JUDGE DREDD DAY OF CHAOS: ENDGAME – REVIEW

JUDGE DREDD DAY OF CHAOS: ENDGAME - REVIEW
Script: John Wagner
Illustrations: Henry Flint, Leigh Gallagher, Ben Willsher, Colin MacNeil & Edmund Bagwell
Publisher: Rebellion
Release Date: July 2013

The first collection of the Day of Chaos arc was one of my favourite comics of last year, so you can understand my excitement when I finally managed to get my hands on this book, and it was just as awesome a read as The Fourth Faction.

This time round the Chaos Bug has been released and the Justice Department are having a field day trying to control the outbreak and remain in control. But as Judge Dredd tries to search for the perpetrators of this heinous act, other elements enter the fray, adding more complications to the chaos.

John Wagner with his talented array of artists such as Henry Flint, Leigh Gallagher and Ben Willsher has created an epic which is quite possibly the biggest event in 2000AD’s history since The Apocalypse War. It is utterly enthralling and thrilling a read, full of twists and turns. Just when you think things cannot get any worse, Wagner trumps it and introduces elements into the story even more spectacular. It is quite a dense read and in order to appreciate the story fully, you cannot rush it. You must take your time as I did, to let it all sink in.

The collection is split into six acts, or arcs which connect with one another in the wider scheme of things. First up is “The Assassinaton List”. The artist on duty here is one of my favourite, Leigh Gallagher who is famous for his breath-taking work on 2000AD’s zombie epic “Defoe”. We start off with Elmore Yurges and his family, who’ve been kidnapped by Borisenko to extract the details of the Chaos Bug. Yurges of course is the scientist who engineered the Chaos Bug and he is key to the story. Back at Mega City 1 the psychic Cadet Hennessy continues to have premonitions about the impending disaster, and her twin sr Gabrielle tries to assist the Judges, but will it be too late to avert what will surely come to pass? This was a great opener, full of heart-pounding moments, and the realisation of the horrors which are yet to come. Things are made doubly hard by undercover East Meg agents intent on silencing key figures…Dredd included. The artwork is great by Gallagher, I had become accustomed to his black and white artwork reading Defoe in 2000ad right now, so it was a pleasure seeing some of his coloured work which is equally great.

Next up was “Eve of Destruction”, this is where things start really getting serious. This act makes up much of the meat of the story with not one, but three artists on duty namely Henry Flint, Ben Willsher and Colin MacNeil. We start off with undercover East Meg agents being given the Chaos Bug phial’s to take into Mega City 1, before using it on themselves to spread the disease amongst the public triggering widespread devestation. Key among them is Titiana, who is Borisenko’s aide. We also glimpse what the Chaos Bug is capable of causing in its victims, from the flu like symptons to memory loss, bleeding and rage. Dredd is also hard at work trying to uncover the Chaos Bug conspiracy and find Borisenko. Add to that other terrorist factions such as “Total War” and “Rage against the Meg” causing havoc, and an East Meg agent stirring up the anti-Judge media with falsified evidence and you have a city in widespread panic and anarchy. Oh and to top it all off, the Dark Judges have also been released to add sparkle to proceedings! It was simply an enthralling read – full of twists, turns and havoc upon havoc. And the artwork on show by all three mentioned artists is simply awe-inspiring. From Henry Flint’s stunning style, with so much detail and character, some of his images have seered themselves onto my brain. I would spoil the story if I mention which panels but it needs to be seen to be believed. Ben Willsher with his scratchy, visceral style, and Colin MacNeil whose work is just a joy to behold. His appearance in the book is short, maybe 24 pages in total, but boy are they memorable. His depiction of the Dark Judges is just an absolute treat to witness.

“Tea For Two” follows straight after. It’s very brief at just 6 pages, but very enjoyable. We have Dredd going through the devestation wreaked streets to the block where his niece Vienna lives. He persuades her to move into a more safer block, as they share tea and biscuits but Vienna is reluctant to go. I really enjoyed this brief little gem, Wagner’s script showed how the Chaos Day had affected Dredd, his thoughts on the city akin to the fall of civilization was really insightful. The artwork by Edmund Bagwell is simply magnificent, whether it be the look of the streets, the block squalor or the characters themselves. It looks like something the late Moebius would conjure up.

Next up was ” Wot I did during the worst dissaster in Mega-City history”. Here we drop in on my favourite seriel killer, P.J Maybe to see what, well what the title basically says! We last saw him in the first book, getting up to all manner of mischief and worming his way to a elderly rich lady’s heart. Well he seems to be holding up pretty well at home during the chaos outside, with plenty of food and whatnot. But his peace is rudely interrupted when the Dark Judges come a-calling! I must say this was a really welcome inclusion! Not only was it funny, but Henry Flint’s artwork again was superb, especially the way he rendered the apparitional Dark Judges. Although brief again like the preceding story, it was great fun.

“Chaos Day” and “The Days After” were the last stories in this fantastic collection. In the first, the Academy of Law is attacked by terrorist groups. And we see other shocking acts of killing and chaos. Henry Flint’s artwork is just magnificent, capturing the anarchy and devestation in beautiful detail. Especially eye catching is the shot of the city at dawn, with train wreckage strewn and refugees walking in line almost silently like lost souls. Or two children holding one another, but suddenly we see they are infected and Dredd has to shoot them. Not to mention the image of Dredd himself, head lowered, his face obscured in shadow. A broken man.

This whole collection was an absolutely rivetting read, there were moments which hammered home the severity of this disaster and the implications it will have on Mega City 1, not to mention Judge Dredd himself. He sums it up clearly at the end when he says he has let the people down “Protect the citizens. The one thing above all we’re supposed to guarantee….and we couldn’t get that right”. It is obvious he feels guilt on his part for the disaster. The Mega City he knew is gone, he will have to move on but one thing is for sure, it won’t be that easy.

And so ends the stunning conclusion to one of the biggest episodes in the history of Mega City 1 since The Apocalypse War. I really enjoyed this collection, there is so much depth in Wagner’s storytelling and scope via the talented group of artists on show. Special mention must also go to the awesome cover by Henry Flint (originally released on the cover of Prog 1781). It is just as eye catching and superb as Greg Staples’ cover for the first book. It’s a great package again from Rebellion who are one of the best when it comes to publishing top quality trades.

Overall, magnificent stuff!

5/5

…………………………..

Readers interested in checking out some of the original artwork for Endgame should head to Henry Flint’s blog;
http://henryflint.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/days-of-chaos-pages/
His artwork is just……extraordinary!

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