The payoff of five year's work,
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This review is from: Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 05 (Kindle Edition)
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.
(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).