Judge Dredd Classic: The Apocalypse War
This book is so perfectly named its surreal.
I have read my fair share of the old angry law man, and in my time with 2000 A.D. publishing, I have grown rather fond of old Dredd. But this book, wow, I just… wow! I really want to be professional about my reviews (most of the time), but this review is going to be essentially impossible to keep myself out of.
The story telling in this particular volume is surreal. The legendary hard ass that is Dredd has been tried and tested time and time again, and he is the personification of true grit. His tenacity is astounding, and, at times, it would be easier to put down Wolverine than Joe Dredd, but this story is the furthest I have ever seen the lawman pushed.
From the story’s opening pages, the world of Mega City One is in cinders, as, once again, the citizens have rioted. And the rioting is the closest thing to a fairy tale kindness Dredd gets the entire volume. Page after page, writers John Wagner (creator) and Alan Grant, find new and tragic ways to pile on destruction and desperation. Each scene is cruel torturous exercise in how to rip Mega City One asunder, and it NEVER eases up.
Judges are obliterated left and right quicker than the Jedi in episode two! It is absurd levels of violence and chaos, and, as the judges are gradually overwhelmed, and any semblance of law burns atop the pyre of Mega City One, Judge Dredd stands tall and fierce among the insanity.
The art duties undertaken by a myriad of creative minds in the first benevolent half, “Block Mania”, are gritty and grim. Collectively, Mike McMahon, Ron Smith, Steve Dillon, and Brian Bolland, do a great job of hammering Mega City into a state of pandemonium. The deaths pile up, and each page and panel grows gradually more hopeless. Block Mania really is a horrifying opener to the Apocalypse War narrative.
As the book transitions into the utterly hopeless state that is the Apocalypse War, art duties are assumed by fellow creator Carlos Ezquerra, and it fits like an old glove. Carlos proves his prowess, and masterful control of all things Mega City one, and while writers Wagner and Grant plunge us head first into discomforting uncertainty constantly, Carlos maps it out masterfully. There was little in the way of flaws I could find in this book.
With help of recoloring, nothing about this book feels remotely dated. If this was a new story, it would be the best one I have come across this year.
In summation, I just went all mushy fan boy, and I am not even a Dredd fanboy. The story is constantly combusting on all cylinders, and the art stays ablaze right beside it. This book is one for the collections.
5 out of 5.