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4.8 out of 5 stars39
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 5 July 2007
This volume starts off on a pretty low-key note after the wall-to-wall brilliance of book 4's stories. Dredd investigating the Mega-rackets is inoffensive, entertaining stuff but not really anything special. It's when Judge Death makes his long-awaited comeback that the magic starts to happen. This five-parter, lushly illustrated by Brian Bolland, represent some of the finest pages ever seen in sequential comics - and contains the single most iconic panel in the history of the Dredd strip. You'll know the one when you see it.

And then came Block Mania and the Apocalypse War, an epic to end all epics at 30+ parts. Apocalyptic is the right word. Mega-City One is razed to the ground by atomic fire, half the city's population wiped out by tidal wave, radiation poisoning, bitter civil war and the merciless tanks of the Sov occupation. The use of Soviet-styled enemy judges dates the story a tad, but it's such a tour-de-force that that's a minor criticsm. More than any other, this is the story that really defined Dredd and put it on the map, generating stories for years to come. Because the Dredd strip unfolds in real-time, unlike most american comics, the after-effects of this mammoth event would haunt Dredd far into the future.

The whole thing is, once again, written solely by John Wagner and Alan Grant, and the Apocalypse War is drawn entirely by Carlos Ezquerra - the man who had originally designed Dredd and his uniform, but up to this point had been absent on the strip. After the chunky stylings of McMahon, and the fine detail of Smith and Bolland, Ezquerra's more euro-centric, almost brutal art comes as a bit of a shock, but it's perfect for the scope of the story. The story stands as a towering achievment for all concerned, and marks the moment Dredd really became a force to be reckoned with.
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If anyone new to Dredd has read the first couple of volumes in this collection & was disappointed, I would strongly recommend that you buy volume 5 & give Dredd another try. That's because this collection contains the Block Mania storyline, which unexpectedly leads into The Apocalypse War - a significant turning-point & one of the greatest epic tales in the series to date.

When this storyline was written, the Cold War was going strong - no doubt inspiring Wagner to set this series in a post-apocalyptic future in the first place. But Dredd's world wasn't merely post-apocalyptic for long, as in this storyline, East-Meg One launches an all-out nuclear assault on Mega-City One. The result is devastating - the Big Meg's population is reduced from 800 million to 400 million as much of the city is reduced to radioactive rubble. Unable to penetrate the Sov's defences, Mega-City One & its greatest lawman are seriously on the ropes.

The subject of nuclear war is handled maturely, creatively & with Dredd's typical black, ironic & very British humour that came to typify the series & make it truly stand out. It also left quite a legacy on the Dredd universe. It gave Wagner & Grant the opportunity to create a whole host of colourful perps, muties & plagues twisted by radition in future storylines. More significantly, Wagners' desire to bring some social commentary to the series is combined perfectly with Dredd running round killing the baddies & saving his uncaring city but never getting the girl.

Also included is 'Death Lives' - Judge Death returns & this time he's brought some friends with him! This volume also contains The Mega Rackets - a series of short stories centred around organised crimes of the future. These range from the quirky (peaceful aliens farmed for their youth-giving properties) to the dark (virtually unstoppable Gila Munja mutant assassins). These stories are OK but not on par with the other classics which make up most of this volume - which certainly represent good value for money!
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on 11 September 2012
Although this volume starts off fairly low key with some short stories it soon kicks into gear with the return of Judge Death in "Judge Death Lives". In this story he brings along a few friends and things get seriously bad for our favourite law man.
Following on soon after that is the superb "Block Wars" story which then leads directly on to the mega epic "The Apocalypse War". "The Apocalypse War" is a huge 25 chapter epic draw completely by the superb Carlos Ezquerra and should not be missed.
A must have purchase.
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on 18 June 2013
This really does read like the end of the first chapter of Dredd's story, and a sign of the increasing complexity of the character and stories.

This volume brings together plot threads, incidents and concepts built up over the first few years, only to culminate in the truly epic Apocalypse War.

The first half of the book works hard at grounding Mega City One as a functional city, seen through its crime. What begins as almost frustratingly stand alone stories start to come together towards the end of The Crime Files, taking care to tie off loose ends left dangling for a few weeks.

Then Block Mania is introduced into the already established contexts of Block War and the citi-def. The story is initially so trivial that it fits easily into the established theme of Life in MC-1. But it continues to grow until the whole city seems at threat.

Then the War begins.

