As an artist Ben Willsher has never been a favourite of mine and, as a result, I’ve sat on ‘The Cop’ for a while, which was a mistake. After mentioning yesterday that even after all these years some of Dredd’s world outside Mega-City One often seems a little underdeveloped, this story does quite a lot of world-building.

Ewing starts the story with a prologue set 50 years earlier in Paris. Straight away we notice a young Dredd in a simpler, less stylish uniform. We also see he is not yet quite the Judge that he will later become.

The Paris of 2089 still has a regular police force and Ewing give us details on the formation of Euro-City; 5 years earlier Paris, Berlin and several other cities joined together mimicking the US Mega-Cities in order to survive. Dredd arrives searching for the (noticeably non-Judge) US Ambassador. Still young, Dredd fails to figure out the real reason for the kidnapping – the ambassador, in debt, is going to sell diplomatic codes that will allow for easier smuggling of contraband into Mega-City One. However, Dredd’s French partner, the cop of the title, understands this and takes the diplomatic codes for himself.

Cutting back to the present, Ewing gives us great insight into a city still ravaged by the Day of Chaos and Dredd’s thoughts on this, and, perhaps most importantly, what Dredd sees as the Justice Department’s failings. With this as the background, Ewing’s story is a great crime thriller that Dredd has excelled at in recent years.

Detective Guillory, the cop with the stolen codes, is now the head of the most powerful criminal organization in the city and is known as Deguerre. Ewing ties together characters and little plot details that have been in the background for quite some time as Dredd takes on the organization in a story that expertly zig zags between character, location, and time.

Willsher may not be my favourite Dredd artist, but the story is well told and he does a great job here. He may never become a favourite of mine, but on the basis of this story, he will no longer be an artist whose work I am unhappy to see.

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