Who would have thought that a more-or-less traditional Western – albeit with minor sci-fi trappings of course – set in the Dredd-verse could be so good? Who knew that the Dredd-verse could even play host to a Western, let alone one that’s this much fun?

Yet here we are with Lawless, Dan Abnett and Phil Winslade’s Western, set on a planet far beyond the bustling confines of Mega City One. When Badrock’s psi-sensitive town marshal is removed from his post – and imprisoned – Colonial Marshal Metta Lawson is brought in to replace him. She immediately has her work cut out for her, with tensions between the various factions in and around the town – Meks, Muties and Uplifts among them – rising to boiling point. To add to this, galactic corporation Munce Inc are very keen to keep to the status quo – and the former marshal seems to believe that Lawson isn’t who she says she is…

The collection of stories in this first volume are fantastic. There’s an awful lot of ground covered, with a nicely sized cast of characters and plenty of tension and conflict set up throughout. There’s some excellent commentary on the exploitation of indigenous races and workers at the bottom of the food chain who risk so much more for so much less.

I really liked Lawson and her deputy, Pettifer – along with the gorilla-esque Uplift character Kill-a-Man-Jaroo. The cast are all brilliantly written and the stories take some action packed and unpredictable turns.

Just as the writing is of an especially high standard, Phil Winslade’s black and white art is absolutely phenomenal. It’s brilliantly detailed, vivid and full of brilliant character, tech and environment designs. The town of Lawless feels like a real, functional place thanks in part to Winslade’s fantastic details – and it truly has the feel of a Western with the overall look giving a sort of steampunk feel to proceedings. It really is astonishing from a visual perspective.

The eventful, densely packed set of stories end on something of a cliffhanger – and with Book Two already published (I’m a good few years late to the Lawless party), I can’t wait to continue my time in Lawless alongside Lawson, Pettifer and Jaroo. Great stuff.

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