Reading the Apocalypse War for the first time in twenty-odd years I am struck by its ambition and commitment. Having become used to modern American comic tropes, where Nothing Will Ever Be The Same Again (until six months down the line), it is quite refreshing to read a story of such economy (100 pages or so) which really does fundamentally change the status quo. Carefully developed supporting characters are dispatched unexpectedly, a whole quarter of the city is obliterated in the space of two pages and characters are pushed to the limits. Dredd himself is no hero, gunning down collaborators in cold blood, dispatching a key character for a betrayal he had no control over and wiping out six billion people in calculated revenge.

The entire epic is illustrated by a single artist. Carlos Ezquerra is at the height of his powers here and the story really benefits for having him illustrate the whole thing.

I cannot recommend this volume highly enough, especially if you haven't read the stories before. I paid a couple of pounds for it in the kindle sale, but I am tempted to shell out full price for a hard copy just so I can loan it to friends.

Buy it!

(It wasn't until I finished this review that I realised I hadn't even mentioned Judge Death Lives! The original story was the high point of vol 3 for me, and the sequel is even better, but even that was completely overshadowed by the consistently amazing second half of the book).
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on 11 April 2013
This volume contains three of the best Dredd stories and was a true golden age of the comic strip. The Dark Judges make an appearance, resurrecting Judge Death and seeking to sentence all those who stand before them. Block Mania is an all out war between blocks as a city-wide fighting frenzy grips the residents of Mega City One. And finally, you can't pause for breath, and the Sov block invades Mega City One in The Apocalypse War.

The Apocalypse War is my favourite epic of all time, and loses none of its gripping story telling, even though the Soviet Union is long gone. after all, this is the beginning of the 23rd century, and who knows what will happen between now and then! Ezquerra makes a welcome return in this epic, and his art adds greatly to it.

Alongside these story arcs are some good mini series, which are well worth reading. This is a fat book, full of quality Dredd stories. Buy it, or report to the cubes for a 5 year stretch!

If you only buy one Dredd Collection, make it this one.
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on 21 October 2014
Excellent book. Features Judge Death Lives in which Judge Death is once again let loose on MC1. With him are the dark judges Mortis, Fire and Fear and they quickly wreak havoc and do battle with a returning Anderson and Dredd. Also featured is the Block Mania epic in which civil war comes to MC1. This epic actually leads to directly The Appocalypse War which is the best Dredd epic ever written with gorgeous art and a fantastic story. Written at the time of the cold war it tells how the SOV BLOCK City EAST MEG ONE intereferes with the internal affairs of Mega City One before attacking and launching a full scale invasion. So you basicly have a war between the west and Russia. Amazing book. It also has a few other bits like Mega Rackets:The Crime Files which is a Nine parter made up of short stories and gives you an insight into the judges battles with organised crime in Mega City One. Massive book with a whole years worth of Dredd strips from the pages of 2000AD.
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on 27 November 2010
Great overall art and humour. I particularly enjoy how Dredd novels echo humour, but still manage to maintain plausibility and perhaps even a sense of seriousness (like Strontium Dog & ABC Warriors). The first few episodes essentially stand alone; then you get "Judge Death Lives" followed by "Block Mania" which naturally leads to "The Apocalypse War" and the Sov "Bloc"! My primary interest in this purchase was Judge Death, and I loved the "GAZE INTO THE FIST OF DREDD" scene; as this suggested to me that Dredd (unlike his peers) has no fear -- precisely the kind of over-the-top characterisation that makes these novels so compelling. My only disappointment with Case Files 5 was the short length of the Judge Death bit. This publication predominantly deals with The Apocalypse War epic; which had a fantastic ending (which I never would have imagined). No regrets whatsoever -- Case Files 1 next...
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on 11 July 2009
I've always dipped into 2000AD over the years and enjoyed Judge Dredd and even have a copy of the role playing game from years ago, and when I saw that the complete files existed I couldn't resist. Having read the reviews of all the series I decided to enter the series mid point with v.5. It hasn't disappointed, having consumed the whole edition over a couple of days, having found it very hard to put down, I'm now working my way through v1 and v2. My worries that the strips would be quite similar if read one after the other rather than in a weekly 2000AD have been dispelled - each remain as individual as the city that Dredd inhabits. For me, this remains a great, guilty pleasure.
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on 10 July 2013
If you like to start reading Judge Dredd.
You can't go wrong reading this book first.
This was one of the first Judge Dredd storys I read back in the 80's.
I'm tell you, You well enjoy this book.
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on 23 April 2013
It is a good chance to have in one book all the Block War & Apocalypse War saga. The quality of authors' drawings is sometimes affected by the dimension of the book, but honestly it is a very good compromise betweeen availability of otherwise difficoult to find stories and price.
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