Reviews: Dredd, Day of Chaos – Endgame
Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos – Endgame
John Wagner, Leigh Gallagher, Henry Flint, Ben Willsher, Colin MacNeil, Edmund Bagwell
With Fear, Fire and Mortis on the cover, there is a big hint that the scourge of the Dark Judges will be one of the many tragedies that will befall Mega City One.
Dredd knows that disaster is looming, but the bureaucratic nature of the Justice system, or perhaps the egos of those in charge, seems to continually have Mega City on the back foot when it comes to reacting to the imminent disaster.
The story is neatly broken up, and there is smart use of artists in doing so. Some time has passed since the first part of the Day of Chaos story; ‘The Fourth Faction’. Dredd is healed and on light duties, the Yurges family are missing, and Dredd knows the Sovs are out for revenge, but it has been quiet. Then Psi Cadet Judge Carter Hennessy, who is catatonic, communicates with her sister Gabrielle telepathically. Her visions are not at all clear, but they are enough for Dredd and he creates a small team to investigate.
As her predictions start to connect to actual events, the amount visualised for Mega City is concerning and an assassination list is sinister as it seems that the unthinkable – slaughtering targeted judges at will – could occur, due to espionage and infiltration.
At one stage I am a little disappointed, as (Spoiler Warning!) Carter ends up being killed by a rogue Judge. In actual fact the Sovs have done a stunning stitch up on Mega City, deeply planting fifth columnists who are chemically assisted to avoid detection – how they have been missed is unclear, but they were missed and that will cost the Big Meg dearly.
Judge Carter was an interesting character, rather like Judge Beeny and Vienna Dredd. I felt like she could have further deeper characterization and there was a whiff of potential for me, not a replacement for Anderson, but a new Judge on the block, but alas, this comic is certainly about death.
These five issues with art by Leigh Gallagher are really quite good; there is a good flow to the story, and one feels reintroduced to the situation. The detective work is an element I especially like in Dredd and it is strongly present here.
The Eve of War section of the story appeared over twenty issues of 2000AD, and that in itself says something. This whole overarching story is indeed epic in nature, but I have to say I was especially impressed and pleased by Henry Flint’s artwork. Flint has, perhaps by osmosis, naturally found a style that is distinct, and reminiscent of stylised comic art, from the 1990s, with certain elements in his art that are very strong.
I was impressed with the eyes, hair and lips of Judge Beeny, and the squared style of certain body parts such as fingernails, although not sufficiently derivative to distract the reader. Flint’s Dredd is very distinctive, and his action shots, the cityscapes, the battles, are really strong.
By this point things are going badly for the city – the election has people’s feelings running high as it is, but when there are poisonous gas attacks on city block ventilations systems, attacks by terrorist and dissident groups and then a biological release of the Chaos bug, a disease that has no cure and is highly infectious, the city is pushed beyond its limits.
And when the Dark Judges are released, one can only wonder how they will survive this.
At this stage, we have two interludes. The first with art by Edmund Bagwell, entitled “Tea for Two”, is a perfect opportunity to see Dredd as more human than not as he checks out his own flesh and blood relative, his niece Vienna. I would have liked to have seen it more from her perspective, the events either side of seeing her kin turn up and not actually save her, but make things worse, and to see how her battle was, she had mentioned another relative, Rico, arming her. So there was more here we didn’t get to see.
The second interlude sees a personal favourite, semi-recurring (almost loveable) villain P.J. Maybe, who as ever has evaded capture, has escaped once more and is now somehow in a luxurious position. The humour inherent in Maybe is fantastic, his approach to things, so callous and cold, and yet so likeable. “Wot I Did duRiNg the WoRst DissasteR IN Mega-City History” is a lovely vignette, although it is linked to the outside story, and we see The Dark Judges encounter a human who even they find fascinating enough to trust.
The build-up is huge, there is so much going wrong, scenes of destruction, mass death, and the unfortunate way the Chaos Bug cannot be cured, yet the city wants to avoid panic; it is all a grim situation for Dredd. Fires running uncontrolled, whole city blocks at war within and with others, everyone fighting one another or against the Judges, it is indeed chaos.
The Chaos Day itself, when it comes, doesn’t seem that outstandingly special, although Henry Flint’s image of a spiked art installation with Judges impaled upon it and graffiti of ‘Judge Tree’ written on it is especially grim.
And then, it is over, but one realises that actually this wasn’t ever really a story with an end; it was a story with a purpose, to upset and destroy parts of Mega-City, to unsettle the equilibrium and create new avenues of investigation for the writers as they have to now adjust to the new shape of the city, as they did after the classic Apocalypse War (which destroyed half the city and its population) and other major events in Dredd history. The days after being as much a part of the city’s journey as this huge tide of death and destruction in the main story itself.
I might have liked more of the female characters, more of the war, more direct contact between the Sovs and the Mega-City Judges, and I also admit I would have loved Carlos Ezquerra on art duties, just as the story was the reaping of the whirlwind that was the wind sown in the Apocalypse War.
Between MacNeil, Gallagher and Flint, it was very pleasing art though, and really my desires for more are indicative of just how enjoyable a read this was. The Day of Chaos story is quite an excellent story.