I feel like everything led up to this. The granddaddy Judge Dredd epic of them all, The Apocalypse War. This epic should be more than reason enough to continue your personal journey with Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 05. Because you’ve earned it and now here’s your cake. So eat it!
But before you pick up that fork and cram as much cake into your mouth as you possibly can, I must warn you. As much as it pains me to say, this collection also consists of the worst transfers we have seen so far. The lettering is hard to read at times and the deep blacks muddle everything up that you’ll get headaches from squinting your eyes to figure out what the hell you’re looking at. The beginning of Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 05 will let you down fast and hard. But keep going and get through it. Because The Apocalypse War picks it all back up.
Nevertheless, what has been, more or less, strong printed transfers makes this one feel like a big let down. And the transfers really, and I mean really, plague the Crime Files series. These stories which highlight specific types of crime and groups that plague Mega City One are so rich and fun, that they deserve better. The Crime Files basically flesh out Mega City One and inject even more personality (if you can possibly imagine that is possible). Trust me it is. What Gotham City is to Batman, Mega City One is to Judge Dredd. Because if you think things can’t get any weirder, then think again.
The criminal elements, the gangs, and the easy money. And in true Mega City One fashion the cost is great. Many times it’s your life. And if you’re lucky, it’s a harsh sentence handed down by the man himself, Judge Dredd. And that sentence will probably put you in the Iso-Cube for the rest of your life.
And just as you’re getting through those interesting two-parters, pumping your fist full of rage every once in a while with these truly god awful transfers…
Judge Death Lives.
Brian Bolland hits you over the head with a hell of a cracker. We see Judge Anderson reanimated and Judge Death ready to declare justice on all of Mega City One. The crime? Being alive.
It’s incredible and yes, there it is. The image that you’ve seen pop up around your social media feed, within fan groups, and community threads.
Gaze into the first of Dredd!
Whoops, spoiler alert.
But then you remember those horrible transfers and you start to get irritated again. But before that irritation turns into rage…
Block Mania ramps things up and it doesn’t stop until you finish the book. Ron Smith shows you once again why he’s the king of Dredd and how steady and reliable that pen and ink of his became. He guides you through absolute chaos and terror, of crazy scenarios that reveal our true selves; that simple need to literally beat the other. Even if it means cheering as a nuclear warhead makes its way to a competing block. Wipe those others out of existence at all cost. Your Block or else!
But wait, hold on. Because there’s something amiss. Yes, Mega City One is just one bad day away from exploding into absolute cannibalism. But even here we may have gone a bit too far. And sure enough we figure it out. Those damn Soviets from East Meg One put something in the air to make us crazy. We’re tearing ourselves apart to serve their purposes. We’re a distraction that keeps the Judges occupied until the real war starts.
The Apocalypse War.
Carlos Ezquerra. Hello old friend, it’s nice to see you on your first big Judge Dredd epic. You created the character and you walked away from it. But man, when you came back you were the nuclear explosion. Everyone that was on these stories before you had no choice but to go back to school. Papa’s home.
And that’s what’s awesome about the Apocalypse War. It’s Carlos Ezquerra delivering all twenty-five parts. Not only is this epic, but it’s the most consistent, daring, Judge Dredd story so far in our journey. It’s almost as if they finally took this whole thing seriously and decided to put some money behind it. There are stakes and there are lessons. And the end result is simply Judge Dredd planting both feet in comic book land and becoming immortal. And it’s all due to Carlos Ezquerra.
Ezquerra’s character designs are incredible. It’s hard to believe that one man can put so much richness and personality onto one page, much less one thousand. One can’t imagine the amount of new equipment, ships, and incredible detail put into Mega City One until he or she sees it for themselves. And it came from Carlos. If you came onto Dredd and 2000AD, you know all about him. But here, with the Apocalypse War, you know why he’s the King.
And look. If you ever doubted that (and I personally don’t think you ever did), just read the scene where Dredd and company take down Dan Tanna Junction. At that moment I had a clear picture of Mega City One in my mind. It played like a movie in my head. I really just can’t give this thing enough praise.
All twenty-five parts are beautiful. Even in black and white. I dare say I want to hunt down these Progs just to get a little taste of that bit of color in this world. But I’ve done my research, I know a lot of these color jobs weren’t very good. Even if color were only employed on a page or two. But dammit, I want to see it for myself.
The Apocalypse War is so good, so epic, it’s worth getting a collected version of it by itself. Rebellion just released it in their Essential Judge Dredd Line and it’s worth going after. But most importantly, and the reason that we’re here, it’s enough to overlook those crappy transfers in the beginning.
Carlos saves the day once again.