Contract which teams Dredd up with the legendary time travelling bounty hunter Johnny Alpha, the humorous and sad tale titled Get Jerry Sing, The Trouble with Harry, a dark take on the modern royal family’s future, and The Victims of Bennett Beeny which brings the infamous terrorist group Total War into conflict with Dredd once more.
While having a crossover story in the collection featuring Johnny Alpha is a cool thing for fans of 2000 AD, the story itself isn’t exactly spectacular. It involves a brief trip into the future and a battle with an old foe of Dredd’s that overall fails to match the power of the title story. Some of the other stories fit in the collection somewhat better but most simply feel like filler. That said, Guatemala is still a Dredd volume worth picking up.