Thursday, February 09, 2006



Written by: Robbie Morrison
Art by: A bunch of people

There are some comics that when you hear about them you wonder why they didn’t sell that well. Shimura (and indeed the entire 2000AD/DC line) is one of those. Thankfully it answers it’s own question.

Why should it have sold well? The cover features the words “Frank Quitely” prominently. The same person who drew The Authority (when it was good), some of New X-Men, We3… Popular comics. And Quitely’s a good artist, it’s just that hiding under the beautiful cover he drew there isn’t much of his art. (this collection is over 200 pages long, around 35 of them are by Quitely) And the stories aren’t very good.

I like Judge Dredd. I like the (many) Judge Dredd comics I’ve read. But the spinoffs I’ve read have been terrible. Red Razors (Judges in Russia!) by Mark Millar was so uniformly terribly that I no longer own the copy I bought and it was probably a year or something before I bought any more of the 2000AD/DC trades.

Shimura falls into the same boat. It’s set in the same universe as Judge Dredd (Japan this time) and even the same time period (Red Razors wasn’t), but it’s still dreadful (not Dredd-full despite an appearance).

The book is composed of many short, interconnected stories. As the first story begins Shimura is still a judge, training in a new cadet. However soon Shimura decides to leave the judge system so as battle corruption and the yakuza. Which is what most of the rest of the book is about.

I think my biggest problem with Shimura is that it’s yet another comic about how everyone in Japan is incredibly concerned with honour (but at the same time horribly corrupt). Oh, and they’re really sexist. It’s just boring at this point. Yeah, yeah, honour, face, whatever. I no longer care and I don’t think that the Japanese are going to be as concerned about it in one hundred years.

There’re a few stories about Judge Inaba, the female cadet Shimura was training in the first story. I think the premise of these is better (female judge tries her best to function in a corrupt and sexist organization), but they’re not really fleshed out and feature an over reliance on sex.

The art is just weird. The Quitely stuff is really good, and some of the other art is pretty good, but some of it is just grotesque. There’s a couple of artists who’s styles are interesting and I’m not sure if it’s just not that good or if they’re just being used on the completely wrong type of story.

All I expected from Shimura was Judge Dredd in Japan. A tough as nails, take no attitude judge who gets the job done and has a katana to take down perps. I guess Morrison didn’t want to just rip off Dredd, which is fair enough, but he went in a direction I wasn’t really interested in and was hampered by art that wasn’t really suited to the stories.

So far I’ve enjoyed one of the three 2000AD/DC collections I’ve read, hopefully the other two I’ve bought will be better…

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