‘Day Of Chaos; The Fourth Faction’ is a collection of Judge Dredd stories that build up into a larger story arc. The scripts are all by Dredd co-creator John Wagner and the art is by various well-known talents of the genre. A forward by Keith Richardson explains that way back in 1982, 2000AD prog 266, as a conclusion to ‘The Apocalypse War’, Dredd used nukes to wipe out East-Meg One, a Sov city. Thirty years later, our hero may be about to reap what he has sown.
The first chapter is ‘The Skinning Room’, former Chief Judge Sinfield has been sent to the penal colony on Titan and a Council of Five now runs Mega-City One – five Judges, obviously. Crime seems to have fallen under Sinfield’s reign but the figures have been manipulated by downgrading some offences to misdemeanours. Wagner neatly echoes the real life effects of government targets and how statistics are fiddled. Dredd, our man on the street, says there is actually a crime-wave and calls for a crackdown. Zero tolerance, starting with sector 50. As it happens, Mister Skinner lives in this sector, a man with a very apt name and peculiar fashion agenda. The art, a beautiful job by Ben Willsher, contains nudity and violence. You have been warned.
The art in the next instalment by Staz Johnson is also very good. ‘Hot Night In 95’ has Joe Dredd taking over temporarily as chief of sector 95. His old comrade Hershey comes back from a leave of absence and is not sure she wants to carry on judging. That night, gangs of terrorists attack across the city, shooting civilians at random. They wear t-shirts bearing the logo ‘Rage Against The Megs’. Throw in a grotesque eating contest and you have another darkly humorous tale of Dredd.
In the next segment, ‘The Dastardly Deeds Of P.J. Maybe’ that villain P.J. Maybe escapes from the iso-cubes. I felt that the art by Colin MacNeil was not as nice as that which preceded it but it’s all a matter of taste. There was nothing at all wrong with it, mind. Ben Willsher is back doing the pictures for ‘Nadia’, a long segment in which a female by that name arrives in the city intent on causing chaos. She meets with associates already in place and sets to work. A cadet Psi Judge named Hennessy is getting some cognitive flashes of trouble ahead but no one takes her seriously, except Dredd. There is an election for mayor in progress to complicate matters. ‘The Fourth Faction’ continues the story begun in ‘Nadia’ and this book concludes with ‘Elusive’, in which P.J. Maybe rears his very changeable head once more. The fine art in both these episodes was by Henry Flint.
All in all an enjoyable collection of Dredd. The character of the Judge has grown slightly more complex over the years. He’s not exactly softened but he has done things like letting muties into the city which are not popular with everyone. He has a few friends, too, like Hershey and other Judges he respects. The art varied from good to great and the Wagnerian scripts are as elegant as ever. There are little jokes in some panels – graffiti on walls, names of buildings, some character names – that would only be understood by a Brit-Cit audience but that’s fair enough. Wagner is one of us after all.
I look forward to the next book in the series.
(pub: 2000AD. 160 page graphic novel. Price: £17.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78108-108-2)
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