Hondo City Law by John Wagner
Cover Concept by Lorenzo Princi, 3 April 2013

Hondo City Law

Author: John Wagner

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi

Hondo City Law compiles spin-off tales centering around the judge system in Hondo City, exploring the Japanese part of 2000AD's Judge Dredd universe. It's not clear whether this collection is complete or a "best of" but as the stories are basically independent, it doesn't seem to matter.

Like any good spin-off, the book kicks off with a story featuring "our man" Judge Dredd, who find himself in Hondo City for some vague reason. The opening story serves to introduce the place, it's judges and culture (one vastly different from Mega-City One) by using Judge Dredd as the familiar outsider.

Hondo City Law has a heavy manga influence, almost to the point of being cliché (the broken english applied to the narration in the opening story borders on inappropriate). The colours, aesthetic (including the shining gold) give it a real Japanese comic feel yet it doesn't seem out of place in the heavy pop-culture influenced landscape of Judge Dredd. What the setting does do however, is allow for some new characters, stories and ideas to emerge in the Judge Dredd universe without tampering with the main story line happening in Mega-City One itself.

Where Hondo City Law comes into its own is the pure action packed entertainment value. Brutal violence, sword fighting, dangerous robotic weaponry, shadowy underworld bad guys and femme fatales. The stories are all quite solid and feature familiar Japanese Sci-Fi themes such as cybernetics and blending them with Bushido codes of honour and ideals. The characters also carry some depth considering the nature of the stories and Shimura in particular is quite interesting as the ex-judge turned Ronin.

A quick isolated read for those who like Manga and Japanese culture and want a fix of Samurai action which doesn't shy away from some blood and guts. A noteworthy addition to the Judge Dredd universe.
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