How much worse can it get for Mega-City One? That’s what you keep asking yourself every few pages as you read ‘Judge Dredd: Day Of Chaos: Endgame’ but things keep getting worse and worse…and worse! Writer John Wagner knows how to rack up the tension. He uses that old standby the ticking clock – or, in this case, calendar – and counts down to the big event with captions: ‘Chaos Day minus 6’ and so on and every day the reader wonders, how bad can it get?
Not the story, which gets better and better as you go along. It starts well, too. Top biologist Mr. Yurges and his family have been kidnapped by the Sovs who are still bitter about being nuked a few decades ago. His beloveds threatened with ghastly tortures, Yurges is forced to work on the Chaos Virus, a deadly plague which the easterners intend to inflict on Mega-City One. The Judges have some warning but not much. Cadet Carter Hennessy, a young pre-cog Judge, has been so upset by her visions that she has slipped into a near-catatonic state. Gabrielle, her twin sister, is able to get dark hints of what lies ahead but they are not always very helpful. Those crafty Sovs, in fiction as in real life, have deep cover agents, planted long ago and completely unknown to the authorities. Some of them have been posing as decent, wholesome Mega-City One citizens for decades. The gruesome revenge of the Sovs is particularly personal for Judge Dredd because he is the man who ordered the nuclear attack on them in a previous war. A lesser man might have doubts and perhaps he does. We are not usually privy to Joe’s thoughts, only his dialogue, which does not necessarily reveal all. Dredd’s hard man approach has eased a little over time but not by much.
This is a classic police/spy/catastrophe story in a futuristic setting. There is no footling around with romantic sub-plots or children in peril or ma and pa threatened – the kind of stuff that Hollywood uses to humanise the threat. Like all truly great male heroes – Sherlock Holmes, Mister Spock, Hercule Poirot, Gil Grissom in the good old days – Dredd is completely focused on his work. He has a few well regarded colleagues but no romantic interest. He cannot be distracted from his mission by threats to some helpless female. He’s a pro.
Some well-known villains from Dredd’s colourful past are thrown into the plot for added pleasure but I won’t give names away here. The visuals are very good throughout and you won’t usually notice when the artist changes unless you read the individual chapter credits. Well, you might, but it’s not glaringly obvious because Leigh Gallagher, Ben Wilsher, Colin Macneil and Edmund Bagwell keep up the high standard set by Henry Flint. The production values are excellent and there’s a cover gallery at the end.
More top notch entertainment from those chaps at Rebellion. Mind you, you can’t go wrong with John Wagner and Joe Dredd.
(pub: 2000AD. 192 page graphic novel. Price: £17.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78108-142-6)
check out website: www.2000adonline.com